A cobblestone path lined with flowering shrubs winds its way up a hill past verdant strawberry fields and hot houses filled with purple and white orchids, right up to the main house of Regar Orchids.
Rizal and Nita Siregar (not related to the writer) are a married couple who purchased the land in 1991.
At first, they used the land to grow and crossbreed orchids. But to attract more visitors and compete with other landowners in the area, they turned part of their land into luscious strawberry fields.
Regar Orchids is in Ciwidey, West Java Province, about an hour’s drive from Bandung. It is known as a family vacation spot in an area famous for its strawberry fields.
Rizal is from Sumatra, and the name Regar Orchids is taken from the second part of his family name “Siregar.”
The strawberry fields are a welcoming destination for families and help children get in touch with nature. You can pick strawberries from the field yourself and admire the beautiful view while breathing in the fresh mountain air.
For keen gardeners, Regar Orchids sells a selection of plants, from beautifully colored cactuses to elephant ear plants and various hybrids of orchids. Prices range from Rp 5,000 (47 cents) to Rp 200,000 per pot.
Be sure to ask the staff what conditions the plants you are interested in need for survival, as some plants found around the cool climate of the mountains cannot survive the heat of cities like Jakarta.
There are three large greenhouses at Regar Orchids. The first one is a two-story showroom, where the owners store plants and orchids for sale.
With good ventilation and exposure to light, the greenhouse is a relaxing spot for groups to gather when in need of a rest. On the second floor there is a space for around 10 people to sit and have lunch.
The other greenhouse is an indoor strawberry field. To keep away insects, the strawberries are treated with pesticides every two weeks, so they must be washed before being eaten.
Pamper your senses and enjoy the aromas provided by the variety of local orchid species. The phal bellina orchid from Kalimantan has a sweet smell, while the phal venosa from Sulawesi and phal amboinensis from Maluku have a stronger and peculiar spicy smell.
Regar Orchids also raises rare types of moon orchids.
“Moon orchids are very rare. We can’t find them in the jungle anymore,” said Rizal, who gets most of the orchid seeds from forests in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi.
In another two-story greenhouse for orchids, which is not open to the public, Rizal plants different kinds of orchids that can cost up to Rp 2 million.
The first floor is mostly for the hybrid orchids, which are sometimes a blend between Indonesian orchids and those from other countries.
Rizal is now crossing phal forture Buddha from Taiwan with phal amabilis from Indonesia.
He said he was still waiting for the Royal Horticultural Society in London to register the final name of the hybrid.
Hybrid orchids are usually more colorful and can come in unexpected shapes.
All of the pure orchid species are stored on the second floor. Rizal held up a unique species
called the paphiopedilum.
“We call these porn orchids,” Rizal joked of the red orchid with a phallic form.
The second floor, according to Rizal, is most likely to attract the more experienced orchid collectors.
Regar Orchids, according to the Indonesia Orchids Association, is one of the best orchid agents in Indonesia. Some of Regar’s orchids have been featured in National Geographic magazine.
In the main house, where visitors can stay overnight, there is a restaurant and a small warung, or food stall on the ground floor. They offer nasi goreng, French fries and sausages.
But the homemade strawberry meatballs are the true Regar specialty; you are unlikely to find them anywhere else in Indonesia. The strawberry pulp makes the meatballs slightly sour, but they are strangely delicious nonetheless.
The strawberry juice is fresh and much less sweet than the juice you might find in Jakarta’s restaurants. Like the juice, the jelly and jam are fresh and contain no preservatives.
For a group of four to stay at the main house overnight, it costs around Rp 250,000. Breakfast is not included, but the food is very reasonably priced and is great value.
Where: Jalan Raya Ciwidey No. 730, signposted at kilometer 5
Coming from Jakarta, Take the Padalarang toll road and exit at the Cimahi tollgate. After Bandung, Cilasari village is about another hour’s drive. It takes approximately four hours to get there from Jakarta.
More information: 022 5928 341