The Baduy tribe has got to be one of the most interesting tribes still living traditionally and carrying out their ancestral activities. This traditional community living in the province of Banten can be found only four hours away from Jakarta. They are based in the foothill of the Kendeng Mountain, about four hours away from the capital city of Indonesia, Jakarta.

The visit to the tribe’s villages is a must-see for anyone looking for an absolute change of scenery from the hectic polluted capital. The tribe lives traditionally and resists the influence of our modern world, away from established common values and mindset.

This location is wonderful simply because it allows anyone seeking out-of-the-box adventures to hike a humid, dense jungle. The trekking in this natural forest can go up to 3 hours, during which you can cross man-made bamboo bridges, and feel closer to the traditional villages as you keep immersing yourself.

The more you carry on your hiking, the more you meet this succession of tribal villages set in the highlands, untouched by modernity, with the local tribe living and working around. And the more pleasing for the eyes it gets.

What one will ever notice is how the tribe walks barefoot in any circumstances. My friend and I went there a couple of times to document them. We got the chance to meet some locals carrying the weight of some goods: bananas, sugar, leaves, etc. These goods are mostly extracted from the forest in the surrounding hills and brought to the village entrance for local families to eat and sell.

As we walked a bit more, one cannot help but think he was transported back in time. Even time itself seemed frozen. The lush greens of the wet scenery and the sound of the jungle resonated a little bit louder as we stopped to take some breaks from our hiking.

This area is devoid of any modern influences and keeps a strict tradition within the community. My friend and I went there a few times where we got the chance to mingle and learn more about their way of living.

We first noticed that no vehicles are allowed as a means of transportation. Everyone just walks. And yes, it does include children and even very old people! The locals will tell you that this keeps their body circulation optimal and strengthens their immune system. All families usually help each other. Boys help their fathers in the fields while girls follow their mothers in the kitchen or learn traditional dressmaking through the art of Indonesian knitting called ‘ikat’.

As stated before, no shoes were allowed among the tribe, and this is one of the first things we noticed. The tribe always walks barefoot, all the time! They can walk up to 25 km a day, and nowadays, it is not uncommon to see some Baduy in Jakarta selling their traditional products: oil, medicinal herbal solution, etc).

The use of electronic devices is forbidden: no influence, no social comparisons, and no brainwashing. So make sure to carry a power bank to charge your mobile phone if you plan lengthy hikes. The modern man usually likes to follow the herd, hates to be alone and constantly needs social validation. But not this tribe! When I went there, it felt as if time was frozen, as some elderly still holds ancient tradition centuries-old, passed down from one generation to another one.

Lastly, no modern clothing is allowed. Only black and blue fabrics that are woven and sewn are the garments of the tribe and the way other people know about them (like a dress code). The blue/black fabrics are the mark of the sub-tribe, “Baduy Luar” (Outer Baduy), while if we meet people dressed in white, which means they belong to the “Baduy Dalam” tribe (Inner Baduy).

I usually always ask where I can meet the elderly in the village I am travelling to. As we were making our way up, some people said we should meet a woman called Ninik Idik. Apparently, she is a very old lady who is believed to be almost 120 years old and still lives in a small house uphill. She is a living legend and everyone knows her.

Upon our arrival, we were greeted by an already old man about 80 years old. And he happened to be the grandson of Ninik Idik! The super centenarian was somehow scared and surprised to meet a man like me, holding a sizeable camera as she wasn’t sure what it was. But after some time, and some chit-chat with her grandson, it was pretty obvious she had gotten used to our presence.

A woman living with disconcerting simplicity endowed with a rare strength of character and remarkable toughness.

When you meet her for the first time, you feel like time has suddenly shifted away. Spectacular in her own way, she must have acquired a 6th sense after all those years. She has a way to say things and look at people as if she had eyes behind her eyes.

According to my friend and her grandson, Ninik Idik is pretty well known within the Baduy community. “She’s been eating the same diet her entire life,” the grandson remarks, adding that the local diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, and people also eat a lot of fish as their village is strategically placed near a river.­

“There is no genetically modified food here; everything is pure and fresh,” Ninik Idik’s grandson explains and, after three days in the village, we could only agree with that statement. No one was eating fatty or sugary foods, nor was anyone on antibiotics. Not only is there no junk food, the local people include various herbs which boost the organs and immune system, thus lowering the risk of heart disease and even protecting against memory loss.

Despite her age, Ninih Idik still holds some sharp memories from the past, according to her grandson. She was happy to show us her collection of very old coins from the Dutch East Indies, a Dutch colony of what is now Indonesia. The woman is usually good-humoured and of a constant nature after all those years. In fact, the people in villages here always look cool and relaxed – they never seem worried or stressed unlike the people living in big cities! As I listened to her grandson, I wondered — perhaps our immune systems might improve if we live in a constant environment, surrounded by the same people every day?

In the West, we are taught that ageing is something that must be “beaten” in state-of-the-art laboratories with high-tech devices. It seems Ninik Idik proves us the opposite. Her lifestyle actively contributes to her exceptional longevity and preserves her natural beauty.

On my way back, I realised that this woman also had other advantages. She has never had to deal with the stress of debt for example, nor had to breathe our polluted city air. She has no awareness of such things — and likely will never hold such things in her consciousness. How much better it is this way!

The voyage to Baduy villages and meeting Ninik Idik on my first day was like meeting someone from another world; someone living in her own time, at her own pace, but where life itself seemed timeless. Dressed from head to toe in her traditional dress in its shades of blue, Ninih Idik made a huge impact on me. She showed me that those who have the least, who live the most frugal lifestyle in the most remote places, often live happier and healthier lives — in fact, they may have found the very secret to happiness itself