Driving up the narrow, winding streets of Lembang, it’s hard to miss the kilometer-long traffic jam forming up around a huge sign spelling out the words “Farm House”. Indeed, Farm House has been hyped up as one of the places everyone should visit in Bandung-Lembang area. Numerous TV shows and travel blogs have covered the place, emphasizing the fact that there is a Hobbit house inside of it and how it is a very photogenic place. So, early in June, my friends and I decided to see what the place is all about.
To enter Farm House, visitors need to pay IDR20.000 for the entrance ticket which can be exchanged with a tall glass of milk or a grilled sausage. If you’re planning to drive here, parking costs IDR10.000. As you enter the area, one of the first things you’ll notice is the gigantic booth shaped like a bottle of milk where you can exchange your tickets.
I thought it was the entrance at first, but then discovered a pathway with shrubs and trees lining up its sides which had a plaque saying it was the entrance next to this counter. That was where we started making our way into Farm House’s complex.
Planning a visit at 9 AM proved to be the right call for us because no one wanted to get up early on a Sunday and thus, there wasn’t too many people at the complex yet. There was no map given to us to navigate the complex, but the whole place was built like a maze with arrows pointing out where everything is and only one single pathway being the one that will lead us in and out of the complex as others lead to dead ends.
My first impression on the complex was that it was girly and made for hopeless romantics. One of the things we first encountered inside the complex was a phone booth with permanent markers in it for couples to write their names.
Walking past that phone booth, we found a small, wooden pathway with locks of love at its railing. The pathway ended with a staircase leading to a top of a small hill with a wishing well at its end. This wishing well is where couples locking the padlocks with their names on them can throw their keys so their love “will last forever.”
The skeptic in me said “oh hell no, that’s not going to happen” at the thought. But then again there are plenty of locks tied to the railings so a lot of people must buy into it right? The Disney-princess-movie like setting of the place must also fuel a lot of romantic dreams.
Walking in and out of this section of the park requires walking through the shop selling these locks. You won’t believe how many people were actually in the shop and buying padlocks as we were walking out of it.
The next section of the complex was filled with rows of shophouses that looked as if they were straight from Germany. Another turn also led to the famed “Hobbit house” of Farm House. The placement of these sections opposite each other was a bit strange for me.
As we were really early, there weren’t too many people taking photos in front of the “Hobbit house”. But just as were walking to the next section of the complex, throngs of people suddenly began pouring into the section and it was crowded in a matter of minutes.
Walking past the German shophouses, we found an entire cobblestone alley filled with shops selling various kinds of European snacks such as cupcakes, cookies, smoothies, different kinds of chocolate, coffee, and brioche. There were two restaurants as well in that alley – one offering breakfast food and smoothies, the other offering more French-Italian style cuisine. Other things sold in that alley were jewelry, plants, and fresh vegetables.
I’ve never been to Europe at all, let alone experience a Sunday morning market there, but walking through the alley felt pretty close to walking through a European street on a Sunday morning. All the shops put thematic coherence at their forefront and all the decor really went along with the European theme.
The prices of the food were also straight out of Europe. I mean, they were selling a small bag of cookies for IDR35.000 – that’s way too overpriced by Indonesian standards. However, I don’t think a lot of people walked through the alley to buy anything. Most visitors were crowded at the shops to take photos in front of it.
Even though most of the shops sold food, the most crowded shop in this alley wasn’t one selling food or jewelry or plants. It was a rental for traditional Dutch clothing located on top of the smoothie bar. For IDR75.000, visitors can rent an entire set of Dutch clothes (complete with the clogs and fancy umbrella) and walk around the entire complex wearing it.
Personally, I don’t see any reason to do that, but apparently a lot of women love the shop because it allows them to take as many photos as they want wearing the outfit.
At the end of the cobblestone alley was the French-Italian restaurant. Right next to it, there is a small staircase leading down to a wall with what must be a European alley painted on it in watercolor. Next to this chunk of wall is a very small door frame that actually leads to one of the most beautiful parts of Farm House: its flower garden overlooking a cliff and mountains.
Out of all the areas in the complex, this was the least crowded one. Not many people hang out at this section quite likely because there is no shade from the heat and that it’s not “unique” or “European.” But personally, I quite like this section and how they built the pathways through the garden with slopes and curves. It also helped that the garden has two of my favorite flowers: daisies and lavenders.
We walked out of the flower garden through a different pathway than the one leading to the alley of shops and after some detours and a bit of getting lost, we finally found the place we most wanted to visit in Farm House: its petting zoo. We went around in circles, got a bit lost, asked some people just to find it when it was right there. The only thing we didn’t do to find it was get out of the entire complex itself, honestly.
Apparently it is right behind the huge counter shaped like a milk bottle.
The petting zoo was home to various animals, some of which I had never found anywhere else in Indonesia. There were parrots, lovebirds, turkeys, chickens, ducks, guinea pigs, and even 35-year-old turtles.
Visitors can feed the the animals after paying IDR5.000 for each animal they want to feed. There are also some zookeepers standing by to explain trivia about some of the animals.
These animals were interesting to observe and hold, yes. However, my personal favorite animal is not any of them, but the lambs.
Oh yeah, Mary has found her little lamb. (I’ve been waiting my whole life to say that.)
(Yes, I was that excited to pet a real, living lamb)
That was the highlight of the entire day, for sure.
All in all, my impression of Farm House is that it’s a really, really smart tourism business model. It picked a theme (European fairytale), picked a purpose (as a place for tourists to take selfies in) and really stuck to it. The Marketing Communication student side of me also thought it captured its market and branded itself brilliantly. Indonesians love good design and love taking selfies. Farm House came in and made money out of that love.
Honestly, I’m pretty much in awe of how Farm House planned its business and executes it brilliantly.
However, as a travel blogger, I did not like the place. I found it to be overrated because at the end of the day, it was just a complex filled with thematically designed sections for tourists to take photos in. That’s it, really. Like I said earlier, it is a place designed to satisfy people’s love of selfies and desire for good, unique photos. It lived up to its hype as a highly photogenic place, but as “one of the places you need to visit in Bandung”? No.
Besides, amid the numerous selfie sticks extended here and there, the huge number of visitors crammed into the small complex, and the lack of photo-taking etiquette among its visitors (everyone’s walking on everyone else’s shots), there’s not really much room and time to explore just how photogenic it is and experiment with different angles unless you visit right at its opening time.
So, will I visit Farm House again? Probably not. But do I love to meet the businessmen and women behind the place and its theme? I most certainly do.
Farm House | Jl. Raya Lembang no. 108, Lembang, Bandung Barat, Jawa Barat | +622282782400 | Open: 9 AM-9 PM