In the era of social media fame and virality, unique experiences are the currency. People are always on the look out for something new to try or an exciting place to visit and Indonesian locals took advantage of that by turning their village pond, Umbul Ponggok, into a tourist attraction.
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“Many visitors upload photos of themselves on motorbikes or bicycles, and even do pre-wedding photo shoots, which quickly become viral on their Instagram accounts,” says Umbul Ponggok’s 25-year-old manager, Muhammad Abdul Rahman. Visitors can also swim or snorkel there. Those without underwater cameras can rent one for 60,000 rupiah (US$4.20) per half-hour.
The pond has its own Instagram account, with more than 38,000 followers. As more photos taken there go viral, its visibility on local and national news portals has added to Umbul Ponggok’s fame.
Despite its popularity today, Umbul Ponggok wasn’t always a sprawling and vibrant tourist spot.
The Umbul Ponggok of today is a far cry from the polluted, mossy pond that, 15 years ago, was used by villagers for bathing and washing clothes. Ponggok was poor and most of its people were not well educated. They farmed or worked in quarries. Unemployment was high.
It was village head Junaedi Mulyono who had the idea of turning Umbul Ponggok into a tourist destination soon after he was elected in 2006.
(Image credit: James Wendlinger/SCMP)