This trip is particularly the 'AHA' trip I term. Me and another two female colleagues just jump at the chance for a short get away. Somewhere near, we decided. So, Bandung it is.
And to lessen the hassle, we booked the tickets and accommodation via AirAsiaGo which totalled up to about RM1000 a person with 2 nights stay in the Sheraton Bandung Hotel and Tower and return ticket Kuching – Bandung. None of us have been to Bandung before, thus some form of researches are necessary. I think I must have this kind of trust carved on my forehead, so my colleagues entrusted me to plan for a 3D2N itinerary in Bandung.
One thing about cheap air tickets is that we ended up reaching Bandung airport in the middle of the night. The plus point was that we had about 10 hours of transit in Kuala Lumpur for more shopping.
The accommodation must be everyone's favourite. The reason why Sheraton was on promotion was that they were having a major renovation at the hotel. It affected certain facilities, like swimming pool was not available, not that we had the time to swim in the pool but generally the standard of a Sheraton was still very much observed. For example, the very polite and helpful staffs, good meal, quality toiletteries, comfy bed, clean environment. We got a suit for our stay, with a little garden in front of the room.
Another thing that made me comfortable is the weather. It was cooling, not very hot. I am aware that I grow up in a tropical country, but that only makes me long for cooler weather more. The cooler the better. My air-conditioned working/living space hovers around 16 degree. So when it was about 25 degree in Bandung, I'm not complaining. It does make me wonder how does a place with volcano crates is that cooling though.
Everyone says Bandung is a shopping heaven. All those that I know off, have been shop, shop, and shop in Bandung. Carrying handbags and designer clothes back in luggages. We went to several factory outlets. Both my colleagues bought themselves winter coats. And they also bought handbags. I bought nothing. I think I know nothing about shopping in a factory outlet. I'm religiously thinking that brands = money. Being a Foo Chow girl, it will be super hard to squeeze money out of my pocket just because the bag or clothes or glasses has certain name on it. My logic just doesn't work that way. So it was kinda torture when we ended up in Pasar Baru, where my colleagues had unanimously agreed to spend 6 hours shopping in the complex. Let me tell you my pain. This shopping complex in Bandung has no nice cafe or hangout spot for tired feet. Maybe they figure how can one be tired when one can shop for batik on the ground floor, a wide range of fabrics on the second floor, endless choices of handbags on the fifth floor and anything in between. I went from one floor to the other and in the end I bought two really nice handmade batik. Now this is really a deal. First of, the cloth is hand woven. Then, the batik is hand painted. I got 2 pairs of dresses for about RM170.
We visited the volcano crate, Tangkuban Perahu. The weather was even cooler there. Before we enter the park, we saw hawkers trying to sell masks to tourists near the entrance. I was quite alarmed. It just suddenly struck me, yea, mask. But when we finally reached the crater, the polluted air was still somewhat bearable compared to the kind of emission we get everyday on a traffic jam. The place was swarmed with people. I saw lots of locals, that went picnic there. And more stalls and hawkers trying very hard to sell you … anything. Once you responded to one of them, the rest will just come running and join the party of persuasion, until you buy something. They sell you strawberries, mulberries, blueberries, snow hats, key chains, Angklong, bags, bracelets made from magic stones, pens, umbrellas, masks; I am truly amazed by human creativity.
I had very bad food poisoning after I came back from Bandung. But before I camped in the toilet, I had two major dinner invitations, so it was kinda hard to point my finger. We had been extremely careful with food and drink in Bandung. We came up with hygienic issue and decided to indulged ourselves with food from Sheraton. 😀 We didn't visit any of the Warung, and these are really "warung", a shabby hut besides the road with hectic traffic. The only Indonesian food we tried in Bandung is Nasi Bertutu, a concoction of herbs is my conclusion. I like how the Indonesians charge for the entrance fee. They are extremely cheap, like RM5, never more than RM5 plus parking fee. And they have very low parking fee, like IDR1,000 (about RM0.30). But, hiring a car to tour is quite expensive. I think maybe because we stayed in Sheraton, and the service is a Limousine Service. For that 2 days alone, we spent about IDR1,755,000 on transportation, that's about RM490 in total. I think that would be my only complaint. Nonetheless, even a drift queen like me is beaten by the traffic in Bandung. There was a part of our journey that half the road was closed for maintanence, so the other half had to accommodate two way traffic. And by a road I mean the size of our narrow lane with iron bars and stones jutting out on side. We reached a point where a pick up truck and our Innova were locked in with more motorcycles attempting to bypass. Even now, when I recall the scene, I still couldn't find a way out. We were brought to Ciater Hot Spring too. A very commercialised tourist spot. The place is, again, packed with people. It is a huge area that adopts the concept of a waterpark. You can find hot spring, hot pool dip, nice landscapes, mascots that are ready to take pictures with you, fish spa, massage, ice-cream men …The tea plantation is a government project, according to our driver. However, I think our Mayang Tea or Boh Tea look more attractive. We walked amongst the tea trees and trying to capture pictures like that we saw in the Bollywood. I think the tea leaves are coarse and hard. But they green the small hill and you see every now and then a MPV pulls up beside the road, with more tourists walking among the tea trees looking for the best position to take the most ideal vacation picture.
Leaving Bandung was not heart-breaking, nor saddening. I do remember our new acquiantance like Pak Iwan, a friendly Javanese that was never tired of explaining and giving us tips. Unless I develop a taste for brand names, I find it more difficult to appreciate Bandung, maybe slightly more difficult than developing a love for the Bandung Sirap on the menu.