Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by viravira on 3 February 2016 • Destination
Bandung, the capital of West Java, has been known as the creative city. So much creativity in West Java has grown and developed such as in music, fashion, visual arts and food, and mostly known from Bandung, may it be created by the natives or migrants. Just recently, on my trip with West Java Tourism Board, I realized that the creativity of West Java is sprouted all over the province. These following are ones that I came across.
Check out the creativity of West Java and the quiz with prizes at the end of this post.
Kelom Geulis is a brand that has stamped their name in local’s sandals industry since about 1995. It differs from other wooden shoes by the carvings and batik on the surface, which are motly made in floral pattern. Hence the name ‘Geulis’, which means pretty in Sundanese. ‘Kelom’ means clog, inspired by klompen, The Netherlands’ traditional whole feet clog.
We were shown the production process, located within the owner, Pak Ana Suryana’s house. One of the staff patiently taught us how to batik on the sandal. Dude, it was hard! Upon coloring with the batik canting, I couldn’t even keep up with my own design! I even clumsily spilled the paint on my own foot, which is made of car paint.
Kelom Geulis products are sold online as well as in several shops. Other than making their own products, they also produce and export sandals for klompen to The Netherlands and for geta (Japanese wood sandals) to Japan.
These clogs are pretty but I have to admit that they don’t fit my style. So when Pak Ana let us choose any pair to bring home as souvenirs, I gladly chose one for my mother-in-law, which later looked very happy to receive them.
The clogs in Pak Ana’s display room is sold for about IDR100,000 per pair, but usually they’re more expensive in other stores, even online.
Now they’ve also developed Kelom Kasep, translates to Handsome Clogs. Yup, you guessed it, they’re for the guys.
It was my first time to Garut though I had heard so much about it. I had heard of how good their leather goods were, I had even eaten the dodol, which was featured in one of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservation episodes. But I never knew that Garut also had its own batik.
We were taken to Rasya Batik, a shop full of batik cloth and clothes of various patterns and colors. Nothing really looked out of the box, like the modern batik that I’ve written about here, but a lot of them were cute. Some are stamped, some are drawn. Some of Garut’s original patterns include the lereng (hillside slope) and bilik (thatched wall), according to Bu Rosna, one of the batik artists we met at the shop. They also took us to the workshop across the street, and showed us the whole process, from drawing with canting, dyeing in barrels, to tumbledrying the cloth.
I bought one batik cloth for me, the one with the simplest pattern, and more for you guys for the giveaway.
As for the dodol, we were taken to Dodol Picnic factory, the most famous one in Indonesia. Dodol is a toffee-like sweets, made of Garut’s original sticky rice, coconut and sugar. Dodol Picnic was founded in 1958. They have not exported the products despite (or because of?) the great success within Indonesia.
I’m not a fan of dodol because it’s too sweet for my liking, but I do like their new innovation of combining dodol and brownies. I guess it’s the brownies that made it for me. Other than that, they’ve also combined dodol with fruits and chocolate, but I can’t say much since I haven’t tried them.
Are you waiting for my story on the leather goods? I wish I could say much, but our plan to visit a leather workshop had to be canceled due to weather condition that kind of messed up our schedule. But worry now, we managed to visit a leather store and I got some goods for you guys!
Saung Angklung Udjo is so famous, I didn’t think I should write about it anymore. But since we’re talking about creativity here, how could I not??
The late Mang Udjo (Mang means uncle in Sundanese) and his wife Uum Sumiati are definitely a couple of Sundanese cultural music heroes. They founded a Sundanese art studio in 1966, which later developed what is now named Saung Angklung Udjo (SAU); saung means hut, angklung is a Sundanese musical instrument made of bamboo and has to be played in a group (I guess you can call it an orchestra). SAU consisted of an amphitheatre where daily angklung performances are held along with Sundanese dances, a gift shop, and an angklung workshop.
What’s interesting about SAU is that they creatively developed their culture to become more current. Initially, the angklung was a pentatonic scale, which later they developed to a heptatonic scale, enabling them to play current modern songs up to orchestral compositions. They adopt internationally known music, such as Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and ABBA’s I Have A Dream, to be performed with angklung! On top of that, visitors are included in playing the songs with an angklung each, conducted by one of their lead players. So it’s not just ‘I’m so good, you watch’, you can really feel the spirit of togetherness. Plus, the Sundanese people’s sense of humor is also there and entertains everbody.
Having said of togetherness, on the contrary I also enjoyed my own time strolling the Cikapundung Street. It’s where most students in Bandung go for thrift magazine shopping. Local and imported magazines, from adventure to graphic design themes, they sell it. I don’t know how, but they often have imported magazines with cheap prices.
I was browsing for design magazines at one of the kiosks when the seller, Uji as I later found out the name, showed me some recommendations. Honestly I was underrating him, I didn’t think he would even understand what the magazines were about. “Well, I have to know what I’m selling. I don’t understand English much, but there’s Google Translate now,” he said. Truly a professional!
More about my amazement with Uji, you can check out here on our Instagram. If you’re curious about Cikapundung Street, pay a stroll on your next visit to Bandung. It’s perpendicular (wow, a Geometry term!) to Asia Afrika Street, diagonal to Alun-Alun (city square).
First of all, these are what you’ll be getting, they’re all from Garut:
What is one creative innovation that you really admire in this world? And why?
It doesn’t have to be something traditional, just anything you think is a creative innovation.
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Easy peasy, right?