Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by indohoyindohoy on 27 January 2011 • Itinerary
Here is a town dear to our hearts, and I’m sure Vira concurs this. Bandung is the town where I grew up and developed myself to the grand person that I am *cough*. I always end up coming back to enjoy what the city has to offer. Well, apart from the fact that my folks live on the outskirts hehehehe… Growing up, I would take 2 hours just to commute to and from the city. Why? Not only does the city provide good schools and great environment to spend my adolescent years, it also offers you great food, interesting venues, and a humble setting far less compared to the capital.
This time, we’ll go for the grand crater of Mount Tangkuban Parahu and the infamous source of traditional bamboo music, Saung Mang Udjo. And we’ll toss in few other extras.
You can easily hate Bandung, being the 3rd largest city after Jakarta and Surabaya and on the weekends when it’s jam-packed with visitors with their private vehicles. Let this be an advance warning to all! However, it’s easy to melt to Bandung. It’s surrounded by mountains, giving it a cool ambiance to the city and a great scenery especially the landscape view. It’s a great city also because we don’t have buses, we only have angkots roaming the streets because of the small roads, reducing the metropolitan feel to it. Its nickname is Parijs van Java because it resembles (or used to resemble) Paris or the streets of Europe. I’ve never been to Europe, so I wouldn’t know. But this happy condition can only be enjoyed during weekdays and beyond rush hour. And this is how Vira and I enjoyed it.
Mount Tangkuban Parahu
Let’s have a little field trip beyond the city. Mount Tangkuban Parahu is located just outside of Lembang, the North suburban area of Bandung. This mountain is easily noticed from almost any part of the city. Its rectangular shape gives it away compared to the Galunggung Mountain, just beside it, being triangular like any other mountain peak.
Tangkuban Parahu actually means upside down boat. With a little imagination, you can see why it’s called that way. To make a very long legend short, it is said that this mountain was actually a huge boat. It was built on Mount Galunggung, which functioned as the footing.
Legend says a hunk, called Sangkuriang, fell in love with his mother without him knowing. Sick, I know! His mother, Dayang Sumbi, is said to refuse and tries to explain that she is his mother, but in my opinion kinda led him on. In order to reject Sangkuriang, she made an impossible challenge, which is to make this monstrous boat that should be finished before dawn. Of course, with the help of genies on your side, what CAN’T you do, right? So the mother cheated and faked a dawn ambiance in the area. Sangkuriang got so pissed off, he kicked the boat, sending it flying through the air and falling upside down to where it currently exists. Now, if that’s not drama, I don’t know what is!
What to do
I came here when I was small and seldom revisited the area during my college years. I studied Biology especially in environment; hence this mountain was always our guinea pig, if you know what I mean. I use to camp here for fun, for projects and for fun… did I say that already? Vira and I happened to take my dad’s mini sedan. It took us about an hour drive with it.
How do you know if you’re approaching the gates of Tangkuban? The pine forest, of course! Once the road is tunneled by pine trees, it’s time to get ready for the gates of the mountain. Once reaching the gate, our car needed to breath a little. So we strolled out to the neighboring tea plantation just to get the feel of the area. Ah… T as far as the I’s can C.
Entering the gates, foreigners will have to pay about IDR 50,000 / person. From the gate it’s about 4-5 km of winding asphalt, with patches of moderate quality road on the way. Don’t be surprised if the gates are not always open. Since this is an active volcano, having discharged sulphuric fumes, once the concentration reaches an unhealthy level the gates are closed. Usually September has the most closed days.
One can walk or use other means of transportation. It’s a nice way up, having lush green scenery until you meet an opening, which would be Kawah Ratu or Queen Crater. You can smell that you’re close to the crater, the stench of rotten eggs gives it away. There’s actually another crater just beyond this one called Kawah Upas.
It’s hard to describe the crater itself. It’s just grand and for those that have never been to a crater, it’s probably surreal being so close to a source of disaster. Yes, it can erupt at anytime, but I’m sure there would be warnings of it long before the eruption. Exhilarating?
Around the crater, you will find countless hawkers selling everything, from furry hats and matching bags, strawberries, sulfur sand, to stalls selling food, clothes and things that probably would surprise you. It’s pretty weird having a market all the way up at the rim of a volcano, isn’t it?
Makes you wonder what the standard of safety is for Indonesian huh?
You can also walk around the rim to reach the remaining land between the Ratu and Upas crater. Once you see the crater, walk around it to your right and follow the path and pass the market. You would soon be at the gate to enter the boundary land of the craters. And once you get to it, Voila! You’re in a crater! You can even do your victory dance there since it’s a fair amount of land. It’s chilly and usually windy, so don’t forget your windbreakers.
There actually is another crater about 1.3 km down from the market. You would see signs showing you the way and probably pass the gate when going up. It’s a pleasant walk down to this crater with a man-made path provided for you. As I recall, you can boil eggs and eat them straight away at this crater, just to add the adventure of being inside one. Beware of slippery and relatively muddy paths during rainy days!
We actually didn’t have time to get to this crater, but we’ll leave you to adventure and see for yourself this time.
Saung Mang Udjo
Saung mang Udjo is one of my favorite spots to take any visitor. I’ve taken a few people here for the sake of entertainment. It’s a place to introduce angklung, one of West Java’s traditional instruments. As an intro, angklung is an instrument made of bamboo. It’s constructed as such, relying on the resonance of the bamboo hitting each other. One angklung can only play one note, thus it takes a lot of angklungs to actually play a song. Do I sound a bit geeky about it? Probably! I used to love playing it in high school.
The late Mang Udjo Ngalagena established this little bamboo complex since 1966. He and his extended family have been introducing and developing the instrument and culture on an international scale, and it’s still based here, in the heart of the province of its origin.
Without going in too much details, the Saung, another name for gazebo, will also present a sequence of various West Java traditional performance, not only the ones with angklung. You would see the Sundanese puppets, beautiful local dancers, and traditional instrument ensembles. Puppets in West Java are 3D, unlike the well-known 2D from Central Java. The dances are a lot more dynamic and brightly decorated compared to its neighboring province. The instrument might seem the same, but is significantly different. Sitting in the audience bench in the huge amphitheater, you will be educated about these arts.
Helaran – To cheer up a boy that had just circumsised
To top it off, most of the acts will be presented by teenagers and children as young as you can imagine. I’m not gonna lie, you will see children that are bored to death doing this every single day. But that’s the spice of the show. Their expressions are priceless. Not to mention, if they try to amuse themselves by doin their own thang!
The cherry on top…. well, I’m not going to spoil the surprise they have prepared for you. But in my opinion, your money will not be wasted. Tickets are IDR 80,000 / person for international tourists, and IDR 50,000 for domestic visitors. And you get a cool mini angklung pin and a hot glass of bandrek, a ginger drink ,to accompany you during the show. Show starts at around 2 pm pm for about 2 hours.
Saung Mang Udjo
Jln. Padasuka 118, Bandung 40192 West Java – INDONESIA
Phone. +62 22 727 1714, +62 22 710 1736
Fax. +62 22 720 1587
E-mail : email@example.com
Oh, and did I mention the lovely handicraft store in the complex? Well you can get a lot of handmade goods from this shop. From angklung, to pens with puppets on the end, bookmarks, key chains, etc. And the prices are relatively cheap for detailed work.
As an additional to Vira’s visit to Bandung, we stopped to buy some martabak at a recommended vendor. In front of this vendor is the Andir night market. This is a market that sells produce and other daily needs. There’s nothing special about this market other than it opens at night till dusk. They clean, peal, skin, pluck, separate, dice, cut, mince in the market. It’s the best way to see how your food used to look like, and how it’s processed too.
For some reason, some Indonesians men are just darn exhibitionists. Don’t get me wrong, I mean they love to pose for the camera, and they don’t really care about the results. So it was easy to just snap away a few pics without offending anybody.
We have an idea that the sights here are not what you would see in developing countries. So, enjoy!
Anyone will tell you that when you come to Bandung you have to eat Batagor. Batagor is an abbreviation of Baso tahu goreng or fried meatballs and tofu. It’s basically a traditional dish of deep fried tofu filled with Indonesian meatball mix. More pictures here. It’s usually served with spicy peanut sauce, soy sauce, and a squeeze of lime.
There are tons of people selling batagor, but this time we’re presenting only one. This one is the least common batagor of all my family favorites. It’s the Batagor Elizabeth, sold with the cendol (to be elaborated below). This venue is located at Jl. Inhoftank, around the Moh. Toha area. It’s a bit hard to get to, and the best shot of getting there besides a map is ask the locals. But the batagor is great. It’s just the right size and has a spicy sauce to it.
And yes, it’s considered as snack since it’s not rice!
While cendol is similar to the Dawet, Vira described about it once upon a time. It’s just named differently in West Java. Everybody knows, cendol Elizabeth is the best around. There are so many fakes going around just to poof that point, but the only original one has moved to this Jl. Inhoftank area and no longer reside in front of the Elizabeth store, as once all knew. Hah!
(note: Elizabeth is actually a bag shop, in front of which the cendol stall used to be.)
Es Cendol Elizabeth
Jl. Inhoftank No. 64
Telp. +62 22 520 9126
Reading lights is one of my favorite places to hang, meat friends, and have a snack in between. Its location is very strategic although very stuck in the middle of a traffic jam area. Oh well…. it basically is a secondhand bookstore/ gallery that has a small café inside. It’s simple with an old feeling to it. You can read or hang there accompanied by the great food and drinks they serve. And the price is very much affordable of about less than IDR 30,000 / dish or drink.
Now this shindig is a newbie to the hood. It’s a great place to get your yummy organic food, and to my surprise, tasted great. I’ve had the sandwiches here, and I can tell you it’s hard to find really good affordable western style sandwich in Indonesia. Here is the place to find it! It’s a lot more expensive than the munchies above but health is definitely worth it.
And the ambience? Oh how I heart the ambience. It’s outdoors made indoors. It has a friendly setting for any gathering and very green to the eye. And you can ask our design specialist, Vira (which then butts in and says she’s a sucker for well-designed dining places), that it was very well decorated, making you want to come back and stay longer just to update the gossip with your buds.
A quite large sandwich will cost IDR 30,000 alone, not including drinks.
Jl. Sumatera no 21
Phone: +62 22 423 5935
There are many ways to Bandung these days. With the convenience of the Cipularang, abbreviated from Cikampek Purwakarta Padalarang highway, Bandung is only about 3 hours away from Jakarta, sometimes even 2 or 2,5 hours, depending on how fast and crazy the driving. Public transport services usually use this highway to get to Bandung. Starting from buses, shuttle buses, rental cars, or even your friends would prefer this highway. It’s a nice 2 hours on the road and the highway is eye candy especially on a sunny day. You can see rice fields, tea plantations, and high rising hills and mountains in the distance.
Here are some of our favorite transportation choices from Jakarta.
Bold locations are where you are probably nearest to.
· Cipaganti Bandara Soekarno Hatta(021)55910074 – 55910092 – 55910042 – 55912616
· Cipaganti Pondok Indah (Arteri Pondok Indah)(021) 7204616 – 7204766 – 7204447
· Cipaganti Bintaro(021) 68801928
· Cipaganti BSD Serpong(021) 92951265
· Cipaganti Satrio/Cipaganti Casablanca(021) 57851682
· Cipaganti Lenteng Agung(021) 68801911
· Cipaganti Cikini Raya(021) 3147854 – 3904403
· Cipaganti ITC Cempaka Mas(021) 68801927
· Cipaganti Cililitan/Cipaganti Dewi Sartika(021) 98832652 – 68801926
· Cipaganti Mangga Dua Square(021) 68801921 – 62313227
· Cipaganti Grogol(021) 56969902 / 98198255
· Cipaganti Bekasi/Metropolitan Mall 2(021) 8894208 – 92951387
· Cipaganti Blora Jakarta(021) 3146444 – 99600549
· Cipaganti Cibubur(021) 9896 9891 – 71411191
· Cipaganti Kebon Jeruk/Cipaganti Meruya(021) 99650656 – 71619533
· Cipaganti Lebak Bulus (Carrefour Lebak Bulus)(021) 99650750 – 32115050
· Cipaganti Jatiwatingin(021) 8621522 – 92951397 – 71004892
Shuttle hubs are distributed throughout the city. You can find the nearest you through this link. Price: IDR 70,000 / pax including a small bottle of mineral water.
Also a shuttle bus service, it has less hubs than Xtrans and Cipaganti. But it’s Vira’s favorite because the seats are arranged with an aisle between them, so other passengers won’t be sleeping with their heads on your shoulders.. It costs IDR 70,000 / pax and here’s their official website http://www.cititrans.co.id/2010/
I personally love to use this bus rather than the shuttle. It’s a lot more quiet and softer on the suspension compared to the diesel shuttle busses. The Primajasa busses are usually found in every bus terminal in Jakarta to name a few Lebak Bulus, Kampung Rambutan, and Cawang. However, buses from the terminals end up in either Leuwipanjang or Cicaheum terminal in Bandung. It’s a bit inconvenient compared to the city center pool stations of the shuttle busses.
Unless you catch the Primajasa bus from the airport, then you can end in the Bandung Super Mall located on Jl. Gatot Subroto. This is actually a nice ride and it costs a little less than the shuttles being IDR 60,000 / pax. Buses leave every hour up to 10 pm.
Bandung has a small airport, Husein Sastranegara, located not far from the city center. There are several local airlines servicing to Bandung namely Lion Air, Merpati, Sriwijaya, to name a few. However, I personally don’t recommend this means of transportation. The flight is about 40 minutes, but a total 3 hours of hustle if you add the check in and luggage waiting time, not to mention the traffic you might catch to and from the airport both in Jakarta and Bandung. A 3 hours day trip is a lot better.
Getting around in Bandung is relatively convenient having small angkots or private car size public transport. However, there are so many routes it’s kinda hard to explain how to get somewhere because it really depends where you’re from and where you’re heading. But if you’re diligent or curious, you can as the locals or you hotel staff how to get somewhere and how. Or check this website out and have a blast deciphering how you’re going to get somewhere specific. It’s in Indonesia, but then again, you can probably practice your Indonesian speaking also 🙂