| Noraimah Said |
Every place has its specialities and drawbacks. Therefore, comparing one place to another would be defeating the whole purpose of travelling.
Indonesia proves this. Indonesia may not be a first choice for most travellers but because of its cultural diversity, cheap travel rate and many places to visit, the place eventually became very popular especially among budget travellers.
This is evident from the growing number of tourists who visit the country every year, who comprise backpackers and nature and cultural heritage lovers.
Last December 2013, I travelled to two different places in Indonesia: Bandung and Jogjakarta. I found each trip to be very educational. I spent almost a week in Jogja and five days in Bandung.
I agree this may not be enough to fully understand these places but nevertheless it was enough for me to observe their working culture, their standard of living, the environment and most of all, their history and heritage.
What these places taught me was that each place has its own strengths and weaknesses and this is what makes them special and unique.
It was raining heavily in Bandung when I arrived there. It took me nine hours by the Lodaya Pagi train to reach Bandung from Jogja. The executive class cost me only 250,000 Rupiah (27 BND) which I think was very affordable.
The weather was very wet and cold then. It was a bit uncomfortable for me and perhaps for other travellers as well, who preferred to wander around on foot. I suggest you bring jackets and raincoats if you are planning to visit Bandung in December.
Although the traffic here is not as congested as in Jakarta, the streets nevertheless are very busy.
In Bandung you can find factory outlets located everywhere especially in Jeans Street and Cihampelas Street; which are considered to be the most accessible and the most popular places here, particularly amongst Malaysians and Singaporeans. This is one of the reasons why Bandung came to be known as ‘Bandung Paris Van Java’.
However, Bandung is more than just a factory outlet centre. It may not be famous for its cultural heritage but due to its large land area, there are still a lot of places to visit such as: the Forest Conservation Park Juanda, Kawah Putih Crater Lake, Situ Patengan, their strawberry and tea plantation, the Gunung Tangkuban Parahu, and much more.
The Forest Conservation Park Juanda is located in Dago; another district in Bandung. The entrance fee is 75,000 Rupiah (8BND). I suggest you bring your hiking shoes or wear comfortable shoes if you are planning to visit this place, as there will be a lot of hiking and walking and believe me, it will be worth it.
In this park you will find two famous war tunnels: Goa Jepang and Goa Belanda. Both were used by the Japanese and the Dutch during their occupation of Indonesia.
According to the guide, Goa Jepang was built in 1942 during the Japanese Occupation. This tunnel was built by ‘Romusha’ (forced workers) that was composed of the Indonesians themselves, to accommodate weapons and logistics and serve as a protection base for the Japanese.
Goa Belanda was once used by the Dutch as a radio telecommunication station and the remains can still be witnessed on the walls of the tunnel.
In Ciwidey (South Bandung), I managed to visit the Kawah Putih Crater Lake and Situ Patengan. Since it is very far from the city, it is advisable to hire a driver or a charter van.
The cheapest rate is between 150,000-200,000 Rupiah (17-22 BND). Make sure you allocate 45,000 Rupiah for their entrance; the entrance fee for Kawah Putih will be 30,000 Rupiah and Situ Patengan will be 15,000 Rupiah that is around 5BND.
Do bear in mind that the entrance fee for foreigners and locals are different. As mentioned earlier, make sure to bring your jacket or sweater because temperature at these places will be very cold, especially during rainy season.
It was unfortunate of me to have visited Kawah Putih during the rainy season, it turned out to be less worth compared to what I read on the Internet.
It was very cold, sulphur smoke was rising rapidly from the crater and I was unable to see Mt Patuha and the forest surrounding it.
It is advisable to visit this place and Situ Patengan during good weather. Situ Patengan is not far from Kawah Putih, it took me only 30-45 minutes to get to the place. If you are the type who enjoys hot tea or hot coffee and eat corn during cold weather, this is the right place for you.
You will find many ‘warungs’ and stalls along the place. They even sell hand knit sweaters and gloves at a very cheap rate.
Across the place is another small island called the Sasuka Island. You need to use a boat to get across, which will cost you 100,000 Rupiah per person and return.
This small island is quite popular among couples because of its famous rock called “Batu Cinta” where people can sign their names or leave messages on the rock. Other than that, Ciwidey is also known for its strawberry and tea plantation. I was very fortunate to see this along the way while returning, when large areas of its land were covered by strawberry and tea plantations.
I also visited the Gunung Tangkuban Parahu, one of the most interesting and famous places in Bandung. According to the locals, the place has its own legend; the legend of Dayang Sumbi.
It is said that the crater was named after the story of the legend, which looks like an ‘Upturned boat’ (Tangkuban Parahu in Sundanese). The entrance fee will only cost you 50,000 Rupiah (5BND) and please do make sure you wear comfortable shoes because there will be a lot of walking and hiking. Trust me, if you are a photography enthusiast, you will not want to miss the hike.
As a tourist, it is also must to see the Saung Angklung Udjo performance in East Bandung. Again, make sure to rent transportation to go to this place.
Due to its far location, an Angkot (a cheap local transportation which are often use by the public) will not go to this area.
You will either have to alight and use an Ojek (another public local transportation which comprises motorcyclists) just to get to the place which will charge you more compared to renting a transport which will only cost you 100,000 Rupiah.
Moreover, I also suggest to fully charge the battery of your camera and to bring an extra SD card for your video camera or digital camera. If you are the type who likes traditional and cultural show, you will not want to miss recording every bit of their performance.
One of their performances that really caught my eye was the post circumcision ceremonial ritual musical demonstration, also known as “Adat berkhatan”.
The performance demonstrates how a boy is being celebrated merrily by the people of his village after being circumcised.
The ritual marks his first step towards manhood. Highly entertaining and I highly recommend people to visit this place if you visit Bandung and please do try the Bandrek tea which they served at this place.
In terms of entrance fee, they will only charge you 80,000 Rupiah (9BND).
From the places I visited, I not only got to see several aspects of Bandung and their way of living but I also got to understand that Bandung is more than just a centre for a shopping spree.
Turns out, it is more than just a city, it may not hold a lot of history and have a lot of museums and cultural heritage sites such as in Jogjakarta but there are still a lot of interesting and good natural places we can acknowledge when visiting Bandung.