I had arranged for airport pickup service from my hotel ealier so leaving the airport was hassle free. Do not expect lifts or escalators in the airport as there were none. Stairs were everywhere. I felt that I had travelled back to ancient Singapore before independence.
Upon arriving at the hotel, we deposited our luggages with the reception because we were pretty early. We had arrived in Bandung at around 10am after immigration check. First destination was to head to the famous factory outlet, Rumah Mode. Rumah Mode was near our hotel but because of the roads in Bandung were mostly one way, it took us about 10 mins to reach via taxi. The distance covered for us was only IDR25,000, but we got to pay IDR30,000 because there was a minimum rate fixed at IDR30,000. It was then that we knew it was quite near. Not too crowded on an early Thursday morning. I had to come here on weekdays because I had seen reviews that this place would be packed on weekends as people from nearby cities such as Jarkarta would drive down to do shopping because things were relatively cheaper here.
Things were indeed cheap!! I was at the clothings section and I had grabbed quite a few tops. They had a couple of brands such as Zara, Guess, Calvin Klein, DKNY, Hugo Boss, Armani Exchange, Polo Ralph, Forever 21, H&M and some local brands which I was not sure of. Quality were good and because of strict manufacturing requirements for top brands, the NG products were sold here. Most of them were only threading issue but it could not be seen anywhere at all. To me, it looked as if they were bought from the boutiques. I happily gotten 5 tops so I was smiling all the way. We headed for foot massage within the vincity to ease our aching feet after shopping. The massage was very cheap, cheaper than Bangkok too!! 1 hour foot massage was priced at IDR68,000...
Note that it was a different massage style as Bangkok. The foot massage was pressure point massage, probably Javanese style. Experience was alright and we will be back again for the foot massage, probably going for 2 hours the next round. We took lunch there, ordered Ayam Penyet to try but the chicken somehow seemed small.
The chicken used was kampong chicken and the chilli was not spicy enough for me. The dish was tasty but the chicken wasn't fulfilling enough for me... heehee. Now that I knew that they cooked using kampong chicken, I could ask for big chicken in the next Ayam order. There were not many photos taken because hands were full carrying stuffs. We headed to the nearby supermarket, bought water and went back hotel. Flagging down taxis were not an easy task. We flagged as we walked, and in the end, we had walked back to our hotel instead. Luckily I brought along some maps. Was expecting no maps provided in this place.
After checking into the hotel, we relaxed for awhile before proceed out to explore nearby areas. Our hotel was located along Jalan Cihampelas, FaveHotel Premier Cihampelas, subsidiary of Aston Tropicana, a bigger and luxury hotel.
Ours was a 3 star compared to next door, a 5 star hotel. Amenities were still acceptable for us. We headed out to walk along Jalan Cihampelas and well, it was eye opener for me. It was one way traffic and there was no pedestrian crossings anywhere. In fact, everywhere were the pedestrian crossings. Just followed the locals and zig-zagged your way passed the vehicles, surprisingly, they would slow down to let you cross the road.
We headed into the shopping mall at Cihampelas Walk and it was flooded with youngsters. It was similar to the good old days of Lucky Plaza back home where students made it their favourite hangout place. It was a shopping mall with lots of eating choices available for selection. We went for dinner in one of the local restaurants which served Indonesian food with abit touch of western flavour.
Nothing fantastic about the food but I just love the crackers on it. We took a short walk around the area before heading back to the hotel to call it a day.
Day 2 of our itinery was to visit Tangkuban Perahu. I had pre-arranged a One Day tour from a local agent to bring us around. We had breakfast at our hotel early as the pick up for us was at 8am. We headed straight to the volcano and it was about an hour drive there. Entry fee was IDR200,000 per pax and IDR45,000 per vehicle. Come to think of it, a beautiful natural formation of mother nature led to improper ways of making of money. Every entry to the craters requires you to pay an entry fee and the payment was not a small amount. It ranged from IDR150,000 to IDR200,000 per pax. I was so taken aback with all these unscrupulous methods of making money. Mother nature gave you that crater FOC!!
The view above was beautiful. I had never seen a volcano before therefore I stood there admiring it with appreciation. It was a cool and windy day, weather was good, and there was no smell of sulphur at Tangkuban Perahu as it was a semi-dormant volcano. I could not see any boiling mud or liquid either as compared to Dieng back in Jogja. Nevertheless, it was still a spectacular view.
Be sure to try out the local snacks up there... The fried banana and sweet potato tasted great under the chilling weather. There were also local souvenirs shops selling hand made stuffs. We walked around to take a look and some of them were pretty unique.
Our guide was telling us that there were additional charge if we were going to visit the other 2 craters. Well, since this crater was the best of the three, we decided to skip the other two. He took us to visit Tea and Coffee Plantation. The coffee plantation was home of the civet cat. The cat fed on coffee cherries. Only when it could not digest the stones (beans), it crapped them out through its anal gland emitting a smoothness to the resulted coffee. The Luwak coffee was one of the most expensive coffee in the world. Luckily for me, I am not a coffee lover therefore it saved me some cash.
We proceeded on to the strawberry farm and spent about an hour there. Most of the strawberries had been plucked so you got to climb up far to hunt for some. Quite a good experience too... The entry fee comes with a free strawberry drink after you had completed your harvest.
There were also other insects discovey in the strawberry farm. The best shot was capturing a bee approaching the flower.
Our guide brought us to visit the Floating market and I felt that it was a great suggestion. This is Lembang Floating Market. It felt peaceful and homely in the enclosed compound. There were many activities for the kids, making it a perfect family outing here.The walk from the entrance to the Floating market felt quite relaxing alongside a pond.
Finally we reached the Floating Market. There were alot of boats selling food. And the place smelt so hungry. I tried the Otak Otak which was white in color, and the batagor (fried fish dumplings with tahu). It was heavenly tasty! I loved it...
The serving was not small too... After eating just two of the so called snacks, I felt full... What about lunch at Kampong Duan? We came to a conclusion that we decided to skipped the lunch too... The food aroma in the Floating Market was so alluring.
We moved on to our next destination, Dago Pakar also known as Juanda Forest Park. I wanted to experience cave walk. The walk from the entrance to the cave would take you about 2 hours covering a distance of about 3km. To my amazement, my guide took us in through the back gate, where walking to the caves was like about 15mins. I felt relieved!!
We arrived at our first cave, the Dutch cave, Gua Belanda. It was a cave in total darkness. There were people offering torch light for usage and charges IDR5,000 per torch. We used our light from our mobile phones. It was cooling as you walked through the cave. You could feel that the walls of the cave were cold because it was under the hill. We moved on to the next cave, the Japanese cave, Goa Jepang. Our guide brought us on a separate route in Goa Jepang to see bats!! They were so small and cute! My camera could not capture it as they were flying all over the place. I had never seen bats before and I found them so adorable.
Before leaving Dao Parkar Park, we visited the museum but there was nothing much. Rain came down on us suddenly and we ran for the car. We made our last stop at the local bakery before calling it a day. I would suggest getting Kartika Sari brownie over Amanda brownie. I bought both and I felt that Kartika Sari tasted better. Our second day ended well with dinner at the hotel restaurant having abit of western food.
Our Day 3 intinery was basically sight seeing around nearby areas and visiting the factory outlets in Dago area. After breakfast we took a morning stroll along the street of Jalan Cihampelas, right turn into Jalan SIliwangi, walked all the way and another right turn to Jalan Dago (H.Djuanda). The walk was pretty cool and relaxing and you get to explore the streets and alleys of the residential areas. Not many people would visit a developing country especially where dirty places along the street still existed.
The stretch of Jalan Dago had a couple of factory outlets and I visited few of them such as Grande, Polo Ralph, Nike, Jetset, Blossoms and Glow. It was raining, so we decided to stop for lunch at an Italian restaurant which also had a taste of Indonesian flavour, which was well within our sight.
When the rain had eased a little, we continued our shopping walk along Dago until our legs could bring us no more. We headed back in the direction of our hotel walking along the small streets, passing by the Institute of Technology University of Bandung, cutting through Jalan Pelisiran and appearing out at Jalan Cihampelas. It was a long long walk through the local residential street, looking at the lives of the local people.
We stop-by the jeans shop outside our hotel for length alterations on the jeans we had bought before heading back to rest. An old experienced uncle did the alterations within 10 mins for a pair of jeans at IDR20,000 and it was nicely done.
We washed up abit then headed back to Rumah Mode to do a 2 hour foot massage. Nice and beautiful relaxing ambience to rest our feet. It was really pampering after a day of walking. We took dinner at a local restaurant which we saw along the way when we walked to Rumah Mode, SUHARTI restaurant.
We realized that they were famous for their Ayam Goreng! We were in luck!! The fried chicken was good, and I would give two thumbs up. Knowing that the chickens in Bandung were small, we ordered Ayam Goreng Besar, which means BIG! Well, it turned out just nice for us. It was delicious, yummy and tasty. The crumbs were crispy and did not feel oily. We loved that Ayam Goreng! I could probably finished the whole chicken myself.
On the last day, that is Day 4, we did our last minute shopping nearby and trying to taste some local food sold on the push carts. They tasted fantastic and yummy... I found my Batagor again and its a must for me to eat one last time before heading home.
The durian ice cream cooled our throat of the food we had. We bough some local snacks, mainly banana fritters as they were famous for it. The fried it on the spot and was packed freshly. It was nice but very heaty for the body. We had some desserts before returning back to the hotel as there were still time for us. And finally, off we go to the airport and HOME SWEET HOME.
This concluded the end of our trip. And rest assure, I will be back in Bandung again... :)