Saturday, December 10, 2016

5 Days, 4 Nights Itinerary to Bandung, the Paris of Java @ Indonesia

A few months ago, i was reminiscing the South Korea trip with my crazy sisters and the conversation eventually veered to planning a short five days, four nights getaway and before i knew it; tickets were purchased, hotel was booked and i had in fact returned from the trip earlier this week! 

Destination - Bandung in Indonesia! I was surprised that quite a number of friends are not aware of Indonesia's third largest city that's located at a cool altitude of 768 meters; they thought i was referring to the rose syrup drink we have in Singapore that's also known by the same name. 

I didn't take as many photographs as i expected (4,000 odd and further pared to less than 3,000) but they were sufficient for me to generate a decent itinerary for publication on this blog. Links shall be updated in due course. :).

Conversion: S$1 equates to roughly 10,000 rupiah.

Singapore - Bandung
[5.44 am Singapore Time] Arrival by taxi at Terminal 2 of Changi International Airport - compared to a midnight flight (as in the case of the Beijing and Guilin), my body is better attuned to an early morning journey. 

[8.45 am Singapore Time] Even though we were scheduled to take off at 8 am, the Silk Air plane was delayed for 45 minutes, seemingly due to passengers' luggage that had yet to be loaded and heavy air traffic typical of December school holiday period! 

[9.34 am Indonesia Time]  Bandung is an hour behind Singapore and shortly after the picture was taken (about five minutes later), we touched down on the runway of Husein Sastranegara (BDO) airport. 

[10.27 am] By the time we cleared immigration and collected our luggage, it was an hour later. To prevent yourself from paying highly inflated taxi fare, buy the ticket from the taxi counter (shown above) before you leave the departure gate. The destination and corresponding fare would be indicated on the ticket (i.e. our journey to Best Western Premier La Grande cost 60,000 rupiah).

Boarding one of the many blue taxis in a row that's just a stone throw from the airport; literally across the road. I wrongly assumed they belonged to the reputable blue bird brand given their blueness.  

[10.45 am] Best Western Premier La Grande hotel - a day short of its one year birthday, this is a four-star hotel with over 190 rooms and came equipped with a gym, heated swimming pool (sheltered) and has KFC as its immediate neighbour!

Check-in, as expected, was from 2 pm and we took to the shopping mall (Bandung Indah Plaza) right across the street to jump start our shopping! The hypermarket was our first target as we wanted to run through the products and prices so that we can consolidate and buy everything at one shot on the last day. 

[11.52 am] Baso Polos (with egg) from Baso by Mister Baso (that's honestly a mouthful of basos) - checking out the popular local dish that can be found everywhere! Hm..... I prefer my ban mian kosong although it might have been a different story if i was more diligent in seeking out the best Baso in Bandung.

[1.57 pm] Loving the hotel room with a city and mountain view! As my dad didn't join us, i shall be bunking in with my elder sister who sleeps late and wakes up early. Good luck to me! 

[3.20 pm] Bathed and rest for a while and we stepped out for the one activity that Bandung is famous for; factory outlet shopping where we conquered Secret, Heritage and Cascade! I had generated a separate post on outlet shopping here as i literally went crazy with their offerings and i don't even shop much in Singapore...

[7.22 pm] It was already so late by the time we were done with outlet shopping! My dinner was an unsatisfying plate of Mie Goreng from Rumah Makan Sedap Purwakarta at Riau Junction.

Bandung 
[6.56 am] After a short workout at the gym, it's time for breakfast at the hotel's Parc De Ville restaurant. Do note that the sun rises at about 5.30 am in Bandung so don't make the mistake, as i did, of forgetting to draw the room's curtains before i slept the night before! 

[8.00 am] Our assigned car with a driver (Mr Askan) that we pre-booked way before the trip. The rental rate was 600,000 rupiah per day, maximum 14 hours starting from 8 am and doesn't include driver's meals (50,000 a day), entrance fees to attractions, toll fees and parking charges. You may arrange with Ms Ratna via whatsapp; +62 812-2015-474.

[9.04 am] Bandung is blessed with a lot of natural attractions within a few hours' drive from the main city centre and one of them is the volcanic craters of Mount Tangkuban Perahu! Beautiful place although i baulked at its exorbitant entry price for foreigners (200,000 rupiah per person on weekday)! 

[10.30 am] Weather wasn't too good and mum was not keen to hike to the supposedly better looking crater known as Kawah Domas. Hence, we continued our journey to Sari Ater Hot Spring Park where we spent a long two hours gallivanting in the mineral rich water; ticket was 28,000 rupiah per person on weekday. It was much better than the Sabah's Poring Hot Spring

[12.40 pm] Stopped by this tea plantation with a fantastic view. As i just returned from Cameron Highlands, i specifically ruled out any stopover at a tea house. Nevertheless, i couldn't help having my breath being taken away when faced with such scenery. 

[2.04 pm] Late lunch at Kampung Daun; a themed restaurant where customers dined in straw huts surrounded by the melodies from birds and the water from the nearby stream. 

[3.52 pm] Started pouring and temperature started dropping with strong howling wind! Looking at the time, we had roughly only about two hours of daylight before the sun sets for the day. 

[4.06 pm] Heavy rain had given way to a light drizzle when we reached Dusun Bambu Family Leisure Park! Mum opted to stay in the warm food court whereas the kids (Joyce, Louise and i) wandered out to explore the place! 

There's an iconic photo that everyone will take when they are at Dusun Bambu. Sadly, the 'bird's nests' were closed due to the potential dangers of falling trees and i had to make do with the Purbasari, a Sundanese restaurant with a theme similar to Kampung Daun; albeit next to a lake. 

[6.33 pm] Back in Bandung to dine at the Stone Cafe; well, we were seated on wooden flooring (not stone, not marble, not granite) and it was the night time city view that drew us. Loving the Pisang Goreng Keju and Tom Yum Goong too! 

Bandung
[7.30 am] Mr Askan had requested for an earlier timing as we would be going to Kawah Putih (White Crater); a drive of at about two hours. The area was more rural too and with that means plenty of chances to see horse-drawn carriages ferrying passengers along the roads! 

[9.01 am] Tickets were separately purchsed from a shopfront in a town; doubt it is a scam since the amount we paid was no difference from what we had sourced from the web; 50,000 rupiah per person and 150,000 per car (we chose to pay for the car for convenience as we need not wait for the internal shuttle and can reach the crater earlier).

There was a heavy downpour in the morning and the road up to Kawah Putih was blocked by fallen trees; Mr Askan suggested going to another attraction first as no estimated timeline on the 'reopening of road' was given. Stopping by the Tea Plantation in Ciwidey along the way as i couldn't forgo the opportunity to take this picture! 

[9.48 am] Situ Patenggang - a lake that's located 1,600 meters above sea level. The lake didn't quite amaze me as much as the boat structure that appeared to have run aground in freakish weather! Admission was 20,000 rupiah per person and 5,000 rupiah for the car. 

The calm lake with chalet-like accommodation that can be rented; scenery wise, it was a sight i would love to wake up too but as a whole, the Baofeng Lake at Hunan was way more spectacular.... 

[11.12 am] Started raining cats and dogs again and i am aware this would increase the difficulty for removal of the fallen trees; as expected, the road remained closed.

[11.30 am]  Early lunch at the nearby Saung Gawir even though our initial plan was to partonise Sindang Reret which was much further away. We were still hoping that the trees can be removed soon so that we would not miss the attraction said to be a die-die must visit. 

Not complaining about the view at Saung Gawir though and i must say the mountain breeze was most invigorating! Mum couldn't stand the cold and insisted i drew the wooden blinds before she were to freeze to death! 

[12.56 pm] Access to Kawah Putih continued to be closed and we went literally next door to Ranca Upas (entry at 15,000 rupiah per person on weekends) to check out the deer conservation park; park would be an exaggeration as it was more an over-sized pen to hold the deer in so that visitors can buy the carrots at 10,000 rupiah a bag to entice them to get closer.

[1.36 pm] With a ton of time to spare as nothing was conclusive on the entry to Kawah Putih, Mr Askan proposed driving to a less developed crater known as Kawah Rengganis (admission at 30,000 rupiah per person), which we gamely agreed! 

[2.00 pm] This was the time when i got stung by a hornet for no apparent reason! To read more on the incident, please click here

[2.15 pm] With the help of the kind villagers who flicked off the hornet that was stuck in my hair, rubbed raw garlic on the stings and helped to buy a pill (guess to dispel poison and reduce swelling), i continued my journey to Kawah Rengganis and came to a magnificent world that's almost my definition for paradise! Pity i didn't bring extra clothing to soak in the hot spring! 

[4.08 pm] Mum was on the lookout for raw keropok (crackers) that can be fried at the comfort of her home and we were brought to Sari Manis rest stop where a man was frying tempeh crackers! Eh, how would he drain the oil at the end of the day?

[6.52 pm] The weekends could only mean one thing for the road; traffic jams as residents from Jakarta flocked to Bandung for a weekend getaway. Already closed to 7pm when we decided to eat at Richeese Factory at the Bandung Electronic Centre behind Best Western hotel

By the way, Richeese Factory sells fried chicken (not cheesecakes) and i was impressed with their spicy hot fire chicken! Interestingly, you can also dip the fried chicken in cheese! 

[8.22 pm] Pop-up pet store on along the street but it's your typical pets; there were iguanas, hedgehogs, snakes and even owls! Click here fore more pictures.

Night was still young and both mum and Joyce decided to hit this multiple-level factory outlet shop next to Best Western! I am the lousy one as i left after a while in the outlet shop; my body badly wanted to take a shower and sleep the night away! 

Bandung
[5.30 am] Woke up at this ungodly hour as i can hear my sister preparing for breakfast with my mom. I languished in bed for at least an hour plus before joining them. This fried egg topped with achar and spicy onion soy sauce was so yummy; i had like two plates to myself and shared another plate with my family.

[9.28 am] It's car free day on Sundays for a number of roads in Bandung and thinking there might be carnivals or interesting things to see, we specially walked to the one rather near to Braga Street. 

No big scale carnival even though we did chance upon cosplayers, buskers and a small bazaar for anime lovers. Nothing interesting in fact and the walk in rather warm weather didn't sit in too well with the ladies in my family.

[10.07 am] Took a cab to Paris Van Java; ranked number 8 on tripadvisor, i was totally bored in this huge shopping mall with department store (sogo), loads of eateries and a high number of branded stores. C'mon, we have plenty of them in Singapore and it's not as if there's massive saving to buy the branded products here.

[12.48 pm] Lunch at Pepper Lunch! Don't think i would be reviewing it separately as i was too busy making sure my beef was not overcooked and didn't take any photo after the above.

[4.29 pm] Rumah Mode - the indisputable queen when it comes to outlet shopping in Bandung and we confirmed its title by spending close to three hours shopping! The biggest bag (mom was holding it) is mine.

[6.05 pm] Going the local way for dinner; by the roadside and we were not disappointed; everything at the roadside stalls was delicious despite the super economical pricing! 

[7.23 pm] Kartikasari - Joyce and i volunteered to walk to this famous cake shop that's about 1.3 kilometer so that we would know how much time was needed for the same trip the following morning! Louise and mom didn't join us as they had an appointment for massage.

[8.52 pm] Hypermarket at Bandung Indah Plaza where Joyce went on a shopping spree for last minute purchases since we would be returning back to Singapore the next day! 

Bandung - Singapore
[7.29 am] Breakfast time and it's our usual fried egg with toppings! p.s. the toppings were all taken from other dishes in the buffet; an ingenious idea by Joyce! 

[8.47 am] Amanda - its fame surpassed Kartikasari for its steamed brownies! We were supposed to walk to Kartikasari but it started drizzling! Since we would be taking a cab anyway; we figured we might as well go to Amanda Brownies which is 2.6 kilometers from Best Western.

[9.08 am] Carrying boxes of brownies to be brought back to Singapore, we decided to take a rest at the Korean-imported Caffe Bene as the numerous factory outlets along the road would only be open from 10 am. Both sisters were too bored and started posing with the fake bingsu! See, craziness runs in my family and to be honest, i am not the worst! 

[11.00 am] The ladies spent so much time in Episode Fashion House and knowing time wasn't exactly on our side, i explored a few branded outlets in close proximity (i.e. Adidas) on my own. Pricing for those specific-brand outlets was comparable to Singapore and my love is skewed towards those bigger ones offering clothing from numerous brands! 

[11.13 am] Once again at Kartikasari! Didn't buy any cake as i doubt we can carry any more. However, we did purchase quite a bit of almond cookies, butter toasts and fried bananas! 

[12.58 pm] Late check-out was approved till 1.00 pm and i rushed like mad to tidy my luggage! Last photo of the view in my room before i closed the door.

[1.52 pm] Arrival at bandung airport way ahead of time as the cab that the hotel reception helped to call reached much earlier than expected! By the way, above was the haul we brought back to Singapore and it didn't include our backpacks; out of the loads on the two trolleys, three pieces belonged to me.

Advice for those at Bandung Airport - go through the security scan and check in your luggage first as you can pop out of the airport for Starbucks or additional dining options once you are done. 

[2.30 pm] For us, we chose Bim burger and fried chicken where Joyce finally had her cup of Ais Alpukat (Iced Avocado)! By the way, those who couldn't get the brownies from Amanda can buy them at a slightly higher price from a shop inside the airport (before you go through the security scan for check-in).

[3.04 pm] Bearing hopes that there would be more for us to shop / eat after clearing immigration, i am disappointed to find a rather small international departure section. At least an hour to go before we can board the plane. 

[4.45 pm] Plane departed from Bandung airport, bypassing fluffy clouds, towering mountains, meandering rivers and little dots on the surface.

Travelling at this time would also mean we could catch the amazing sunset from high up in the sky! Luckily, there was an empty window seat facing the west where i could move to! 

[7.28 pm Singapore Time] We would have touched down much earlier but the pilot was requested by Changi control tower to hold its position for quite a while before the plane was allowed to land. Guess too much air traffic again. Anyway, home sweet home! 

=====

Expenses
  • Airfare + Hotel (Twin Sharing) - S$399 per person
  • Car Rental (includes meal allowance for driver) - 650,000 rupiah a day
  • Entry to Attractions - About 500,000 rupiah per person 
  • Miscellaneous (including meals) - S$300 worth of rupiah
  • p.s. bring credit card as major factory outlets would accept them.


Additional Information
  • Prepare loads of small change (2,000 rupiah) as you would need them for parking to attractions and toilets! 
  • Starhub users can apply for DataTravel which cost only S$15 / S$20 for 2 / 3 gigabytes of roaming data. I relied heavily on them to bring us around the city without a car!  
  • Download Google Translate app on your phone! English isn't widely spoken and often in bits and pieces; having some knowledge on Bahasa Indonesia would be great but if you are as bad as me, having google translate can be extremely helpful. 
  • There is almost no pedestrian crossing (i saw just one) and please be careful when you are crossing roads or walking on them when pedestrian walkway is unavailable. 

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