Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bandung, the City of Factory Outlets

It was almost 9 months ago when my friend texted me and asked if I were keen to go on an all-girls trip to Bandung for a spot of shopping and sightseeing. I have always heard from other friends that Bandung is quite a nice place to go with really cheap clothes shopping so I said YES!

Our 5 days 4 nights trip spanned over the weekday, which meant there was less crowd and less traffic. We stayed at this place called Amaris Cimanuk solely for the reason that it was close to several Factory Outlets (FO). Amaris is very basic, fairly clean and suited our needs for sleeping, showering and breakfast to fuel our days.

Rather than just shopping, we tried to fit in some sight seeing. With two active volcanoes nearby, we decided to go to the nearer one, Gunung Tangkuban Parahu, which is about a 45 min drive from the city. Unfortunately for us, we were smack in the middle of the rainy season and it was pouring when we arrived.

The signboard taken from inside the car.
The greenish pool which looks a lot greyer through the curtain of rain. It's huge!
The trees were a brown black from the volcanic activity around the area.
An enterprising vendor was valiantly frying tofu in the rain, occasionally repositioning his large umbrella.
They were also selling volcanic ash. "Good for your face skin!"
Interestingly, many vendors chased after us and were selling... Naruto figurines. I have no idea why they are selling Naruto up here in this volcano.

Since it was raining so heavily, we could only go into the visitors centre to find out more about the volcano. There is an option for a tour guide to take you down to some parts of the volcano. We met a guide who was most friendly and helpful. He was urging us to go on the tour, claiming that it wouldn't be raining down where he would take us.

(Later, my colleague told me she and her husband was fleeced by being led into a fairly secluded area where they were surrounded by vendors selling pencils and other souvenirs and they bought over RM200 worth of souvenirs as they were scared. Oh and they had to pay the guide more money for exceeding the 1 hour allocated for the tour. She said she paid RM500 in total for that trek.) I guess if you go in a larger group and don't feel like you should be obligated to buy anything, you should be fine.

Right after the volcano, we headed to the Hot Springs nearby. It was a pretty well maintained place and the water was hot! With the lovely cool Bandung weather, the warm pools would be delightful to soak into. We only soaked our feet though.

Guess you can stand under the streams to shower.
Soaked happy feet.
The first pool we came across had the hottest water and you're only allowed to soak your feet in.

As two of my friend had never plucked strawberries, we then went to this small farm along the way to lunch to pluck them.

The other touristy thing we did was to visit this Angklung afternoon show. Angklung is a traditional instrument made out of bamboo. The ticket price was a bit steep at 100,000 rp but after being entertained for over 90 minutes, it would definitely be an activity I'd recommend my friends.

The stage
The audience was given an Angklung to play and this was really fun!
The correct way to hold an Angklung, with the smaller bamboo piece to your left.
Each had a number and we'd play the instrument according to the numbers as directed by the emcees. There were 8 numbers, for all notes in an octave.
The audience was also invited to dance along with the performers at the end of the show. No pressure, you don't have to go down if you don't want to.

As for the food, one of the most memorable meals we had was at this place called Kampung Daun. It's a lovely restaurant, sprawled across the foot of a hill with a stream running through it. 

Diners ate in little huts dotted along the stream. The afternoon was cool with a sprinkle of rain, the lights dim, sound of rushing water, comfy pillows and a stomach full of good food, we wanted so badly just to fall asleep there! Definitely not to be missed.

We had bakso for dinner one night. I thought it came with noodles so I only took 5 pieces. Still, it filled my stomach for the night and it was really quite good! 
We had Nasi Padang too. See how this guy balanced a dozen plates on one hand? 
Our driver took us to this place to have beef ribs. That's spicy chilli sauce on it. It comes with beef soup and white rice. So yummy!
And of course, to wash it all down, we had Teh Botol!

And of course, we went shopping and shopping and shopping! FO after FO although I still felt we didn't cover them all. Perhaps for another trip back?

And oh, if you're looking for souvenirs to share with family and friends back home, do try bringing back Mollen/Bollen from Kartika Sari and steamed brownie from Amanda (they're everywhere!). Both were priced at about 32,000 rp. However, they cannot last long and need to be eaten within 3-4 days of purchase. Layer cake is too common (especially since I just went to three different parts of Indonesia in less than a year!).