Wednesday, December 29, 2010

20101201 Indonesia – Bandung

Bandung is not a destination for ordinary backpackers, but its relatively higher altitude promising a cooler climate and being the hub of clothing factory outlets have attracted many tourists from both domestic and abroad.

Bandung airport is really small. 2 immigration counters were located right in front of the arrival entrance. The long queue of passengers may have to stay under the sun or rain outside the arrival hall. For all foreigners, all 10 fingerprints and a photo must be taken for record – first kind of experience in my travelling life. Process was fast somehow. The baggage conveyor belt (only 10m long) is found right next to the counters. Prudent custom officers checked almost each piece of luggage, but foreigners are mostly exempted from this tedious procedure.

The climate, indeed, not really cooling, but just a couple of degrees Celcius lower than Kuala Lumpur. The city is quite tidy, quiet and clean, this was a good start to convince my mom the place is not filthy like India.

Many street entertainers were waiting at traffic light junctions. Mostly have a guitar on hand, a few kids and transvestites were seen. They approached the stopping cars and sang or danced, expecting a few coins of appreciation.

Probably the hotel staffs didn’t understand us well, they couldn’t recommend precisely the outlets that meet our expectation. After visiting several disappointing outlets on Cihampelas Road, we finally found one. Ha… shopping spree commenced! The outlets have lots of signature brands with huge discounted price – some rejected items, some “A” quality imitation, some belong to previous seasons.

We rented a car to Tangkuban Prahu (30km north of Bandung) to see the volcanic craters. At the entrance, the rent car driver was so enthusiastic to purchase tickets for us. I counted he paid for 6 persons but only 5 tickets were given. I demanded back the difference. Reluctantly he withdrew the missing Rs50000 note (EUR4.5) from his pocket to me. I gave back the money to him end of the trip as tips. He was overjoyed.

There are several craters in the area, the car park was situated right next to the biggest Kawah Ratu. Scenery was good. Plenty of souvenir and fruit vendors gathered. The sulphuric fume was still emitting, tourists were kept a distance away from the poisonous gas. With my family, I couldn’t trek to other craters. The tourism authorities strictly requested all tourists to be accompanied by official guide to trek to other craters.

p.s. The hotels and taxi are not so cheap. Local foods couldn’t please our taste buds.