Saturday, 24 January 2015

Indonesia, Bandung (Sundanese Experience)

Right after our visit to Kawah Putih, we went for lunch at Saung Gawir. We were all pretty hungry after the long climb to Kawah Putih. Plus the air was really cool, which kind of made you feel even hungrier. Sigh.. I think my appetite just got BIGGER when I'm in Bandung.

I like the restaurant. Not because I'm hungry but because of its setting. It has a traditional kampung atmosphere, with atap rooftop and bamboo walls. There is also a playground with the good old swing I used to play during my childhood. It's difficult to find that kind of swing now because the new playground is so different. I noticed that the playgrounds today are designed to ensure that they are 'safe' to play in so that kids would not injure themselves if they fall. Seriously, isn't falling on the ground and then getting back on your feet part of growing up? 

Anyway, what is unique about this place is that we can also choose to dine by sitting on a rattan mat around a low table in any of the huts available. Like I said, real kampung style!

All my family members opted to sit at the normal dining tables and chairs though, as getting the maximum comfort was on the top of their list. While my family was ordering food, I took the opportunity to venture around the restaurant to view the picturesque scenery. 

It looks so tranquil here. It mirrors my kind of idealistic environment - a place where I would like to be whenever I feel stressed up. Not the regular shopping malls where people usually engage in impulse buying just to release their tension. Well unfortunately, I do the mall routines too and then regret buying the things that I bought each time I got home.


So is this what you would call a high-quality life? Fresh, cool, unpolluted air... Beautiful surroundings... Organic food where you can grow yourself... Simplicity at its best without the need for materialistic display of wealth... Away from all the hypocrisy in life... I could have spent hours here just by looking at the panorama.

When I got back to our table, everyone was already starting to eat. No time to take photo and become acquainted with the food. Arghhh... Spent too much time wandering.

On the long table, my cousin had ordered different types of rice for us to share. This is Nasi Liwet, which I liked the most. You can just eat the rice alone without any dishes because it is so flavourful.

I don't know what this is. Nasi Tutug? The Sundanese people love to cook their rice wrapped in banana leaf. As a result, the rice is fragrant and whets your appetite further.

Nasi Timbel is probably the most well known Sundanese dish here. It tasted nice especially when it's eaten with the fried tofu, fried tempe and grilled Gurame fish. 

On the whole, this was a really lip-smacking, satisfying meal. All of us decided to eat a light dinner afterwards. And no more rice!! In fact, I think I will remain full till tomorrow morning!

We went to pick strawberry afterwards. The Bandung people planted their strawberries in white sacks, which were filled with soil and fertiliser. I had not envisioned a strawberry farm like this, but hey anyone could now buy a sack of strawberry plant and plant it in their own garden.

Beautiful young strawberries - the flower petals are still intact here. I seriously didn't know that strawberry flower is white until I visit this place. My agricultural knowledge is so limited.

The ripeness of these strawberries is just nice. It would turn red when we get back to Singapore, just in time to be savoured by the whole family. 

I couldn't believe I saw a family of brinjals at the strawberry farm. Pardon me.. being a city folk.. a brinjal plant is not common to me.

I ate Mee Bakso, one of Java's popular noodle cuisine, at Bakso Semar for dinner. Hahah.. Thought I was full earlier but in the end, I couldn't resist the hot, steaming noodle I saw from the table next to mine. 

There was a generous amount of beefballs in the soup when my noodle was served. The noodle tasted okay to me on the whole but I had tasted better in Singapore. I guess the Mee Bakso in Singapore was already modified to cater to the Singaporeans' taste buds. The meal finally ended our day and we're ready to retreat to our hotel rooms.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Indonesia, Bandung (Kawah Putih)

Good morning Bandung!! 

I was already up at about 5.30 am, right after I heard the call for morning prayers from a nearby mosque. It was a delightful morning for me as I was able to witness the stunning sunrise. Peering through the ceiling high window of my hotel room, I could also see the volcanic mountains surrounding the city. 

Our itinerary on our second day was Kawah Putih. It had taken us 2 hrs to reach our destination. Kawah Putih in English means the white crater, and it is located at Mount Patuha. So far, there has not been any record of volcanic activity in Kawah Putih.

While on the road, we observed large groups of teenagers, milling about idly along the pavements. Some even looked liked they had slept on the street the entire night. 

We soon found out from our driver that these teenagers were here to watch a concert by Slank, an Indonesian rock band. The band will perform that night and some of these teenagers came from far, probably outside Bandung. I've never heard of this band before but it seemed to have a huge fan base.

Just look at the creative banners made by its die-hard fans. The banners were hung all along the entire stretch of the road. It's quite a sight, especially when you see so much effort and sacrifice they had gone through to attend the concert.

From the main road, we veered through smaller roads that led us into local villages. And here, we could see the locals going about their daily activities. I managed to snap a photo of a huge pile of durians, freshly picked and ready to be transported into the truck. Gosh... I think my uncle would have stopped and bought one or two durians if he could. He is the king of durian, and he could easily make my dad his durian buddy!!

Here's the entrance of Kawah Putih. The smell of sulphur is intoxicating and sharp. For a moment, I wondered whether breathing would be difficult if I were to go down to the crater. My throat was already hurting at that point of time.

Amazingly, as I went down the staircase, the smell subsided. I guess it's because my nose had already become desensitised to the smell and it felt a bit numbed to me. 

I could eventually see the turquoise water of the crater by the time I was halfway down. My excitement went up a notch as the colour of the crater really makes you want to go nearer to it.

The lake at the crater is highly acidic so don't even think of putting your finger into the water. You could see the white greenish powder along the water bank, which further proved its acidity. The atmosphere around the crater, however, was cool and foggy.

I wondered how Tangkuban Prahu would be like. Tangkuban Prahu is another dormant volcano near Bandung. Unlike Kawah Putih, its last eruption was in 1983, which is actually quite recent. It should also be noted here that Tangkuban Prahu had erupted 15 times based on geological records, more so than Kawah Putih. 

Oh well, there's actually many other volcanoes on the island of Java itself. But I'm totally glad that I had a chance to visit one of them.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Indonesia, Bandung

I went to Bandung last Christmas, which was two weeks after my Bali trip. I must say that last year was an Indonesian year for me because I visited two different cities in one month.

I've never traveled to Indonesia, but after coming back from both trips, I find that Indonesia has many scenic places to go to. I simply love exploring the rural and admiring the traditional buildings. Somehow, I felt a sense of pride infusing through me when I observed the cultural heritage here. Both cities are worth visiting to me!


Map taken from:

Here's the map of Indonesia, the 4th most populous country in the world. Bandung is situated 3hrs from Jakarta if you were traveling on the road, but we took a direct flight from Singapore, which was about 2hrs max.

We landed at Hussein Sastranegara Airport around 12 noon, and the airport is one of the highlights in my trip. According to my uncle, this is what Singapore airport looks like in the 60s. Imagine that? Both my cousin and I were awe-struck because it's like traveling back to the past. I wasn't even born and yet I could have a feel of it in Bandung. All I can say is that this trip is gonna be super exciting!!! 

The immigration where we had our passport stamped is in one small room so everyone had to squeeze into 3 lines to wait for our turn. And it turns out that there is only one luggage conveyor belt in the entire airport! Wowee...

We're eating Padang food for lunch. With old parents in tow, eating rice, our staple food is a must. We're familiar with Padang food because it could be found anywhere in Singapore so the taste is similar to our taste buds. I guess most of the early immigrants who came to Singapore last time came from West Sumatra. That's why we develop a taste for Padang food. However, Bandung is in Java and the people here are from the Sundanese descendants. So I couldn't wait to taste the Sundanese food in our next meals.

I also ordered the Avocado drink which is the specialty of Bandung. Yummy.

This is Rumah Mode, a factory outlet which we visit on our first day. Many people just went crazy when they were here as the clothes were very cheap. Still, I only bought 2 T-shirts, that caught my eyes. I'm really not a shopper. Too many things confuse me and everything looks the same.

The traffic jam is killing me in Bandung and it's drizzling outside our comfortable car. Here are some marvel pictures along the road. We were heading towards the Cihampelas Walk, a shopping centre, which looks like normal Singapore malls so it's not that interesting to me. I didn't take photo of the place. We were there for about 30 min as my cousin had to go to the pharmacy and while waiting, I bought ice-cream for everyone.

Our first dinner highlight is dining at The Valley, which was located on the highlands in Bandung. The place was really beautiful but we didn't get to see the valley that night as it was raining.

The food, however, was superb. Try to go for the Western menu as they tasted nicer than the local menu.

Spaghetti bolognaise and aglio olio. Nice presentation, with assortment of bright colours.

Fried rice with some keropok (prawn crackers).

And of course, the best - steak!! Just look at the generous serving, which add up to one satisfying meal.

We enjoyed our time at The Valley and we were already looking forward to next day.

Stay tuned on my Bandung post.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Another New Year

Well, I'm not the type of person who celebrates the new year whenever it comes around. Believe it or not. When fireworks filled the sky or when balloons were released, I'm usually in my bed, snoring away.   

Oops. I'm not being a party pooper here. I just find sleeping more enticing than keeping awake till midnight. 

Ok... that's just me. 

Still, I wish eveyone a Happy New Year!!! Create a meaningful year and live life to the fullest! Yeah!!