Jimmy was right about wanting to leave for Tangkuban Perahu on the outskirts of Bandung by 6am to beat the traffic. Bandung is to Jakartans what Tagaytay is to Manilenos. CRAZY TRAFFIC!
It was still early so the trip to Lembang was fast. We stopped for a some breakfast of traditional Lembang food of grilled rice patted into squares and bananas at a roadside stall.
It was really cool and shady once we entered the park grounds. We parked the AUV just across the entrance to the trail to Kawah Domas. Just after the foot bridge, a man was skinning the bark off a tree trunk revealing spotted designs underneath. I’ve always thought the designs on those carved souvenir items were all man-made. It was really nice. It was a short hike to the crater and when we arrived there was nobody else but the two of us and a care-taker, an elderly man who was surprised I spoke to him in Bahasa-Indonesia.
The water from the bubbling ponds were scalding hot and smoke was rising from vents. The area further up was closed. I’ve never been on active volcano before so it was really interesting to be walking around the crater especially as we had it all to ourselves. It’s a rare occasion not be sharing a spot with a hundred other camera-touting tourists.
It was a pure carnival at the main crater, Kawah Ratu. It was traffic at the road ringing the caldera and it took a bit of time before we could find parking. Jimmy pointed out that the plate numbers on the cars all began with “B” which were all Jakarta-registered.
Rows and rows of souvenir stalls selling everything from t-shirts to key chains to angklung to bottles of yelfow sulfure powder and mud jostled space with tourists, mostly local ones. We stopped by one stall selling angklung and a few other instruments and listened to one guy playing on a set. I’ve always thought the instrument was played with one person holding a single angklung so it was fascinating to watch and listen to him play all of the instruments hanging from a stand as he deftly shook each frame to create a melody. He played quite well. He was selling the set for RM 940,000.
The crater was really huge but unlike Kawah Domas, it was fenced-off so you could just view it from atop. We went around the caldera a bit until the shaded area where we stopped for some refreshments at a stall. There weren’t much people there. Jimmy had instant noodles while I had some tahu goreng (fried tofu) and a bottle of Teh Botol. On the way back to the AUV, I bought some bottles filled with yellow sulfur powder and a bottle of blue-colored mud RM 25,000) and some key chains while Jimmy got some magnets.
The drive back to Bandung was sheer hell as traffic was barely moving especially past Lembang on the road lined with big hotels and big houses. If you think going back home to Manila from Tagaytay on Sunday later afternoon is annoying wait until Bandung on a weekend. It was almost 12 when we arrived back in the city and Jimmy had to stop at a small restaurant to meet some friends so I took an angkot back to the guesthouse. I should have gone down on the corner of Novotel and walked back but I thought the angkot was just gonna go around as the part of Jl Cihampelas where the guesthouse was was one-way. The trip ended at the Bandung train station. I was really lapar (hungry) and felt tersasat (lost). It was past 12 and I called Yanti to inform her that I was tersasat and would need to take a taxi back and to tell the motorbike driver to wait for me.
Fortunately, I was just about 10 minutes away. I had lunch at the masakan padang (RM 20,000) attached to the guesthouse and by 1pm, I was on the back of a motorbike behind my 25-year old driver named, Afriel.
It started to drizzle and we reached the X-trans office just as it began to shower. We were told we had to go to the other one to buy a ticket for the Jakarta airport shuttle. We were both game to ride through the light shower so we headed to the smaller office where I also bought an extra seat (RM 80,000) for my luggage. Afriel told me that I could go on a bigger bus at a station near Bandung Super Mall which was a few kilometers away so I need not buy an extra seat. I fugured however that the cost of a more expensive bus seat plus the taxi fare would come out almost the same so I settled for the mini-van.
It was almost 3pm so we headed to Saung Angklung about 3k away to catch the show. I wandered a bit at the workshops to see the angklung being made. It was a kick to see a warehouse with rows and rows of steel shelves housing angklung of all sizes. I ordered an angklung set (RM 870,000) and was told it was going to be ready by tomorrow.
The show was entertaining and the kids were really good.
I would have wanted to go to Dago but Afriel said the park would be closed already. He chidded me for not telling him earlier as he could have planned our route. Since I wanted a view of Bandung, he said he would bring me to a much better place. He was right. It was worth all the traffic. Dusk had settled by the time we arrived on a viewpoint on top of a hill. Afriel apologized for driving too fast. We bought two bottles of beer and some snacks at the nearby shack and settled on one of the bamboo platforms. Bandung is in the bottom of a mountain and hill-fringed valley and the city and its lights lay below us. It was beautiful. I thanked Afriel for bringing me there. It was a very local experience as there was nary another tourist. A few groups of friends and lots of couples were there. It was cool and windy. Afriel sipped on his hot instant noodle soup while I munched on krupuk and we planned our itinerary for the next day—Kawah Puti, a musical instrument shop, and Saung Angklung to get my angklung. There was more than enough time to fix my stuff and head to the X-trans office for the 5:30 shuttle.
It started drizzling so we headed back to the city where I asked to be dropped-off at Jeans Street. I got a couple of cheap “Bandung” t-shirts (RM 20,000) at one of the roadside stalls. Curiosity at one of the many small carts selling boxed brownies and cakes led me to buy a caramel cake in one. For a cake bought at a cart rather than a bakery store or a cake shop, it tasted quite good. Light rain started to fall again so I sought refuge at a brightly-lit rumah makan for some nasi goreng and Bandung siomay and tahu in a slightly sticky sweet chili sauce at brightly-lit . Delicious! It seems the Chinese have made their mark on Bandung as evidenced by the siomay. It seemed the rain wasn’t going to stop anytime soon so I just bought some packaged snacks at one of the large food stores to bring back home to the PH before hailing a taxi back to the guesthouse.