January 10, 2015

Bandung Tangkuban Parahu and Kawah Putih

Day 1 - Bandung

Our Air Asia flight landed at Bandung at about 10am. Just after exiting Immigration and Customs was the taxi stand on the left where we booked a taxi for the hotel. After telling them the destination which was duly noted down on a chit, we left the building turned left for the taxi stand where we showed them the chit and were assigned a driver. The hotel where we were going was the Grand Royal Panghegar Hotel. It was about half an hour away. The fare was stamped on the chit at Rp.50,000. When we arrived we could not check in as no rooms were available yet. Since another couple was on a Tiger flight that would be coming in an hour after us we decided to check out the facilities at the hotel. We checked out the May Star Chinese Restaurant. The captain JL was friendly and helpful so we decided to have lunch there. We did not know then that we would end up having all our dinner there.

Having Kopi Luwak at Cikembang

When the other couple arrived we had lunch at the May Star and with the recommendation of the concierge we took a cab to Paris Van Java PVJ at Jalan Sukajadi. At PVJ we broke up into 2 groups, one to go to the neighbouring Zen for a massage while the other loitered around at the mall. When they returned after one hour and a half, we decided to return to the hotel as taxis were not easy to get. Luckily we did not go to Kampong Daun which was outside of town.

So we had a most pleasant dinner at the May Star again as the dishes recommended were interesting and tasty.

That night, I was disturbed by the noise of motor-bikes from the front of the hotel. I thought it was due to the traffic from the main road. The next day I found out that it was due to Harley Davidson bikers all congregating from many parts of Java for a meet in Bandung and they were staying at our hotel!

Day 2 - Tangkuban Parahu

After breakfast we waited for our car at 7am. The driver was able to find us as I had earlier emailed his boss what clothes we were wearing. I had been communicating with the AlvinaRentCar by email. The company was most responsive in answering my queries ending in my booking a car with them for 2 days at Rp550,00 per day for a Toyota Innova, a 7-seater. When we stepped out of the hotel we saw rows of Harley Davidson bikes parked outside. These were the ones making noises the previous night as they arrived at different times.

Tangkuban Parahu
Our destination was Tangkuban Parahu a volcano shaped like an overturned boat. It was a 2-hr drive through North Bandung. It was uphill all the way. Along the road we saw many individual cyclists cycling uphill. During the journey, we made use of the wifi provided with the car hire at no additional charge. We were merrily video-phoning home and messaging. It seemed that the company offers in-car wifi on all their cars. What a convenience.

The driver Pak B dropped us at the carpark next to the crater Domas. As we were busy taking pictures, 2 guides voluntarily offered to accompany us. We told them we do not need guides. One claimed to work for the government and his services was free. We did not buy and told them we did not want any guides. After that they left us alone. There were many sheds lined up along the route along the edge of the crater offering to sell all kinds of stuff. Peddlars were around also offering keychains made from volcanic rocks, etc. The edge of the crater was protected with a fence to prevent accidents. As the ladies were not interested or attired with proper footwear we did not walk far. One could walk around the crater for about 2 hours or even walk downhill to the nearest town. But this will have to be done another time with fellow hikers.

After half an hour we left the place and drove downhill to Lembang Floating Market. Here the main attraction was ordering food from boats floating on the lake. These boats were moored next to a sheltered walkway with tables provided for us to consume our food. 

Strawberry Farm at Saung Gawir

We had lunch in the same town to try out the local food. Each group of dinners was allocated a thatched-roof hut built over water and you sit on cushions beside a low table. They also catered to company functions at the larger huts. We ordered the recommended set menu that included several types of fishes and prawns. This was supposed to be the better range of food but we were to find out the next day that the more simple a la carte offering was more enjoyable because their style of cooking the fish was not suitable to our palate.

After lunch we visited Kampong Daun, similar to our lunch place but on a larger scale. It is situated on the slope of the hill so the dining chalets were spread out and on a slope. It offers the same type of food but the ambience and surrounding was on a grand scale. This place was recommended by our hotel. Luckily we did not try to reach it the day before because it was outside Bandung.

One couple wanted to try the massage opposite the Zen so we left them and were taken to CiWalk short for Cihampelas Walk to while away for an hour. After that because of the traffic jam, we again returned to our hotel for dinner at the same Chinese Restaurant. That was a fateful decision as Bandung experienced its worst traffic jam due to a confluence of several events that brought many visitors to Bandung, including our HD bikers.

Why the same restaurant you may ask. Somehow we clicked with the lady captain. She was from Malaysia and spoke Cantonese. She recommended dishes we did not try earlier including shark-head cartilage. She recommended a larger head instead of 2 small ones. This turned out well as we can see more cartilage.

Day 3 - Kawah Putih Situ Patangan

We told the driver to come at 8am. We checked out of our old room as we wanted to upgrade to the new wing to enjoy the better interior. we left our luggage with the concierge then meet up with the driver.

For today, we drove through South Bandung to reach Kawah Putih or White Lake. The driver told us where he lived that he took 4 hours to reach home last night when normally it would take 30-40 minutes. As we drove past South Bandung we came across some horse-driven carts. We were told that this is also a form of transport for the local at a cheap price.

Kawah Putih

We stopped to taste some civet cat coffee or kopi luwat. Next to this stop was an asparagus farm and we bought some.

At the park entrance we bought tickets before driving another 8km before reaching the lake. Those who came by buses had to hire a vehicle to bring them to the lake at Rp.500,000 per vehicle. At the crater lake we climbed down a flight of steps and stepped into a wonderland of white water. Being a Sunday it was crowded with people mostly local tourists. We walked along the sulphur-coated beach. There was a hint of sulphur in the air but bearable. The temperature was not so cold.

After leaving the crater lake we were taken to Situ Patangan another natural lake. Here one could hire a boat but we did not do so due to lack of time. We bought some passion fruit and avocado. The avocado was not as tasty as Malaysian ones.

We then went to Saung Holiday Chalets and Restaurant for lunch. This place serves local food. We ordered several rice dishes such as nasi timbel and they turned out good. The restaurant also has a strawberry farm by the side and we plucked some fruits to try. On the return journey the main road leading to Bandung was jammed so we took the toll highway. We dropped in at Novotel to check out the buffet but it was not available on Sunday. The ladies did check out the rooms. Due to the traffic situation we decided to return to our hotel to the same restaurant for our dinner. Luckily we reserved a table for the restaurant was full due to a wedding dinner.