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Published: November 2nd 2014
a small parade
For a boy who has just got circumcised
Had it not because of my friend, Faisal, who asked me to come along to Kawah Putih, I wouldn't have set my foot there. It has been on my 'to go' list for a while. I don't realise going to Bandung from either Singapore or Kuala Lumpur is so painless now, thanks to Air Asia which flies direct daily to Bandung. I arrived from the new airport at KLIA 2 with Air Asia in the morning, and once arrived, I looked for a car rental booth and managed to get a car rented, including a driver, for a day - at a reasonable price.
Without an itinerary on hand, I decided to head towards Centre of Bandung and explored Batik Komar, one of the well visited Batik shop in town, and headed towards the "Ciganea" restaurant. It's a local restaurant serving Sundanese food, well known for its fried fish and chilli sauce. Thankfully, the weekender crowds from Jakarta had not arrived yet at this hour, and traffic was quite bearable. Bandung now is different than the Bandung I used to know during my high school days. Back then, it was a laid back town populated mainly by students. Today, Bandung
A possessed man
In the middle of the road in broad daylight!
is like a one big shopping town, where fashion outlets, cafes and budget and boutique hotels mushroomed at every corner of the city. Gone were the days where you could enjoy a quite afternoon ride in the city centre of Dago, an area which commuters wanted to avoid now. Having said that, a few things do not really change in Bandung: the friendliness of its people (my driver was super nice and polite) and the great food (and cheap)! I was still exhausted from my previous business trip to KL, so after lunch, I headed towards "Family Reflexology" at Jalan Supratman where I had a chance to get a one and half hour foot massage at a very reasonable price. By the time, the masseuse started massaging my other leg, I was already in heaven.
Fresh and rejuvenated, I was ready for my next destination: a visit to Saung Angling Udjo (www.angklung-udjo.co.id). I didn't know that this place existed even though it was already established during my high school days. I didn't have much expectation before I came but was surprised to see the well done performance. The presenters were engaging and were fluent in English. I could see
the children, the students of the institution, had fun while they were performing (don't expect the kind of professional dance performance like you see in Phuket), and I must admit that I was impressed by this group of kids. The place is now run by the son of the late founder who is also the musical conductor, whose family is very much involved in the performance. His four sons were playing Angklung and so was his wife. Towards the end of the show, the audience was given an opportunity to play the angklung; each of us was given an angklung with has a specific musical note. We moved our angklung following the hand signal of the musical conductor, and, to my surprise, the audience - who didn't have prior knowledge of this musical instrument - was able to play a song! We wanted to play more and more songs. We came out from the place with a lighter heart and a big smile on our face.
For dinner, I decided to go for the Dutch Indonesian restaurant, Indieschetaffel at Jalan Sumatra. This place reminded me of my late grandma whose house was not very far from the restaurant, and
the kind of food served was similar to that of she used to cook. I ordered "Cheese Beef Tounge" and Smoked beef fried rice, which were tasty. For appetiser, I had Bitterballen, Risolles and Kroketten and Poffertjes for dessert. What a meal I had! Pleased, I was ready to head for accommodation and got ready for the next day trip to Kawah Putih.
The next morning, a group of six from Singapore, Bandung and Hong Kong gathered at Novotel Bandung and left slightly after 9 am. We were told that distance wise, Kawah Putih was only 50 km from Bandung; however, the narrow road and heavy traffic made the journey to about three hours. On our way, we came across a small parade of a boy riding a horse, followed by a group of people playing musical instruments and dancing. Our car had to stop to make a way for them, and out of a sudden, we saw a man fell to the ground, jerking and moving wildly, while the rest of the people immediately jumped on him and held him to the ground. It didn't occur to us that the man was possessed! yes, possessed in the middle
A local photographer
Ready to offer instant photographs for visitors who do not bring cameras.
of the road in broad daylight! Apparently, it was a ceremony held for a boy who just got circumcised.
Delighted, three hours later around noon, we arrived at Kawah Putih at Ciwidey area. It is well known for its agriculture, potatoes in the past and now local folks grow Strawberry. There are plenty of hot springs nearby but there are not many 'acceptable' accommodation unfortunately (mainly catered for domestic tourists). Kawah Putih is a crater of an active volcano, Mount Patuha, easily accessible by cars (no hiking is required). It resembles a lake rather than a crater because of its size. The color of the water is light whitish green which can turn to other color depending on the mineral content (it has a high content of sulfur). One of our friends, Lokhin, accidentally stepped into a soft muddy ground, as a result of which his shoes and lower part of the pants were covered by mud. Thankfully, he was in good spirit that he was not bothered by it (had it happened to me, it would have changed my mood for the entire trip). Unfortunately, the place was quite packed on weekend by domestic tourists, so we cold
not get a real good picture (without people on it). We took a short break, enjoying our grilled corn on cob and instant noodles while a Kecapi, a violin like musical instrument, player entertained us.
The next stop was a visit to a nearby tea plantation at Situ Patengan, known also as Situ Patenggang. Interestingly, the tea plantation looks a lot more 'manicured' than the one in Puncak, near Jakarta. Each tree was trimmed in a rectangular shape rather than the usual round shape, seen in other tea plantations in Indonesia. One of the tea brands produced from the area is called "Walini". It has various flavours such as Lychee, Mint, Apple, Blackcurrent, and etc and were tasty. On our way, we saw a group of men carrying a rattan basket heading towards the plantation, which we all thought they were going to pick the tea leaves (tea leaves pickers are usually women in this area). Later on we learned that they were heading towards the Lake to catch some fresh water fish.
Our next destination was Situ Patengan Lake which was frequently visited by domestic tourists too. While taking pictures of the scenic carpet like tea plantation,
we noticed there was a Flying Fox ride nearby, so we decided to stop and tried the ride. Each of us was taken to the top of the hill from which each slide down on a rope. I was the last one to go, and while on top, I chickened out, perhaps was too traumatised by my recent paragliding trip to Pamukkale. I had to make a pass. It was late by then, so we decided to head back to Bandung, and as expected, the return drive took about three hours as well. Exhausted, I decided not to go anywhere for dinner as I needed to catch an early morning flight back to Singapore the next day. The plane ride back home was quite pleasant as I could see the beautiful sight of Mount Patuha (was it?) from my window! Looking back, I could not help thinking - if Kawah Putih were located in China, the government perhaps would have made a toll road and made sure the place is well advertised for both domestic and international tourism.
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