First visit to Bandung, Indonesia11 September, 2011 by Chad
To explain the apparent lack of updates of late, the better part of this week was spent traveling over to Indonesia for a business trip in Bandung. While most of the days were spent bouncing between the hotel room and office, I had the chance to sample some of the local sights and cuisine of this small city.
This would be my first time visiting Indonesia and anywhere in South East Asia in a long time. I must admit, as someone used the efficiency and conveniences of metropolitan Japan I wasn’t quite looking forward to this expedition. The false sense of wealth enjoyed by most Singaporeans when traveling to surrounding countries was also lost on me.
The flight was by AirAsia on Wednesday afternoon, also the first time with this carrier. The flight leaving Singapore was quite literally a flying bus, with all the discomforts associated with such a no-frills airline. The seats were cramped and the flight was delayed by more than half an hour even before boarding had started.
On board, the flight crew seemed friendly enough. Not that it mattered though since there were no in-flight amenities or services that came with the basic ticket. Thankfully, it was a short flight, shorter than most bus services in Singapore in fact.
Despite most buildings in the city being no than two stories high (with a maximum of 5 floors perhaps), the plane passed dangerously close during landing. Everyone started racing toward the terminal on foot immediately after disembarking the flight and I soon learned why.
There were only two immigration counters in service here, one for locals and another for foreigners. It took about half an hour, despite being somewhere in the middle of the queue. Those who left the plane early would probably have had to spent longer than the flight itself.
Bandung International Airport was small enough that you’d step outside just after clearing customs. It’s located smack in the center of Bandung and can be likened in size, style (and position) to a traditional train station.
Outside, we met some of our hosts from the business that was the purpose of this trip. They took us over to the office, a rented house no more than 10 minutes away. It seems most businesses in Indonesia operated out from such places.
Most of the day was spent in meetings, which meant my first meal here would be a packed lunch. Hardly interesting. But as most of the days here in Bandung would be spent at either the hotel or office, most of this encounter will feature just the different foods we ended up having. You’ve been warned.
In the late afternoon, we dropped by the Banana Inn Hotel and Spa Bandung for our check in. It turned out that the four star hotel was located just about 5 minutes away (by car) uphill.
For about as much as it’d cost to stay at a business inn in Tokyo, we each managed to get an Executive room at this rather fine hotel. Which was great, since we’d be spending most of the nights confined to these walls.
The rooms were large, comfortable and clean. Amenities were provided though not any better than those of a normal business inn. About the only interesting TV channel I could get was NHK World but the programs kept repeating, thankfully wired internet was available (but was capped at 256kbps).
For dinner, our hosts took us to a local restaurant a couple of buildings down from the office. But before that, we dropped by a local department store so I could get a power adapter, while the Indonesian power plugs use a two pin type with similar voltage to Singapore all the power outlets there are indented in such that only circular shaped plugs or smaller could fit in. Idiot proofing perhaps.
It was getting pretty late and apart from one family here this evening, the restaurant was completely empty. Apparently it’s packed on weekends and the past holiday week and is a popular eatery among visitors from Jakarta and Malaysia, who make up the majority of tourists traveling to Bandung.
As with all the other buildings along our street, the restaurant was located on the Northern edge of Bandung on an uphill slope. You could get a nice view of the rest of the mountain area heading upwards from here. Being located more than 700 meters above sea level, Bandung has a nice evening weather between 18 to low 20s degrees Celsius.
Tried this dish at the recommendation of our hosts. Don’t quite remember what it was called but was similar to Ayam Penyet. There were also some tofu and a chunk of tough jerky-like meat. The chili provided, as well as the satay were too spicy for my tastes but the food was tasty even without.
It took us a while to realize that we had stayed past the restaurant’s closing time but the staff did not chase us off. After dinner, our hosts recommended some of the local coffee at the adjacent posh looking brewery, just not at this time since it was pretty strong.
Dropped by a convenience store on the way back to our hotel to get some drinks for the next few nights. There are no 7-Elevens in Bandung but surprisingly there was a Circle K, as well as a Japanese supermarket and other combinis. The 24 hour stores in Bandung (and especially Jakarta apparently) are more similar to their Japanese counterparts, with a far wider range of goods than the Singaporean rip-offs.
Well, that’s it for day one. Didn’t take too many photos this time due to the nature of the trip but the rest of the photos will be uploaded sooner than expected.Planning your holiday? We recommend visiting Agoda for a full list of hotels with early bird specials.