Sunday, October 9, 2016

Bandung, Indonesia: Nature, Culture and Arts (+Beer)


Our charming uncle shut the gates and bid his sweetest goodbye. His unassuming beer shack had been our rendezvous that mornight. At two in the morning we’re out on the chilly streets of Bandung looking for recovery food after an all-nighter with the usual suspects when we found this eatery packed with locals. Lost in translation, we tried to express our desire to have mie goreng when a local guy helped us convey it. The x number of bottles we consumed made us woozy that the simple meal turned out to be a chance to mingle with some Bandung's locals.

It was around four in the afternoon when we arrived at Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. It was the first day of Trip of Wonders 2016, an epic trip of exploring Indonesia for twelve days. The 40+ souls from different Southeast Asian countries were all just too excited! We only had sixteen hours in Jakarta and although we wanted to stay longer, we had to move to the capital city of West Java for three days of exploration.

Train to Bandung

Jakarta to Bandung Train
Train to Bandung...
Right after breakfast at Mercure Jakarta Sabang, the group went to Jakarta Gambir station and boarded a train (Argo Parahyangan) going to Bandung (Rp 120,000). Our coach was comfy with AC, reclining seats, power plug and toilet. Snacks and drinks were also served onboard.

A photo posted by blissfulguro (@blissfulguro) on

I glanced over my shoulder and noticed that we’re traversing on hilltops. Surrounded by Parahyangan Mountains, we’re moving quite slow, allowing us to enjoy the amazing view outside. It’s been three hours since we left the bustling city of Jakarta, which is reminiscent of my crazy Manila, and the beautiful green paddy fields were the perfect scenery, I wish though that we boarded a non-AC coach to truly feel the countryside (like our 10-hour train ride in Myanmar).

Jakarta to Bandung Train
Scenic train ride
I felt the cold wind brush against my face as I stepped out of the train. The 23-degree weather was cool for a tropical country like Indonesia. Outside, a bus was waiting for us, and off we went to our first destination.

NuArt Sculpture Park

The bus went through some uphill and downhill roadways. The laidback vibe of the city is a far cry from the hustle of the capital city. After a few more uphill ride, we finally arrived at NuArt Sculpture Park.

NuArt Park Bandung
NuArt Sculpture Park
Nyoman Nuarta Sculpture

It was in 2000 when a sculptor envisioned a place for artists and art aficionados to converge and commune with nature to get inspiration for their works. Nyoman Nuarta (originally from Bali) then opened up a 3-hectare property that showcases his works. It became NuArt Sculpture Park.

Nyoman Nuarta Sculpture

Nyoman Nuarta Sculpture

There’s a park, 2-level gallery, boutique shop, cafés, event/workshop spaces and so much room for inspiration. Huge metal sculpture pieces greeted us as we entered the gate. The open concept of the gallery made everything cohesive like what Nyoman wanted it to be; nature, art and culture.

NuArt Park Bandung
Nature + Art
We were also privileged to have met the artist behind all of the amazing art pieces as we watched some clips from his great masterpieces. It was followed by a Q&A portion.

Nyoman Nuarta
We're so privileged to meet Mr. Nyoman Nuarta after a short film showing
That night, we hailed an angkot (small public mini buses) right outside Sheraton Bandung Hotel (Rp2,000 | US$0.15 / person) to search for a beer place. Bandung night life is great, as pubs and bars are easy to find. We ended up hanging out at Verde Resto and Lounge along Jalan Ir. H. Juanda and had a Bintang beer tower for Rp200,000 (US$15.48).

Bintang Beer
Beer night in Bandung
The next day, everyone was at their best mood as we hopped into the party bus to explore Bandung more; it'll be nature and culture as I checked the itinerary en route to our destination.

Armor Kopi

Armor Kopi, located at Forest Park (Taman Hutan Raya) Juanda, was our first stop that day. The fresh and nippy morning received us well as we looked for the perfect spot under the towering lush trees.

Forest Park Bandung
Forest Park (Taman Hutan Raya) Juanda
Forest Park Bandung

Armor Kopi had this homey vibe, with natural wood planks used inside the café. It opens up to a nice view of lush greeneries, perfect for morning musings. My friends had coffee with milk (Rp13,000 | US$1 to Rp20,000 | US$1.55) while I had their premium Silver Needle tea (Rp30,000 | US$2.32).

Armor Kopi Bandung

Armor Kopi Bandung
Armor Kopi
It was a busy Saturday morning and the area was packed with locals and tourists who were all enjoying being surrounded by nature; sound of chirping birds, swaying trees, and of course, laughter from each and every table. I suppose, like Filipinos, Indonesians do love to laugh their hearts out.

Armor Kopi Bandung
Silver Needle tea - Rp30,000 (US$2.32)
Kopi Luwak Indonesia
Arabica. Liberica. Robusta.
Dusun Bambu Family Leisure Park

Two hours of, again, uphill and curving roads and we reached our next destination; a family park at the foot of a mountain promoting modern sustainable living among different recreation spots.

Different bamboo installation pieces welcomed us as we entered the Dusun Bambu Family Leisure Park. We waded our way through the rice paddies, tree tunnels and the aerial park before settling at Café Burangrang for our lunch.

Dusun Bambu Park Bandung
Dusun Bambu
A lake surrounded by verdant greens and traditional houses can be seen from the viewpoint where we had a sumptuous lunch of traditional Indonesian dishes (I will dedicate a separate post for our glutton sessions); enjoying our meal with such a relaxing view.

Dusun Bambu Park Bandung
Amazing view during lunch
Cafe Burangrang Dusun Bambu Park Bandung
Dining option at Cafe Burangrang
We had enough time to check out other spots in the park before resting on a traditional house in the middle of a rice paddy. The place was so peaceful that I could spend a full day here doing nothing (or maybe catching up with my writing backlogs).

Bird Nest Dusun Bambu Park Bandung
Bird's nest, another dining option at Dusun Bambu Family Leisure Park

Saung Angklung Udjo

Another two hours of bus ride and we were on our final destination for the day, a musical-cultural show.

Saung Angklung Udjo is a one-stop shop for those who want to experience Sundanese culture through music and arts; it has a performance venue, bamboo handicraft center, bamboo instrument workshop and more.

Saung Angklung Udjo

At 3:00 p.m., we arrived just in time for the afternoon show.  I was actually looking forward to the Angklung performance (angklung is a traditional musical instrument for West Java made of bamboo pipes which are tied together in a frame) and Wayang Golek show (wooden Sundanese puppet show) since our first day in Bandung.

Indonesian Gong

Indonesian Musical Instrument

The guests were entertained with a medley of traditional musical ensemble and presentations from different parts of the country as showcased by several performers. The Wayang Golek show was fun as it featured the traditional puppetry of the Sundanese people (ethnic group native to the western part of Java in Indonesia) in their local dialect. The Angklung orchestra performances, on the other hand, were also applauded as well as the traditional dance routine.

Saung Angklung Udjo

Saung Angklung Udjo
Angklung kids' orchestra
But the highlight of the show, for me, was the audience participation on playing the angklung. Everyone was given their own instrument and with the guidance of a conductor, we all got to play it harmoniously. It was so fun that right after the show, the guests dashed into the souvenir shop and bought their own angklung (Rp40,000 | US$3.10).

Indonesia Angklung
Angklung
Indonesian Puppet
Wayang Golek
As expected, we had another round of beer sesh that night and found a beer shack near our hotel. I was with six friends from the Trip of Wonders group (from the Philippines and Thailand) as we raided Erla’s Mexican Café. The owner, we call him uncle, was so charming as he attended to our needs with delight (bottle caps for someone’s collection, more crisps at the table and such). We had a really nice time as we shared the intimate space with locals who were enjoying their night as much as we did.

After which, we headed to a nearby eatery for recovery food of mie goreng and tempeh, it was two in the morning.

Erla Mexican Cafe Bandung
Erla's Mexican Cafe, our beer place for our second night in Bandung
Shopping in Bandung

Our last day in Bandung was dedicated to shopping; the city is famous for factory outlets for famous clothing brands. The group went to Ruma Mode along Jalan Setiabudi for a shopping spree; the crowd went wild.

Bandung Shopping
Bandung is synonymous to shopping!
I’m not good at shopping as I don’t have the patience to hunt each and every rack for whatever seemed interesting. It wasn’t really my thing. While they were busy hunting for great bargains, I went out and searched for street food; es campur and durian ice cream by the road! I went back to our bus seeing everyone going gaga over their super marked down items (me wishing that I had a little more patience).


I love the laidback vibe and cool weather of Bandung, perfect for those who want to escape the bustling city of Jakarta. I also love the train ride, as we got to see the transition of Indonesia's landscape. Our beer nights were also memorable as Bandung's nightlife is so much fun! I can't believe that it was already day four and we now have to leave the city. Our next destination, Yogyakarta!


NuArt Sculpture Park
Jalan Sutra Duta Kencana,
Bandung, Indonesia
Contact Numbers: (+62) 22.201.7812 | (+62) 22.201.7816
Email Address: sculpturepark@nuarta.com
Open Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. everyday
Entrance Fee: Sculpture Park is free-of-charge

Kopi Armor
taman Hutan Raya Juanda,
Bandung, Indonesia
Contact Number: (+62) 878.2414.0408
Email Address: armorkopimalang@gmail.com
Open Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (Mondays to Fridays) | 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (Saturdays to Sundays)

Dusun Bambu Family Leisure Park
Kolonel Masturi KM11, Cisarua,
Bandung Barat, Indonesia
Contact Number: (+62) 22.827.82020
Open Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. everyday
Entrance Fee: Rp15,000 (US$1.16)

Saung Angklung Udjo
Jalan Padasuka 118, Bandung,
Indonesia
Contact Numbers: (+62) 22.727.1714 | (+62) 22.710.1736
Email Address: info@angklung-udjo.co.id
Open Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. everyday
Entrance Fees: Locals - Rp60,000 (US$4.64) for weekdays | Rp70,000 (US$5.42) for weekends
Foreigners - Rp100,000 (US$7.74) for weekdays | Rp110,000 (US$8.51) for weekends


Special thanks to Indonesia's Ministry of Tourism for making this trip possible. 
As always, opinions and opinions are all mine.


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Twitter: @indtravel
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