Travel Indonesia & Java between Nature and Corals

by - June 15, 2017

Indonesia, a nation with thousands of islands with its wide variety of cultures and traditions, attracts millions of visitors each year. It’s islands spread from Sumatera in the north to Irian Jaya in the south bordering with Papua New Guinea. In the island of Java, there are three major cities namely Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Bandung. Jakarta is the federal capital for Indonesia. Each of these cities offers its own uniqueness and attractions.

Jakarta is a metropolitan city which offers all kinds of attractions from museums, art and antiques markets, shopping and first class accomodations, food and a wide range of cultural activities.

The culture and traditions of Jakarta, especially in the heritage buildings, are well preserved and worth visiting.

For shopping, you are spoilt of choices from the high-end Plaza Senayan to relatively cheaper places like Tanah Abang and Ancol Dunya Fantasy. You can head for Glodok Plaza in Chinatown for electronics goods and Mangga Dua Mall for computer stuff.

The latest attraction there is Waterbom Jakarta - The Urban Cool which is the leading water park and recreation area in Jakarta. Spend a day there if you have time for relaxing.

Heading to the west, the highland city of Bandung offers cool climate for the city dwellers to escape the heat and stress of Jakarta city. Bandung is just three hour journey by road from Jakarta. Bandung is located on a mountainous with rich green valleys hugging volcanic peaks. Besides providing cool climate for holiday makers, Bandung is famous for its selection of factory outlets offering a wide variety of famous brands.

If you are adventurous, pay a visit to Tangkuban Perahu, a volcanic mountain, where you can hike down to the volcanic crater. You can dip your feet in the hot water or even cook an egg there. After visiting Tangkuban Perahu, you can take a dip at the hot springs at the foot of the mountain.

In Bandung, you can taste the delicious Sundanese cuisine. There are many local restaurants serving these wonderful cusine. Among them are Kampungku, Kampung Daun and Sapu Lidi.

Bandung, a city in western Java, Indonesia, is famous for many things and it’s one of the favorite vacation spots for people from Jakarta. Bandung is a highland resort which is only 3 hours by road from Jakarta. During the Dutch colonial days, Bandung used to be known as Paris van Java. Today, “Paris van Java” is a name of a modern shopping mall in Bandung.

Being colonized by Dutch in the past, has given Bandung many old and yet nice Dutch colonial houses which have been converted into factory outlets. There are hundreds of factory outlets in Bandung. My family spends 2 days shopping for branded clothes in these factory outlets and yet, I don’t think I have visted all of them. I would recommend a few outlets like Rumah Mode, Heritage, Rich & Famous, Oasis and ForMen. Most of these factory outlets are located in Jalan Dago and Jalan Riau.

Most of the famous brands such as Louis Vuitton, Levis, Dockers, Tommy Hilfiger, Hugo Boss, Giorgio Armani, Emporio Armani, Calvin Klein, Polo, Crocodile, Banana Republic and many more brands can be found in these factory outlets. The stocks in these outlets are seasonal and they depend on the incoming shipment. So, if you can find a particular item on one trip, you cannot be sure to find it on the next trip. Buy it if you like it. You do not have to worry about not having enough cash. They accept credit cards too.

One place you should not miss doing shopping is Cihampelas. The two rows of shops facing each other compete to attract customers by putting up gigantic cartoon characters on their sign board. You can find Rambo, Superman, Ultraman, Incredible Hulk, Tarzan, etc lined up along the street. However, the products sold on this street are mainly jeans and local t-shirts. There is a new shopping mall, Cihampelas Walk, located at the back of the main Cihampelas street, where you can find branded clothes.

Besides shopping, one of the most interesting places to visit is Tangkuban Perahu. Tangkuban Perahu in local Sundanese dialect means ‘upturned boat’. According to my guide, you can see the shape of the ‘upturned boat’ from Bandung. Tangkuban Perahu, 30 km away from Bandung is an active volcano where you can see fumes coming out from the crater.

According to the guide, the crater at the peak is not accessible because it’s emitting poisonous fumes. We had to hike down for about 30 minutes to another crater where we are allowed to experiment with the hot water coming out from the volcano by boiling eggs or just dipping your feet in the hot water.

Since one can only dip their feet in the craters in Tangkuban Perahu, there are some hot springs around this area. One of the recommended hot springs is Ciater Hot Spring where you can swim in the sulphurized water which is known to be good for healing skin problems and rheumatism.

For meal, there are so many nice restaurants around for you to try out the local Sundanese cuisine. Among those that I have tried are Kampung Daun, Sapu Lidi, Ayam Goreng Suharti, DapurKu and The Valley. They serve local cuisine. Guests are allocated individual cabanas for the meals. From the list of restaurants, only The Valley serves western and local cuisine.

Moving around Bandung and the surrounding areas is easy. Hire a car and a driver for the day will only cost $30 exclusive of gas, parking fee, tips and meals for the driver.

From historical perspective, Bandung is the birth place for the Non-Align Movement (NAM) in 1957. There is a street in Bandung known as Jalan Asia-Africa which is dedicated to the NAM movement. The street starts from Savoy Homann Hotel to Merdeka Building. This is the street where the leaders who started NAM in 1952 took a historic walk to commemorate the inaugural NAM meeting.

For accomodation, I stayed at Malya Hotel, formerly known as Chedi. Malya Hotel is located at Ciumbuleuit and its away from the busy street of Bandung. Malya Hotel overlooks the valley and gives you the peace and serenity for your vacation. Every room in this hotel faces the valley. Every morning, you will wake up to the sound of birds chirping and butterflies flying about in the valley.

You can go to Bandung from Jakarta by road or plane.

Further south is the city of Yogyakarta. Yogyakarta was the former seat for the ancient Javanese empires of Mataram, Ngayogyakarto and Hadiningrat. Yogyakarta was founded in 1755 when a land dispute which split the Mataram empire into Sultanates of Yogyakarta and Surakarta or commonly knnown as Solo.

Prince Mangkubumi built the Kraton of Yogyakarta and created the most powerful Javanese state. Kraton acts as the hub of Yogyakarta for centuries. From Kraton, it radiates the culture and traditional life of Yogyakarta. In Kraton, the gamelan and wayang kulit are performed throughout the day bring to life the traditional stories like Ramayana.

The most famous attraction at Yogyakarta is Borobudur. Borobudur is a ninth century Mahayana Buddhist monument built in Magelang. It consists of six square platforms topped with three circular platforms. It has more than 2500 reliefs and 500 Buddha statues. The best time to visit Borobudur is during the sunrise. You can see the sun rises in between two volcanoes - Marapi and Merapu - and seeing the sunray lighting up the valley below.

Besides Borobudur, there are smaller Buddhist temples in Medut and Pawon.

There is the Hindu temple in Prambanan where there are three main temples for Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva.

Borobudur and Prambanan are listed under UNESCO World Heritage Area.

Stop by at Surakarta or Solo if you have time. Surakarta and Yogyakarta are full of history, culture and art for you to spend your time exploring this ancient city from Mataram empire.

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