Less than 4 hours away from Jakarta by train, the city of Bandung gave me the first taste of my wonderful trip to Indonesia. Bandung City or locally known as Kota Bandung is the Capital of West Java Province in Indonesia. It is home to over 2 million people making it the third largest city by population. It also earned its nickname Parijs van Java (Paris of Java) from Dutch for its resemblance to Paris.
The first thing that I noticed about Bandung is its cool climate. Coming from Jakarta, which is generally hot and humid, everyone would love the cooler weather of Bandung. To compare it with a local province, the weather is similar to that in Tagaytay.
I purposely didn’t do any research about all the destinations we would visit in Indonesia because I want them to surprise me. As we toured the city, I noticed a lot of small mini bus, which they call Angkot. It is one of the most popular transportations, like a UV express in Manila without an AC. There are also hundreds of motorbikes, known locally as “Ojek.” TIP – Maybe because they knew that I’m a tourist so they charged me a bit high. For tourists, I recommend using uber to explore the city.
Factory outlets made Bandung a popular destination especially for people of Jakarta who want to have a weekend break. In fact, shopping is one of the best things to do here. If you are a shopaholic and in love with red tag sales, this city is perfect for you. Ruma Mode Factory, considered as the mother of all factory outlets is probably is the most popular in Bandung. TIP – It is mostly jam-packed on weekends and holidays so it’s best to shop during weekdays.
Every time we drive along the streets of Bandung all I could see were factory outlets, cars selling their items on the street, sales, and discounts. Believe it or a not I got a pair of a pair of branded shoes and a bag for only 500,000rp or 38$ from its original price of 1.6Mrp or 125$. If you are still doubtful about shopping here, then think again.
Aside from shopping, the city is also renowned for its Dutch architecture as it’s the home of numerous art galleries and cultural performances.
What to do in Bandung?
The first thing that we visited was the NuArt Gallery, located in the northern part of Bandung. It is the home of some masterpieces of I Nyoman Nuarta. This artist spent most of his childhood in Bali, close to nature where he learned the harmonious relationship between human and their Creator, human with nature, and lastly, the relationship among human themselves. Today NuArt Gallery is one of Indonesia’s outstanding modern sculpture building. Some of Nuarta’s famous artworks are Arjuna Wijaya, Jalesveva Jayamahe, and his most challenging project, Garuda Wisnu Kencana in Bali.
NuArt Gallery is a breath of fresh air in the busy street of Bandung. This 3 hectares park is surrounded by tall trees and spectacular sculptures. The park opened to public last 2000. As per Mr. Nuarta, he would like to create a place where the artist, designers, and art-goers can work together in Bandung.
All of the exhibits at NuArt Gallery are made by I Nyoman Nuarta and other artist. Getting inside the 2-story building of Nuart, I felt the passion and dedication to every detail of his masterpiece.
As we walked inside the gallery I noticed the huge sculpture of a lying couture lady at the center. When I asked Mr. Nuarta the inspiration for this art, he explained that it represents a sad story of a Chinese rape victim during Indonesia’s political and economic crisis in 1998. These incidents sent the victims to trauma that it came to the point some of them wanted to die. He called this masterpiece, “Nightmare,” a three-dimensional art made of copper. The sculpture has its sensual appeal, which makes me see it as a little bit controversial because Indonesia is mostly a Muslim country.
Another must-thing to do in Bandung is to visit the Udjo’s house of Angklung. This musical instrument is made of bamboo and was included by UNESCO in its the tangible cultural heritage list in 2010. Angklung has met the criteria for world intangible cultural heritage because it has basic values of cooperation, mutual respect, and social harmony; the main elements of the cultural identity of West Java and Banten people.
On our recent visit, we had over an hour watching 9 short but amazing cultural performances. It varies from puppet show to traditional dances, song, and angklung performances. If I have to choose which is the best part of the event, I’ll pick Angklung Interactive.
Angklung Interactive is the part of the show where every audience were given the instrument to play the Angklung. There was a short instruction on how to properly play it. There was hand signage by the conductor on when to shake the Angklung that was assigned to you. It was easy and a fun experience. It was an unbelievable moment where first-timers played it simultaneously and created a wonderful sound. Udjo’s house of Angklung hopes that through playing this instrument together, the world peace can be achieved.
Watch Video Here!
Other point of interest in Bandung is Armor Kopi. I didn’t expect it to be with a chilled weather and a relaxing place surrounded by tall trees because it’s just a few minutes away from the busy city. The place is somewhat like the northern and mountainous part of the Philippines. The main coffee store was small and made mostly of wood, giving that jungle feel. Tables and chairs are arranged outdoor. It is located at Forest Park (Tahura) Ir.H.Djuanda Cimenyan north Dago Bandung.
Lastly, If you’re planning to visit Bandung with your family, make sure to include Dusun Bambu park on your list. It’s an eco-tourism park located at the feet of Mt. Burangrang that provides educational and traditional service. It is a good place to stay close to nature while doing some outdoor activities like biking, kayaking, and even camping.
Since we only had a limited time in the area. I just enjoyed the wonderful scenery of the lake surrounded by traditional villas while enjoying my delicious lunch from Burangrang Restaurant. It was a quick yet great stay in Dusun Bambu, which is one of the places in Bandung that I’m looking forward to returning to.
If you have plans of visiting Indonesia and doesn’t want to travel far from the Capital, I encourage you to visit Bandung to experience a more laid-back city life. The weather here is perfect for strolling. The outlet stores are value for money because of huge discounts, and fall in love with nature, their coffee, sculptures, and cultural performances.
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