Nov. 1, 2013
After spending a week in Jakarta (and getting a bit bored there), I can say that today was definitely the highlight of my trip to Indonesia. I arrived to the 2nd biggest city, Bandung a few nights ago via 3-hour Argo train ride from the Indonesian capital. When I was looking for my new hotel, I got lost and stumbled into a travel agency asking for directions. This ended up being the best thing to happen to me on my trip as the owner Herman, was super-friendly and spoke perfect English. After getting to know him (he’s Indo-Chinese and lived in various cities in the US while attending graduate school), he offered to give me a personal tour the next day. This is despite the fact that his travel agency mainly deals with large group tours visiting other locations/ countries.
We started the day bright and early with a drive up north Dago then through the town of Lembang (I think). First stop was a restaurant that’s built in the jungle with water running through it. Since it was early morning, they weren’t serving food but Herman just wanted to give me a tour of the place. The setup was unique with tables and huts spread out everywhere. It would def be a good spot for a first date, ha.
Shortly after that, we drove to the starting point of our hike. At first the trail was easy but then we had to cross a bunch of old, dodgy-looking wooden bridges. Some lacked side-rails and had planks missing , WTF!?! lol Towards the middle of the trek, we finally made it to the waterfall. Continuing on some steep climbs, we went through brush and tea plantations. The green vegetation surrounding us was beautiful…coupled with the fact that we were the only two people to be walking through the trails, it really made it feel like an adventure into the jungle. This all took about an hour and 45-min but was well worth it.
Next up was a stop at a local market…it had tons of fresh vegetables and fruits. We picked up some sticky rice to eat for later. Everyone in Thailand knows about glutinous sticky rice, but Indo’s got their own style. They stick fermented soy-bean paste with chilli’s in the middle of the rice block, almost like a sandwich. Then top it with shredded coconut…I wanted to say ALOY MAK MAK b/c I don’t speak Indonesian, ha. Last stop was a local spot eating dishes that are standard Indonesia cuisine.
After a relaxing meal, we drove up-to Mount Tangkuban Perahu, which is an active volcano. There has been recent activity and an advisory went out in October, causing the area to be shutdown to tourist. Luckily it was re-opened just 5 days ago 🙂 The drive up was foggy and you could smell the sulfur before we even got to the top. Once there, it was amazing to see…as I said, it was foggy and chilly which made the whole setting feel eerie, plus it was cloudy and you could hear thunder. It almost felt like something bad was about to happen, lol. Going to see a live volcano face-to-face was one of the main factors in choosing to do my visa run to Indonesia (not exactly a popular route for most people in Thailand). Although this is my first time observing one, I doubt it will be the last.
After pouring down hard for a bit, the weather cleared up…I was able to get better shots of the craters with improved visibility of the background. We walked around the crater a bit for different angles. As we left, the loud speaker issued a warning about the fog and to be extra careful driving down. The other tourists started leaving in a bit of a hurry, as if an eruption was imminent…drama-queens! lol On the drive down you could only see about 5 meters in front of you.
Last stop was going for a dip in the hot-spring water via resort. Obviously the water is heated by the volcano’s energy. It was clean and didn’t smell at all. If you got close to where the pipes drained the water, it was almost scolding hot.
I’d like to say a big THANK YOU to my tour guide, Herman. Fate had it that I get lost and bump into his tour agency. During my few days in Bandung, he drove me to various spots, showed me local eateries and looked after me. He was my long lost Chinese uncle while in Indonesia 🙂 If anyone is in need of travel planning, I’d highly recommend his company. Judging by how well he took care of me, I’d say his customer service skills are up to par. Both he and his wife run the business with numerous staff on-hand (they had about 5 girls working in the office the day I came in). His contact info is:
Sakura Tour Travel
Address: Jl Trunojoyo 14
And the source of my inspiration to venture off to Indonesia by myself goes to fellow blogger Kristin Addis, who runs a highly-informational travel site herself. She goes into quite some detail for those considering Indonesia, such as costs, where to go and how to do it by yourself. Here’s a link to her Indonesia articles:
Nov. 17th, 2013 – Currently, I’m posting this piece from Chiang Mai. My parents and youngest brother have flown all the way from NY to spend two weeks with me in Thailand (we spent last week in Phuket). After they leave, I’ve committed myself to a 10-day silent retreat located here, at Wat Ram Poeng (Tapotaram). http://www.watrampoeng.net/