According to Sundanese folklore, the legend begins with the passion, the desire and the anger of Sangkuriang, a son of a demi-god; the origin of Mt. Tangkuban Perahu (meaning upturned boat); and Bandung, a city on what was once a river basin now bordered by volcanic mountains. The western part of Java is populated mostly by an ethnic group called the Sundanese. Bandung, the capital of West Java, Indonesia is located about 180 kilometers southeast of Jakarta and can be accessed directly from the Soekarno-Hatta International airport in Cengkareng via buses transporting passengers directly to the city. Due to its elevation, Bandung enjoys cooler temperature averaging 23.6˚C throughout the year as compared with other Indonesian cities.
For Shopping and City Life
Dubbed as the Paris of Java during the early 1900s for its luxurious hotels, restaurants, cafes and European boutiques, Bandung continues to attract people living in Jakarta for a weekend getaway up to the present time. The shopping addict will definitely enjoy the cheap fashion finds at various factory and distribution outlets. Try going around by angkot or public transportation and say “kiri” or stop to the driver upon arriving at your destination or have a midnight snack of Indomie (noodles) at Dago while watching the motorists speed away as if on an X games competition.
The culture enthusiast will find the uniqueness of the Sundanese heritage fascinating after a visit to Kampung Naga (Dragon Village), a village located near the road connecting Tasikmalaya and Garut which continues to preserve its traditional layout, architecture and way of life despite its proximity to the modern world and Saung Angklung Udjo (SAU) along Jalan Padasuka, an art center which aims to preserve the province’s traditional arts and culture specifically the angklung and introduce it to the rest of the world through various performances and workshops.
For the Art Lover
The art center’s focus is on the production, maintenance and appreciation of the angklung – a pair (or more) bamboo tubes mounted on a bamboo frame that produces a pitch when shaken. This has evolved into a musical ensemble called Arumba – a harmonization of the sounds created by the angklung melody, gambang (bamboo xylophone) with its alat pemukul (hitter), and kendang (conga) as percussion. Since 2003, SAU is home to selected delegates from various countries of the annual Indonesian Arts and Culture Scholarship (IACS) for the three-month duration of the program giving them a chance to interact with the community and experience the Indonesian way of life as they immerse themselves in the Sundanese culture.
The nature lover will feel at home traipsing the countryside. With the mists creeping in and the temperature dropping, go for a late night drive north to Lembang and take refuge in one of the shops along the road and enjoy a hot glass of spiced ginger beverage called bandrek.
A short drive to Tangkuban Perahu and a few minutes stroll through the forest on the hike down will bring one up close with the huge crater of an active volcano in West Java. Further north is the Ciater Hot Springs where the streams and pools are fed by warm mineral springs heated by the nearby volcanoes.
For Relaxation and Ispiration
Taking the road to the south will lead to Situ Patengan (Patengan Lake) in Ciwidey about 47 kilometers from Bandung where one can go on a relaxing cruise in the lake aboard a boat and marvel at the charming landscape. On the way back to Bandung pass by and bask in the tranquility of Kawah Putih (White Crater) and its pale turquoise water, cradled amidst the mountains and a blanket of tea plantations.
West Java has a lot to offer travelers from all walks of life: fun, adventure, relaxation, and insight. The time spent in the province tends to leave an imprint more enduring than the scenes captured in photographs. Its subtle charm lies in captivating one into staying a while longer but when the time to leave comes an old Indonesian saying comes to mind that goes: you see, you forget; you hear, you remember; but when you do, you understand.