After the less than exciting time in Jakarta, we were ready to see what awaits us in the next city on out itinerary. We woke up to repack our stuff and went down to eat our breakfast before checking out from Hotel Atlantic at 10am. We had previously discussed the manner of transport that we would take to get from Jakarta to Bandung and decided that taking a minivan would be our best options in terms of convenience and cost. We had to get to the CipaGanti offices that offered the minivan travel option to make our booking. Since they have quite a number of trips per day, we were assured that we did not have to make advance bookings to get on the minivan.
The taxi driver that we hailed that morning didn’t know the way to the CipaGanti office that was closer to our hotel so we ended up having to go to their other office located at Mangga2 Mall (40,000 Rph). As promised, we had no problems getting seats on the next minivan that was leaving in about 45 minutes when we reached their offices. At 60,000 Rph per person, it was more expansive than taking an express bus to Bandung but given the backpacks that we were carrying, we would gladly pay extra from the convenience of not having to deal with the bags in transit. The minivan also seats 12 people but we only had 10 passengers that day when we left Jakarta on our way to Bandung via the new toll highway that bypassed the Puncak area.
(L: Padi fields along the highway to Bandung, R: Interior of our minivan)The trip was supposed to be at most 2 ½ hours but unfortunately for us, we hit a snag when our minivan was caught in a massive jam caused by an accident on the highway. Having not been caught in any jams while we were in Jakarta, it was kind of ironic that we hit one then as we were leaving Jakarta. What was suppose to be a 2 ½ hour trip turned into a 4 hours crawl in the midday heat. A 10 minute pit stop at a comfortable highway rest stop for people to go to the toilet and stretch their legs were the only respite that we got from the jam since the minivan was running on a tight schedule and had to make up time for the delay.
(At the highway rest stop with the obligatory Nasi Padang restaurant)The minivan finally deposited us at their Bandung offices located in a mall near the outskirts of Bandung. From there we had to take a taxi (50,000 Rph) to Rumah Tubagus Homestay which I had made reservation for from the net. Another Internet find, Rumah Tubagus Homestay was located in a quiet residential area and exceeded my expectations when I finally get to see it (look out for a future entry for it). Once we stowed away our gear and freshen up from the trip, we left the homestay to go to the Bandung train station to buy our train tickets to Jogja. Having been told by the homestay proprietress that the angkut kota that passed nearby goes directly to the train station, we decide to take one instead of our customary taxi.
The angkut kota was basically a minivan that took passengers around in a fixed round trip route. A cousin of the Philippine jeepney, the angkut was a fast, cheap and convenient way of getting around town once you figured out the system. From what I was able to tell, different colored angkut serviced different routes and that each route seemed to start and end in the same area where the other colored angkut started or ended their routes. If I had enough time to figure it out, I believe that I could use the angkut to get from one end of Bandung to the other end easily but that would have to wait for another day. The other important thing is to remember which color angkut that you took or else you’ll have to go around town to get to the one that you were suppose to take if you decide to not backtrack to where you got off your original angkut.
We paid an angkut fare of 7500 Rph for the three of us to reach the Bandung train station. Having figured out that the best train to get for our trip to Jogja was the 7am Argo Willis train, we went up to the reservation window to purchase our tickets. The process of making our train ticket reservations were as painless as can be expected as we just had to fill up a form with our particulars and date of travel which the person behind the counter took to enter into their computer systems from which they printed out our tickets. We paid for 3 seats on the executive coach, equivalent to our first class train coach, at 155,000 Rph per person which was about half what we had to pay if we took a flight from Bandung to Jogja.
After securing our train tickets, we decide to do a bit of shopping and find somewhere for dinner at Pasar Baru which we got there again by angkut. Pasar Baru was listed in the guide book as a multistory market selling locally made items. We looked at some embroidered telekungs (female prayer dress) which I got one for my mum as a gift from my trip. Walking around the market, one would not be surprised to think that Bandung was the Java capital for cheap clothes as it was almost all that was being sold there. Going up the levels for more of the same, we noticed that the shops were also already closing for the day which was still something that we had to get use to seeing that it was still early in the day for us. After seeing the meager offerings at their food court, we decide to walk down the block a bit to see if there was somewhere else to eat.
(R: Outside of Pasar Baru, L: Interior sprawl of the market in the ladies dresses section)Light was fading fast as we walked down the road to find the Matahari Store where the guide book listed as a potential eating place. Being on a higher elevation, it was also getting cooler which helped with making the long walk less unpleasant. Unfortunately, the street lights on the road that we walked were not switched on when it got dark which did give every darkened corner a more forbidding vibe. We were walking in basically pitch darkness when we finally arrived near the area of the Bandung Masjid Agung. Before finding a place to eat, we strolled through a market devoted to selling pirated DVDs of every title imaginable. The layout there reminded me of the Book Market in Penang but instead of books, they were selling pirated DVDs instead. At 6000 Rph per piece, it was definitely cheaper than in KL but I hardly have time to watch the ones that I already have accumulated so adding more to my collection was not something that I wanted to do.
After a prayer break, we moved on to a near by food court for our first taste of Sundanese cuisine that originated in Bandung. I finally got to get my fix of fried tempe which was surprisingly absent from the food offering in Jakarta. One would think that being in Java, one would find tempe everywhere but to my surprise it was not the case in Jakarta. Our dinner of opor chicken, tempe, beef and vegetable came to 55,000 Rph for the 3 of us including drinks. We spent the meal time to rest our feet after the day of walking and to plan our next course of action. After a short discussion, we decided to try to get to Jalan Broga where according to the guide book was where most of the night life in Bandung was situated.
We stopped to get some pictures of the Bandung Masjid Agung minarets and to get directions to Jalan Broga from helpful bystanders who were obviously thoroughly amused at our touristy antics. Finding out that Jalan Broga was not as close as we thought from the Alun Alun (Main Square) where we were, the thought of getting lost again in the darkened streets was not something that we were looking forward to. Since we already had our fill of walking for the day, we decided to head back to the Alun Alun and take a taxi back to Rumah Tubagus (20,000 Rph) where we ended the night piled up in bed watching TV till we were too tired to watch it anymore.