-Gedung Merdeka - Famous for hosting the Asian-African Conference 1955
One good thing about motoring in general is that it takes you places. Airplanes take to even further but once you get to a destination, the best way to cover ground and to explore the surrounding area. Of course if you aren't a lazy bloke you could walk or cycle. But that shouldn't be covered in a motoring blog. Which brings us back to Indonesia where I happened to travel from Jakarta to the city of Bandung, a few hours away.
-Note the traffic on the opposite side heading towards Jakarta, the jam to the toll booth was about 6km
This time we were ferried there in a chartered bus. It isn't often that a person like me travels by means of a bus. This was because I have been too spoiled by the choice of having the use of a car most of the time. But beggars can't be choosers, especially since it was an air-conditioned private coach and the fact that I didn't have to fight my way through the Jakarta traffic to head towards the highway to Bandung. And it was comfortable, as I could stretch out my legs and sleep in relative comfort.
Now Bandung is a city which is actually quite famed for its shopping. It has a whole slew of factory outlet stores located throughout the city like the one above. Here one can find branded clothing on sale as well as local leather goods, Indonesian lace, batik (both are fine in their workmanship and very affordable) and other forms of clothing. I do have a tip for those who intend on buying branded handbags over here and the tip is this – Do not bother buying stuff with those fancy designer bags here as most are not the real thing. The thing with Bandung is that the items are indeed factory over run stuff and the factory are those in Indonesia. Do not expect to buy a 'Made in France' handbag in Bandung. That 'Made in France' bag may be actually 'Made in Surabaya'. You can buy branded shirts and blouses as these are indeed made under license from the actual brand.
But shopping over in Bandung isn't something I really enjoyed. I did enjoy the ride up as the Indonesian countryside is splendid indeed. If you took the flight in to the airport in Bandung you may not be able to view the terraced paddy fields that is actually a sight to behold. To make full use of the hillsides the farmers cut the hills to make usable terraces. Rice is then planted on these terraces and we tourists get to marvel at its uniqueness.
If you travel by train, which you could, from Jakarta it may be even more breathtaking as the steel girder bridges you see in the photo below are what the trains use to cut through the countryside. The countryside also includes a highland area where you can see tea plantations and volcanic mountains on its outskirts (or about an hour or so away).
Bandung is also a fascinating place to be. There are buildings that are more than 60 years old and like any other large Indonesian city you get to see things that you would never see most of the time. Like this street below, you see roadside stalls selling used motorcycle parts. There is another street selling used automobile parts and another selling only rims and tyres (called 'velg' and 'ban' respectively). There is also one point in the middle of Bandung where you can see pushcars holding piles of garbage – This was a central collection point for the rubbish in the city centre. You can never imagine this happening in any developed city.
Bandung is also another melting pot that is worth the time and trouble to come visit. It is actually a million times better than Jakarta in terms of living standards as you don't face utterly ridiculous traffic and the total madness of a city that almost has the whole population of Malaysia in an area smaller than Singapore. Bandung isn't small, it has a population that is larger than Singapore's (7.5million and counting) yet the community and traffic here is decent (but still packed). For those that like Indie music is a burgeoning indie music scene and it also has an active bicycling scene. I see also more proper cars (saloons and hatchbacks) instead of a multitude of MPVs and SUVs like in Jakarta. Bandung makes it a better place to be for petrol heads because of this.
In short, I could see myself living and working in Bandung and still have reasonable blood pressure and controllable stress levels. I also believe that all forms of transport (and not limited to just motoring) enables us to see unique locations throughout the region (and the world) that we would never be able to see if we stuck with only walking from one place to another.
-that folks, is a push cart. A lot of small hawkers push this around Jakarta and Bandung hawking foodstuff. Imagine doing this day in day out
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- Asia Afrika Road, right smack in Bandung city
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