5 Reasons To Go to Bandung: Culture and Nature In West Java
Think of Indonesia and you’re likely thinking of amazing shores, meditation, eat, pray, love. In actuality, you’re likely thinking of Bali. Earlier I started planning my first trip to the nation this year. That’s pretty much everything I knew about it. However, Indonesia is about so much over Bali. It’s a badly varied country, made up of over 17,000 islands and many distinct cultures and landscapes.
Bandung, the sprawling school town in West Java, can often go overlooked by tourists that have a tendency to flock to the shore instead. But there are lots of reasons to add it to your itinerary. While the city itself is not the most popular, Bandung is surrounded by lush green mountains, tea plantations, and thick woods — and it is ideally positioned for day trips and longer trips into the countryside of West Java’s interior. Nicknamed the”Paris of Indonesia” for its art deco-style buildings, Bandung is also quite cosmopolitan, with exceptional shopping, busy markets, and many fashionable cafes. Here are a few of my best reasons to stop by Bandung.
Bandung is the capital of West Java, the province of the Sundanese people — the 2nd most populous ethnic group in Indonesia. When there are many similarities, the culture is hugely different from other cultures and ethnicities in Indonesia. The region has its own distinct cuisine, language, and traditions. There’s a lot to discover, and also the culture alone makes a stop at Bandung.
To get a fab insight into the local culture, especially the cuisine, head to Kampung Daur. This restaurant and the cultural gallery is an authentic dining experience, set in a tiled, leafy complex of cobbled lanes and mini waterfalls. The concept is actually interesting, and there’s a strong focus on Sundanese food and culture here.
Saung Angklung Udjo
Talking of Sundanese culture, do not miss a trip to Saung Angklung Udjo (Udjo’s House of Angklung) to get an insight into some of the highlights. A musical instrument made of bamboo tubes attached to a bamboo framework, angklungs produce a light, pretty wooden sound that can be used to create extraordinary melodies in the right hands.
The Angklung is known as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO and is a Massive portion of Sundanese tradition. Saung Angklung Udjo premiered in 1966 by Udjo Nalagena and his spouse in a bid to preserve this vital portion of the area’s traditional culture and art. Now, it’s a booming music school at which you can see demonstrations of how the tools are made and used. There is also a daily show which showcases the extraordinary talent of the young musicians.
Even though the town of Bandung itself is enormous, smoggy, and congested, it’s actually surrounded by a number of the most breathtaking countryside in Java. Get out of town and you’ll find green plantations, beaches, forests, volcanic peaks, and warm springs. Do not miss the sulphuric white crater of Kawah Putih, a spooky scene of chalky floor and turquoise waters, or even the Tangkuban Perahu volcano, where you can hike or drive up to the border of the crater.
Bandung Off Road
All this rich green countryside along with those magnificent mountain landscapes would be the perfect setting for an adventure, as I found with Bandung Away Road. Together with them, I invested an adrenaline-filled few hours careening along bumpy mountain roads, across slick bogs, and throughout engine-deep muddy water that surrounded the front of our jeep. Rocking and slipping our way via dirt tracks, occasionally on two wheels rather than four, screaming and laughing (and singing along to Queen at the top of our lungs)! It was really terrifying, and so much fun — highly recommended.
A different, less severe side of Sundanese culture is found at Komunitas Hong. Launched in 2003 by the Pusat Kajian Mainan Rakyat (Center of Folk Toys Research), the Hong Community has researched, collected, and rebuilt hundreds of traditional Sundanese folk toys and games.
What’s fun about this particular stop is that it’s a far cry in a stuffy museum. At Komunitas Hong you can actually play with the toys! Find your inner child by studying traditional dances and games with the group, or try your hand at the traditional toys and games. You might find a talent you never knew you had, or you might just make a fool of yourself. Either way, it’s a good fun — and the folks here are just lovely. Do not miss it.
Whether your trips take you to a long stroll on beaches, delicious cuisines, relaxing spas and resorts or urban attractions, extra research will give you the best experience for your visit. Get to know more about Bandung by visiting Wonderful Indonesia.
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