Friday, 17 October 2014

Shopping in Bandung

 Ask anyone why they go to Bandung and they're likely to tell you they're here to shop. Indeed, there are so many factory outlets here, you can spend days going through racks and piles of clothes and shoes.

There are street vendors selling bags, phone case, durian ice cream and so forth. We went a little crazy over these colourful bags!
 After all the shopping, Irwan brought us to Hummingbird Cafe for lunch.
 I love the decor and food at this place and would definitely come back if I visit Bandung again.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Rose Garden (Kebun Mawar)

Much as we like seeing volcanoes and craters, we got a bit jaded after a while. When we spotted Kebun Mawar (Rose Garden) on the way to Kamojang Crater, we had to make a stop.

About 15 km from Garut city, Kebun Mawar is built around 5 hectares of largely flat land at an altitude of 1,150 m above sea levels. The cooler climate here is ideal for growing roses and other flowers. It is also a resort with bungalows and a gift shop.
Large lemons.

The biggest dill I've ever seen!

Roses bring out the damsel in us.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Kamojang Crater

Being in Garut which is so near volcanic mountains, naturally, there are many hotspots to discover. To me, the highlight of the trip was the hike up Mount Papandayan.

If you're into boiling mud pools and hissing steam columns, then you might find Kamojang Crater super awesome. I can't say I'm geeky enough to truly appreciate the natural wonders of the geyser, it's interesting enough to warrant a visit.
Kamojang crater is located on Mount Guntur and is listed as an active volcano of Indonesia because of its geothermal activities. There are 23 active geysers in the form of bubbling mud pools here. I stuck my finger in and found the heat tolerable.

Located near the crater is the Darajat Power Station, which is the 10th largest geothermal power stations in the world. The power station comprises of three plants serving the provinces of Java and Bali.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Staying and eating in Garut

Garut is an old Dutch hill station surrounded by mountains, volcanoes, and crystal clear lakes, so it  attracts the adventure-lovers. For those who're looking for a nice place to stay after a hard day of hiking, Kampung Sumber Alam might just fit the bill.

As we were assigned a bungalow near the entrance, we did not realise how impressive it is until we went looking for the breakfast venue which is tucked away in a corner of the sprawling estate.

The bungalows are built in traditional Sudanese architectural style, so they look rustic and natural. Located at the foot of Mt Guntur, some rooms even come with a private pool with natural sulphurous hot spring water from the volcano. The hotel also boasts of many other facilities which we didn't use during our stay.

We had a mediocre dinner at our hotel on the first night. The next day, Irwan brought us to Kampung Sampireun Resort & Spa for lunch.

This resort, with its wooden bungalows over water, looks uncanningly similar to Sumber Alam. We had to walk past lots of hungry fishes in the pond before we could reach the restaurant.

The restaurant is also tucked away amongst lush greenery. We were ushered to a wooden hut where the meal is served.

We ordered an array of Sudanese dishes. The fried banana dessert (below) was covered in a thick layer of grated cheese. Apparently the locally produced cheese is widely eaten by the people here which is not surprisingly as Garut is an old Dutch hill station.
That same night, Irwan brought us to the local night market (pasar malam). While it was a fascinating experience for us, we were careful to navigate our way through the crowded alleys without getting run over by speeding bikes.

 We found something familiar - peanut pancake! Here, they add a dollop of butter just before serving which makes it really rich and tasty!

Monday, 6 October 2014

Sunrise at Papandayan

When GC took the lead to draw up the itinerary for our trip, I was so happy to sit back and relax. Luckily we have the perfect planner and our first day in Garut turned out to be excellent.

Incidentally, The  Garut Regency (previously called Limbangan Regency), was founded by Lieutenant-Governor Stamford Raffles on 16 February 1813. He went on and founded Singapore in 1819!

Back to our story. After long hours on the road, we arrived at Kampung Sumber Alam Hotel in the evening feeling quite exhausted. So when Irwan suggested leaving at 3am the next morning to see sunrise at some volcanic mountain, we weren't too enthusiastic.

The thought of waking up so early didn't sound appealing but when we saw GC's eyes light up, we just couldn't bear to say no. And thank goodness we went! It was an incredible experience.

When we left at 3am, the air was chilly. The drive to the base of Papandayan took an hour, partly due to the bad conditions of the road leading to the mountain. We arrived at the carpark in pitch darkness. The air was so cold (around 15 degree celcius) that the park rangers were dressed in thick winter wear!

We needed a guide to bring us to the peak. We had no idea what the terrain was like as we were were only guided by a small torch. It was exciting to walk in the dark in a single file.

The ascent was not easy as the trail was filled with loose rocks. The air was thick with the smell of sulphur. Behind me, GC was constantly asking "Are we reaching?" It turned out to be a pretty long and tiring climb and the destination was getting elusive.

Somehow, we managed to get there before sunrise.
It was quiet and peaceful at the peak. We almost had the entire mountain top to ourselves. There were 2 other guys who traveled from Jakarta.
Slowly, the sun began to ascend, turning the sky into a beautiful palette of colours. As we witnessed the beauty unravelling before us, we began to understand why Irwan had insisted on bringing us here. Apparently not many tourists come here, so the site is unspoilt and free of litter.
For the truly adventurous, Mt Papandayan offers an exciting climbing adventure. The volcano is still active, hence offering a host of sights (beautiful edelweiss meadow, a dead forest and a steaming sulfur crater) and sounds of minor volcanic activities during the ascent.  The highest part of the crater floor lies to the southeast. It is ~6600 feet (2000 m) high and sits ~800 feet (240 m) below the crater rim. You can read more here and here.
Only after the sun is up, we could truly appreciate the volcanic terrain in its full glory. The environment is so harsh that only very little vegetation can survive.
After its first historical eruption in 1772, in which collapse of the NE flank produced a catastrophic debris avalanche that destroyed 40 villages and killed nearly 3000 persons, only small phreatic eruptions had occurred prior to an explosive eruption that began in November 2002.
Papandayan is a complex stratovolcano which is found in a row of volcanoes. It has very distinctive yellow crater walls due to coloring by sulfur. Around us, we could see burnt trees, bubbling mud pools, steam vents and sulphur deposits.

During the descent, we could see the trail was covered in loose volcanic rocks and sand. Without proper shoes, it would have been impossible to hike here. Even in my walking shoes, I slipped and slid down some loose sand, scraping my knee in the process.

So, when we saw a local riding his bike up the dusty trail ferrying bottled water for a group of hikers, we were most amused.
I must say this was an amazing experience. If we had ventured further to the summit of Mt Papandayan, we would have been able to see the famous four craters,  Lake of Colours and edelweiss meadow. Unfortunately we weren't really suited up for climbing that day. We could always return again considering Bandung is only a short flight away.

At the base of the mountain,the fertile volcanic soil is perfect for growing crops. A group of farmers were seen harvesting cabbage.
 If you're visiting Bandung and wish to visit Mt Papandayan, please contact Irwan. You will find more details here.