The Paris of Java: Bandung
Sometimes you just need to head for the hills. After a few weeks in Jakarta you always feel the need to get out, even it is only to somewhere a few hours away, and go somewhere with less traffic and cleaner air. I should have written this post back in August, when Erwin, Chloe and I left Jakarta, but somehow it fell between the cracks. I’ve been to the city of Bandung twice now. Bandung has a much different vibe from Jakarta. It feels like a college town (ITB, one of the best universities in Indonesia is there) and there are a lot more tree-lined streets and cool cafes to sit and just relax. The area is surrounded by tea plantations and many people go to resorts and spas in and near Bandung.
When we went in August, Erwin drove and we took the long way up through Puncak Pass where there are beautiful tea plantations and a lot of people go hand-gliding. This route takes several hours and there is now a much faster highway route connecting Bandung to Jakarta, but it is not scenic. I think the green surroundings must have influenced the Dutch when the decided to nickname Bandung, Parijs van Java, the Paris of Java. Having lived in Paris, I think this comparison is a bit of a stretch.
The cooler weather in Bandung is a big draw. But the even bigger one? Outlet shopping. Bandung has loads of discount clothing stores and they go to great lengths to attract people with crazy displays. This has made Bandung a destination for Singaporeans and Malaysians interested in really great clothing and fabric deals.
Bandung, like Jakarta, is a mix of new and old. You have modern hotels and buildings and then kampung, urban village, areas intermixed.
It was really interesting walking around Bandung with Erwin because his grandfather fought in the resistance in Bandung and somewhere in the city a street is named after him. The Dutch pulled out of Indonesia for the most part during World War Two, but then they returned after the war and tried to regain control, and this was when the resistance movement fought with the Dutch in the city. A lot of Bandung was burned to the ground by Indonesians because they refused to surrender. Bandung is also noted for the Asia Africa conference that was held there in 1955. Pictured below is Jalan (Street) Asia-Afrika.
The Dutch loved Bandung and it was a popular spot for them as well, so you can still spot some old colonial buildings around today.
I hope to escape to Bandung one day soon. I’ve been in Jakarta for almost a solid month, that’s almost too long.