I’ve spend one month in Indonesia, West-Java to be precisely. Originally this wasn’t on my itinerary, but since my Dutch-Indo friend went back to visit his mother I had a good excuse to visit this part of Indonesia. I spend my four weeks in Bogor, Bandung and Jakarta.
Two weeks I spend in Bogor. Whenever I told people I stayed in Bogor for two weeks, they look confused at me, asking me what the hell I did there for two weeks. Bogor wasn’t a very touristic or entertaining city itself. Bogor is called ‘Kota hujan’, ‘Rain city’. The first day I arrived the weather was great, but for the following days I did realize I was just lucky. 5 out of 7 days in a week, clouds from the mountains would come over the city and just start to rain heavily. Not a burst for a short period, but for hours. If the rain did start at 4, you still find yourself waiting at 8 for the rain to stop.
In Bogor the main touristic spot is the Botanical Garden, which was founded in 1817 by the Dutch East Indies. It’s a big garden in which you easily can walk for two days, if you are into plants and flowers anyway. For me as a Dutch it’s funny to see the cemetery in the Botanical Garden, filled up with memorials and headstones written in Dutch for those high ranked Dutch people who lived there during the colonial times.
Outside of the city of Bogor there is Gunung Geulis, mountain Gulis. I drove there up with a scooter. And when you are high above you have a great view on the surrounding of Bogor. Together with some noodle soup and coffee it’s a great time off.
There are also nice waterfalls around. More to the south is Curug Luhur, a small waterfall of 62 meter high. Around the waterfall a waterpark has been created. On a Tuesday morning that waterpark was all empty. It seemed that the best days were gone for the park. It all didn’t look in the best state. It could use some paint here and there, and removal of moss on the bridges and roads also would give it a fresh look.
After two weeks I left for the next city Bandung. After all what happened in Bogor I felt that I wanted to have some time off on a beach, and almost escaped to Gili Air, but hold myself from that spontaneous trip since I wanted to see the rest of West-Java as well.
I love Indonesian food. I love it so much that at some point I only did eat local street food. That, combined with Pandang food was the trigger to upset my stomach. Pandang food is cooked once a day and then displayed in the windows. It was delicious, but I had no idea how many bacteria’s my meal was that time. I thought I had an iron stomach, but after the Pandang food my stomach rumbled a bit, and a week later there was a moment that I had extreme diarrhea for a day. It was this day that I was suppose to travel from Bogor to Bandung by bus. So that I had to postpone that till the next day. A lot of sleep, water, bananas and bread did help my body’s ecosystem to recover.
Bandung was recommended by some travelers because of the Dutch history and sights. Walking around for a midday I think I did see all those sights. The grocery store ‘De Vries’, Jalan Braga, the street filled with a lot of Art Deco buildings, km 0, around which the city was build. I stayed with a great host in Bandung who used all of his time to show me around in areas outside the city. We went to Sari Hot spring water. Went to forest Park Juanda where the Dutch build a cave in 1941. Used for hydropower and a radio station. Besides the Dutch cave there is a Japanese cave build in 1942 for the defense during the 2nd world war. Another touristic attraction in the north was Farm House Suse in Lembang. Interesting to see a small theme park filled with European architecture and themed as a Dutch attraction. Even has traditional Dutch folk clothing to wear when you visiting. Although I’m not sure if this is really Dutch.
All the way down in the south of Bandung is a volcanic white crater Kawah Putih. It’s a highly acid lake with lot of sulfur in its water. Changing colors from bluish to whitish green and brown. I’ve spend an hour or what around the lake making pictures, although the recommended time near the water is maximum 15 minutes, due to the high sulfuric concentration. Also in the south you will find a town called Ciwidey. Famous for its many strawberry farms. And, O yeah!, we saw many strawberry farms.
From Bandung I took a bus to Jakarta. I did spend 4 days in Kota Tua, the old city of Jakarta, formerly known as Batavia. I stayed in a great hostel just near old town. There was a nice old café, ‘Batavia’. The interior of the café restaurant is 19th-century decorated. It looks all great, but when it comes to the food, compared to the street food, it has the same flavour and portion, and price wise its triple so expensive as the street food. so mediocre I would say, unfortunately…
Jakarta is quite big, and public transportation isn’t the best way to get around. Whenever I need to travel a bit further in Jakarta I would walk to a place where quite some Grab bikes are, and use my app to order a bike. So convenient to get your way around on a Grab bike. I did the same in Ho Chi Minh City and now here as well. It was till the last day I found out you could get 50% discounts using promo codes for the Grab bikes. Damn! I should have known that earlier.
I did enjoy my time in West-Java. It’s fun to see some Dutch influences from the old times. Dutch words used in daily life, architecture or history displayed in museums. But still it is a completely different culture. The majority of people take life here as how it is. With a bit of lack for innovation. At some point the culture and lifestyle is conservative. They seem to rest in their faith. That is how I felt it in the kampung at least. Of course this doesn’t count for all the people.