After Jakarta we headed by train to Bandung. We sat in executive class seating. I know how lavish that sounds and we’d recommend it if you want a straight forward ride. I think it just means more leg room and quitter people to share the cabin with. Our assigned seats had been taken by other people, so Stephen sat behind me instead. No biggie.
When we arrived at the train station, taxi drivers, as they do every time, were waiting and harassing people to choose their services. We negotiated with a driver who said he knew where we were going and that he’d take us. It was of course not a metered taxi because that would be too fair, but in the end we think we were better off because it wasn’t metered.
The driver took us to a hotel we knew couldn’t be ours. It was way too posh for us. He asked the workers at the hotel for directions and we were off again. It was soon obvious that our driver didn’t have a clue where he was going at all. We were making a lot of turns, he was rolling down his window and asking random people the name of our street and we soon realised he wasn’t even asking the right street name. We showed him again and it seemed like we were on the right track. Well, we weren’t and it was more of the same. Finally we were getting nearer, it was now getting dark, we had been in the car for an hour (it should have been a 5km journey) and I certainly was losing my patience. We finally made it and after all of that, the driver had the nerve to ask us for double the agreed rate. We stood strong and he backed down rather quickly. Ahh, in safe and sound for the night.
Bandung is a medium sized town that is best known for a nearby volcano Tangkuban Prahu. The next morning we figured this would be our destination as it was a reason for us to even come to Bandung. Well, the boy that was working told us the volcano was closed for the day because of the holiday. We were a bit bummed out but what can you do. We asked him to call a taxi, which he did. Then a moped shows up and clearly he couldn’t take the two of us. As an alternative this guy walks us to the main road to hail us a taxi. We had realised the day before how far away our hotel was from the main areas of town. It took us a while, following this guy around to finally find a taxi.
We then headed to a hip part of town, full of street art and artists selling their work, the street was called Jalan Braga. Perhaps because of the holiday as well, most things were closed. We were feeling a bit deflated and had just spent way too long in a Starbucks trying to figure out our next move. You start to question what you’re doing on the travelling road from time to time, especially when you’re in a Starbucks!
We were about to throw in the towel on the day when a man pulled over on the side of the road asking if we wanted and hour long tour of the city for $5. Yes please. We had to make something of the day. He drove us around, checking out buildings and then to us to an uber posh hotel with the most beautiful scenery of the valley below.
Ferdi turned out to be the hero of our trip to Bandung. He is entertaining, informative and speaks English pretty well. He knew that the volcano was in fact open. Do they even close volcanos anyway? He agreed to pick us up at our hotel the following day and take us to the airport, again only for $5. That may seem like a lot of money for a taxi in an Asian city to some, but Bandung lacked public transportation on the whole, so taxis were surprisingly expensive.
The following day Ferdi picked us up and drove us to the one and only Italian restaurant in Bandung. It’s not like we were craving Italian or anything but you could see how excited Ferdi was about this place, so we couldn’t help but share some of his excitement. Ferdi introduced us to his friend and the owner of Fashion Pasta, Andrea. It is a beautifully decorated restaurant, airy, artsy and just classy. I wished it was a bit later in the day so I could have a glass of wine, but I opted for a coffee instead. The four of us sat and talked for an hour about Indonesia, Italy, London, New York and world affairs. The food was tasty and the company was great. We would recommend stopping here for a nice meal if you find yourself in Bandung. It was out of our budget, but sometimes you can’t and shouldn’t pass up these opportunities for conversation, rich tastes and ambiance.
If you want to take a guided tour of Bandung, please contact Ferdi. You won’t be disappointed. Javaverde27@gmail.com or call him on 620811221170. He says he’s available 24/7 and happy to take people around. Good value. Good guy.
Our next move is Bali. We know we’ve missed a lot on Java, but something about Bali kept calling to us. We will report on that later.