Helen was presenting a workshop at BIS, so I got to see the sights of Bandung during the two and a half days we were there. Bandung is renowned for its factory outlets, so half of Jakarta’s population heads up the hill most weekends. As well, there are direct flights from KL and Singapore. These couple of days were even worse than usual, because of a public holiday on Thursday, and the Indonesian penchant for taking the next day off as well (as we used to do in Oz before the economic rationalists took over). Getting into the city was a nightmare – luckily, we weren’t driving – and it took nearly an hour to get from the end of the toll gate queue to the Novotel. Because Helen was going to be working, we headed straight out to Jl. Riau, to some of the factory outlets.
I get overwhelmed in those sort of places – too much choice becomes none. I didn’t buy anything, but noted a few things to check with my “fashion consultant”. She was able to purchase a few Christmas presents and give me some ideas. Back at the hotel, we ordered a glass of wine and a beer from room service, to be told that, because it was a religious holiday, they were not serving alcohol. When Helen firmly and politely said that we would not be parading it around the hotel, the drinks eventually arrived. For dinner, we were hosted by some friends from the school, and had a nice meal at a Japanese restaurant. We discovered, half-way through our slumbers, that we must have been well and truly “MSG-ed”. Both of us were clogged up and woke more than once, coughing. We think we are getting less tolerant to it as we get older.
Helen was away early the next morning and I discovered that 8am was not a good time to have breakfast – the buffet was packed. I eventually found a spot and read the paper on my iPad. Because I had eaten a larger-than-usual breakfast, I decided to walk to Jl. Riau. I asked for some directions a couple of times (once to some local punks) and found it. Shopping was easier, and I now knew what to look for, having been apprised of what were the “in” labels by Helen. I ambled back a different way, which, of course, is rarely a good idea in a new place. I eventually noticed a nice cafe and stopped for a snack, before continuing my trek back to the hotel.
Eventually, I was fairly sure that I wasn’t too far away, so I asked a couple of blokes in a warung (on the footpath, under a tarpaulin) for direction. They assured me that it was “jauh” (far) and should catch a minivan. I trudged off in the indicated general direction and eventually came to the road to the Novotel. It was actually only about 1.5 km, which meets the definition of “jauh” – Like my parents’ generation (or, at least, the males thereof) anything more than 100m requires the use of a petroleum-fuelled vehicle. I must have done at least 8 km for the day.
Helen took ages to return from a successful day, because of the traffic jams – Bandung is actually harder to get around in than Jakarta. (Yes, it is possible.) I ordered drinks again, to be told there were none, but then a manager came on the line and took the order. Nothing happened for half an hour. Helen rang customer service. Nothing. I went downstairs and found a manager. He took me to a quiet place and explained that, because of local bureaucrats, the liquor licence had not yet come through, and they were worried about someone pretending to be a guest, getting alcohol and shutting them down. I suggested that the truth would be a good response from room service, and it was the lack of response, not the lack of drinks, that was the problem. The drinks arrived.
We had Googled good places to go and ended up in Jl Braga, at the impossibly-cheap Braga Permai restaurant. It was one of a number of nice restaurants in the street, and we enjoyed nice meals and drinkable wine. We walked down the street a bit, and, suddenly, the whole nature of the street changed. Jakarta residents might understand that it was like going from Jl. Kemang Raya to Jl. Falatihan in the space of 10m – it got decidedly seedy. We had a margarita each at the North Sea bar before returning to our lodgings.
The next morning, after another claustrophobic breakfast, I took Helen’s advice and walked up the street towards town. Helen had realised that the street, Jl. Cihampelas, was, in fact, the old “Jeans Street”. The factory outlets up the hill there catered for a different clientele to Jl. Riau – there were enough T-shirts and pairs of jeans for everyone on the planet, and then some. After about 2km, I ran out of outlets, and it started to rain. There were no taxis, so I jumped in a bemo (minivan). Most of the passengers got out at a stop halfway down the hill. The driver sat and waited for more customers. And waited. And waited. The other passengers got out, followed, eventually, by me. I caught another bemo, which dropped me near the hotel, then I caught a taxi back to Jl Riau to get some last-minute things. The taxi driver was the same one who had brought me back the day before.
Helen was back a bit earlier, and we caught a taxi to Jl. Dago, to different factory outlets. This area seemed to be for the clients “in between” Jeans St and Jl Riau, but we still found a couple of nice things. We went back to Jl. Braga and had strawberry margaritas and a snack at Braga Permai. We then had dinner at a Japanese restaurant, which was not that good. We finished with a margharita at the North Sea and had a fairly early night.
We packed and were away by 8am. The ride down the hill was extremely uneventful and relatively fast. Bandung was nice, and we hope to go back a bit, particularly to work. Next time, we will try the train, which goes over valleys and through tea plantations.
Rush – Series 3 – Volume 1 – 3-DVD Set ( Rush – Series Three – Volume One ) [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.4 Import – Australia ]
By Rodger Corser, Callan Mulvey, Jolene Anderson, Josef Ber, Nicole da Silva