The Only Tourist in Town
Kawah Putih crater lake
I was ready to begin discovering more parts of the world with ‘energetic’ presence. Indonesia was on my list of places to revisit so I decided to make this my next destination.
I had read about a place called ‘Gunung Padang’ so without much local knowledge I flew into Jakarta and made my way toward a place called ‘Bandung’. I had thought it would be easier to get to, so I would base myself here for a couple of days, then make my way to Gunung Padang.
Whew, a great move it was to head straight from the airport to Bandung as the following day, Jakarta was holding elections for their next governor .
As I made my way through Jakarta airport I was thinking, ‘what a breeze, I don’t recollect getting through the airport being this easy the last time I was here’. Then I realized there was a reason I only ‘connected’ via Jakarta the last time I was in Indonesia and not made an actual stop here.
Jakarta is Indonesia’s capital, the economic and political hub of the Indonesia and has over 10 million people. It took us two hours alone just to get out of Jakarta heading toward Bandung.
The nice lady I was sitting next to on the plane, her name was Happy, was actually flying from Singapore just to vote the following day. Happy was indeed happy and a thrill to sit next to. Here are a couple of brief articles on the elections.
Kawah Putih crater lake
Coincidentally, a couple bits of information about Bandung landed in my inbox once I made the decision to visit. [Thanks Jen].
I was quite surprised, when I arrived, how large and spread-out the city was. It’s the third or fourth largest Indonesia city and has over 2.5 million people.
I also came to realize that all of the wonderful attractions highlighted in this area are typically spread-out in all directions anywhere from 2-4 hours.
I was so looking forward to this, especially as you know by now, there are NO driving rules in southeast Asia and everyone drives like they’re being paid to get somewhere in the fastest amount of time.
Wherever I land, I like to walk around to get a feel for the area. Bandung was pretty spread out, and I found it difficult to get my bearings, but here are some impressions:
After a couple of days I realized I must be the only Western tourist in the entire province!
You have to realize that YOU are ‘strange’ and ‘different’. You will be stared at everywhere you go. Go with it.
There were times when I wasn’t quite sure if the looks I was getting were because I stepped into the wrong ‘turf’ or because it was unusual to see a Western tourist. I always took the optimistic view.
When people look at you funny, just smile. Nine times out of ten, you’ll be amazed not only to get a smile back, but how a smile can absolutely transform a persons look from being stern and tense to incredibly joyous.
Don’t get caught out in the torrential afternoon storms.
I had forgotten how prevalent it was on my previous visits, particularly to Java, that the locals want a picture of you. I tend to go with it. You’re a novelty to them and it makes them happy. When I see people shy and hesitant to ask for a photo, I will open it up and ask if they want a photo.
Don’t be offended if you are referred to as ‘Bule’. It means foreigner and many countries have a word they use to reference foreigners.
Don’t be offended when people think you are strange for not being married or for not having children or for travelling alone. Their family units are very strong here; multiple generations live together. There were times however, I thought I should just make up some story to get around this.
After having spent some time in countries with a significant Buddhist influence, be prepared for a change to a Muslim influence in Indonesia and Java particularly.
With this influence, one of the most significant dress considerations is not showing skin when swimming. Women especially, swim fully dressed, in clothes, not bathing suits. I observed one foreigner, yes I finally found a couple in the end, who was asked to put more clothes on or leave the swimming area when she walked out in a bikini.
This little van was full of students, all wanting selfies w/the tourist & practicing their English
Food vendor; had great conversation with locals
I found myself fortunate to come across a few people who spoke English. This is where I’d love to be able to speak all languages in the world; it just opens up a whole new experience.
The locals are typically as curious of you as you are of them. They are also welcoming and hospitable and are keen to share their culture with you.
I spent a couple of days visiting the local and surrounding sites, before making my way to Gunung Pagdang.
Just a crazy looking bike
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