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The Best of Bandung

People flock to Bandung for one reason only - shopping. It is no wonder that the city has earned the little Kota Wisata Belanja (Shopping Tourist City).

Unfortunately a group of us who were on a media trip to Bandung recently did not have the opportunity to find out if the city was worthy of the title. We did, however manage to shop at one of the factory outlets which sells export overruns at very low prices. You can find goods from brand names such as Armani, Hugo Boss, Elle, Alfred Dunhill, Crocodile, Fendi, Nike, Reebok, Calvin Klein, Hush Puppy, Victoria's Secret, Banana Republic and Guess.

Bandung is situated 180km southeast of Jakarta and has a lot more to offer besides shopping. It is Indonesia's thrid largest city after Jakarta and Surabaya.

In 1955, the Asian-African Conference was held in the city. It was considered the turning point as the conference ultimately led to the establishment of Non Aligned Movement in 1961. With its tree-lined boulevards, villas and buildings with European architecture, Bandung was known as Parijs van Java or Paris of Java in the early 20th century. Now it is known as the City of Flowers (said to refer to the beautiful women of Bandung). According to our tour guide Pak Yos, most of indonesia's famous singers are from Bandung. Many began as a street performers before making it big in the entertainment industry.

The city is surrounded by mountain paeks, including Mount Tangkuban Perahu, a volcanic mountain located 28km north of the city. The volcanic mountain is still active. In April 2005, it was reported that there was an increase in volcanic activity and a build-up of gases on the mountain. However the last reported activity of Mount Tangkuban Perahu was in 2002, when ash plumes rose 2.5km above the volcano.

A visit to the Sari Ater Hot Spring Resort is a must. It covers 20ha and was opened 32 years ago. The resort is located 1,500 metres above sea level, on the shape of Mount Tangkuban Perahu. You can find natural hot water pring pools which are open 24 hours a day at the resort. It houses 198 rooms and bungalows. Other facilities include thermal swimming pools, picnic area, horse back riding, camping ground, tennis court, paintball war games, go-kart as well as teambuilding facilities and programmes.

Kasmiah Mustapha
16 Dec 2006

Bandung may be synonymous with shopping but Kasmiah Mustapha finds that the city has a few other attractions. This article was abstrated from a local newspaper from Malaysia.

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Jakarta Jostle

If you want to visit tourist attractions in Jakarta, one word of warning - never do it during weekends. Unless you are willing to be stuck in a massive traffic jam with millions, all heading towards the same destination.

Apparently, Jakarta residents like to play tourists and considering there are 12 million people in the city, even one third of that is enough to suffocate you.

During a recent media familairisation trip to Jakarta and Bandung, we were fortunate enough to experience how bad the traffic could be as we made our way to Puncak, 75km south of Jakarta. Our destination was the Taman Safari Indonesia, one of the main tourit attractions.

As it was a Sunday, the tour guide advised us to leave the hotel early. On a normal day the journey to Puncak willtake two hours but because it is a Sunday it can take longer.

It turned out to be a four-hour journey up the hill. We even had the opportunity to buy food from a roadside stall as the bus was stuck in a traffic jam.

Located 1800 metres above sea level, Puncak is a very popular holiday destination. You can find bungalows, cottages, hotels, villas and restaurants along the way. The cold air, a breathtaking view of a tea plantation, Taman Safari Indonesia and Cibodas Botanic are the main reasons for visiting Puncak.

When we finally reached the front gate of Taman Safari Indonesia, it was already crowded with buses, cars and vans. We could see people having their lunch in the parking lots. Located in the village of Cisarua in Bogor, the 140ha Taman Safari Indonesia id a non-productive tea plantation. It was turned into a wildlife reservation area by the government of West Java.

Located at the base of Gunung Gede Pangrango National Park, the Taman Safari was opened to the public in 1986. It is now home to more than 2,500 animals from 200 different species. Despite several signboards prohibiting people from feeding the animals, many still do. We managed to catch a glimspe of a rare white Sumatran rhino and an albino tiger. We also saw a rubbish picking elephant. The elephant with its trainer on its back, will pick up rubbish around the park.

Other facilities at the Taman Safari are an amusement park, an expansive area resembling a traditional zoo and the Wild West Show with locals in full cowboy gear. It was a different scenario when we visited Taman Mini Indonesia in Indah. As it was Tuesday, no crowd was in sight.

Taman Mini, 18km east of Jakarta, was the idea of the late Ibu Tien Suharto, wife of the former President Suharto. Her vision was to promote a miniature version of Indonesia in one place, showcasing the culture of the 27 provincees in the country.

The park was constructed in 1972 and opened to public in 1975. Located on a 300-hectare land, the showcase offers samplings of the country's more than 250 cultures. There are full-scale replicas of houses from each of the provinces as well as museums, theatres, restaurants, an orchid garden adn a bird park.

Considering that Indonesia has more than 17,000 islands, the visit to Taman Mini is a must for everything you need to know about the country.

Kasmiah Mustapha
New Straits Times
18 Dec 2006

This article is an abstraxct from the New Straits Times, Saturday, December 16, 2006