Sunday, 5 February 2017

BANDUNG WISATA - DAY 2


Good morning, Bandung! This was the view from our hotel, Fabu Hotel. When we went down for breakfast, we met so many other Malaysian tourists in the dining hall. I guess the hotel is quite popular among the average Malaysian travellers. The room is modern but not very big. The breakfast spread was a bit of a let down. Rice, vegetables, chicken or meat dishes are the staple here. The only Western on the menu are the bread and cereal. 

As usual, the roads were busy even early in the morning. Many schools seemed to organise activities on that Saturday and parents were seen waiting  for their kids near the school gate. On this morning, we were fortunate to see a rare occurence in Malaysia but a common one here in Bandung. The Wali Kota or the Governor, could be seen cycling to his office, accompanied by a few bodyguards on motorbikes who cleared the way for him to ride on. Wow....! Just Wow.

The photo below is his  administrative office, fondly known as Gedung Sate which was named after a pole on top of the roof. The pole actually looks like sate on skewers from afar... ;)


Then, we had to make a quick stop at Aria Jeans again.  Most of the time, the jeans were a fit pair but sometimes, we needed to make certain adjustment to the measurement. Just be ready for the tailor's snappy comments regarding her jeans....


That day was shopping day, so our first stop is Pasar Baru where beautiful laces in many colours are in abundance. Our target were the lace, telekungs and batiks. We were lucky to have a shopping assistant that took us to all the relevant shops and even offered to carry our shopping bags! We couldn't thank you enough that young man who were probably tired of our endless walkabout around that 5-tiered shopping complex. 


The laces were simply to die for. The price ranges from 90,000 Rupiah to 400,000 Rupiah...The lining comes free with the lace purchase! My sister was happy but found it hard to choose the prettiest one for her future event. This is a heaven for any bride-to-be.   :)






We were so hungry after all the walking and bargaining that we decided to have the popular ayam penyet at Wong Solo for lunch. The food was quite delicious but we did not manage to try the alpukat juice there as it was sold out. Since there is a musolla there, we performed our prayers first before continuing our shopping spree at Paris Van Java Shopping Mall.






The highlight of the mall is the famous bookstore and publication house, Gramedia. This was a heaven for my sister, Zaza who had been waiting to get her hands on her favourite Indonesian authors like Tere Liye. I was happy to find an English version of Negeri 5 Menara by A. Fuadi. 




After spending about an hour or more in Gramedia, we were happy to find an A&W outlet and quenched our thirst with rootbeer float. The taste was heavenly, just like old times. We even tried  Korean rice and spicy chicken balls at Kkuldak and they tasted okay. Pak Manan assured us that the food in Bandung is Halal except for a few Chinese restaurants that can be found in the city.

Our dinner was at Sederhana Pasteur Padang Restaurant . Actually, this was probably my first experience eating a 'proper' or 'authentic' Padang food. I counted there were around 10 small dishes served on our table. The food spread could have been more, but they were sold out. Most of the dishes looked familiar except two or three that looked too strange to eat. I just couldn't eat the brain of a cow. Or it's tongue.  The food were quite lukewarm. Just like our lauk nasi campur...

 I discovered how the waiter calculate our bill. He was sure to have good eyesight to be able to spot the untouched dishes which would be excluded from the bill.  The price was  reasonable.

Finally, it was time to go back to the hotel and rest and figure out the damage we did to our purse... Huhu.




So that's how the Sundanese spell Bandoeng....!  :P


Wednesday, 25 January 2017

MY BANDUNG WISATA - DAY 1



Wilujen Sumping or Selamat Datang in Sundanese!

DAY 1

Our AA plane landed at the Bandara Hussein Sastranegara International Airport at 8.40am on 4/11/2016. Bandung is an hour behind Malaysia. It's a small airport but there were numerous flights arriving and departing in a day. Pak Manan, our local guide, was already waiting for us. The Custom and Immigration checks were smooth-sailing and in no time at all, we were on our way to our first destination, Aria Jeans at Jalan Merdeka. This is the main reason why I went to Bandung. It is quite hard for me to find jeans that fit me in Malaysia. At Aria Jeans, you can choose the material, get measured by the owner / tailor and the jeans would be delivered to your hotel that evening. The price of material, workmanship and probably delivery was affordable, around 300 Rupiah per pair (RM97.03). If you are not happy with the new jeans, you can go back and be refitted. The only thing that you need to be patient of is the owner / tailor who could be quite 'eloquent' when it comes to refitting / readjusting her original measurement.




Our next destination is the Farmhouse Susu of Lembang, north of Bandung. This is a new attraction that is modelled on the country houses and  hill farms usually found in the Switzerland Alps. As it is situated on a hilly area, the weather is cool and breezy. It feels like what Cameron Highland used to be before the deforestation and land clearing. A good promotional strategy is that you can get a free milk drink or  a few grilled sausages with your entrance ticket. even the fee is affordable, around 20,000 Rupiah (RM6.43) while the parking fee is 10000 Rupiah (RM3.23).







The farmhouse is full of pretty buildings and constructions that is definitely worthy of selfies and wefies.  You can post in front of the Hobbit House or with a group of kelincis (rabbits) or cute sheep that are not afraid of the tourists. You van also visit the cafe, the art shop, the choclolate shop and the souvenir shop. Where Hanok Village in Seoul offers hanok for tourists to wear, this farmhouse offers traditional Swiss attire (with  wig /  headdress as well) for you to try. You can feel like Heidi for a few thousand rupiah.

We noticed that there was a throng of people from other parts of Indonesia, especially those from Jakarta. Pak Manan said that it is a common sight during weekends and holidays. People from hotter places come to Bandung to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and in search of a cooler ambience to relax and do some shopping. One thing I noticed was most of the cars parked are huge. They are probably owned by the rich visitors. On this particular day, more visitors were from Jakarta as they wanted to escape the looming public demonstration scheduled the day after. We wondered if there would be one as well in Bandung but our guide reassured us that Bandung would remain peaceful. He was right of course. Nothing happened here the next day except for a few banners hung in support of the demonstration.

Our next visit was the Floating Market at Lembang.  I wondered whether it is similar to the one in Hatyai where people buy food from sampans parked along the riverbank. It turned out quite different from Klong Hae Floating Market. The area is huge. We strolled around, visiting the tourist shops and took pictures at many attractive corners there. Your final destination in the area is a man-made lake @ pool where at one side, people can fish while at the other side, you can buy food from the sampans docked there. You have to exhange your rupiah to tokens first before you buy food set at certain fixed price like 20,000 or 25,000 rupiah.... Then you can sit down at a low table and eat your food. We only had a light brunch since we were going to have a late lunch at Kampung Daun later.






Next, it was time to explore Dusun Bambu at Lembang. The place was quite big and contains many different attractions. Besides the eateries and food stalls, you can stroll around the beautiful garden, take a lot of selfies and wefies, paddle a sampan or a floating raft on the pretty lake or rest in one of the 'hanging' bamboo 'cage' and order food from the eateries. One thing I admire about this place and other tourist attractions in Bandung, they are clean and empty of rubbish. Even the washrooms are diligently taken care of.











By the time we left Dusun Bambu, we were really hungry. So, we went to Kampung Daun to have our late lunch / early dinner. It was drizzling as we got there. I could hear from afar the sound of waterfall. The air was rather damp and the kampung-like reaturant was serene. We chose a medium size hut, complete with a long low table, pillows and wood decorations. The food we ordered is quite pricy but delicious, especially the chicken and gurame fish dishes. Alpukat juice is a must!

After a very hearty dinner, we walked along the pavement to find the source of the sound and soon, we arrived at a man-made waterfall, with water gushing down the small stream, along the pretty little huts. then it was already time to make our way back to Bandung city, which was about one hour away...

We passed by many flower nurseries which also sell young plants / trees. An interesting fact : not of the young trees have fruits. The rule here is, if you want to sell fruit-bearing trees, you must show the evidence!







Before we checked in into our accommodation, Fabu Hotel, we stopped by at perfume shop at Dago to choose our own eau de toilette from a range of popular brands. It is like a small laboratory full of test tubes and jars full of chemical and other unknown ingredients. They mix it in front of us as we wait for a few minutes. You can even choos the size and colour of your spray! The price is quite cheap too...






Then, it was time to rest our feet after a long trip today. We landed in Bandung around 8.00 am and the time now was 8.00ish pm....



Hatur Nuhun! Pak Manan, our driver and guide for our first taste of Bandung and the surrounding hills. I couldn't wait for the next day's adventure.

P/S.  That's thank you in Sundanese , spoken by about 9 billion people residing in Bandung! That big population means the city is crowded and roads are full of mostly cars, vans and motorbikes! Surprisingly, you don't often hear about accidents happening there. They are probably excellent and skillful motorists!   :)



Tuesday, 25 October 2016

DAY FOUR - MY FIRST TRIP TO SOUTH KOREA




DAY FOUR 

The last day of our trip had arrived. So I wanted that day to be extra special and fun. We would be visiting old palaces, art scenes and drama location and eat tasty food before we fly home to Malaysia that night! our breakfast was tuna samgak kimbap and french cafe and chocolate milk. Yummy...

The first destination was the Ganghwaemun Square where the statue of King Sejong sat in grandeur. He is known for introducing the use of Hangeul alphabets 570 years ago to replace the old Chinese characters called Hanja.

From visitkorea.com :

October 9 of every year holds a very special place in the hearts of Koreans. This year, it is the 570th birthday ofhangeul, the native Korean alphabet invented by King Sejong (r. 1418-1450).
The invention of hangeul was no accident, but rather the culmination of a methodical and logical process. Before hangeul, Chinese characters called “hanja” had been used in writing. However, hanja, for its sheer plethora of characters, was difficult to learn, especially for people of lower social status with little or no access to education, and this led to rampant illiteracy throughout the country. In order to resolve the problem, King Sejong began developing a new writing system that would be easy to access as well as to learn. At last, on October 9, 1443, hangeul (Hunminjeongeum) was invented and was disseminated with a thorough explanation of logic behind each stroke of its characters. It was published for the first time in 1446. The invention of hangeul had since then contributed substantially to reducing illiteracy in Korea.
http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_6.jsp?cid=631659


From there, we walked to Gyeongbok-gung @ Gyeongbok Palace which is located near the statue to watch the Changing of the Guards event. The guards were dressed in traditional attire and they all looked very stern and serious. The ceremony was accompanied by live traditional music. The scene reminded me of the Guards at Buckingham Palace, London. once it was over, we went inside after paying 1000 Won at the entrance. We actually spent around 3 hours here discovering all the traditional buildings and appreciating the architecture.







We wanted to go to the National Folk Museum but we were short of time. We had to make way on foot to Insadong. I took the opportunity to take photos outside a school here. How I wish I could visit a Korean school to see how it is run. There are many art and craft shops along the main street of Insadong. Souvenirs are abundant but the price is a bit more expensive than those sold in Nandaemun.  We had our lunch at Sinpo Woori Namdo where we ate bibimbap, kimchi fried rice and seafood udon. The price was around 5000 - 7000 won each.





Along the way, we stopped by Tapgol Park or Pagoda Park near Insadong in Jongno where we performed our prayer in a secluded corner. We first took ablution in a nearby washroom. The water was very cold! Several elderly citizens were resting in the park and were probably curious about our physical movements. Then, we made our way to Dongdaemun Market via the famous Cheongyehceon stream that is so clean and clear. A lot of events are held here like the Seoul Lantern Festival in November.

In Doangdaemun market, we browsed the shops, especially the Korean silk and cotton shops. The business owners were familiar with tourists from Malaysia and they even have signs in Malay ("Kain Untuk Baju Kurung dan Baju Kebaya") to attract the Malay-speaking customers. Korean silk is pretty but quite expensive. There are many tailors making hanboks... how I wish I could have one made for myself.... 






After window shopping at the market, we rode on a bus and then took the subway to go to Hongdae where we went in search for the famous coffee shop that was the set for the Kdrama - Coffee Prince (Gong Yoo and Yoon Eun Hye). It was quite a distance before we reached the shop. there were other tourists there and all of us / them were busy taking selfie and wefie at every corner of the shop. It wouldn't be complete without us having a cup of coffee. At 7000 won, it was certainly delicious to sip between chit chat...!



It was evening when we left the shop to go back to the city centre. We had to find a place to pray and this time it was near the emergency stairs of a shopping mall. Luckily nobody used the stairs while we were praying...

After that, we went back to  Shinchon to have  our last dinner at Gosami seafood restaurant where the main dish is the grilled mackerels. We ate the fish with  assorted banchan and calamari in chilli. This was my favourite  set of food during this trip. All the guides were there to say goodbye to us since we would be going back to Malaysia that night. I wonder where are they now....?

We walked back in the cold of the night to get our luggage and to check out from the guest house. We reaached the bus stop near the guest house at 8.30pm. Our flight back was at midnite so we were quite worried if we could not make it in time.  Fortunately, the airport limousine bus was on time and we arrived at Incheon International Airport after about an hour. There were only a few passengers on the bus. The driver was very kind to help us load our 8 heavy bags on to the bus. We were happy that we managed to board the plane in time and after a tiring 6-hour flight, we safely landed in Malaysia.... 

Alhamdulillah. I was glad and relief that we  had completed our first adventure in Korea. I said to myself then, I would definitely visit Korea again.... and we did, our second group adventure was the trip to Jeju Island and Busan in 2015. I also went back to Seoul in the same year as part of the Korea Tourism Organisation VIP Members Invitation Tour with 13 other K-fans from all over Asia.

Now, I am hoping there will be a 4th visit to Korea, perhaps to Jeju and Busan again...!







Kamsahamnida, chinggu...! 
Saranghaeyo, Daehan Minguk!