My mom and I left at 8AM from Jakarta to Bandung (about 190 kms away) and reached in about 3 hours. You must actually leave at 6 or 7 in the morning if you plan to return the same day like we did. However, a trip to Bandung is only worth it if you stay there for a couple of days. When you see the green fields, feel the cool temperatures, and drive over hilly areas, you will forget the hot and sweaty, populated and polluted, traffic-jammed and building-packed Jakarta.
The mountainous landscape in Bandung offers cool and wet climate, so some of the best tea and coffee is grown here. After you drive around the hills and see the vast tea and coffee plantations, go for strawberry picking done in small lots, small houses and countryside living, you would think that is all there is here. But oh no, Bandung is the 3rd largest city in Indonesia and has much more to offer. The prime city area has similar hot afternoons and traffic problems as Jakarta, but you have to make traffic your friend if you want to shop at some of the numerous factory outlets that the city is well-known for.
We skipped the shopping and first went to Tangkuban Perahu. Most tourists visit this place to see the LIVE volcanic mountains and various craters, big and small. My mom said they even let you throw an egg into the crater and witness it turning into omelette. Unfortunately, it was declared a danger zone for a few weeks because of some poisonous gases emitting from the crater since a few days. All we could see was a real-time video of the crater on television and a seismograph in the control room.
Then drove on to Kawah Putih, a famous crater lake. As soon as I got down at the entrance, I realized my single t-shirt and jeans was not appropriate for the weather. Bad idea # 1. Should have checked the temperatures beforehand and carried a jacket. It was so cold that evening in the month of September 2012, which I later found out is the same all year round in these areas.
Seeing the Rp. 150,000 fee for taking our own vehicle through the 5 km access road until the crater, we parked our car at the entrance (parking fee Rp. 6,000 for 4-wheeler) and took the mini shuttle bus they provide. Bad idea # 2. Because a) we had to wait for more people to fill up the minibus or pay extra, b) it had no windows and was open on both sides so the drive through the chilly hilly area froze me, c) we had to pay for this ride anyway (Rp. 20,000/person) so should have rather taken our own vehicle, d) we had to stick around to return with at least 7 more people.
But once we reached walked down the stairs to the crater, I saw heaven.
Instead of worrying if it was safe to breathe near the sulfur lake (which I am still not sure of?) or how acidic the area was ... I was looking at the beige sand turning light green at the shore, merging with the blue water, touching the brown rocks, with trees growing on it, and the top of rocks blending into the sky. I cannot remember the last time I had seen a place this peaceful and beautiful. Kawah Putih was well worth the visit.
Verdict: Loved the weather, loved the place. Definitely going back to visit any other tourist sites I may have missed, and for some shopping that I completely missed.
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