Saturday, May 10, 2008

Java Jive '08 Part 4: Land Of The Happy Soda

Having had enough of muggy and chaotic Jakarta, we traveled eastward deeper into the heart of West Java to the city of Bandung which is Indonesia's 4th largest city with a total population of just under 7 million inhabitants within its metropolitan area.

Bandung has the feel of a provincial town gone awry, with development and chaos growing side by side. Luckily the city, being at an elevation of about 900m above sea level, has a much cooler climate, so navigating through the streets choked with motorbikes, cars, 'angkut's and horse carts that were moving in all directions just seemed less stressful. ;)

In between two-storey shophouses and office buildings were small plots of land that have been planted with padi seedlings, to be transplanted to the big fields and terraces once they have grown to a more manageable size.

Walking around the city center proved to be quite a challenge as a big part of the area were unlit, apart from the main street that runs through the entire length of the town, Jalan Asia-Afrika. I almost bumped into this charming coconuts leaves woven... something that was just hanging there by the roadside.

Bandung is well known for its shopping bargains. Everywhere we turned there was a market to be explored, selling everything from 'branded' shoes to pirated DVDs, religious headgears to the shortest of shortpants I have ever seen.

Speaking of headgears, we went to this particular stall which sold all kinds of Islamic garments, in all the colours of the rainbow. And who said prayer is a sombre affair??

Panda was on the hunt for a telekung, the costume that ladies wear while performing daily prayers, for his mum. And his elder sister. And his younger sister. And his cousin who was coming to visit. And his eldest niece who would get jealous if she didn't get one too. And...

They even had telekungs-to-go. The entire costume came folded and squeezed into this cutesy little colour-coded linen bag. Now, ladies, you have no reason not to perform your prayers while on the go!! Hehehe

I wondered what the people here in Bandung would call a drink that back in Malaysia is called Sirap Bandung, which is rose syrup mixed with condensed milk and fizzy ice-cream soda. Would they call it just Syrup? Or reciprocate by calling it Soda Malaya? Well, after much thumbing through the drinks menu, we finally found a similar drink, which was called .... SODA GEMBIRA or Happy Soda!

Erm... ok... I know that many East Asians like to eat dog meat, especially in Vietnam and Korea. But here in Java, apparently the locals prefer baked felines for supper?

O, I have to put in a good word for the place where we stayed. It's a homestay, and the owner a very lovely young lady by the name of Kanti lived in the main part of the house while we took the west annexe.

It was basically its own little apartment, with two well furnished bedrooms, a kitchenette, and a bathroom of course.

Every morning, we would have our breakfast al-fresco (freshly prepared by Kanti) here accompanied by the sound of birds chirping and bees buzzing.... relatively peaceful and quiet considering the main road was just about 100m away!

I would've loved just sitting here, sipping a nice cup of tea, chatting with friends or playing cards, enjoying the cool weather, watching the world pass us by....

Instead we went gallivanting around town (the taxi fares here are cheap... by KL standards!) searching for shopping bargains. One place we went to was a one-stop shop called Rumah Mode for all things 'branded'. I got myself a couple of leather wallets for RM30 each, and a really fancy 'Prada' laptop bag for only RM60!!

Then we went to the famous 'Jeans Street' to shop for clothing bargains... Ooh... Superman!

Hmmm..... Bandung people must have an obsession with comic book superheroes....must be related to Nick, eh? ;)

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