My first real adventure outside Jakarta exceeded all expectations. I was lucky enough to tag along with some gals who are fellow teachers at various schools in the grater Jakarta area. Going on an excursion that I did not personally plan is a rare instance indeed, so I was very excited to just relax and take in all that happened to come my way.
We left from the Jakarta bus terminal in the late morning and drove about three hours through a bit of rain. Since we all got up early, we chatted for a short while and then I quickly felt the need to rest my eyes.
Before I knew it our van had arrived in Bandung. The weather was absolutely perfect. The air was fresh and dry, the temperature was cooler and everything was so green. After checking into the “Guest House Salon and Fora Gegerkalong,” we headed out to a popular shopping area. We started out at a modern part of town which was beautifully decorated for the Chinese New Year. After a snack and some window shopping, we headed past a food market to a local shopping area to practice our bargaining skills. I made out pretty well, acquiring some cheap jewelry to add to my small accessory collection.
Next it was time to get dressed up for the evening. If we were cute before, we became a handful of hot tamales for a night out on the town. We ate a nice dinner nearby our hotel and then made our way up part of a mountain to a pretty cool lounge to meet up with a friend. The lounge itself was pretty nice, but the location was amazing. There were lots of windows so patrons could allow themselves to be hypnotized by the slight twinkle of far-off lights in the outstretched valley below. What a perfect place to spend the evening.
In the morning we organized a driver for the day. Our first stop was a volcano about an hour away. There was traffic (of course) but it was a beautiful day to be out exploring. As we were getting close to the entrance, we all decided to exit the vehicle and walk to the top. It was nice to get out and stretch our legs. We walked around the rim and took some amazing photos of the crater before doing some trinket shopping and getting a snack or two to fill our empty bellies.
Hot springs are plentiful in that area, so of course we had to make a stop. The springs were sprawling…and crowded. The young, and young at heart, littered every space imaginable. And being a more conservative country, swimmers were basically fully clothed while enjoying the therapeutic hot water. I think most of us would have felt very under-dressed in bikinis, so we enjoyed the atmosphere by just soothing our tired legs.
After a quick bite we were off again. The countryside was so beautiful that we asked our driver to pull over so we could get some photos of the lush tea plantations that covered the hills. It was so serene. The vibrantly green plants, the absence of traffic, the slowly rolling fog devouring one row of plants at a time…mesmorizing.
Our next stop was the floating market. I didn’t know what to expect, so I found the area to be pretty awesome. There were shops selling crafts and trinkets as you entered the area, as one would expect. Then, as we followed the crowd around the lake, we saw a covered walkway filled with people eating delicious food-stuffs. The makers and sellers of said food-stuffs were all in boats, in the water, lining the walkway. It was awesome. Being near water of any kind in the evening is pretty magical in my opinion, so I was very happy to fill my soul with the opportunity while it was available to me.
Finally, after a long day, our group was taken to a jungle resort type of place for dinner. We once again saw beautiful red decorations for the Chinese New Year and romantic lights hanging over the tropical plants. We had a chance to refuel and relax after our action-packed day. A walk around the complex led us to a beautiful waterfall for a late-night photo op before making our way back to the vehicle and on to our hotel.
Our last morning in Bandung was pretty low-key. Some of the girls went shopping, while some (myself included) took advantage of the spa in our hotel. I treated myself to a cream bath for my hair as well as a manicure and pedicure. It was about two hours of pampering, all for about $11…not bad. Feeling like a new woman never cost so little.
After a lazy morning and afternoon our group made our way to the bus station, got our tickets and began the 3-4 hour journey back to Jakarta.
As the sun started to set, a gentle rain began to fall. I was listening to music, staring out the window pondering how beautiful water can be in all forms, when I noticed that we were passing rice patty fields!! The one thing in the country I longed to see. There was a moment of pure joy I experienced that I continue to carry with me. Any time a picture from a book becomes a reality in my life, I’m magically transformed to a girl of ten, smiling from ear to ear. Sometimes the older I get, the younger I feel because I’m better able to digest the deliciousness of life.
I couldn’t have asked for a nicer weekend. I am so happy that my first getaway was beautiful and exciting.