Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Out & About: Tangkuban Prahu, Bandung, Indonesia

I found myself on the shores of Indonesia about a week back and it was a very cultural experience. Indonesia despite being somewhat related to Malaysia is a total contrast.. Everything about it is in the extremes, dirtier, smoggier, friendlier, poorer, spicier and a huge shock to my system.

We had little time for actual sight seeing, but somehow, thanks to our tour leader, we managed to squeeze in a short half day trip to Tangkuban Prahu, an active volcano crater on a mountain top in hilly Bandung. The journey in itself was a 2 hour slog through hills and valleys, bends and curves and the non-inescapable traffic jams of  Indonesia known locally as Macet (pronounced Mah-Chett).

As soon as we arrived we were hit with the pong of sulfur, causing some to experience mild nausea! From the parking area, we needed to be bussed up another kilometer up (our own chartered bus wouldn't have made it up the gradient) after a bout of being hounded the the ubiquitous street peddlers selling overpriced touristy trinkets.

A short ride after, we were greeted with an amazing sight (and somehow, we all got accustomed to the rotten egg pong of the volcano, probably dumbed down by the panorama). And like all tourists everywhere, our cameras went clickety click non-stop from there-on.
Scenes of the adjacent hills

So called active crater (more like mouldering puddle!)

Green vista!
It was there that the members of the tour group grew closer as we chatted and discovered more about each other. The camwhore-ing sessions helped us bond a little more and we gradually warmed up to each other. heck, some of us actually reveled in making complete tourists of ourselves and it was funny. 
Rizal n Jamal in the distance. Strike a pose!
Crazy bunch!
Tangkuban Prahu being a mountain, perched on a bigger mountain (which is what Bandung really essentially is after all), is cool and calm, a total sea change from the hectic rush of the city. Never mind the bevy of Trinketmen and ladies, it was great to just linger in the majesty of the hills.    
Yes, they were selling Hamsters at the top of the mountain!

Trinket & Food Peddlers taking a breather.

Trinketman selling all manner of rabbit (or kelinchir as the locals call it) merchandise.
After a couple of hours, the small group that had gravitated towards each other, we made our way back down to the bussing pit stop. GF even managed to get a Pony ride (more like a hill horse) down (which was like totally amazing, as I never imagined she would actually want to). I was laughing so hard it was ridiculous and I got some good shots for posterity.
Horse-ing around!
Poor horseys! Hahahaha..
Only much later, after the long ride back to our domicile, did we realize that most of us were sunburned! Yikes!
Tehehehe! Camwhore me!