Tag Archives: bandung

Summerbird Boutique Hotel Bandung

Summerbird: Boutique Hotel in Bandung

Summerbird is a funky boutique hotel in Bandung which is perfect for kids of the Instagram generation due to its unique style and trendy fitout. Located in the centre of Bandung just off Jalan Pasirkaliki, Summerbird is close to the Bandung train station, Istana Plaza, Paskal Hypersquare and Jalan Cibadak. You can even walk to Pasar Baru from here if you feel like it.

Summerbird is a small hotel with only 3 levels of rooms, with each of the rooms surrounding an open courtyard area which gives the entire hotel a bright and airy feel. Construction is based on bare steel, lots of wood and a liberal usage of bricks which gives a very modern, fresh feel.Summerbird Boutique Hotel Bandung Bathroom

Rooms at Summerbird are themed — French, Scandinavian, Industrial and Vintage. We stayed in both the French and the Scandinavian rooms and to be honest, they are one of the funkiest rooms we’ve ever stayed in. Oh, and perfect for taking great photos of. We even saw a couple doing a pre-wedding shoot while we were there.

Each room comes with air-conditiong, private bathroom with Western toilet and hot water, a big comfortable bed (seriously, it’s really soft and fluffy), cable television and free WiFi. The other thing is that the rooms are really clean and some of the fittings they use are seriously expensive and imported meaning you can immediately feel the quality of the room. Take the shower fittings for example — classy toto.Summerbird Boutique Hotel Bandung

Breakfast is included in the room price and is served in the cafe downstairs. We had nasi goreng and coffee and it was perfectly adequate for the day ahead. You’re also able to order other things off the menu for an extra fee, just like a regular cafe and we can people coming and having other meals here too.

We were initially worried that the massive glass wall in the bathroom would be a problem as far as privacy is concerned, but it turns out that they have blinds which you can pull down. all the way meaning you don’t have to worry about anything.

So what’s our verdict about this place? We really love it. Not only does the hotel look good in photos, it actually feels good to stay there. The beds are awesome, the air-conditioning icy cold and the room feels homey especially on a rainy Bandung day.

Summerbird Hotel
Jalan Ksatriaan no. 11. Bandung
Standard: Rp. 439.000
Superior: Rp. 489.000
Deluxe: Rp. 539.000

Check the current price on Agoda

Cultivar Coffee Shop, Bandung

I got a burst of inspiration, so I thought I write up some of my thoughts about a new coffee shop in Bandung called Cultivar.

Located in a trendy area of town with a smattering of nearby eateries, Cultivar gets a lot right that some other coffee shops don’t. The first thing I noticed when I entered was that it was not overly crowded with seating spaced far enough apart that you could get away from people if you wanted to. The ambience was lively although there weren’t that many customer inside due to an eclectic mix of tunes on the small sound system.

Cultivar Coffee Shop Bandung - Tempat Nongkrong Bagus
Cultivar Coffee Shop Bandung – Tempat Nongkrong Bagus

I ordered a double shot cafe latte and it was bang on in my view. They served it in a massive cup which is a general turn off for me, but the flavour was deep and rich and no one where near as milky as I had feared. Two big thumbs up for the coffee.

Enjoying a Coffee at Cultivar, Bandung
Enjoying a Coffee at Cultivar, Bandung

I also ordered the strawberries and cream waffles. I was slightly disappointed with the dish because there was nothing on the plate that made me go “wow”. It was simply waffles, strawberries and cream — what did I expect?! Well, I would have liked that cream to be an amazing home creation with layers of flavour — perhaps vanilla, cardamom… some other Indonesian spices. But it was store bought cream and pretty standard. That said, I finished off the dish and I didn’t hate it — certainly much better than some dishes I’ve had at other cafes in Bandung.

Strawberries & Cream Waffles @ Cultivar Bandung
Strawberries & Cream Waffles @ Cultivar Bandung

The wifi in Cultivar is fast. I got 17mbit down and 7mbit up on my test which is perfect for uploading youtube videos or downloading your favourite torrents.

All in all, Cultivar hits the right spot for me. I can see myself coming back to work for an hour or two whilst indulging in one of those massive lattes. A welcome addition to the Bandung cafe scene.

Living in Java: an update

Well, well, well. It’s been a pretty amazing year and a bit in Java. Spending one whole year in Java doesn’t actually sound like that much of a big deal to me right now. But I know that before arriving the thought of living anywhere other than Australia for a year seemed like sheer madness. Now it feels normal.

Just one of the many amazing places I have visited in Java in the past year
Just one of the many amazing places I have visited in Java in the past year

Earlier this year I posted a video montage celebrating a year in Indonesia. It’s a simple video which shows some of the trials, tribulations and delights of everyday life in Indonesia. Some with a keen eye will have seen some of the important moments from my time here in Indonesia so far.

Getting Married

The most important thing that has happened to me in Indonesia during the past year is getting married. I came to Java for a 3-month stint studying Indonesian and ended up getting married. How did that happen? Nobody knows, but I’m extremely happy and that’s all that really matters. Susan and I were married in June this year in Bali surrounded by a handful of friends and family.

Us on our wedding day
Us on our wedding day

Learning Indonesian in Bandung

I came originally to study at IMLAC for 3 months before shooting off to Bali to learn how to surf. Well, since I was getting to know Susan and was generally having a fab time living in Bandung, I decided to extend my Indonesian lessons. I ended up completing 6 months of full-time study. I thought that after completing this much studying that I would be fluent, but I am not. I can hold a conversation with anyone in Indonesian and can pickup a lot of what people are talking about when I overhear their conversations, but I still struggle to talk in the style of locals. Why? Because the proper way of speaking and writing in Indonesian is a long way from how most people actually speak. Many people studying at my school questioned why we didn’t learn the informal language, but that’s not something you go to school for. You learn that on the street and by interacting with people.

One of the classrooms at IMLAC
One of the classrooms at IMLAC

For anyone intending on staying in Indonesia for any extended period of time, I would highly recommend getting some formal training in Bahasa Indonesia. I saw many people arrive in IMLAC with no Indonesian language knowledge getting to a pretty good proficiency within 1 month.

Writing for Travelfish

I continued writing for Travelfish while in Indonesia and this took about 3 months of my time. I covered most of Java. Actually, to cover every tourism aspect of Java would probably take about 5 months, so I hit the spots that foreign tourists are more likely to hit. Even then I spent a week at one point without seeing another white person. Java doesn’t get many foreign tourists travelling through it. Those that do come here spend their time in Yogyakarta and then move on. How very sad.

Working for Travelfish is no holiday, but it's fun!
Working for Travelfish is no holiday, but it’s fun!

Honeymoon

Recently Susan and I spent two months in Australia and New Zealand having our honeymoon. We stayed in campervans for most of the period and it was an incredible experience. Highly recommended. More to come on this.

Sunrise in the outback on our honeymoon
Sunrise in the outback on our honeymoon

Thoughts

Reflecting on the past year and a bit, I can truly say that life is unpredictable when you don’t have the anchor of a proper job dictating events. I’m becoming increasingly keen to start a business or ten here in Indonesia. Everywhere I look I see opportunity for people with my background to make money. Whether it be opening up a small guesthouse, a small eatery, a website or something else. Opportunity abounds here.

Right now Susan and I are experimenting with a new Indonesian travel website called Pergi Dulu which we hope one day will provide destination information to the growing masses of Indonesian travellers. Today it is a blog, tomorrow hopefully something different.

So that’s where I am at now. I’m truly passionate about Indonesia and am bullish on the country’s economic prospects and potential as a tourist destination. If only the rest of the world would wake up.

West Java

Ah yes… Java. Previously I spoke of some of the places I loved from both East and Central Java. Today, it’s the West. West Java was a bit of a revelation to me as I had thought there wasn’t a lot to see before setting off on my travelfish.org adventure. But as it turns out, West Java is absolutely packed with awesome things to see and do. Lots of beaches and lots of volcanoes as well as a few reasonably large cities with Western conveniences.

Pangandaran & Batu Karas

I’d already been to Pangandaran before and knew it was a great little beachside spot to hang out for a while. But on my second visit, I enjoyed it even more. It’s nice combination of enough tourist infrastructure to make things comfortable and not enough foreign tourists to turn it into a mini-Kuta. I also checked out Batu Karas which is just down the road and has a totally different vibe — I liked it! The disappointing thing about both of these beach areas is that they deserve to have masses of foreigners visiting them, but at this point in time they are virtually empty with only a small handful making their way there.

Sunsets like this most nights in Pangandaran
Sunsets like this most nights in Pangandaran

Garut

Garut itself is nothing to write home about. But there are few attractions nearby that are definitely worth a look. I particularly liked Gunung Papandayan, an explosive volcano, Kawah Kamojang, a geothermal area with bubbling pits of mud everywhere and Kampung Naga, a traditional village with no electricity supply (except via car battery – so definitely no playing PartyCasino here!).

Huge volcano near Garut
Huge volcano near Garut

Bandung

I’ve been living in Bandung for the past year and it definitely is worthy of a mention. Mainly for the nearby Tangkuban Parahu and Maribaya forest walk, but also for the great culinary scene. There aren’t many foreigners visiting Bandung and it makes sense when you see how difficult it can be to get to Tangkuban Parahu by public transport without getting ripped off.

Tangkuban Parahu near Bandung
Tangkuban Parahu near Bandung

Ujung Genteng

Ujung Genteng would have to be my favourite West Java destination. It’s small strip of villages which stretches along a remote coast some 100km from the nearest city of any size. The great thing about Ujung Genteng? Total isolation, crystal clear water and a magnificent turtle rehab centre. When I was there, I think I saw one other foreigner, but I’m not 100% sure — they flashed past on a motorbike.

Ujung Genteng is magic
Ujung Genteng is magic

So the same disappointment I have felt in other parts of Java came back again in West Java. Absolutely incredible destinations that have very few foreign visitors. Many of them are not that easy to get to, public transport operators regularly rip foreigners off and accommodation is generally VERY basic. If only some of these people could tune into what foreigners want, maybe more would make their way to this neck of the woods. Until that happens, these places are going to be virtually unspoilt. Go there!

 

IMLAC Contact Details

OK, so I know that people are searching the internet for more information on learning Indonesian in Indonesia… and specifically the contact details of the language school IMLAC in Bandung. Well, here they are.

Email: mariaimlac@yahoo.co.id

Address: IMLAC, Jalan Gunung Agung No. 16, Bandung 40142, Jawa Barat, Indonesia

My advice is to contact Maria via email. She is the office manager and can help with visas, visa advice, schedules, costs etc. These are the contact details for the office in Bandung, but Maria can put you in touch with the other offices (eg Salatiga) if you need those details. Maria can speak English, so don’t worry about any language barrier. Note: These details were correct as of 2012, but IMLAC now has a website which might be more up to date.

A brief note on costs. You can get away with about 4,000,000 rupiah (US$440) per month per person when living here in Bandung and studying at IMLAC. That is the costs of visa, tuition, rent and food. You can probably do it slightly cheaper, most will spend more than that (mainly to eat at restaurants, hire a maid, do fun stuff, buy nice things).

Happy to field questions.

Learning Indonesian Progress Report – Culture

Before arriving in Bandung to learn Indonesian language, I knew that part of the course was going to deal with Indonesian culture and to be honest, I just wasn’t interested. Mainly because I already knew quite a bit about different customs and the ceremonies that the different ethnic groups like to undertake. The other thing was that I thought I could just pick up the nuances of the culture by living here. I thought the culture was the stuff that as outsiders we observe. The surface stuff. The ceremonies, the way people interact, the way people talk, the styles of people’s houses – the things we can see. But it’s much more complex than that.

After almost 2 months of learning Indonesian, learning about the culture and living in a kampung, I can honestly say that I could never have understood the subtlties of this culture on my own. It would be impossible. And I now feel for many of the expats living in Indonesia who are regularly frustrated by some of the little things in day-to-day life when dealing with Indonesians – it’s really all about cultural misunderstandings.

So what am I talking about? Well, I’m talking about understanding the way Indonesian people think and feel and how that impacts on the words they use, the way they use them and the body language that accompanies that. There’s an obsession with status in Indonesia that I never really understood before. But it’s complex. It’s not just about wanting to be at the top of the hierarchy. It’s also about being polite about it and not boasting about your wealth or social standing. There is a constant struggle to lower oneself to ensure that other don’t view you as being a snob.

It also goes for things like new clothes or shoes. If you complement someone on the new clothes, the person will be embarrassed and will say they’re cheap, not good or were on sale… anything to devalue them so that the person doesn’t appear to revel in having someone praise their wealth or social standing. It’s all very strange and very complex.

By the same token, even though you’re lowering yourself at every opportunity, it’s only on the surface. You really do try and move up the social ladder while acting as if you’re not and that it’s not important. So you might buy an ipad partly because it increases your status in the eyes of others, but you’ll try and say it’s rubbish and not that good knowing that it still makes you look richer and more important. I love it.

So why is this important? Well, if I want to be something other than just another white guy living in Indonesia that can throw around a few dozen Indonesian words, I need to fit in. I need to cocok. And I think it’s every person’s responsibility to cocok if you go and live in another country. In Australia when we see immigrants stick within their enclaves and fail to embrace the local culture, we castigate them — we discriminate against them. The same happens in Indonesia and I think it’s fair enough.

So this culture thing is all important. It can’t be learned from a book, it can’t be learned from the people. It has to be taught to you, you have to experience it and you have to be pulled up when you get it wrong. And that is something that is not likely to happen from an Indonesian person as it’s embarrassing to correct someone when they do something wrong. Especially a bule. Which is just another one of those cultural complexities.

Arriving in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia

I arrived Bandung, West Java, a couple of weeks ago on a high from my enjoyable journey through Singapore and Malaysia. Well, the high actually wore off before I arrived in Bandung. Boarding the plane to Bandung, I was the only white person in line. I was unexpectedly unnerved! I was fidgeting and trying to quell it by slouching and acting cool. On the plane, when the announcements came on in English immediately after the Indonesian version, I imagined everyone was thinking “this is for the white guy”. Of course they weren’t (were they?), but I was becoming unsettled. Arrival at the airport in Bandung provided another unexpected challenge. I had to rely on my limited Bahasa Indonesia skills to negotiate my way through customs and immigration — there was no falling back onto English words when I didn’t know the Indonesian version — no safety net.


Things got worse when I entered the cab. The driver had zero English, it was 11pm and he didn’t know where my hotel was despite saying he did. He took me to Unik Hotel whereas I wanted to go to Unique Hostel. Simple mistake. So we were stuffed. We drove around aimlessly for about 20 minutes before I had a great idea. I’d been looking at Google Maps on my laptop before departing Malaysia and I still had the browser window open. So I fired up my laptop, amazingly zoomed into the address of the hotel and I was able to direct the driver there. It was stressful because the whole saga played out in Indonesian and I’d only just hit the ground.

I settled into the hotel and woke the next morning to a pretty ordinary breakfast. Bread, a sausage with some creamy, moussy stuff in the centre and some coffee. Of course I ate it. That day I walked the 7km up the hill to my language school and got a good sense of where it was in relation to the rest of the city. I also researched a few hotels along the way in case things didn’t work out at Unique Hostel.

The next day I tried to get a motorbike licence from the police station, but the intelligence guys who deal with foreigners told me it wasn’t possible. Likewise, it was impossible to get a post-paid sim card for my phone. I would have to stick with the entirely adequate pre-paid system. That same day I stumbled around some upmarket cafes and got a feel for where I would espcape to if the nasi goreng on the streets got too much.

By this stage, I was settling in and quite happy to take the next 10 days to travel around Java with the confidence that my return to Bandung would be easy. Or would it? Halo Halo Bandung!

A New Chapter – Off to Java

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about Learning Indonesian in Java. Well, the days and weeks roll on and I’m on the cusp of departing Australia for an unknown period of time. On the 16th of June I’ll be boarding a plane to Melbourne where I’ll hang out for a few days catching up with old friends and eating some good food. Then on the 19th, I’ll be catching a flight to Singapore where I intend to give this city nation a second chance.

I first went to Singapore in 2009 and really didn’t like it. This time I’m heading to Singapore because that’s where I could get a cheap flight to. My first thought was to burn through there as quickly as possible, but I’ve thought about it a little more and this time I think I’ll stay 4 nights. I’ll walk as much as possible, try to find top eating, decent walking trails and basically do everything I didn’t do last time. If they had a mountain, I’d climb it — but they don’t. So eating and walking will have to do.

Avenue of Lanterns in Singapore
Avenue of Lanterns in Singapore

After Singapore, I’ll head to Kuala Lumpur by bus and then fly to Bandung in Java late in June. I’ll have a couple of weeks to kill in Java before my language course starts and I’ll probably use this time to nick up into the Dieng Plateau and see a few of the natural sites that this part of the island has to offer.

But more importantly than all of these tangible activities, this signifies the start of yet another chapter for me. A quite significant chapter ended for me last year when I headed off to Bali to research and write for travelfish. That was the culmination of a long-term relationship and the start of forging a new path on my own. On reflection, the chapter I have been living over the past 9 months has been transitionary and I met some great people and did some great things along the way such as a fantastic Australian roadtrip. But when I leave Australia this time, I don’t feel like I have a home to come back to (even more so than last time) and that gives me a sense that I may well be away for much longer than the 3 months that the language course will go for — and this means a new chapter is beginning right now.

People on a Mountain
People on a Mountain - One of the wonderful experiences from the last chapter

With that in mind, I look forward to exploring what comes next — hopefully it is filled with happiness, adventure and self-improvement. If I can share that with other like-minded people, that would be great too. Here’s to a new chapter.