Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bandung Chronicles - Day 3

Day 3 agenda includes another trip to Pasar Baru as one of my friend wanted to get some more telekung - which she missed out yesterday. She actually drifted away from 4 of us - and ended up dishing more than we did (for the same item)  - and determined to get some of those awesome things that we bought! 

Breakfast was rice with beef rendang and cucur jagung - very unassuming - but surprisingly delicious (could it be that we were very hungry?). Oh yeah, we had to make changes to our booking - as the travel agent that booked the flight for my 4 friends did not include check in luggage! Imagine their genuine surprised when asked to pay, during check in in LCCT! Not sure whether that is simply ignorance from the travel agent - surely we'll have check in luggage - unless they assume that we'll be buying everything including bags in Bandung! Anyway, since it is cheaper to edit the luggage request online, that what I was doing.

To my horror, since the website was upgraded over the weekend, the login info was also changed - and to make matters worst - my friend forgot her password. Rather than wasting our time in from of the computer, we decided to go to AsiaAsia counter in the airport instead. Our luck changed from bad to worse - as there were at least 4 people in front of us - with 2 counters open - but hardly moving! It was like 45 mins before my turn came. My Indon is smattering (as in smatteringly bad!) - so I opted for English instead. It was not too difficult to get my points accross but the girl was super slow - and then I noticed her tag 'trainee' - duhhh! After about 30 mins - we  were finished. I upgraded my luggage to 25 kg and my 4 friends added theirs.

Then it was Pasar Baru - where we were given 2 hours by Haikal. We bought what we wanted and then headed to the ground floor - in which rows and rows of stalls selling 'jajan' - chips and what-not - are located. Other that the pisang salai - I also bought malinja chips and the surprisingly delicious samosa with beef rendang filling. Buying those jajan were not easy as we were swarmed with locals trying to push their wares to us - plastic bags, knick knacks, etc - and then there were those beggars pestering you for something.

Next destination : Tagkuban Perahu. This is a very famous tourist destination - a crater in the mountain top. It was quite a distance away, but we enjoyed the ride. As it is in a Highland, the Avanza had a hard time trekking up - so much so that the supir kept switching off the aircond. There were lovely stalls set up along the way, with numerous fruits on display - plus rabbits! Yes, you herad me, rabbits selling for about RM5 each. cute those fluffy animals.

Anyway, halfway through - it started to rain - and it got heavier and heavier. By the time  we reached the mid point, were we advised to turn back! There goes our plan! So turn we did and instead headed for 'Kampung Daun' a cultural village. The place is magnificent. Huge area with well built shelters for diners. It was really a feast to the eyes - and the good food complement the whole experience. 

With a full stomach, we set for our next shopping destination.  We headed to Kartika Sari, the famous pastries of Bandung. The building is clean and spacious. On the top floor, there was a shop selling Bandung t-shirt with unique artworks. The Kartika Sari shop was abuzz with customers. My experience there was slightly marred by the attitude of the

We went thru the Chimplas Walk....a place made famous by the numerous denims and leather goods. The shops lining the road were beautifully (?) decorated with giant statues of Aladdin, Rambo, you name it!

Alas, we did not stop there and instead headed to Toko 3, a famous jeans outlet. I bought a pair of Levis which was cheaper than what I can buy here in Penang. Let me see, my cheapest Levis bought in Penang was RM150, and the most expensive was the limited edition pencil slim in a unique light coffee color - bought around RM300.

Anyway, my friends were enjoying themselves - trying out pairs and pairs of jeans - each claiming to be 'smaller' (in size) than the other! It was loads of fun! 

We finally call it a day and headed back to the hotel at 8.30pm. Next was the hectic few hours of trying to fit all of our coups the last 3 days - in the designated luggage - which was not a small feat!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bandung Chronicles - Day 2

Day 2 started early. Since it was a budget hotel, we got 2 adjoining rooms that can fit 5 - and surprise, surprise...the rooms are adjoined via a bathroom! So there you go, 5 ladies sharing one bathroom!

By 8 am Bandung time, were were in front of our meager breakfast. It was some kind of soup with blended beef and corn - I dipped bread into it - not bad! Haikal called to inform us that he was caught in bad traffic - which meant that we spent almost an hour and a half for breakfast.

When we were finally on our way to Pasar Baru - sure enough, the traffic was outrageous. People were everywhere - lots of them! Haikal dropped un on the fourth floor and gave us 2 hours to shop - while he and Anuar (another medic student - who was to be our supir for the day) will wait for us in the masjid. 

First thing first....we headed to the fabric shops. I bought the silk chiffon my sister asked to buy plus another chiffon for myself - that is exactly the same as the one bought by 2 other friends. This shall be our 'uniform'...let it be the envy of others...ha..ha...ha...

Then it was off for the telekung (or mengkana - a term used by folks in Pekan). It was pure dizzy! Aweasome - we were spoilt for choices! I snagged 3 and then hunted 3 cute colorful ones for my girls. Then it was the 'bju kurung sulam'. Again a dizzying experience. Knowing us to be Malaysians, the shop assistants lured us 'kakak, belanja kakak'....belanja referring as spending money in their shops....

After a fruitful few hours in Pasar Baru, our next destination was Rumah Mode - the exceptionally famous outlet mall. Fuh, looks like this is the well heeled Indonesians shop. You can see kids seated - absorbed in their Nintendo  and PSPs, while their parents scrounging for branded fashion wear. I walked off with shirts for dear hubby and some shirts for the kids. Hopefully they'll not outgrow them - those are meant for Raya!

By the time we were done with Rumah Mode, the faithful Avanza is almost full! It was then an early dinner....a good one! Then another round of walk in the area - where outlet shops are located (small ones). We were back in the room quite early - and fully exhausted!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bandung Chronicles - Day 1

Thanks to Air Asia, now literally - everyone can fly....The fares are so affordable that friends of mine are flocking to Singapore, Bangkok, Phuket, Ho Chin Minh, Bali - you name it!
So that was how it old friend - from my home town mentioned about the cheap air fare - and that we should plan a getaway together. Before I know it - the 5 of us were on our way to our selected destination - Bandung!
It was my first trip together with friends. I used to travel to Bahamas, US, China, Singapore - but those are all alone - and for work purposes (though I have to admit - I have squeezed a lot of shopping in between the various meetings, audits or conferences). 

Leaving my children with dear hubby was not something I that I look forward to. Now that the kids are grown up - they were a lot of questions to be asked. Hence my promise to buy them stuff = more shopping!
Due to some delays here and there - I ended up in LCCT around 8am - with a flight for Bandung scheduled for 3.30pm ! Luckily my younger sister in Kajang is able to pick me up from there and I had some time to wind up in her place. I met up with the 4 others there and thanks to another friend - we were safely in LCCT - on time for our flight.

It was a generally smooth flight - except for that one turbulent - that left almost half the passengers screaming in shock - I  believe the plane hit a clould - but for some reason dropped a bit -  as I could feel that sudden surge down!
When we reached there - the weather was perfect...slightly chilly - just as I expected it would be - Bandung being a highland. One thing I did not expect was the immigration procedure - palm print, thumb print, retina print - reminded me of my US journey. And for some unknown reason - I was (the only one!) asked to open my luggage. The young immigration officer noted that my bag is empty and playfully asked whether I am planning to shop - which I replied with a smile. Anyway, a thorough check was done - with them looking at the seams, stitching and what not....hmmm....I wonder.... 

The hotel driver was already there and we were whisked to our hotel in no time. It was not that far from the airport - but I was quite bewildered at the roads taken. It looked like we were driving on someone's backyard - and the road condition - was horrible! But to my amazement - our driver (supir) managed to maneuver splendidly! 

Our designated tour guide is Malaysian student - Haikal - who happens to be a relative of my friend - who is doing his medical degree there. He picked us up around 6.30pm which was already dark (7.30pm M'sian time).

The traffic was horrendous. It seemed that the weekend is the last day before school opens for the year in Indonesia. So you got parents scrambling to do last minute shopping. It also meant that a lot of people especially from Jakarta were down there. But I have to say, I am impressed with the driving skills of those people. Somehow they can maneuver in tight spaces and have lots of tolerances towards each others. The horns are blaring everywhere - not so loudly - and not done in anger - but just enough to alert other drivers. Same goes to the numerous 'kapchai' seen on the road. 

The kapchai are using full faced helmet...nice looking ones....and most of them with leather jackets. Probably owing a kapchai in this city is already considered as another status quo.

Anyway, off we went to Paris Van Java - the so-called hip mall  of Bandung - which was supposed to hold a midnight sale. The mall looks like any other slightly upper class mall - something like Gurney Plaza (albeit smaller) - but not as upscale as Pavilion or Gardens.

Nothing much there. We have a quick bite at J.Co and then queued like forever to pay for some of the stuff bought at Sogo. I bought a few shirts for the girls there....reasonable - and something that I could not find in Penang - at that price! The queue at the counter was hardly moving - the culprit? A few dissatisfied customer hogging there....arggghhh....

It was already 11 and we were extremely hungry! Haikal asked us to wait at the car park - saying that the supir had parked at the roof top. After waiting for about 20 mins in the hot and stuffy car park area - we decided to go back in the mall and waited near the exit door. The clock ticking - and still no hint of Haikal not the supir. After about an hour and a half...we met Haikal who told us that we need to walk to the entrance of the mall. 

But still the supir was nowhere to be found. The traffic was a nightmare. Scores of cars coming out of the mall - making traffic almost to a stand still. With the 6 of us, waiting by the roadside...inhaling the sweet smell of fumes - in an empty stomach. All of us are getting irritated (mostly due to lethargy and off course hunger). We were then told to walk to Sukajadi Hotel...since the supir will be waiting there!

What the **** was a good 10 mins walk...not something that you want to do at midnight and with aching feet and hungry stomach! Finally we found that stupid supir...and had to drive for another 20 mins before we finally arrived at the restaurant (which was thankfully still open!)

There you go...after lunch at 10 am, I finally had my 1am Malaysian time.....

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pitch Fever!

The fever is now pitch high!!!!

Some of the more shocking result includes the elimination of the last champion and 1st runner up - Italy and France.
And then off course the totally devastating (at least for me) defeat of Brazil to Holland! They were leading...and yet lady luck were not with them.

So far, my favorite team is doing awesome! They managed to thrash the 3 Lions - 4 to 1, which needless to say, saw a lot of Malaysians sobbing away. Probably the BPL is close to heart of many Malaysians - thus their loyalty to the team. But German played magnificently. Their counter attack was awesome! Thanks to a mostly very young players - they had that stamina that looked lacking in the England team.

Then there were the quarter-final against the Argentine. Maradona - his usual self - was brimming with confidence. They were fresh from defeating Mexico and showed their fighting side. But alas it was not enough! They were actually thrashed by German 4 to nil ! Something I (or most of football fans) never imagined would happen in the game between 2 giants.

It was a bittersweet victory for the German team - bitter as Mueller had another yellow card which meant that he will not be able to play in the semi final. It was a sweet revenge - where Mueller at least got Maradona to remember him - for a long time to come! It was noted that back in Jan 2010 - after a friendly match with the Argentine - Mueller was there - sharing the table with his coach and Maradona for the press conference. Maradona - thinking the young man is one of the ball-boy - were furious that he had to share the stage with a ball-boy and refused the press conference - unless he is alone on the stage ! Huh, served him right - that he is now humiliated by the young man !

And tonite - actually it is 2.30 am - we will see Germany fight it out with Spain. Germany was defeated in 2008 in the Europe Championship - that has been the yardstick so far. What with superstars lining up the team - Xavi, Alonso, Torres, Tevez - Spain is definitely a power to reckon with.

Germany shall need all the tricks that they have - for this match. May the force be with them......