• I wish I could look as cool as the millennials before me, but my knees wobble.
  • The Amazing Art World museum boasts a dozen photo zones featuring everything from menacing dinosaurs to a giant octopus to Santa Claus on a sleigh pulled by cute reindeer.

Chill and thrills in Bandung

World April 19, 2017 01:00

By Arlina Arshad
The Straits Times
Asia News Network

The West Java capital has plenty to offer the adventurous traveller



DUBBED THE PARIS of Java for its rich heritage, Bandung has long appealed to tropical city dwellers with its cooler climate, stunning volcanoes and hot springs.

But travellers now head to the provincial capital of West Java not only to chill, but also to seek some thrills.

I check out “sky cycling” at Lodge Maribaya. Despite having a height phobia and being hopeless at cycling, here I am cycling on a thin wire, suspended five metres over a valley of green pines.

The millennials before me have been kicking their arms and legs in the air like starfishes or they stand with only one foot on the pedals. Their stunts against the backdrop of lush pine forest and blue sky make them look like heroes – at least in their photos. I wish I could look as cool, but my knees wobble.

Zip biking, or sky cycling, is one of a number of picture-worthy, ticketed activities offered at Lodge Maribaya (TheLodgeMaribaya.com).

Reluctant to rough it out? Glamour camping with “butler” service might be right down your alley. 

You can also climb a “sky tree” or sit on a “mountain swing” and wait to be pushed off a cliff. Do not worry, everyone is strapped up.

The Lodge Maribaya is on Jalan Maribaya Babakan Gentong, Cibodas, Lembang. Admission is 15,000 rupiah (about Bt40) on weekdays and 25,000 rupiah on weekends; separate tickets needed for each activity

After so much activity it has to be time to eat and the floating market in Lembang has Sundanese dishes ranging from bandrek (a ginger and palm sugar drink) to batagor (fried fish dumplings served with peanut sauce) at less than $1.50 (Bt50) a pop.

More than 30 hawkers cook their food on individual boats and serve them piping hot to customers waiting at low tables and chairs on the lakeside.

Unlike traditional markets, the Lembang market is built as a tourist attraction, so it also features touristy water attractions such as canoes, paddle boats and “water trains”, which are a string of “cabins” slithering like a toy snake on water.

The Floating Market Lembang is at Jalan Grand Hotel No. 33E. Admission is 20,000 rupiah.

Bandung's Amazing Art World museum is another must-see.

Opened in January, this 1.5-hectare trick-eye museum claims to be the biggest in the world.

More images are still being painted in the gallery, which already boasts a dozen photo zones featuring anything from menacing dinosaurs to a giant octopus to Santa Claus on a sleigh pulled by cute reindeer.

After three enjoyable hours, I am convinced I belong here among the 3D artworks.

I sing, dance and live out my stand-up comedy dreams, casting all inhibitions to the wind.

Amazing Art World is at Jalan Setiabudi No. 293, Isola, Sukasari, Bandung Admission is 91,000 rupiah (weekdays) and 119,000 rupiah (weekends)

Roughing it out in the woods is not for everyone. Glamping, or glamour camping, might be less dreadful.

A “doorman” greets us, shields us from the rain with his umbrella and carries our luggage to the tent.

A “butler” delivers a portable heater, towels and our dinner of fried rice and oxtail soup ordered via a “room” telephone.

There are electrical ports, a radio and free Wi-Fi, but only a single dim lamp.

Outside, there is a toilet and bathroom with modern facilities, a barbecue pit, a wooden table and benches.

We call for room massage and soon learn that it can be hit or miss. My friend loves his masseuse, but mine seems more interested in sporadically pounding me like sambal belacan with her imaginary pestle.

Dusun Bambu Family Leisure Park, Jalan Kolonel Masturi KM. 11, Kertawangi, Cisarua, Lembang It costs about $200 a night for a two-man tent. Find out more at www.DusunBambu.com

After a night of glamping, we spend half a day walking around the sprawling Dusun Bambu Leisure Park, taking in the views of well- landscaped gardens and bamboo gazebos surrounding a lake.

It is a perfect getaway for families and large groups. Everyone can enjoy outdoor ticketed activities from riding an all-terrain-vehicle quad bike to shooting an air rifle to riding a horse. The large playground, which is open to the public for free, will keep young children happy.

A trip to Bandung is not complete without visiting Tangkuban Perahu, an active volcano that last erupted in 2013. It is shaped like an upside-down boat, hence its name Tangkuban, which means “upturned boat” in Sundanese.

Tourists can take a minibus or trudge an hour through jungle from the main gate to the crater to see the boiling mud. But we are overstuffed with Bandung's famous snacks such as pisang bollen and Amanda steamed brownie, so we get chauffeured all the way.

The volcano comprises three craters – Kawah Ratu, Kawah Upas and Kawah Domas. At Domas, you can dip your feet in the sulphur pool and boil an egg.