Travel: Our Macau/Hong Kong Getaway (6D/6N)!

Follow our 6 day, 6 night adventure in these lands of amazing food, awesome culture and astounding sights. See how we ate, shopped and laughed our way through Macau and Hong Kong! :)

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Travel: Bandung Day #1 - Amaris Hotel Cihampelas, private transportation & shopping @ Pasar Baru & Bali Heaven


A year ago, AirAsia had one of their regular BIG sales and in a Whatsapp group chat, a friend asked if we should get tickets. Many frustrating hours later trying to get into the AirAsia website, I finally managed to book a flight to Bandung for the 8 of us! Flights cost us about RM 170 each, a pretty good deal I'd say although we had to deal with countless delays amounting to nearly 9 hours and many flight reschedules courtesy of AirAsia.

We arrived at Bandung dead in the middle of the cool night, at the tiny little Bandung airport, the Husein Sastranegara International Airport

The Husein Sastranegara International Airport and the sardine arrival hall!

The arrival hall is super tiny with only two counters open and no luggage conveyor belt - your bags just get placed around on the floor, which we found quite amusing! We'd suggest you maybe pay the RM 6 for seat selection so that you can be at the front of the aircraft and zip out quickly to immigration. We were in that queue for an hour and a half...zzz. (Adam's dad had actually already warned us about the notorious immigration queue, but we didn't heed the wise advice. Don't make our mistake!)


As you can see, we literally went to Bandung after work!

Another thing that we were glad we did was that we arranged for our hotel airport pickup that night! If you arrive in the day, there are probably more cabs waiting around for passengers, but if you took the last flight in to Bandung like we did, it's best to get some transport waiting for you. Other passengers from our flight who didn't manage to arrange transport were lurking around our van. (I suspect, trying to steal our driver out from under our noses :p)

We paid IDR 150,000 / RM 50 for the pickup service, a van to fit 8 people which roughly worked out to be about RM 6 per person.


Checking into Amaris Cihampelas in the middle of the night/morning.
At about half past 1 in the morning, we made it to Amaris Hotel Cihampelas, just 15 minutes away from the airport. Check-in was quick and easy, and remember to get your wi-fi passwords from the lobby. Within minutes, all of us were happily connected to the Internet like the smart-phone addicts we were. :D

(It was handy too, because it kept all eight of us, in four rooms, connected over Whatsapp group chat. A typical morning message went: "Woiii are you guys awake yet?" or "meet u in lobby k" :p)



We'd actually found Amaris Hotel Cihampelas on Groupon, and I'd say we managed to snag a pretty good deal. The room was clean and the bed comfy, ensuring we got a good nights sleep after entire days of shopping just for RM 123 a night. I've seen them do Groupons quite frequently, so do keep an eye out for them if you've got an upcoming trip to Bandung.


Small, but cozy room.


Something to note is that you need to remember your travel adapters because Indonesia uses a different plug point. Amaris does allow you to leave your electronics at the front desk to charge with your charger plug / USB, but their plugs are quite frequently fully occupied. There's also no hairdryer supplied, but that's also a small thing to overlook for most people.

As it was dead in the middle of the night, and nothing looked open from our hotel, we decided to crash and call it a night. The next morning we woke up to bright blue skies!

The view from our room - Bandung has very few tall buildings.

Sunlight streaming into our floor.




The hotel also provides bottled mineral water (though to Malaysians, RON 88 might remind you of petrol :p) and water dispensers on every floor which we made use of a lot.


Some hot dishes, toast & congee, omelettes and fruits.
Our Groupon deal also included a daily breakfast, which was great. The spread was average, but it did ensure that we started our day off right with breakfast every day. :)

To get around Bandung, Ching had found us a great cheerful designated driver for our three days in Pak Dodi, who came highly recommended by her colleague.


Our ride!
I'd say hiring a driver to get around Bandung is quite highly recommended, no matter whether travelling in big groups or small. Firstly, for a big group of 8 it made getting around a lot easier (and more fun too!). Also, places of interest in Bandung tend to be quite spread out over town. Pak Dodi was great, because he acted like our tour guide too, sharing with us interesting snippets of Bandung along the way, and recommending us places to go. 

He picked us up at our hotel in the morning, and it was there that we met our spiffy transport for the next three days - a comfy 10 seater van that fit us (and our junk) perfectly. He calls this 10-seater an 'Elf', but if you want a smaller car or van, he can provide that as well. For three full days (and we really started off early in the morning till late at night), his rates were IDR 2.1mil which is roughly RM 700, working out to about RM 90 per person for us. His details can be found at the bottom of this post :)


Pasar Baru
The first stop he recommended us that morning was Pasar Baru in the Kota area of Bandung, an 8 storey high centre filled with textiles, clothes and accessories. Apparently this is where the locals do most of their shopping, so you don't really get a lot of tourists here.



Our first mission in Pasar Baru was this Kalimantan Food Stall in the food court on the 6th floor. It was here that we placed our orders for some Indonesian layer cake to bring home.



They let us sample their cake, and we placed our orders for them to deliver to our hotel on the day we were scheduled to leave. You get some funny flavours like cheese and strawberry, but I wasn't so adventurous :p 



Pasar Baru really seems like a place to be if you're looking for some textile. Lots of types of cloth, and lots of headscarves in all colours and textures, in stall after stall. It does get very overwhelming, but quite an experience taking it all in. Smoking seems to be permitted indoors there, which is rather dodgy if you think about all that cloth in there... very flammable!



Managed to find some really pretty cloth to make some baju kurungs and kebayas to wear to work, at about RM 30 each set, so I was quite a happy camper at Pasar Baru. :D



You'll also get lots of young boys dragging around plastic boxes like this in Pasar Baru, peddling off drinks to you. We tried our very first Teh Botol, (though this version was in a box - kotak instead of a bottle - botol :p) which is one of the most common drinks you'll see around Bandung. We loved this, and had lots of it during our trip. Sweet, fragrant Jasmine tea, what's there not to love? :D


The view from the top floor of Pasar Baru parking lot. In the far distance is Tangkuban Perahu.

After about an hour exploring Pasar Baru, it was off to begin our factory outlet visits of Bandung. Pak Dodi suggested we go to Bali Heaven first, one of the newer factory outlets in town, a quick 15 minute drive away during which I took the opportunity to snap some shots of the streets.



Clockwise from top left:
1. An Angkutan Kota, which is their means of public transport. I would have loved to find out more about the public transport system, but I didn't get the chance to. We saw people just hopping on and off in the middle of the streets!

2. A foot/bike lane leading into the maze of houses.

3. A host of bikes at the traffic lights! Most Bandung locals drive motor bikes and traffic can get pretty crazy with all of them weaving in and out of traffic. Not as crazy as Bangkok, but bad enough. I think I'd be too stressed out to drive in Bandung!


We also passed a Police Station or a Polsek Cicendo as they call it in Bandung. Adam pointed out that they have Mitsubishi Lancers as squad cars!

Cute graffiti along the train tracks.

We arrived at Bali Heaven at about 11 in the morning, and it was still practically empty that Friday. Try to hit the factory outlets early to shop with peace as it was crazy after lunch.

Group pic with the Bali Heaven sign!




The Bali Heaven factory outlet was well decked-out with decor and had a good layout as well. There are sections dedicated to women's clothing, men's, children, spa and even food in case all that shopping makes you hungry :p


The ladies section.
The ladies section we attacked in anticipation of cheap finds. However, I think we were all a little hesitant, because it was our first factory outlet after all, and kept on holding on for something better. Some of the brands you'll see here are Esprit, H&M, Cotton On and Zara but I would think they just stock up whatever brands they receive, so it might not always be consistent.


The children's. Lots of cute Polo tees.
I also visited the children's section to see if there was anything cute for my nephews and nieces. I think Bali Heaven, out of all the factory outlets we visited, had one of the best children's selection. Lots of cute little dresses!

The outdoors section where you can get some souvenirs.


Though we barely bought anything at Bali Heaven (there was a lot of discussion about whether the items were actually authentic or fakes), I really liked the Balinese-themed decor - look at the furniture and the pretty hats on the wall!


Adam & I. <3




*

Amaris Hotel Cihampelas | Site
Jl. Cihampelas, No. 171,
Bandung, Indonesia
Tel: 62-22 8206 2688
Fax: 62-22 8206 2689
Email: bandung.cihampelas@amarishotel.com

Syiracar Tour & Rent - Pak Dodi
Dodi Purwadi
Tel: +6281394346116
Facebook / Email: dodipurwadi@mail.com

Pasar Baru Trade Centre
Jl. Otto Iskandardinata,
Bandung, Indonesia

Bali Heaven Factory Outlet
Jl. Pasirkaliki, No. 185-189,
Bandung, Indonesia

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