Java, Indonesia

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Exploring Bandung 13th-14th November
13th November. Up early. Finished packing. Taxi to train station. Train trip to Bandung.

The train is divided into 2 sections. Ekonomi and Bisnis. Ekonomi contains barely any seats, no airconditioning, people hanging out the doors, pickpockets and lowlifes and other nasties. Bisnis contains comfortable seating, airconditioning, snacks, friendly people and clean windows.  Oh, and the price is only slightly more expensive. There really was no contest. In the Ekonomi section you can sometimes be held up by people with knives, so I'd advise taking Bisnis if you want to have a good journey.

Many green rice terraces seen from the windows.

We were met at Bandung train station by Mia, Christine and Rika's friend who accompanied us to the hotel. Stained sheets, mosquitoes and ants greeted us in the standard B room. Not romantically styled at all and very poor security. We got the room boy to spray then headed out to find somewhere to eat. There was a plaza a short walk from Kamila (our hotel) and not far away was also a Holiday Inn! Surprised! Maybe we'll move there tomorrow!

After the plaza we went for a short walk back up Jl Ihr. H. Juanda and found an internet cafe. So I spent 2 hours there catching up on work, then checked out some clothing stores before heading back to the bug and mosquito hotel.

We ordered Nasi Goreng via room service and got organised for tomorrow.

I was awake at 6:00 so caught up on some notes before heading for my shower. Expecting to just turn on the water heater for hot water (it heats a coiled pipe of cold water) I was surprised to find it was a gas heater! It frequently turned off and after not noticing it was off for a minute the first time, I pressed the igniting button. A large yellow fire ball exploded through the top of it. Needless to say I was a bit tentative to start it again but I knew that, logically, it was only excess gas. So I got it working properly but it delayed us. Also, the driver rang at 8:00 to say he was here. We had asked him to be here at 9:00am

We'd hired a driver for the day (about $35 including food). Highlights included a visit to an old Dutch Post Office, where I bought some Indonesian Stamps. Also visited the Museum Geologi - where I finally got to see the skull of Java Man (Homo Erectus) as well as other interesting exhibits. In school we'd studied the various mutations in evolution that finally led to Homo Sapiens and whenever we talked about Java man it would be mentioned that the original skull is in a museum in Indonesia somewhere. So, after 20 years, I finally got to see it!

But the best part was when we went to see the inside of a caldera of a volcano. It was still smoking sulfur but wasn't lava active the day we went. So not sure if this would be considered active or dormant, as I'm not a volcanologist. But it was pretty exciting to know that you're standing above a once active volcano.

At the volcanic crater there were a number of peddlers trying to sell postcards, toys and other things. It was annoying as I only wanted to see the crater, not buy stuff while I was there. And the cards they were trying to sell were just plain photos of the crater stuck on postcard backing that had been taken at least twenty years previous, judging by the type of colours used in the images. 

Even though this was a public area, to enter we had to pay per person at a boom gate. Then pay for a piece of paper guide to it, if we wanted that. A common and repetitive situation was that just about everything cost money to see and there were different prices for tourists and natives. We paid $2.50 to see some small waterfalls later on, and had to pay another $2.50 if we wanted to see the large waterfall!!!

Christina, Mia and I also went to a Sundanese restaurant as well as got to see Bandung at dusk. There was an opportunity to see bubbling mud, much like Rotorua, but it was over an hour round trip and cost about $6 each so we didn't have the time or the inclination to do it.

After the restaurant we dropped Mia off and headed back. Christine had caught a cold so we didn't stay out too late. (We'd also gone down Jalan Cihampelas at night to see the jeans street but couldn't record much of it as it wasn't too visible, so didn't catch the Rambo model or the other shtick figures.)

Ordered goat via room service for dinner and ate just as Henry turned up from Jakarta.

Horror story. Henry's friend's cousin saw people stealing his car so he jumped on his motorbike to chase them. The guys in the car knocked him of the road then turned around and ran him over. He had died in the hospital early this morning after 8 days there. He was due to join us on our trip. We felt very bad about the situation.
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