Because of the bulk of my work, I try as much as possible to grab the national holidays and go somewhere. We actually only have 10 days of holidays since I work for an international organization. Though I really wanted to go to one of the thousands of beaches in the Philippines, just the thought of the multitudes of people during holy week – the biggest holiday in the Philippines after Christmas – made me nauseated. So I reserved my Philippine beach vacation for the next holiday and searched for an international airfare to anywhere that would fit my budget. As mentioned, I’ve always wanted to go to Indonesia so after some deliberation, booked our flight to Jakarta. I really needed to push through with a holy week trip so I was really excited for this one. So off I booked the flight and planned an itinerary. By the way, bought these British Crisp chips (P42 each) from the grocery as baon and they were not good.
Mom and I arrived late at night so we immediately rested at the hotel. We actually took an uber going to Holiday Inn Jakarta Pluit Citygate (IDR64,500 and IDR16,000 for toll plus driver tip) which was really good. Cheaper than taking a cab which might be around IDR100-150,000, according to hotel. Caution though since not all Indonesians are good in speaking English as compared to Manila or Bangkok. Good thing one of the airport staff helped us contact the driver and made sure we rode the correct car. We also exchanged our US dollars to Indonesian Rupiah at the airport exit at the rate of IDR13,120 per $1. I was a millionaire!
The next day, we had our simple breakfast at the hotel. Just like any Holiday Inn hotel, there weren’t many choices which was okay for us since we don’t usually eat heavy breakfast everyday. Our Bandung Tour Expert tour was supposed to start at 0830am but the driver, Mr Asis, arrived late at 0930am. That was an hour wasted which should have been used as travel time. It really got on my nerves, especially since I’m the type who is very particular with time (must be my training at work). I was even already researching for other possible ways to get to Bandung, like taking a public bus, which is not ideal because the whole reason why I got the tour package was for my mom’s convenience. It was so weird because prior emails and coordination with their contact person Angga was so good. He answered emails quickly, sent a suggested itinerary, was open to revisions and shared with us our confirmed booking. Then Angga failed to send me the driver’s details the day before our arrival. So I kept on following up – emails, calls and texts – but no reply. When Angga did reply, the driver already arrived. Worse still, we had to leave at 1000am because – if I understood him correctly – of the number coding scheme in their highway. So we literally had to wait in the car. Asis was nice and all, the Honda BRV was nice but leaving late was not my idea of a good start.
Our travel to Bandung took 5 hours! Yes, what was supposed to be a 3 hour drive became 5 all because of the hideous traffic on the highway! I think this could have been avoided if we left at 0830 as originally planned. Their highway lacked rest areas that I had to hold in my pee for hours. Couldn’t believe there was worse traffic than Manila. Finally stopped at one of the gas stations and had our quick lunch of KFC burger and chicken strips (IDR51,000). Wasn’t really in the mood to eat – perhaps because of the traffic and heat – but mom even found the appetite to buy one of their local pretty looking kropek (IDR2,000), sold in a carinderia near KFC, where we found Asis eating his lunch.
Afterwards, off we went again to travel to Bandung. Once in the Bandung area, we still had about 2 hours of travel up the mountains and through forests going to Tangkuban Parahu, which was closing at 5pm.
We arrived at 5pm. Haha! We paid the fees IDR200,000 for foreigners (and only IDR20,000 for locals!) plus car fee of IDR25,000 for 5 minutes’ time to take photos. Haha! Mom said we should just go ahead since we were already there. I was acutually pretty irritated already and it didn’t help that the souveneir sellers at the volcano were so kulit and annoying.
Since it was late, the fog or clouds were low so we didn’t see the volcano in full though it gave the volcano a much dramatic look, don’t you think?
By the time we left and arrived at our next destination – The Floating Market – it was already dark. Entrance fee was IDR20,000 per head plus we exchanged IDR100,000 for the floating market coins, which you use to buy the products inside. The entrance fee also includes a free drink of your choice – cold or hot coffee or tea. We were greeted by two huge coins at the entrance.
The place is huge with different shops selling their local products, a small rest area here and there, railway stations for kids, a tiny bridge, playgrounds and of course, the floating tiny boats selling food. It’s a shame we didn’t see it in daylight since it would have been great to just take your time there. But the plus side of visiting at night is that the weather is cool, no lines at the shops and there aren’t many people to bump into.
At the floating market itself, mom and I bought our dinner to eat at the hotel. So many choices! I had fun deciding which ones to buy.
So aside from the tiny Nasi Goreng noodle magnet that I absolutely adore (calamansi as size), we also bought gado-gado (which is vegetables with tofu and rice and peanut sauce), noodles with chicken balls, cute strawberry and chocolate siopao, and a bottle of their famous Tehbotol, which is black tea. I was left with one more coin which I plan on making into a magnet.
We then dropped by one of the nearby popular factory outlet called The Secret. I read this numerous times in blogs where they said it is a must visit but I found their items quite expensive – about P800 for a simple shirt. Quality was good but I can get my overruns in Manila for a cheaper price. Mom found a P250 blue and white scarf (she loves anything blue and white) which was nice.
Headed to our hotel to check in, eat our floating market dinner and rest for another day tomorrow.