Sunday, 26 June 2011

Museum Geology Bandung

There are many things to do in Bandung, Shop, drink, get tattoos, eat, shop for food, visit the volcanoes, attend music concerts, chill out and wear jumpers at night. However you can also go visit museums and other interesting places er, like the Satay building....

We walked from a mall through streets with outlet shops dotted about past the satay building and then to the museum of Geology, a building about rocks and things from the ground.

First. The Satay building. It is names such as it looks a like a chicken satay stick. No it does not, but I am not Javanese however it is still very impressive and is home to the Govenor of West Java which is nice.

From there a look at the again very impressive and colonial Post Office building and onward to the Museum

It has some fossil skeletons which are nice. This is my first Tyrannosaurus Rex I have seen and also Mammoth which was good.
The museum is on 2 floors and dedicated to the history of all things earth and whilst it looks good and has some interesting exhibits, it does as with most Indonesian museums just fail to shine. It all looked a bit old and sparse and limited. For a geology museum it was not very interactive and stones whilst interesting are quite simply stones.

I guess the fact that there were at least 400 kids from schools all shouting and walking and taking photos of themselves in front of everything also kind of ruined my ever so English perception of what a museum is full. It was full of noise and things but I do wonder if the students actually get anything from these tours.

The human stuff was interesting and a fine display of skulls to boot. That and the fossils were the most interesting for me.

The maps of the country and the huge building the exhibits are in are also impressive and the scale models helped to understand the size and energy of the earth. The rocks and crystals and bottles or ash and the old colour photos of volcanoes were disappointing but there were many to look at. Again considering 75% of all active volcanoes are in Indonesia, this part of geology seemed lacking and also with 3 major tsunamis in the past 20 years here (see it taught me something) again there was little space and material given over to this area.
This museum could be fantastic with the right support. I was looking for a working model of a volcano and a working seismograph but alas no.

However, the museum was free and the staff were very helpful. There were enough reasons to visit it and despite the overcrowding of school students it was worth a visit. I might go back to see it again but I am happy to have been there.

Travel to Bandung

Finally after 2 months I could do a 5 day week (weeks with national holidays permitting) and so armed with the rare opportunity of a Saturday off I decided to make the most of it and actually do something. 
I decided to go to the Paris of Java - Bandung. A hill retreat some 120km east of Jakarta, with an elevation of 700 meters or more, surrounded by volcanoes, hot springs, tea plantations, full of angcots, traffic, and sadly Jakartans piling in for the weekend to enjoy the factory outlets, strawberries and not to be in Jakarta.
I have been to Bandung several times and it is nice, the city is small and walkable and there is plenty to see and do. It has a very lively music scene and plenty of bars in and around the city. And since there is a giant toll road carved through the hills it can take 2 hours to reach.  I use can as the trip on the toll is 2 hours, the bit in Jakarta and Bandung adds time and there are also times when it can take 8. 
There are buses so it seems every 2 minutes from as a little as 20,000 rupiah one way, private cars, mini vans, taxis, and of course the train. 
I opted for the train. I like train trips because to get to see places cars wont take you, namely round the back of what is normal and therefore, for me you really get to see and learn what a place is like by looking in their 'backgardens' and oh, I am nosy.
So Saturday morning 5am I arrive at Gambir railways, phone my fiancee to remind her to a)wake up and b)come and join me and then go and find a ticket booth.
Gambir railway station is lime green, on 3 floors, badly designed, unfriendly, unhelpful, dirty and ideal for me to leave the city from and so of course makes the day more fun.
At 5am there were hundreds of people up and about, all queuing at various ticket booths which were not open as they dont open until 5.15am and are poorly signed. I stood in which had a sign lit up saying Bandung Express and stood for 10 minutes. I queued and after a security guard came round I asked if this was the line for Bandung. No it was not it was the one to my left, so annoyed I joined that one.
2 tickets one way, executive to Bandung 120,000 rupiah, Fantastic. Executive means a/c / tv / food / hostess and no guitars or people sitting on the roof.
The train was leaving at 5.45 so a quick cup of sorching Coffee from Dunkin doughnuts, although they had no doughnuts to sell, and time to find Yovita, get on the train and sit back and relax.

Train times and costs to and Bandung and back.

We left on time and headed east through the city and it was glorious as the sun was rising and burning the mist off the rice fields between Jakarta and Bekasi and Karawang. The food on offer was turned down mainly as  I dont like rice for breakfast so I just chatted and looked out the Javanese country side.

At some point we left turned south east and headed into the hills and I guess that is where the beauty of the trip and travel to Bandung comes from. I have travelled on many trains in many parts of the world. The Devils nose in Ecudaor, the Tranzalpine in New Zealand, from Cornwall, England to Scotland, Singapore to Chiang Mai, Thailand, and all have been amazing and have something special to offer. In Indonesia I have been to Bogor, Surabaya, Malang, Jogja and back to Jakarta. And for trips in Java, so far Bandung was the best. It is a shame there is no tourist promotion as I am sure tourist would love the windy, meandering mountain hugging railway trundling across viaducts and through tunnels (well one) and allowing them to appreciate how beautiful Java is but I guess that wont happen. So here are some photos.


The journey really did cut through some amazing countryside and it was breathtaking. I did want to get up out of my seat and stick the camera out of the window and get some better shots but last time when I did that I had a soot covered face and sunburn so I decided to give it a miss. The hptos have come out fairly well despite the window being dirty, having a huge horizontal crack in it and being darkened.
Finally 3 hours later we arrived at Bandung Station and that was the end of the journey. Bandung station is again like every other main railway station (except Gambir which is just not nice as it was built after the Dutch left) as it had an air of authority and importance and was very well looked after and cared for and even had signs in more than one language.

There are 2 ways into the station, the north and south. The south takes you to the main entrance and within walking distance of the city and the south does not. Although there are no signs to explain that.
If you need to buy a ticket in the railway station you need to fill out a voucher first, why? who knows but it is still so simple. It even has a designated open air smoking area.

Some views

 Some links:

 Indonesian railways

Asia and the world


New Zealand

Monday, 13 June 2011

Sunday in Jakarta

On Sunday I found myself to be in a most peculiar state. Awake, in the city, complaining of the time and the heat all before 9am. In my early days here I would sometimes get home around 7am on a Sunday but that is not me any more and I do like a lie in on Sundays to recharge and enjoy the laziness that Sunday has to offer.
However, a promise was made and I did not want to back out of it and so I went along with my Fiancee to her company gathering kite flying spectacular at Monas.
I was at Monas by 7am! alive and walking, not awake mind but alive and stumbling about moaning and complaining about the need for a nice cup of tea but alas only water or some really strange Indonesian drink could be sought out so I stuck to water.
My fiancee works for a large Japanese insurance company and so there were many employees all running about in white t-shirts doing exercises and what not.
Actually I was stunned by the sheer volume of people at Monas as sun rise doing exercises, playing badminton, riding bikes, playing football and generally staring at the only bule to be seen.
So kite flying, well not my cup of tea (clearly as it was not available there) so I sat and watched everyone flying kites big and small with little or now breeze to hold them up, still it was a nice try.

The kite flying lasted until about 8.30 and then it was time to move on. Tea/Coffee/food seemed to be important and so we headed to Thamrin which is about 5 minutes away.
This Sunday was a no car day down the main drag of Jalan Sudirman and went from Thamrin to Semanggi and only the busway was running. So we walked through the trees and swarms of family into the road and then to Thamrin in an eerie silence which was only broken by the sound of cyclists and the odd Transjakarta bus. Actually it was nice to walk down one of the busiest stretches of roads in Jakarta. (I have walked all the way down Dann Mogot from the flyover but that another story) and to enjoy the city a little more differently
Mind I will still say the traffic was still really bad but this time it was traffic created by push bikes so it was friendly emission free traffic. 

Walking to Sarinah was nice and pleasant and hassle free. The Mcdonalds breakfast of hash brown and sausage egg muffin with my eagerly awaited cup of tea went down a treat and then to savour the rest of the morning, Starbucks for a coffee to make the other half smile.
I like Starbucks as the staff are endearingly friendly and I like Indonesian people as when they smile it looks and feels genuine. But I dont like Starbucks at Thamrin as every time I go there I cannot pay with my Permata card and have to pay cash as they only have one machine to process cards, whereas every other I have visited have at least 3. The smiles and no misters only get me so placated and then its well I wont return there, and to be honest I wont. But after that debacle I sat quite merrily and read the paper and the news on my phone for over an hour before getting back home and sleeping and enjoying the rest of the day. And they dont have working internet either at the moment which is frustratin. Back to Central Park or Menteng then!

So I am now thinking what else is going on in the city at 7am on a Sunday, lets hope I can find out soon.... in my dreams, in the newspaper or from someone else vicariously.