Bandung, City of Flowers

Brief history of Bandung

On the last article visitingjava shared about Surabaya,city of heroes and today we are going to share the story about Bandung. This high-elevation city also got important role during the Indonesian Revolution but before we talk about it, let’s take a look about the history of Bandung in 17th century when the Dutch colonies can be found in entire Java.

During the Dutch imperialism in Java, Indonesia through their Dutch East Indies Company a.k.a. VOC, Bandung was one of the most important cities for the Dutch colonial government. Yes, with many advantages such as cooler climate and vertile soil, simply this city was the perfect place for plantation area. In the year 1786, the dutch constructed main road to support their plantation activities which connected major cities at that time such as Batavia (Jakarta), Bogor, Sumedang and Cirebon. The road construction process across Java was continued in the year 1809 when the Napoleon I Emperor ordered the Dutch Indies Governor H.W. Daendels to improve accessibility to support defensive system in entire Java as their colony and this project known as Daendels Road Project which lies between West coast to east coast of Java (exactly from Anyer, West Java to Panarukan, East Java). Thousands of lives were sacrificed to establish this project and until today the Indonesian still uses this Java’s Main Road (which known as PANTURA a short form of PANTai UtaRA) to access most of cities across Java. This main road also has connection to Bandung and in the year 1810 the main road of Bandung city officially opened and was named De Groote Postweg (today it is known as Asia-Afrika Street).

(Left : Daendels Road Project construction in year 1890 and Right : PANTURA route in year 2013)

(Left : Daendels Road Project construction in year 1890 and Right : PANTURA route in year 2013)

In the year 1880, the first major railroad in Bandung offically established and connected two major cities of Dutch colony, Batavia and Bandung. With major railroad access simply Bandung grown up into bigger place to live and there was many immigrants from China entered this city to help run the facilities. This is the explanation why there are china-town districts next to the train station area in Bandung. Bigger plan for Bandung was prepared by the Dutch in the year 1920 when they wanted to relocate the capital of Dutch East Indies Company from Batavia to Bandung. The relocation project surely pushed Bandung to accommodate all facilities similarly with Batavia so the Dutch built primary structure such as the central government building (very well known as Gedung Sate as one of Bandung landmark today), military barracks and other buildings. Well, this plan was totally torn appart as the Japanese took control of Indonesia during the World War II.

Right after the independence day of Indonesia in the year 1945, Bandung was established as the capital city of West Java province. Major situation in Bandung during the era of Indonesian revolution was not easy as the Dutch wanted to re-establish the imperialism Indonesia. Bandung was recorded as one of Java’s cities that involved in heavy battle besides Surabaya in East Java and Ambarawa in Central Java.

At the end of World War II there is monumental event in Bandung which still remembered until these days. This heroic event happened when the British alliance gave ultimatum to the Bandung’s resistance to surrender and left the city in the year 1945. Just like other resistance movements during the Indonesian revolution, people of Bandung got something to say to the Allied forces not to play around with them. At the critical situation after the second ultimatum, the resistance moved out from Bandung but they left nothing for the Allied forces. Yes, the southern area of Bandung was totally burned on March,24th, 1946 and that event recorded in history as Bandung Lautan Api (Bandung Sea of Flame). It became an inspiration for Indonesian resistance to fight harder and protect their motherland from new imperialism. Two young man of Bandung, Moh. Toha and Moh. Ramdan were the main persons behind the scenario of this event and today, their name engraved forever as a street name in Bandung to admire their noble sacrifice during the Indonesian revolution.

(Left : An Illustration of Moh. Toha, Middle : Mobilization of Bandung Lautan Api/Bandung Sea of Flame in year 1946 and Right : Bandung Lautan Api monument present days)

(Left : An Illustration of Moh. Toha, Middle : Mobilization of Bandung Lautan Api/Bandung Sea of Flame in year 1946 and Right : Bandung Lautan Api monument present days)

Another important event which held in Bandung that simply stunned leaders around the world was the first Asian-African Conference in the year 1955 and until today this historical event is also known as Bandung Conference. It was initiated by the first president of the Republic of Indonesia, Soekarno. Leaders from twenty nine countries were united as a symbol of world peace promotion and resistance to the new imperialism. The Declaration of Bandung was made and 10 points of this outstanding declaration became an inspiration for nationalism movement around the globe at that time. The Bandung Conference also recorded as the first International Conference of multi-color in the history of mankind which simply remapped global politics.

(Left : The Famous Landmark of Bandung, Gedung Sate and Right : The Main Hall of Asia-Africa Museum today)

(Left : The Famous Landmark of Bandung, Gedung Sate and Right : The Main Hall of Asian-African Museum today)

During the new millenium, Bandung once again trusted as a place for Asian-African Conference in the year 2005 and major political leaders in Asia such as the President of the Republic of Indonesia, Susilo B. Yudhoyono (SBY), President of China, Hu Jintao and Leaders of African country such as the President of South Africa Thabo Mbeki and the President of Nigeria, Obasanjo attended the Conference with pride to show the world that the spirit of Bandung Conference and the Declaration of Bandung were never die.

Bandung as City of Flowers

With total area of the city about 167.67 km2 and land elevation at 768 m above the sea level, Bandung is very ideal for escapism. Most people of Jakarta picked Bandung as their first short-distance escapism spot at Weekend. Although population in Bandung based on the national census in the year 2010 has reached 2,290,464 and Bandung has become the third largest city in Indonesia but the weekend escapism trend is likely never changes. Bigger city means bigger opportunity to gain as well as bigger problem to be solved for Bandung, isn’t it?

Since year 1970 Bandung recorded as one of the cities that support Indonesian Domestic Income through creative industry. This situation happened because major industries in Bandung were built based on creativity of the local people. We can see famous “Distro” (abbreviation of Distribution Outlet) and Cafes at Bandung’s most attractive street called the Braga street. Bersides the Asia-Afrika street, Braga street is very famous in Bandung similarly with Malioboro street in Jogjakarta.

(Left: An old-school face of architecture in Braga Street and Right : Hall Station, the iconic train station in Bandung)

(Left: An old-school face of architecture at Braga Street and Right : Hall Station, the iconic train station in Bandung)

Bandung also has local shoes-maker area which is very popular named Cibaduyut and some of the shoes products were exported to europe. For people who like to buy high quality jeans product, then Cihampelas street is the main direction which should be marked on the map. Cihampelas street claimed its popularity as “Jeans Street” since year 1990 when local designers opened denim clothing stores that sold high quality jeans product cheaper than the branded one. Well, local people believed that no brand is no problem as long as the product has good durability then many people will like it. Even some stores in here also sold the export rejected product (popular in Indonesia as “Sisa Export”) with very low price and this could be a real money maker for businessman from other province in Indonesia.

(Left : Cihampelas Jeans Collection which often said as "Sisa Export" displayed at special discount booth and Right : Shoes Stores at Cibaduyut)

(Left : Cihampelas Jeans Collection which often said as “Sisa Export” displayed at special discount booth and Right : Shoes Stores at Cibaduyut)

The economic pulse in Bandung is highly supported by integrated transportation facilities which built since many years ago. Hussein Sastranegara International Airport is considered as one of the bussiest airports in Indonesia especially at weekend since many people came to Bandung just to spend their good time here. The main train station in Bandung also marked as a primary hub-station between Jakarta and Jogjakarta for the southern Java train route. Inner-circle bus transport system which called Trans Metro Bandung simply push this city into another level within the next 5 years since it was operated for the first time and the future plan of Bandung Skybride system which connects Pasteur to Sabuga is another city development program that anticipated either by local people or pleasure seekers in Bandung.

(Left : Hussein Sastranegara Interntional Airport and Right : Hall Station Bandung, present days)

(Left : Hussein Sastranegara Interntional Airport and Right : Hall Station Bandung, present days)

So, why this city has a nickname City of Flowers? Is there many flowers cultivated in Bandung? Actually there are only some of Rare Flower Species cultivated in Bandung and surrounding areas. The name of City of Flowers refers to the fact that this city has something unique to offer for the travelers. The fact is, Bandung is very famous as a Sanctuary of beautiful girls. It is not a difficult situation for everyone to meet with beautiful girls while walking in Bandung. Pretty interesting isn’t it? Sure you need to go there yourself to see why this city is similar to a colorful garden in your dream. The girls (even the young one with a school uniform) are very polite, they smile to travelers and simply you won’t have any strange feeling about it.

As shared before bigger opportunity always came with bigger problem and one of the biggest problem for Bandung is the teenage prostitution. Some of the school girls in Bandung were controlled by a pimp (with a saint mask). Those pimps lured the school girls with attractive job either in beauty shop, entertainment industry (as a model) or other tricky job. I guess you know how it ends. The school girls were trapped into early age prostitution that sealed with blink-blink lifestyle. It is hard to live in the middle of fashionable peer-group at school isn’t it? Well, some of girls wanted to be fashionable and teenage prostitution is the simplest ways to have both sex pleasure plus fresh cash inside their wallet. Recently research by The Centre for Woman and Children Activation Service of West Java has shown that 28 percent of early age prostitution activities are dominated by school girls. Based on this research we can get a brief situation that psychologically the teenage era is a crucial timeline for girl to leap into maturity. Once they are failed to leap into maturity (smoothly), they could be lured by syndicate of teenage prostitution and one of the results as explained above.

Attractions and Pleasure in Bandung

Ok, let’s pretend that there is no teenage prostitution problem in Bandung so we can continue to explore this city and find many attractions that worth to visit. Bandung got everything to offer either for budget adventurers or royal travelers. Start from the famous mountain the Tangkuban Perahu which located in the north area of Bandung Regency. It is an active volcano which has special legend that shared among generations. Sure we will share the legend of Tangkuban Perahu but not today. This magnificent mountain is one of Indonesia’s ring of fire mountain and most of adventurer came to this mountain after they visited Krakatau in Banten province.

(Left : Tangkuban Perahu Crater and Right : The Greenfield of Tea Plantation in Lembang)

(Left : Tangkuban Perahu Crater and Right : The Greenfield of Tea Plantation in Lembang)

For traveler who doesn’t want to visit Tangkuban Perahu, they can go to Lembang area which the green field of Bandung and you can enjoy scenery of tea plantation combined with local people hospitality. Fresh air is the perfect supplement for your lung and green color of the tea plantation will be great for your beloved eyes. You can order traditional drink called Bajigur or Bandrek and try Surabi as a snack while having relaxation around the tea plantation area. Kawah Putih Volcano lake and Patenggang lake are also recommended places which simply can be your top destination while visiting Bandung.

(Left : The beautiful scenery of Kawah Putih in Ciwidey and Right : An Exotic view of Situ Patenggang/Patenggang Lake)

(Left : The beautiful scenery of Kawah Putih in Ciwidey and Right : An Exotic view of Situ Patenggang/Patenggang Lake)

Done with off-road route you can go back to Bandung city to enjoy special dish of Bandung such as Lotek (quite similar to Gado-Gado), Kupat Tahu, Mie Kocok, Siomay and Batagor. Some of those local dishes were inspired from other dish which can be found in Java but surely the taste and variation is different from one province with another province (it is very specific). That is why you need to try all of them even you have tried the similar dish in other province of Indonesia.

(Left : The dynamic duo beverages, Bandrek and Bajigur and Right : A complete dish of Batagor Bandung, yummy)

(Left : The dynamic duo beverages, Bandrek and Bajigur and Right : A complete dish of Batagor Bandung, yummy)

Shopping is another good reason why people love Bandung so much. Many malls were built in Bandung and some of them became an icon for the area. As an example, there is Ciwalk Mall, the icon of Cihampelas Street and Plaza Dago which simply gives a note to everyone that they are already arrived at one of the most attractive hang-out places in Bandung. Besides those malls, there is Bandung Super Mall the place where many families spend their time during weekend in Bandung. Trans Studio Bandung is considered as another hype-maker area in Bandung and many people like to visit this famous indoor theme park in Indonesia.

(Left : Bandung Super Mall, one of biggest malls in Bandung and Right : Ciwalk at night, a perfect place for hang-out)

(Left : Bandung Super Mall, one of the biggest malls in Bandung and Right : Cihampelas Walk (CIWALK) at night, a perfect place for hang-out)

Want to seek something “different” rather than visiting malls then you can go for Distro adventure. Popular Distro brands in Bandung such as Eatshop, NLS, Black Jack, Horny and Blankwear are ideal spot to find something personal for your fashion statement. What about the price? Please don’t mind about it, this is Paris Van Java, price is number two and style is number one. You can easily find an awesome pair of shoes or a nice short sleeve shirt without worrying “how much the cash left” in your pocket. Most of the products which displayed in Distro are affordable and surely some discounts are waiting for you.

As for scientific-related adventure, there is Bosscha observatory and this is the only observatory that can be found in Indonesia. See billion of stars at night in Bandung is so cool and you can take a journey to visit one of the most prestigious universities in Indonesia, Bandung Institute of Technology or in Bahasa it is called Institut Teknologi Bandung. This Institute was ranked in top 100 worldwide universities along with University of Indonesia and GadjahMadaUniversity so I am sure you will find something good while walking around the campus area.

(Left : Bandung Institute of Technology, the place where Indonesian scientist born and Right : Bosscha observatory, simply stunning and some of Indonesian movies took set at this place)

(Left : Bandung Institute of Technology, the place where Indonesian scientist born and Right : Bosscha observatory, simply stunning and some of Indonesian movies took set at this place)

Bandung also associated with PERSIB and this is one of the football clubs that contribute positively to the football society in Indonesia. Besides the league champion title, PERSIB also has good reputation in club management. Unlike the other football clubs in Indonesia which only can survive from Government Subsidy, PERSIB professionally approach various sponsors for their club activities within a full-year football competition. For all football fans, PERSIB has merchandise at their football store and you can meet with PERSIB’s fanatic supporter group named The Viking which is very “blue” as can be seen from their appearance.

(Left : PERSIB's mobile booth sells jersey at PERSIB match and Right : The fanatic supporter group of PERSIB, Viking)

(Left : PERSIB’s mobile booth sells jersey at PERSIB match and Right : The fanatic supporter group of PERSIB, Viking)

Attend traditional attractions such as Angklung performance and Wayang Golek show could be a good option for everyone who wants to know more about Bandung. The sound harmony of Angklung will guide us to listen about the truth that everything came from the Almighty God. Yes, even small bamboo (which formed into Angklung) can bring such a very nice harmony to our ears. In the other hand, the content of Wayang Golek show often related with social and political situation in Indonesia but it is wrapped with comedy. With creativity and comedy there will be no boundary to talk and no hesitate to act so this is the “essential” part of Wayang Golek which is sharing meaningful message for the audience.

(Left : Various characters of Wayang Golek and Right : Angklung Street Performers at the Celebration of Bandung Anniversary)

(Left : Various characters of Wayang Golek include the famous Cepot – number three from right on above row and Right : Angklung Street Performers at the Celebration of Bandung Anniversary)

How to reach Bandung

Since Bandung is located in Western of Java Island (the West Java province) so the simplest ways to go there is through Jakarta either by Bus or Train. Since Cipularang inter-city Toll Road operated in the year 2005 estimated time to go to Bandung from Jakarta only took about 1.5 hours (averagely). It is the fastest route to go to Bandung but if you like the old-time route through Puncak Area (Bogor) then you will get a bonus of beautiful hill scenery. Other route to Bandung is through Subang and access the Cikampek inter-city Toll Road.

By train you can choose Argo Parahyangan from Jakarta to Bandung and vice versa. This train is for Executive and Business Class while for the Economy Class you can take Serayu from Jakarta to Purwokerto (transited in Bandung or Padalarang). The trip with train will takes time around 2-5 hours based on what class of train that you choose. The Executive class train surely will arrive faster than the Economy class.

(Left : Cipularang inter-city TOLL road and Right : The interior of Argo Parahyangan train, cozy and full of entertainment)

(Left : Cipularang inter-city TOLL road and Right : The interior of Argo Parahyangan train, cozy and full of entertainment)

Anyway, i like this city just the way it is, no matter what people said about the “Flowers of Bandung”, the bad traffic of Angkot (Angkot is a minibus transport which serve for inner-city routes) and the notorious Motorist Gangsters there. I admire this city as i gave respect to other cities in Indonesia. See you around in Bandung.

By Amar Pujo Wicaksono

(Contributor at visitingjava.com)

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4 thoughts on “Bandung, City of Flowers

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