Monday, 6 July 2009

Bandung-Day 1

Hi, hi, hi.... i disappeared for a few weeks because i was at bandung!! For a quick holiday! I thought it was a relatively safe place to be as it was relatively untouched by H1N1 but no............. i didnt know until after i came back, there is a quarantine requirement :P. Well i didn't get sick but then the lack of water gave me a relatively high fever and lots of check up later, i am "safe" :)

Anyway Bandung was picked because it is a relatively cheap place to visit, and of course notorious for being a shopping heaven!! And it is! Not only that, the food is relatively tasty and yummy there. And the weather unlike malaysia, is a bit light Cameron highlands. This makes this place rather enjoyable for shopping and eating. By the way, time is one hour behind in bandung and gets dark at 6pm already.

Before we started, we had the following bags, the rather large one is my cousin while the rest of us had this itty bitty one. One for each person. However, we ended up er with more bags later after the 4th day trip. We took a 9:30 flight via Air Asia via the newly refurbished LCCT. I am impressed, better waiting spaces, cleaner toilets and also better duty free shopping, what wonders renovation can do to a place. I have no comment on the food though, this time around i had more chances of eating food but still - it was bleargh. I should have less hope that Air Asia has nice food. I booked the 4 of us on 4 day 3 night stay in Arion Swiss Belhotel in Bandung city itself which is supposed to be a boutique hotel, plus a driver for the 4 days which i thought was worth it. It is a good idea to actually get the driver so you don't have to worry about haggling for prices later with angkot drivers or taxis and they will be like a "bodyguard" for you in case you get bugged by unscrupulous people later.

This is the terrace area of the hotel in which we were staying, has a nice little bridge where you can stand there and take pictures. The foyer below of the hotel. Nice hor? In total, plus flight and hotel, we paid only about RM890 for this with a pretty nice breakfast to boot. I seriously recommend Arion Hotel for people who wish to stay in Bandung. ( I think my brother will disagree a bit on this, in the next story ... hehehehe )

Our rooms were not ready, so they served us our welcome drinks(yeah! china didn't even serve us this ) while we relaxed and took some photos. Was quite a nice combination of guava and mango i detected and the color, lovely! I am beginning to like this trip very much! One room was ready, so we dumped our bags there and went for lunch as it is was around 12pm Bandung time. We asked the driver to take us to some where nice where can enjoy Sundanese food which Java is famous for. So he took us to Sangkuriang that seems to be pretty popular with locals and tourist alike. Outside it looks like a restaurant, but inside, it looks like... some small huts.. Oh yes, we eat in small huts. Well, you can eat on proper tables and all but what's the experience if you eat like normal people :P

Here is a snap shot of a waiter running past the huts to deliver food to the customers. Interesting isn't it? I noticed in bandung waiters are very thin because they spend a lot of time running up and down to serve the food. Wait till you see my sapu lidi shots, the huts are further apart! And to get the waiter's attention, you ring this er ... bamboo bell that will bring them over. But for us, every time we saw them walking past, we will hail them instead. So weird clanging on something to get some one to serve you :P ...

You know, we so dumb. There were so many flies in this place as we were sitting next to a fish pond, but it never occured to us to light a candle, we were busy flapping our hands to get rid of flies during lunch.

Of all the things i learned in my trip, is that my cousins and i and my brother, have very different tastes in food. One good example is the Poopy Elephant drink. Yes, Teh Sosro is known as Poopy Elephant drink to my cousins. Why? They say it tastes like elephant poop. Huh? So, when did they actually tasted elephant poo? Well, actually it smells a bit like the poo, sometimes it tastes so vivid, there are some people who can imagine it tastes as it smells. Bro and i didn't find it that bad, i had it in Bali before when we had Babi Guling. Anyway, tea in bandung or most of indonesia has this taste so if you think you can't stomach Poopy Elephant tea, skip this. Or try Frestea - nicer as has a stronger Jasmine tea smell. Poopy Elephant tea... sigh..
We ordered ala-carte as we were not really sure what to order then so best to take things that sound safe like - black pepper beef. This was one of the better dishes in Sangkuriang but a bit tiny in terms of portion. I would have been happier if the portions were bigger. Taste wise, not bad. Peppery yet yummy. You see the basket on the top right? Or bits of the basket? That's how the serve the rice. I forgot to take a picture of it. Interesting little contraption actually. Nicely colored grass weaved basket with hot rice inside and a bamboo bottom stand. Also at the very top end of the photo was the butter chicken or mentega chicken which does not deserve a mention as the chicken was damn hard.

Lalapan is known as Ulam in malaysia which is served in every meal we had in Bandung. It consists of local and foreign vegetables ( in this case cucumber :P ) and some other veg which i am not sure what it is. See the two round veggies in the picture? Had no idea what they were. And it's eaten raw and with a touch of sambal belacan below. Goodness, the chilli was so hot below, i swear if i ate anymore, i would have tummy problems the next day. I must give you a note of caution though while eating lalapan in Bandung. If possible, eat cooked vegetables. Though it looks clean, it is always safer to eat something more cooked, we actually cannot see the hygiene in how this vegetables are washed. So, if you don't have a tummy of steel, eat cooked vegetables no matter how yummy it looks.

Cousin no 1 was raving about Sundanese tahu goreng so we ordered this based on her feedback ( but not on this restaurant ) this was so so only. Actually i found the yellow pretty alarming. Coloring ah?? We have to dip it in the kicap manis + Cili padi to get a better taste. I hope this is not really how tahu goreng should taste like. Cause i give this dish a 1. :(

Best to view this from the top but the star of the day and also the dirtiest dish of the day ( since it sizzled every where ) is our ikan bakar GURAME! This big meaty fish was grilled and then later hot platted with a sticky sweet and spicy sauce that er sizzled all over the table. You can see the smoke rising from here. Gurame is a type of fish that is popular in bandung and can be cooked in few ways and in Sangkuriang, this is the most famous way. (Glad we didn't take the soup one ) The waitress will pour the sauce on the hot plate once she brings it to you and prepare to wear bibs that day. The fish meat is thick and lightly grilled. Goes very well with rice and the sauce.

So... that's the lunch we had in Sangkuriang. Total damage: Rupiah 133,000 ( RM38 for 4 persons ). Rating - given 2 stars by all. Cousin 2 says the fish pond stinks ( but we the rest of didn't like the lalats ) however, this place is so near Rumah Mode, a lot of people will drop by.

Resto Dapur Sangkuriang,
Jalan Karang Sari No 5, Setiabudi
Tel: 022-2031340.

Oh, one more parting shot of poopy elephant drink. Sorry, i still kinda like it even though it supposedly tasted poopy. My next write up is on tea and dinner on Day 1 ( yes, tea! and dinner ) I did say bandung is a makan paradise mah.

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