West Java

Bandung City

Love Engine | Friday, 05 December 2014 - 22:45:55 WIB | be read: 4187 reader

Gedung Sate

After the bottle-green hills of Cibondas and the Puncak Pass, the sprawling bulk of Bandung hits you like a baseball bat across the back of the head. Once the ‘Paris of Java', the city is now a throng of congested, polluted streets and endless suburbs, and any romantic notions of colonial glamour have long disappeared. This is one of Indonesia’s megacities (the Bandung conurbation is home to over seven million people) and West Java’s capital, and it likes everyone to know it.
But not everything has gone to pot. Among the shopping malls and business hotels you’ll find a dynamic, major city that’s on the move. It attracts workers, intellectuals and students from across the archipelago, and its industries, restaurants and cafes throb with life. Today, grandiose art deco buildings, heaving market stalls, becak and multiplexes jostle for space in the city.
Bandung was originally established in the late 19th century as a colonial garrison town, but it rapidly acquired importance as a commercial and educational centre. Because of its pleasant climate – it stands at 750m above sea level – the Dutch even had plans to make it the capital prior to WWII. The city’s most notable entry in the history books was as host of the Asia-Africa conference in 1955. The main attraction of Bandung is its proximity to sights: high volcanic peaks, hot springs and enormous tea plantations are all easy day trips from the city.
Bandung spreads out over the northern foothills of a huge plateau surrounded by high mountain ridges. The main part of the city lies south of the train line, and is centred on Jl Asia Afrika and the alun-alun (main public square). Along Jl Asia Afrika are the tourist office, post office, banks and some fine art deco hotels. Jl Braga just north of here has a strip of bars and cafes. In colonial times, the train tracks divided the riff-raff in the south from the Dutch city in the north, and the social divide still rings true. The genteel tree-lined streets and upmarket residential areas in the north harbour most of Bandung’s cosmopolitan restaurants (and the key student area around Jeans St) and are bordered by the hills of Dago.

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