Beautiful Bandung

Friday, June 26, 2015

It has been 10 months since I started this vagabonding journey throughout Southeast Asia. Nostalgia is running through my veins again, defying gravity. And here I am. Ending this story in the same country where it all began.

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It felt like I was just in Indonesia yesterday and forever ago at the same time. It always blew my mind, the way our minds can shatter time and memories in your head and piece it back together again in an instant. The way we remember things as if it were yesterday, as if there was no gap from then to now. I stepped out of the airport and sensed that familiar feeling again. The warm haze of this country’s energy, slowly but surely luring me in. Our van speeds through the highways and meandering roads all the way up to Northern Bandung.

Indonesia, I've missed you.

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On our first night I met all my fellow bloggers, we had our first dinner together and watched performances organized by the tourism board. I was exhausted from traveling, so I fell straight into bed after that and drifted to sleep. The next day, they took us on a tour around our resort, Sari Ater, which was more than just a resort. It was a beautiful compound with waterfalls, hot springs, farms and a view that stretched onto infinite hills and valleys. As they drove us around, I took in the gorgeous greenery all around me, breathing in the fresh air from the valleys beyond.

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We drove to Tangkuban Parahu, a volcano that lies dormant in Northern Bandung. I stood by the fence for a while with the wild wind playing with my hair and the brisk, cold air rising the hair on my skin. I was so tempted to climb over the fence and hang my legs on the edge of the cliff, like I often do when I find the edges of things. I told my new friends that I wanted to do it, but I also didn't want to give the staff team a heart attack so I stayed back and enjoyed it from when I was standing and those moments were enough.

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Then we went to the floating market, where you can try a plethora of local cuisine (from crepes, to dim sum, to fried food) that the ladies sell by the water. And you can row the small boat around the little lake and listen to the soothing sounds of the water.

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We went to Saung Angklung Udjo where we witnessed the traditional Sudanese performances. I was ecstatic when they started playing the angklung version of Bohemian Rhapsody. I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that they were playing this iconic pop rock song rattling through bamboo and echoing through the ears of the crowd. It was incredible and I loved every second of it. At one point they distributed the Angklung to the entire crowd, each person holding their own personal bamboo instrument. The conductor had us play different notes, with all of us synchronistically playing a beautiful song. We were all one for those brief moments, a whole crowd vibrating to music. Their annual interactive audience performance is known to be in the Guinness World Book of Records as the largest Angklung ensemble in the entire world which was a beautiful thing to be a part of. At the end, they had the audience dancing with the children who performed. A young girl enthusiastically comes up to me and asked if I wanted to dance, so I joined in and we all danced around the floor laughing and moving all to the beats with free bodies.

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After our time in Northern Bandung, we spent the next day in the south. We drove up to a crater lake called Kawah Putih. We arrived and I was instantly pierced by the smell of sulfur, we were given masks but I was still sensitive to that potent smell. I wandered off around the crater on my own and sat down at one point. Those moments were ethereal, looking at the mist hovering over the light mint green colored sulfuric waters was something I don't witness often. I sat and soaked in the sheer beauty of it all.

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We went to a restaurant called Sindang Reret and had such incredible Sudanese food. Their employees were on stilts, walking around and entertaining their guests. We sat in traditional Indonesian huts and were served our incredible lunch until our bellies were full and warm.

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We got back on the road and stopped by a tea plantation called Walini Ranca. "10 minutes here," they said. I thought to myself, no way. We're probably going to end up staying longer, it's too gorgeous not to. It wasn't just a tea plantation, I felt like I was in the movie as I walked around the perfectly manicured green fields. I saw a big rock in the middle of the field and there was a ladder next to it so I climbed, sat for pictures and took everything in.

I felt like I was a five-year-old again. 

Yoshke, a fellow blogger came from the fruit stall and bought mulberries, something I haven't had in a year. My mind drifted back to my house back in California where we had a huge mulberry tree that would drop pounds of it everyday, I'd eat handfuls of it and mix it in with my green smoothies each morning. I didn't even know mulberries exist in Indonesia, I held it in my hands in sheer delight while the vast, lush green landscape moved me. I was transported through time and back again.

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Indonesia, you have my heart. Right now, other places are calling me to be. But I'll see you again, when the road paves the way and time flies me right back to you.

Special thanks to Wonderful Indonesia, Pesona Bandung and the Asian African Conference for sponsoring this trip.

Stephanie is a nomadic photographer, wanderer, adventurer, dreamer. She lives for capturing moments of bliss, wanderlust, inspiring hearts, reigniting spirits, and infinite moments of Satori. Follow her journey at Infinite Satori.


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