Sunday, January 08, 2017

Tangkuban Perahu (Ratu Crater) - The Upturned Boat Mountain as Part of our Bandung Outskirt Day Tour @ Indonesia

Bandung has more than just factory outlet shopping and if you are willing to explore its outskirts (one to three hours' drive out of the city), there are plenty of natural attractions.

Out of the many, the most famous was said to be Tangkuban Perahu; a 2,084-meter tall volcano with three signature craters and that's where we went for our first item of the Bandung outskirt day tour! 

Now, we have heard plenty of horror stories about the attraction and it has nothing to do with the paranormal; it's human related and has to do with money. 

Aside from the exorbitant entrance fee enforced on foreigners (ten times more expensive), access to certain sections of the natural park would require the engagement of a tour guide (more money to be paid out) and that's not all; it was highlighted in numerous blogs and even on tripadvisor that more people would follow you and your entourage to "persuade" all of you to purchase insanely-priced souvenirs. 

I was in fact deliberating whether to strike off the item from the itinerary since both my sisters couldn't take such bullshit and there would likely be an ugly scene. However, they were cool about it and figured that as it's a major attraction, it would be a great pity if we didn't get to see it. 

Hence, let's continue our journey and see what's exactly so nice about Tangkuban Perahu! By the way, i still find it difficult to remember its Indonesian name and only know it by the translated version; the upturned boat.

Horses that were probably there to be ridden for a fee. Louise likes to ride horses whereas i have never been keen to sit on them. 

Arrival at the car parking area which also happened to be the main congregation point for everyone dropping by "the upturned boat". So why upturned boat? This couldn't be visualized at this point but if you are staying in Best Western Premier La Grande hotel at the city (as we were), you would notice a mountain with the shape of an overturned boat and that, my dear, is Tangkuban Perahu.

Scene at the parking area with many roaming mobile vendors targeting newly arrived visitors to buy their wares. Such scenes are common in China and i guess i have learnt how to avoid them. 

There's one person i can't avoid as this particular person (no picture) would be there when you opened the car door; his aim was to entice you to engage his service as a tour guide (cost: 300,000 rupiah) to bring you to Kawah Domas, the smallest crater, that's about an hour of hike. 

We mentioned we couldn't decide since my mom wasn't too keen in walking and would very much prefer to check out what's available here first. Story should have ended. It didn't and i would share later at the end of this post. 

The sign signifying the "i am here" that most people were queuing to take picture with; i am too impatient to wait and when faced with such situations, i would take the photos for others and upload them to this blog. 

At this point, the elevation was 1,830 meters - temperature was cool although the strong wind brought chills down our neck; so much so that mom regretted leaving her thick sweater back in the hotel!

Kawah Ratu - also known as the Queen's crater, this was the biggest crater (out of the three) in the natural park with a depth of about 500 meters. 

Trails surrounded the crater with one connecting to Upas Crater which was said to be closed due to the emission of extremely toxic gases. Shall explore the foot path shortly as the ladies needed to visit the loo. 

Some hawkers were less mobile due to the products for sale; like the one above with angklung; a musical instrument that i thought should be given the national status as it is uniquely from Indonesia! 

Plants on wood - i would have purchased a few to liven up the empty spaces in my house but i guess they would be better off with an owner who knows how to take care of plants. 

The ladies were taking too long and i decided to wait for them near the washroom instead. There's the driver we engaged for the day, Mr Askan! Darn, the deep fried stuff looked so good and i regretted not ordering some since Mr Askan was also ordering from him. 

Nevertheless, something else caught my attention; the viewing platform above the toilet (note the sign to the left of the photo) and the scenery ahead was the direct opposite of Kawah Ratu. 

Spectacular panorama with Bandung city ahead of us! 


Turning back towards the Queen's Crater as the ladies were finally done with their business. As usual, there was a long queue in the ladies' room. 


As we strolled along the stone pathway lined with tiny straw thatched huts on both sides, i couldn't help thinking if this market had been in existence for a few centuries given the heavy dose of nostalgia! 

Splashes of modernity - figurines of characters from Naruto! I almost forgot the title of the Japanese comic even though i used to be a great fan before video streaming drew my attention away. 

I am unsure if things here were cheaper than those touted by the mobile hawkers although you can try bargaining and agreeing on a price that everyone is happy with. 

Frankly, the street was rather deserted and i don't see many visitors around, especially foreigners. Put it this way, the excessive pricing was off-putting and there were just too many negative online reviews warning visitors to be careful of insistent touts, specifically those playing a sympathy card.

We are humans (obviously) and couldn't resist being sympathetic sometimes; hence, some visitors would rather NOT take the risk by not visiting. Say for example my sister; she almost wanted to get this set of bow and arrows!!! 

Seemed like coconuts were being cooked over fire; were they being made into coconut charcoal which can be a relatively cheap fuel alternative. 

The gradient of the slope, the low height for the structures, the clear sky - elements bringing forth a picture that's normal yet seemingly ancient. 

Mum didn't care; she was just feeling so so cold! 

The rebel in me was tempted to climb over the fence, roll down the rocks and (if still alive), check if the whitish-greyish-bluish things at the bottom were sand or water. 

We were nowhere near the end of the path! 

Reminiscent of our trip to Hallasan at Jeju Island, Louise was always energised to have the head-start; like her bro me, she didn't like standing still when she's overseas and would prefer to make full use of her time! 

Sulfur powder and stones can be purchased for a price; i should have bought some since i heard that sulfur repels snakes! Oh well, whether they are real or not would be another story.

Reaching somewhere near the top as mom declared she would walk no further! Poor her could still walk although she absolutely couldn't stand the chill of the strong wind! 

Hm.... i was still thinking of asking her to hike to the other end where the height was even higher than where we were standing at. Guess mom would give me a tight slap across the face if i were to suggest that. 

A new building was being constructed and i am wondering if the symbol of the fire on top was in any way related to the bandung sea of fire event in 1946. 

Us taking photos to commemorate the hard work we put in! How strong was the wind? Just check out the hair of Joyce and Louise! 

Bottom of the crater - i have always thought that the crater of a volcano was filled with red hot lava that when cooled, would turn black. The sight i saw that day at Kawah Ratu was different even though the last eruption was in 2013! 

Time to get going! 

To reward mom for her dedication and faith in keeping up with her energetic children, we got her a cup of unfiltered hot coffee, in addition to charcoal grilled corn! For pictures on the corn we had, click here

Going off again even though we would be taking another path back to the main car parking area. Beside bring along warm clothing, please do wear a good pair of shoes as the surface can be slippery when wet. 

And the steps can be steep! 

Another view of the market; see that pole on the upper right of the photograph? That's the furthest we managed to walk to before mom stopped us. That same path would actually lead us to the then-closed Kawah Upas. 

Joyce is always game for a photo unlike Alex, who resists having his picture taken nowadays after he was recognised by quite a number of friends and relatives who spotted him in this blog. I really need a "model" whenever i travel. 

I was forewarned of the sickening sulphur stench even though it wasn't as bad as i imagined it to be. No mask was required in my honest opinion. However, it's a different level at Kawah Rengganis; a face mask is recommended! 

She couldn't stop being the first! 

And being all smug about it when she can relax to wait for the rest of the seniors to catch up. I wasn't really wrong in putting out the "senior" label since the three of us (mum, Joyce and myself) are older than her. And she goes to the gym; we don't. 

From the above photo, the taller reddish building did appear to be some sort of a gate / clock tower commonly seen in ancient times. 

I doubt that there would be a historical lineage to the market place as tourism didn't really become all that important until recent times and there's a big risk for a commercial entity to be housed here in the past since the area is prone to volcanic activity. 

In the past hundred years alone, there were a total of eleven eruptions with the most recent one taking place just four years ago! 

Nature can be so beautiful yet cruel at the same time. 

As i have always said, be happy and always enjoy your life. No matter what happen, life goes on and since we have to live on, might as well enjoy every single moment. :) 

If not, just be like Joyce and vent your frustrations using non-organic materials. p.s. i think the same violent blood runs in the family. 

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Continuing my story on the tour guide who asked us to engage him for the hike towards Kawah Domas - the sky started tearing and we opted to leave. The person was super unhappy and said he had been waiting for us. My parting pissed off retort was "we didn't agree anything and i didn't ask you to wait". Thankfully, this was the only negative incident i had in Bandung

Website (in Indonesian)

Pricing for Foreigners
Weekdays - 200,000 rupiah per person
Weekends - 300,000 rupiah per person
Car on Weekdays - 25,000 rupiah per car
Car on Weekends -35,000 rupiah per car


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