Thursday, October 29, 2009

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

For less than RM50

USD1 = RM3.5 presently.

Our dinner at a small restaurant in Kuala Sepetang near Taiping, Perak, Malaysia for the 4 of us only costed us less than RM50. Cheap by any standard when we consider that we had more than 1 kg of fresh sea prawns cooked. Kuala Sepetang is famous for its fresh prawns.

This was the first time that we ever visited the restaurant.

And the restaurants seemed to be well patronised.

And these were the people that made it happened.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Just a private observation in Bandung.

On my recent trip to Bandung I observed certain order of traffic movement made by Indonesian drivers over there. This is not an official but just a private observation made when riding on a small van (Kijang) driven by an Indonesian hired driver. The Indonesian in Bandung drive on the left.

The traffic flow in Bandung was not as heavy as that of Kuala Lumpur, maybe its because of their way of driving or maybe because of the traffic system. I did not observe any roundabout ( I may be corrected in that observation) but I observed triangles where drivers take to turning right using the near side of the triangle or turning left following that side of the triangle. There is a certain ‘give way’ attitude to smoothen the traffic flow. And I observed that those Indonesian drivers were not as aggressive as Malaysian drivers and they do have the sense of ‘give way’.

I observed that if a river wanted to overtake in a heavy traffic, he gave a slight horn and the front driver understood the signal and would let the back driver passed. Even if the back driver wanted to overtake a motorcyclist, he horned to warn the motorcyclist and the motorcyclist would gave away. With such attitude, driving seemed cool, and non-aggressive driving was almost non-existence.

Somehow I did not see many Policemen on the street of Bandung. But I saw on a few occasions where a Traffic Policeman controlling the traffic, and this happened when it was a peak period such as the evening and the morning ‘rush’ hours. But those Indonesian drivers were ‘rushing’ with great patient.

And parking areas are marked on the street (and I do not really know whether the Bandung ‘Town Council’ charged for parking), and private parking areas are charged a certain rate (RP 20,000 per entry I think it was) or a certain tip (expected) to those employed to look after traffic movements in those areas. These ‘employed’ people are very efficient in getting you a parking space (at a fee of course) and very efficient in getting you out of a parking space in such heavy traffic situations. They used whistles to warm of on coming drivers about their ‘client’ wanting to get out of their parking areas. (No Policemen helped). This to me was a very efficient arrangement as it reduced the time for anyone trying to get out of the parking area as well as increasing safety to back out or to move out of a parking area. (I remember that in Thailand they have similar arrangement). These people were probably employed by the building or the business owner (of the building concerned).

And of motorcyclist, they may not follow 100% the rules of crash helmets or the rules of riding a motorbike of more than 2 to a motorbike, but they seemed to be careful lot with no waving among the car traffic, at least the majority of them. And motorcycles speeding? Did not see them in town or on the outskirts of town.

I thought that the traffic arrangement in Bandung was quite efficient. Is that the situation over the whole of Indonesia?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Private thoughts on Bandung experience.

After Raya this year, a friend asked me and my wife to join a Co. trip to Bandung

( All these while I have always avoided any trip to Indonesia, for reasons privy to me alone. But my wife have been to Indonesia many time before.

From the air I saw Bandung. “Quite disorganised” I thought. My prejudice was already showing. And when we landed, we had it easy going through the Immigration and the Custom. And as it was a Co. trip, transport and meals have been arranged, so was accommodation.

We had our first lunch at a Padang restaurant. The food was reasonably good, ……. I had had very limited Padang restaurant experience. One has to go to a Padang restaurant in Indonesia to appreciate what are served and how they serve them.

We checked into a hotel, a small hotel, 4-star they say, in the outskirt of Bandung not too far away from the Airport and the main commercial area. Reasonably good hotel it was. (About RM150 a night stay) Named Karang Setra ( After a short rest, the group had arranged to go shopping at a factory outlet in Bandung. And I must say that there are a lot of factory outlets in Bandung (or is it in the whole of Indonesia?)……. Don’t ask me why and how but there they were …… where one can buy cheap “branded” clothings and accessories. Not only tourists go to these ‘outlets’ but many local also go there. In fact for the next 3 days, the ‘team’ went shopping most of the time in these ‘outlets’. But there are also ‘pasar’ where these are not called ‘outlets’ where local clothings (western and middle eastern designs) are sold at a reasonably cheap price (cheaper than in Malaysia …… probably taking advantage of the cheap labour in Indonesia).

My first impression of Bandung? Life is hard over there. Probably life is hard all over Indonesia for the lower classes but the upper crust of society have it easy. People are basically selling on the streets whatever they can sell. At some traffic junctions they even sells stuff to car occupiers when cars stop at traffic lights. In the markets they even try to persuade you to buy even fancy cloth hangers, fancy stoneware necklaces and even shopping carrying bags. And in the more popular tourist places they even follow you around, ‘selling’ their stuff.

Foodwise, I would say that ‘never’ to eat at street stalls. (on one of my wife’s visits to Indonesia a few years back she ate at one of the street stall in her last day of the visit, and she came back to Malaysia with typhoid). There are many street stalls, of all sorts and one famous food they have is ‘baso’, a sort of soup filled with meat ball and vege or even soya bean stuff. Very tempting, but if you have to eat ‘baso’ do so at a reputable restaurant. (‘baso’ men sometime ply their ‘baso’ from street to street on their shoulders).

I had some opportunity to visit places in Bandung. One place which we visited was Tangkuman Perahu (, a non-active volcano (it probably was just remaining silent!). Impressive place except for the entrance price was a bit expensive for foreign tourists (about RM20 per head: USD1 = RM 3.5; in Indonesian currency of course) and about RM5.00 for local tourists (in Indoenesian currency of course). Many local tourists I observe go there, The place was packed with tourists (and with temporary canvas lean-to sheds made by local to sell clothings and their local tourist souvenirs artifacts) and people trying to push their souvenirs stuff (pushing hard even to right on your nose). Quite a nuisance really, but the fact to see a real volcano was worth the going.

“pushing right to your nose” in their hard selling tactic is the rule of the day for all these ‘poor’ in Bandung (probably in the whole of Indonesia) and one just cannot get away from them, they are every where ……… you just have to live with them and have to learn to say “NO!”.

I must also add that Bandung is a nice place. It was where Soukarno was imprisoned by the Dutch and also where he organized the Bandung Conference (a historical landmark) when he was the President of the Republic of Indonesia. And Bandung still has many old Dutch houses, now being used as commercial or educational centres. New buildings are also being built in Bandung, the latest being an international standard shopping complex called Paris Van Java ( And it has many mosques and a few churches. I am told that 80% of the population are Muslims and the rest are of all sorts of religion and with the majority of the Chinese origin being Christians.

I must say that the temperature in Bandung is very mild, temperature probably in the morning being at about 25 deg C and about 27 deg C to 28 deg C in the afternoon. The humidity is reasonably low. Quite a comfortable place to live.

Transportation in Bandung is reasonably efficient. One can hire a car (Kijang) with a driver for about RM150 a day, or one can take the town taxi which is reasonably fared, or one can even go on a horse driven cart. But if one knows one’s way, one can take a ‘mini bus’, a van converted into public transport which normally are very packed with people. Or one can walk about as the weather is reasonably mild with low humidity.

If you in Indoenesia, do buy their ‘batik’. It’s the best, I think.

We were there for 4 days and 3 night. It was quite an experience.

The fare from Kuala Lumpur to Bandung. One may enquire from Air Asia (