When you daydream about a tropical escape in Asia, what do you think of? Taking long naps under palm trees on the white sands of Nusa Dua beach in Bali; sipping chilled coconut juice among floating boats in Damnoen Saduak floating market in Bangkok; or stretching your limbs to Sun Salutation yoga with a view of the Taj Mahal?
Bandung, the capital of West Java province in Indonesia, is the lesser visited cousin of Bali. I have to admit, I had never even heard of this exotic city before I flew there with Singapore Airlines. At first glance, I was intrigued by its nickname – Parijs van Java, or the Paris of Java. When the Dutch East India government colonized Indonesia in the eighteenth century, they sought out high altitude grounds to set up a defense fort. The settlers’ eyes widened as they climbed volcanic peaks, only to discover a hidden paradise at the foot of the river basin. Anything and everything grew in the rich volcanic soil, and it wasn’t long before tea plantations sprung up around the mountains like mushrooms after a spring shower. At an elevation of 768 metres above sea level, Bandung is blessed with a cool highland climate year-round.
True to its namesake, today’s Bandung is a vibrant city blossoming with romance! You can visit live volcanoes with bubbling crater lakes, cascading rice paddies or lush green tea plantations all within two hours’ drive from downtown.