Jun 28, 2016
Visiting the White Crater (Kawa Putih) of Bandung
GPS waypoint: 7°09'58.3"S 107°24'07.5"E
Location: Bandung, Indonesia
Bandung is Indonesia's third largest city with an elevation of 768 masl (meters above sea level). It enjoys a cool climate but plagued by crippling traffic like most of Indonesia. It's on the tourist map for its two volcanoes - Kawa Putih (White Crater) and Tangkuban Perahu. From Bogor where I was, Bandung was along the way towards my Eastbound direction in exploring Java so it easily became my next destination. Upon arriving, first stop was Kawa Putih.
Kawa Putih or White Crater, is a volcanic crater with an elevation of 2,430 meters up, about 50 kms south of Bandung. The crater lake has a surreal milky white/green hue with sulfuric vents coming out of one side. A prolonged stay could be nauseating. It's last known eruption was stil in the 1600s. You actually go down the rim of the crater until you come into the crater lake. The crater sits in the middle of a thick forest with hiking trails. It's a spectacle, but after having seen it, there's nothing else to do. Admission: IDR 50k park entrance, IDR 15k shuttle (return)
mangrove-like trees along the 'shores' of Kawa Putih
Of the 2 volcanoes, this is hands-down, the more popular one. Alas, it's also the most expensive bordering on ambush-pricing - it felt like a gang-bang by everyone who is connected to the tourism of Tangkuban Perahu.
From as far away as Ledeng Bus Terminal in Ledeng, touts already get a sense if you're going to Tangkuban Perahu. I was offered a charter deal at a jaw-dropping IDR 200,000! I walked away. Not trusting anyone, I asked a guy in uniform, "Saya Ingin Tangkuban Perahu" (I want to go to Tangkuban Perahu). He was kind enough to talk to a few people who in turn took me to an angkot (mini bus) for only IDR 20k (40 mins).
Alighting at the park entrance, I was greeted by another transport tout offering to take me inside the park grounds to the crater, just 4kms away, for IDR 75k! After so much haggling, it went down to IDR 25k with me alone.
However, at the gate, the park staff wanted another IDR 200k! I tried to explain to them that what I would do increases tourism for the area so a compli-admission isn't asking too much. They wouldn't budge. I asked to talk to the manager, but was told he wasn't around and that I should pay. I was thinking, "Is this volcano worth blowing my budget? I'd rather use the money for a flight out of Bandung!". Not finding a way around this, I turned back and headed back to my hostel, frustrated as it wasn't easy getting there....long wait for the angkot to fill up, cramped angkot condition, traffic jam, etc. All of that aggravation for nothing?
It turns out, I made the right choice. A day later, I met a couple who went through the same ordeal but paid their way through. He said that at the crater, the 2 other craters were closed and they could only see one more - and of course, they is this guy offering the ride for another IDR 300k! They still took it. Upon arival, they were inundated by vendors telling them their life misfortunes so they would buy their wares. At the end, the lady said Tangkuban Perahu was the single most expensive tour they had. I'm just glad I cut my losses before a hemorrhage.
Throwing-in the White Towel
After that frustrating stint at Tangkuban Perahu, I was ready to throw-in the white towel on Bandung. Bandung itself has nothing much to offer. There were some suggested animated streets for trendy restaurants and cafe, but the sheer thought of inching through traffic and the series of angkot transfers, long wait, circuitous routes...a lot of time would have been wasted...and you'd be too travel-fatigued to enjoy the place.
I wasn't also enjoying where I was - the place was too isolated. It was just me and Pandu, the staff - no backpacker community for me to interact with. There was no wifi, no wash basin, no decent working table and not even coffee. In fairness though, it was clean and cheap - IDR 85k/night.
Aborting the Road Trip
My original itinerary after Bandung was Yogyakarta. But it's Ramadan season. All trains are already full. The buses are more expensive but because everyone is going back to their hometowns, traffic will even be worse! It might take a record 20 hours by bus from Bandung to Yogyakarta! It was a deal breaker. I would have wanted to see Yogyakarta and the temples of Borobudur and continue heading all the way east to Kawah Ijen to witness the spectacular blue flame and blue lava from a volcanic crater. That will have to be for 'next time'.
I will have to say Bandung was a disappointment. No wonder it's not a well-traveled destination. In fairness though, the couple I met insist they had a great time in Bandung but they had local friends who took them around.
Where to go next? I thought I would have to visit Bali for 'next time' given my travel plans on east Java. But with this change, Bali is now next, specially with Skyscanner giving a great flight deal at ~US$40. Finally, after having read and heard so much about Bali, I can now find out for myself if the hype is real.
Kawa Putih - aka White Crater, volcano 50 kms south of Bandung with milky greenish white sulfuric waters in its crater lake
Tangkuban Perahu - very active volcano with 2015 eruption, 30 kms north of Bandung (expensive!)
Jalan Sumatera - lively street with trendy restaurants and cafe
Jalan Progo - lively street with trendy restaurants and cafe
Trans Studio Bandung - indoor theme park for the entire family - rides, theater, play area, etc.
Jalan Braga - trendy cafes, boutiques, restaurants...a famous 1920s street for a jalan-jalan (walking around)
Patenggang Lake - 47 kms southwest of Bandung with an elevation of 1600 meters above sea level
- bus terminal
- Terminal Leuwi Panjang - terminal for buses coming from Bogor
Situsaeur, Bojongloa Kidul, Bandung City, West Java, Indonesia
backpacker places (US$1 = Indonesian Rupiah IDR 13,265 = Philippines Php 46.51 as of June 24, 2016)
- A First-timer in Jakarta June 23-25, 2016
- Visiting the White Crater (Kawa Putih) of Bandung Jun 28, 2016
- Exploring Bogor, Indonesia Jun 25-27, 2016
- 21 Days of Abundance, Yoga and Friendship in Ubud June 30-July 21, 2016
- Hatha Yoga with Andrea Paige at The Yoga Barn July 21, 2016
- Roll and Release by Rusty Davis at Radiantly Alive Yoga Studio July 20, 2016
- Kundalini Yoga with Ketut Bandiastra at Taman Hati Yoga Ashram July 20, 2016
- Kundalini Meditative Movement with Sandeh at White Lotus Meditation Center July 19, 2016
- Andrea Paige - Health Crusader and Yogini July 18, 2016
- Power Yoga with Ni Made Murni at The Yoga Barn July 18, 2016
- Vinyasa Yoga with Daniel Aaron at Radiantly Alive Yoga Studio July 17, 2016
- Mass Cremation (Ngaben) in Ubud with Louisa July 16, 2016
- Mysore Ashtanga with Laruga at Ubud Yoga Center July 15, 2016
- Kalimasada at Yayasan Segara Giri July 14, 2016
- Hiking Campuhan Ridge July 14, 2016
- Vinyasa Flow with Nina at Intuitive Flow Yoga Studio July 14, 2016
- Laughter Yoga with Kadek Suambara at Ambar Ashram July 12, 2016
- Dance til you Drop at Bollywood Night with Punnu Wasu July 11, 2016
- Mayan Calendar Readings by Vasumi July 10, 2016
- Yoga Pranala with Chiara at Intuitive Flow Yoga Studio July 10, 2016
- Visiting the Elephant Cave (Goa Gajah) July 9, 2016
- Pranawayu Yoga with I Ketut Bandiastra, S. Ag at Taman Hati Yoga Ashram July 7, 2016
- Astrology Talk at The Yoga Barn July 6, 2016
- Yoga with Sasha Lang at the Ubud Yoga House July 6, 2016
- Ananda Mandala Meditation by Punnu Wasu at The Yoga Barn Jul 4/5, 2016
- The Wild Monkeys of the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary July 7, 2016
- 1.5 liter drinking water
- starting price for an angkot ride (mini bus)
- dorm bed in a hostel
- entrance for Tangkuban Perahu
- entrance + shuttle ride for Kawa Putih
- coffee in a cafe
- street food meal
- standard meal in a warket/warung (slightly higher than street level)
- there doesn't seem to be a tourist area where backpackers hang-out. Other sites suggest to book your hostel as far from the city center as possible to avoid the mayhem, but in my experience, it could be lonely to find yourself in an isolated hostel with no one to talk to. My suggestion is to book a hostel near an animated street like Jalan Sumatera, Jalan Progo or Jalan Braga
- know beforehand what angkot you'll need to board, in what direction and how much you have to pay. Your guesthouse staff can help you. Prepare for exact change and pay only when you alight. Don't ask the driver 'how much?'
- Bandung has a cool mountain climate. It can get cold at nights
- in Kawa Putih, beware of fruit vendors selling strawberries or blackerries nicely packed in molded see-thru plastic containers. They show you a container with 2 layers but could swap it with another container with a fake lower layer (happened to me). One container of blackberry is IDR 7k.
- go inside the Leow Panjang bus terminal and take an angkot (mini bus) bound for Ciwidey. Ask a guard or vendor (don't ask the touts) saying, "saya ingin Ciwidey" (I want to go to Ciwidey [pronounced chew-wi-day]). There is usually a sign on the angkot but it's not necessarily color-coded. IDR 15k (give exact change upon alighting), 1.5 hours (10:35am to 12:00noon, my trip)
- from Ciwidey, take an angkot for Kawa Putih. Ask a guard or vendor (don't ask the touts) saying, "saya ingin Kawa Putih" (I want to go to Kawa Putih). It's usually yellow but may not have the "Kawa Putih" sign, IDR 10k (give exact change), 30 mins. The driver may drop you off at the main town but make sure he goes on and drops you off where you see thissign. You are now at the park entrance.
- go inside the park and pay IDR 50,000 entrance fee and IDR 15,000 shuttle fee (return). The shuttle leaves when there are 11 passengers. Ride the shuttle all the way up to the crater, 5 kms, 10 mins.
- from Leow Panjang bus terminal, take the green angkot to Ledeng (small city north of Bandung, IDR 8k)
- at Ledeng ask a uniformed man what angkot to take. The angkot has no destination name tag. You can say, "Saya ingin Tangkuban Perahu" - I am going to Tangkuban Perahu. He will guide you accordingly (IDR 20k, 40 mins). Don't ask the touts...they will offer you a charter for IDR 200k.
- get off at the junction for Tangkuban Perahu. From there, you will have to hire a private service van (IDR 25k one-way). He will offer the service for 75k but can lower down to IDR 25k even if you are alone.
- a few meters up, you pass the park gate and pay the entrance fee of IDR 200k for foreigner
- Kawa Putih - rain-fed volcanic crater with a milky light green hue on its sulfuric water
- Tangkuban Perahu - more expensive than Kawa Putih, multiple craters on this volcano complex
- Jakarta - big city, capital of Indonesia
- Bogor - 80 hectare botanical garden, cool climate
- Bandung - visit 2 volcanoes, Tangkuban Perahu and Kawah Putih
- Tangkuban Perahu - volcano 30 kms north of Bandung
- Kawah Putih - white crater lake, 50 kms south of Bandung
- Ujung Genteng - beach, surfing
- Pangandaran - beach and surfing
- Yogyakarta - palace complex of the Sultan of Yogyakarta, Borobudur Temple
- Malang - 2nd biggest city of Indonesia, cool climate, colonial architecture, grand mansions, volcanoes
- Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park - national park, 2 active volcanoes
- Kawah Ijen - expansive volcano system, night time blue flame
Jun 28, 2016
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