A week passed and I made peace with the bathroom and even with the angkots. Apparently there’s some kind of system in place for those random public transport minibuses (RUTE ANGKOT). The experience of the place is being grossly slowed down by the torrential rain every day but we’re still going on discovering.
When I was told we’ll go to a hot spring, I imagined swimming in a small natural hot water pool with a view on the mountain. What actually happens is that a little geyser springs out of the ground and instantaneously lots of people will come, build a big luxury resort around it and set an entrance fee and working hours. Luckily most hot springs “work” 24 hours a day so you can go at 2am, when it’s a bit less crowded. I’m not allowed to post most of the photos from that night due to their high levels of gayness, but here’s just a bit:
Another thing to do while in Indonesia is, of course, to have a massage. We went to ZEN Family Reflexology, which is one of the best in town and it was the best 10 euros ever spent. Truly great service and a very good masseuse. Plus, they have showers with hot water and you can’t miss out on such luxury in Bandung. One and a half hours of relaxation starting with my feet being washed in water with aromatic salts and lime, all the way to head massage and ginseng tea. I went most of all to get rid of the traffic noise from the city but that was too much to ask. The melodious ambient music was thoroughly mixed with the roaring of the scooter engines.
I really needed a relaxing massage after having spent a few hours in Pasar Baru, the main traditional market of bdg. Like in many developing cities, this market unfolds itself like some skin infection on the streets of the city, blocking the traffic and arresting people’s movement, creating a perfect environment for small and big crime the like. A big, unplanned, uncontrolled region of the city where the market demand and supply dictate the rules. Pasar Baru is a market of non-food stuff and it spreads on both sides of a road and the many adjacent buildings. You can find almost anything here, especially in terms of textiles. Vibrant, fun, cheap, dangerous and with a big food court, Pasar Baru is definitely a place to see.
After Pasar Baru, I got a headache. It was because I found my bag unzipped a few times, closely averting a theft, while my friend had to politely ask for his camera back from the guy near him. But also it was because of the money changing policy. Even in Moldova someone has finally broken through the mafia and the law of accepting any bill is in order. In Indonesia they would not change my money because of a small rip, a duck tape strip or even because the banknote was folded in two in the wallet. That made me mad, but I what can I do, it’s not my fight… or as our Indonesia friends say, it’s a free country!
I also went to a local club, Amnesia, apparently one of the best here. This made me quite sad, because it wasn’t really very good. You could comfortably teleport from Amnesia, Bandung to Shocking, Milan or to Drive, Chisinau without noticing the difference. The tendency for luxury is exposed in a way that might come across as a bit ridiculous. Girls need to wear high heels to get in for free, guys need to wear shirts and also buy a pack of cigarettes instead of a ticket to enter, the interior is all about exclusive seating places. The big room is dominated by a catwalk on which you’ll see a quisi-artsie fashion performance with lesbian symbolism in the end to leave the obviously novice audience in awe. What stroke me was: it seemed that there was a competition for who has the shortest dress, nothing else in terms of style being of any importance. The music was not worthy of mentioning and the DJ’s only task was to turn on the radio and add as many beats as to make the Chivas Regal drinking audience jump on the catwalk.
I don’t mind this kind of kitsch places, they’re everywhere and many people have a good time there. But I wonder whether there is any choice at all in Bandung for other type of places. I’m not even saying the word “underground” for fear of being exaggerated, but it seems that people want to run away as fast as they can from their culture to the one “western culture”, thoroughly vilified on this blog and within my circles of friends.