The hilly town of Bandung, not more than 3 hours away from the hustle and bustle of Jakarta, is a popular weekend getaway for city dwellers looking for a breath of fresh air and clean, uncluttered scenery. Unfortunately, this town has lost most of its old world charm and village life beauty thanks to the ever present development toiling away in all parts of town. Come during the weekend and you’ll find yourself jostling and queuing for space along with other tourists local and international. I was certainly glad I came during a non-holiday weekday, and even then it was still crowded!
My personal highlight of the trip however, was not the town of Bandung itself, but of a nearby mountain side area called Ciater, near Mount Tangkuban Perahu. We arrived in the darkness of night, but braved the chilly mountain breeze to wade in the natural thermal hot-pools that they have in Sari Ater.
First impression? Fear. Java is a place filled with spirituality and magic, where old tales of witches and ghosts are traded daily. The hot-pools resort is open late, but unfortunately we seemed like the only people present there. The resort looked like a ghost town, there wasn’t even any sign of the staff!
Once I got through that however, I was impressed with the park and the natural setting of their hot pools. A slight confusion came over us, as we weren’t quite sure if these natural spa are meant for display or for us to dip into. There was really nobody else but us! There was a small pool right by a large waterfall that’s totally enclosed in steam. We weren’t sure how deep, nor how hot it was. We’re not even sure if there are fishes or other animals there.
So instead, we went back further up and waded into a different pool. The water was hot, the smell was definitely thermal (reminded me of Rotorua) and the minerals salty. As we we sat in the shallow pool streams of water fell upon our backs, giving a sort of therapeutical massage to our aching body. A great way to end a tiring day of driving and exploration, and an experience I would very much recommend!