Guide to Factory Outlets in Bandung

Bandung is well known for its numerous factory outlets that is spread throughout its city. Every weekend and holidays, you can see many Indonesians flocking to Bandung for shopping and to unwind. From Jakarta, you can fly to Bandung by air, take a train ride from Gambir station or alternatively drive or hire a vehicle take will pass through the toll highway, reaching Bandung in approximately 3 hours.

There are many factory outlets located in different areas in the city. So where should you go? If you are new to Bandung, these are my personal recommendations. The first place that you can go is Rumah Mode. It is a very popular and well known factory outlet in Bandung. I liked it because it has a nice ambiance. The entire place looks like a Balinese and Java style village. Even if you do not like shopping for clothes, you can still sit in the cafe and relax – while your wife or girlfriend does her shopping. There are a wide selection of international branded clothes on sale. It seems that the ladies department is the largest. There are of course gents and kids department as well.

As I was there on Sunday, it was packed with shoppers. I saw more local Indonesians than tourists and definitely it is a ladies paradise. Merchandise is well stocked and neatly placed in bins or racks. The floor area is well organized and clean. There were sufficient staff to assist you if you need help. As for the food outlets, I took my dinner at the cafe. The place looks rather dim (perhaps it was in the night and there were candlelights) and warm lights on the ceiling. It is a cosy cafe, with warm wood decor and a fountain and pond filled with koi fishes.

When you are done shopping at Rumah Mode and still have the energy to visit more factory outlets, there are more outlets to visit. Just walked out of Rumah Mode and and you can see the main street. On the main street, turn LEFT and keep walking. In less than 3 minutes, you can see a factory outlet called Mode Plus. If you keep walking straight, there is another outlet called Natural Factory Outlet. Keep walking straight for a few minutes, you can see House of Donatello. Now the House of Donatello is an outlet that sells shoes and handbags. It is filled with so many shoes and leather wallets and bags that you are literally filled with unlimited choices. I must say some of designs are really good. Do make a point to visit this outlet as well. All these outlets are situated very close to Rumah Mode. By the way, Rumah Mode is located at 41 Jl. Dr. Setiabudhi.

Another location which I liked to introduce is Jl. Cihampelas. This place is also known as “Jean Street”. It is a stretch of narrow road that are filled with factory outlets. If you asked a taxi driver to take you to Jl. Cihmapelas and he asked you where you would liked to alight, you can tell him at Premier Plaza or Rambo. What Rambo you may asked? Once you reached the destination, you can see a huge replica of Rambo – you can’t missed it. It is in fact a factory outlet store and just directly opposite this store is Premier Plaza and Aston Tropicana Hotel. The Aston hotel is beautiful and comfortable hotel. I will try it out ( stay at the hotel) and write a review the next time I visit Bandung. Premier Plaza which is next to Aston Hotel has Giant Supermarket as the anchor tenant. There are also food outlets that you can sit and have your lunch or drinks after shopping.Jl. Cihampelas is a long and narrow road. It is always congested with heavy traffic. So if you want to cross the road, the only way is to open your eyes and dash across. You could put up your hand to signal ‘Stop’ while crossing the road and most vehicles will slow down for you. There are so many outlets selling clothes, bags and accessories that surely you can find something that you fancy. I bought a couple of T-shirts for less than US$5/- each. Each outlet has it own design and layout which makes shopping for fun. Jl. Cihampelas is a good choice for shopping if you can withstand the narrow, polluted and congested road. If you have the patience and can take some heat – you will like it here.

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Sundanese Food – Warung Cepot Restaurant in Bandung

I was in my final evening in Bandung before returning to Jakarta the next morning. I wanted to find a small authentic Indonesian restaurant where I can have my dinner. I walked out from my hotel and strolled on the streets, looking at the shops and eateries. Nothing special caught my eyes till I saw a billboard on the pavement.

The word Warung Cepot caught my eyes. It wasn’t just a billboard, in fact there were couple of them promoting this place. I looked at the exterior of the restaurant. It was a small wooden house with attap (covered with coconut leaves) roof. As you approached the entrance of the restaurant, you can see a cepot (puppet) like figurine that resembled a chef. Small fountains and wooden carvings will greet you as you enter the restaurant.

The interior of Warung Cepot is totally made of wood, brick and stones. Even the tables and chairs are made of traditional hard wood. It has the feel of an authentic Indonesian restaurant. The waiters’ uniform is that of a traditional Javanese costume. On display are cepots ( puppet) that are traditional Javanese; displayed with a backdrop of a beautiful batik cloth.

The food that is offered here is Sudanese food. By the way, Sunda is an ethnic group in Java. It is in fact the second largest ethnic group in Indonesia. If you are not sure what to order, you could looked at the menu or asked the waiter for a recommendation. However, take note that the waiters there do not speak good English.

I decided to order the followings: – Nasi Cepot, Tahu Korowot, Nasi Sangrai, Ice Cincau Hijau ( a sweet cold beverage) and Jus Alpukat (Avocado Juice). There are so many variety of food in the menu, which I love to try but I am not a big eater. The waiter gave us complimentary Indonesian crackers and tea to start off our dinner. The cracker is dry and crispy and if you liked to have more, just take more, it is on the table. The warm tea is light and warm, just similar to Jasmine tea. If you enjoy eating the crackers, you can order some as takeaways.

When the food arrived, it came in quite a generous portion. I loved the fried rice that was served together with eggs, vegetables and crackers. But the real highlight of the evening was the Tahu Korowot. It is basically bean cake that is stuffed with many delicious fillings. It is crispy (deep fried) on the exterior but soft and warm inside. You can taste the yam, mushrooms, prawns and vegetables – it is simply delicious. Dip it on the chilli sauce and it taste even more heavenly. Sundanese food unique feature is the use of spices and chilli or chilli sauces. However, don’t have idea that the food is hot and spicy, it is not. If you loved coffee, try some authentic Javanese coffee. It is not the same Java coffee that you get from Starbucks or Coffee Bean. It is THE original Javanese coffee.

It was an enjoyable dinner and I loved to come back to this restaurant if I am in Bandung again. The location of this restaurant is at 96, Jl. Pasir Kaliki, Bandung.

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Train Trip from Bandung to Jakarta

Most people who are going to Bandung and back to Jakarta would normally travel by road. It is after all very convenient ever since the toll highways were opened; cutting down the traveling time. Bandung can also be accessible by train from Jakarta from the Jakarta Gambir train station.

I took a train back from Bandung to Jakarta Gambir Station in order to try out this service. I must say that I did find it enjoyable and without much hassle. The train service is run by P.T. Kereta Api (Persero) and the train station in Bandung is located at lcoated at No. 1 Jl. Stasiun Selatan, Bandung. It is near to Mutiara Hotel, approximately 10 minutes walking distance. However if you are staying in other hotels in Bandung, just tell the taxi driver to send you to the train station. Just tell them – Kereta Api station – they will get it.

I bought my train ticket from the adjacent building from the train station. It is a low green color building and near the main entrance of the door, you can see the words – Pusat Reservasi Tiket. Just go in and proceed to the counter. Tell the counter staff that you wished to buy a train ticket to Jakarta. I bought the Executif ( Executive ) class ticket. It is slightly more expensive, but there is air-conditioned and better seats. There are a number of departure times for you to choose, and the journey to Jakarta will take about 3 hours. Remember to book your train ticket in advance, so that you can be assured of a confirmed booking.

The train station is a huge compound with a big car park space in front. It is a dull low rise building. Just walked in, avoid the touts and give your train ticket to the staff near the entrance and just proceed to walk into the gate. After getting in, find a empty bench where you can sit and relax. If you are hungry, there are a number of food outlets that sell food and drinks. And remember to check in at least one hour before the train departure time. If you are staying far away from the train station, do make allowances for traffic congestion on the road. The train does not wait for you if you are late.

There are quite a number of kiosk selling magazines and newspaper too. So if you want something to read while traveling, there are a wide selection of materials for you to choose. The name of the train that I took was called – Argo Gede. If you are not sure of which platform to go for boarding, you can ask the staff or just show them the ticket. The boarding platform is opposite the waiting area where you are resting /seating on the bench. It means that you need to walk across the railway track to the boarding platform.When the train arrived and ready for boarding. Just present your ticket to the staff, and walked towards your appropriate cabin and seat number. The coach & seat number are also indicated in your ticket. Put your luggage on the luggage compartment on top, take your seat and just enjoy the ride. Do not lost your ticket, as you will be asked to present your ticket to the staff for checking when the train moves off from the Bandung train station.

You will also be served with a complimentary light refreshment consisting of a small cup of mineral water and 2 pastries. However if you are hungry, just wait a while. The staff will come into the cabin with trays of food – fried rice, noodles, fish and chips, etc. Just take what you want, the train’s staff will come back later to settle the bill with you. At that time, I had already bought donuts from the Dunkin Donuts outlet at the train station and a bottle of mineral water. So there was more than enough food for me.

The real joy of the train journey was getting to view the objects and landscape throughout the 3 hours journey. You will get to see slums, thick vegetations, hills, rice plantations, tall buildings, roads, etc. There is beauty and ugliness, light and darkness ( when it is in the tunnel) and there are moments of serene peace and chaotic disorder. In other words, a world of contrast will unfold before your eyes in this train journey. Which is why it was a memorable trip for me and I really would loved to take the train again.

The train stopped at a few stations before finally arriving at the final Gambir train station in Jakarta. So remember not to alight at the wrong station. One important clue I can give to identify is that the Gambir train is on elevated ground and it is also the final station. So if you see the train moving up on an elevated track and slowly coming to a halt, you should be near Gambir station. However if you are not sure, just ask the local people sitting around you or the staff.

After alighting from the train, make sure that you have taken all your belongings and walked towards the escalator that is going down. Walked out of the entrance and you will see lots of people and strangers shouting at you – “taxi, taxi”. You can choose to ignore them and head straight to the taxi stand. Get a ticket from the staff, pay a nominal service fee and she will show you the taxi. Remember that there is a minimum charge of RP20,000 if even if the destination is nearby. However, when the meter shows an amount above the minimum charge, the meter rate will apply.
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Mutiara Hotel – Bandung, Indonesia.

On my visit to Bandung, my initial plan was to book a service apartment but unfortunately it was fully booked. My next option was to book Mutiara Hotel. The reason was that since I was planning to take a train back from Bandung to Jakarta, Mutiara Hotel will provide me with an easy access to Bandung train station. It is after all the nearest hotel to the train station.

Mutiara Hotel is located at 60 Jln Kebon Kawang, Bandung 40171. When the taxi that I took finally arrived at the hotel, my first impression was that it must be quite a old hotel. The check in lobby seems to be small, spartan and simple. However, check in was quick and a staff showed me to my room. You need to walk out of the hotel lobby through a small exit to the car park and walked across the next building. The hotel buildings is an unassuming 3 storey like houses that are connected to one another by corridors.

When I finally opened the door to my bedroom, it seems small, even though I have booked an Executive Room. I asked the staff whether is this an Executive Room, he confirmed it. It was on the third floor with a view of the swimming pool. The room is simple and small, and the bathroom seems to be worn out after years of usage. On the positive side, there is a mini bar and a small fridge where you can put your cold drinks and fruits. The TV had multi channels where you can watched programs from different countries. Also, there is a lift that goes from the first floor to the third floor – where I am staying. The common corridor that connects the rooms is an open space walkways.

Mutiara hotel has a certain characteristic that makes it unique. The building looks old and colonial. The best aspect of it is that there are lots of greenery around. You can see trees and plants everywhere. That is something that is very pleasing. Near the pool, there is a mini garden – with a mini fountain and Koi fishes. The environment is slow and relaxing – after all, that is what vacation is all about.

The railway station is nearby to this hotel. If you walk, you can reached the train station by approximately 10 minutes. If you are just outside the hotel lobby facing the main road, there is only 2 ways to walk – right or left. Just turn left and keep walking. However, just remember that the railway station is opposite the road. It is a small building. While walking, looked out for vehicles, as the traffic is heavy and there is hardly any pavement at all.

Morning breakfast is served at the Tiara restaurant on the ground floor. Breakfast is basic but sufficient. If you are looking for a sumptuous spread, then you will be disappointed. From this restaurant, you can have a good view of the swimming pool. The pool is small in size – it is good for a quick dip. But I do liked the greenery surrounding the restaurant and the pool. The whole place is cosy and relaxing.

On the whole, the hotel do need to renovate its rooms. And the Executive room that I have booked seems to be of similar size with that of the standard room. I think there should be a difference – in terms of size of the room, the facilities in the room and of course a good view. That is the reason why people are paying more for a better room. Other that this, Mutiara hotel is a nice place to stay. There are a few factory outlets and restaurants that are close to this hotel. And if you explore the surroundings further, you can even find a beautiful church that is about 15 minutes walk from this hotel.

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