My Spontaneous Weekend Escape to Bandung

When you had to cancel your previous travel plans and spend the days meant for traveling on a hospital bed, recovering from a knee surgery, your wanderlust would most certainly surge up to a certain degree. If after those hospital-bound days you had to spend more days learning how to walk again and achieve quite a recovery only to spend the next two months being trapped in the mundane life of a university student, your wanderlust would get to a point where it becomes unbearable. You just had to do something about it.

This was exactly what happened to me in February. After an entire semester of university, a month of surgery recovery, followed by two more months of studying, I needed an escape and a leap of spontaneity. So when my friends Evita, Sisca, Nico, Gabriel, and Albert told me they were going to Bandung for the weekend of 26-28 February, I couldn’t resist the temptation to go on the trip even though I had already signed up for a youth retreat the previous month. The only thing everyone had was a hotel reservation. We had no itinerary, no idea of how we would get to Bandung, and no idea of how we were to leave Bandung.

What you’re about to read is the story of how I skipped out on a youth retreat and went on one of the best trips I’ve ever been on.

How did you get to Bandung?

We didn’t even know the answer to this question until 6.30 AM on the departure day. The night before the trip, we had a long conversation in our group chat as to how we were to get to Bandung. We thought of taking a train at first, but we had a morning class and there was only one train leaving for Bandung after our class and we couldn’t have made it to the station in time. We thought of hopping on a shuttle bus too but found out that there wasn’t room for six people in the shuttle leaving after class. Our only option was to rent a car.

Through one of my family friends, I got the contact information of Mr. Izzam (+6282218971747) who has a car rental business in Bandung. The following morning at 6 AM, I gave him a call and he told me there was a Toyota Avanza available for the day for IDR750.00 including gas, toll tickets, and parking. My friends agreed that it was a good prize and by 6.40 AM – after paying the IDR300.000 down payment – we finally had a means of transport!

Our driver was a guy called Mr. Asep and he was a fantastic driver. I’d never seen anyone have such composure so as not to speed in Cipularang (the toll road connecting Jakarta to Bandung). He was also highly responsible and professional – returning Nico’s jacket which was left behind in the car, responding quickly to calls, not texting or calling while driving, and being on time at our pickup point.

We were so impressed with Mr. Izzam’s company that we decided to get back to Tangerang by renting one of his company’s cars again – this time a Daihatsu GranMax – for IDR700.000 all in and got the same quality of service we got in our journey to Bandung.

How did you get around Bandung?

We have our Bandung native friend Nico to thank for that. I can’t give enough credit to Nico for showing us his Bandung and driving us around everywhere – even late at night.

Where did you stay in Bandung?

I wasn’t involved at all in the hotel-booking process since I joined this trip exactly the day before the trip itself and my friends had made prior reservations at the hotel.

We stayed at faveHotel Braga which is located inside Braga City Walk. At first I was a bit surprised to find out the hotel lobby is literally inside the mall, meaning you had to walk through eateries and shops to get to the lobby. But once inside, I found the hotel to be quite private and quiet.

Hotel Lobby

Hotel Lobby

In order to get to the rooms area of the hotel, we needed to tap your access card which I found assuring in terms of privacy and security.

We booked two Superior rooms and found out that the hotel had arranged connecting rooms for us. Sisca, Evita, and I shared the room with the queen bed while Albert and Gabriel had the one with twin beds.

The girls' room

Our connecting door

Bathroom

TV

The rooms are quite crammed and we had just enough space to put our bags, but they were clean and that’s really all that mattered. The TV also had plenty of channels, which really came in handy since we had a lot of down time. The view from our room was the thing that gave me something to think about the next day because the moment you look out your window, you would see the slums of Bandung.

view from our room

Our two rooms cost us IDR2.000.000 for two nights including breakfast. Divided by five, it was IDR400.000 per person which was pretty good for Bandung standards. The breakfast was quite a disappointment though because their selections were limited to toast, cereal, porridge and rice.

The biggest shocker about where we stayed was when Nico told us on the second night that Braga is one of Bandung’s red-light districts. None of us had a clue about this when we booked for the hotel. So yeah, instead of going to a youth retreat, I found myself in the middle of a red-light district instead.

What did you do in Bandung?

First and foremost, we ate a lot. Bandung’s culinary scene is filled with plenty of hot spots and we just had to try their street food too. I even made an entire post dedicated to Bandung’s food which you can read here.

pandan wangi

We also went on a late night car ride around the city. The first night of our weekend in Bandung, Nico took us all around the city. We got to see strips of road lined with posh cafes, the hilltop fancy restaurants, the historical buildings, and Ridwan Kamil’s cool parks. Bandung was incredibly alive that Friday night with young people chilling at town squares, parks and cafes. The highlight of that night was definitely encountering this one person dressed as a ghost at one corner of Braga with a money box in front of them so people would pay for selfies with them which led us to freak out in shock inside Nico’s car.

We had honest conversations that lasted until 3 AM and prank wars until 3.30 in the morning. We talked about feelings, the future, the previous semester, and everything else in between – this was the highlight of the trip for me. We chilled at the hotel room, watched cartoons while snacking and cooking shows late at night. We met up with Sisca’s old friends who became our new acquaintances over food and random conversation topics.

We went shopping at Rumah Mode, went through all the clothing racks only to walk out with one clothing item respectively because even one clothing item was already quite pricey.

The most fun we had during our trip was easily our ranch experience at De Ranch Lembang. De Ranch is literally a horse and cattle ranch designed to look like an actual Southern ranch. Here, visitors can ride horses – professionally or amateurishly, zipline, play bumper boats, shoot arrows, dig up coins in a pond, fish, ride bikes and trikes, and eat. The area of the ranch was dominated by grass and dirt paths with several open-walled buildings hosting food stalls and ticket booths. For IDR20.000 you can gain access to De Ranch and get a free glass of fresh milk. However to actually do all the cool stuff, you have to pay more.

dining area

meadow

the view and the lake

the horses

my trip squad

horse carriage

The first thing we did when we got there was ride horses. For some of us, it was their first time on a horse and it was quite funny watching them react to the ride. For IDR25.000, we got one lap on some handsome stallions around the ranch perimeter with a very experienced guide who can tell whether or not you’re comfortable on a horse simply from the way you sit on the saddle while wearing cowboy attire. Considering my previous horse ride, this one was definitely worth the price.

my horse-riding squad

After the horse ride, we decided to ride trikes around a circuit for IDR20.000/hour. Unfortunately, I had to sit this one out because my knee wasn’t up for it yet. Nevertheless, it was fun chasing around my friends for photos, joking around, being loud, and laughing so hard that it hurt.

the track

trike

trike

Finally, we did what we came to the ranch for: learn archery. For IDR20.000, we got 10 arrows to shoot and a crash course on how to shoot them at targets. The bows were definitely not as good as the ones I used in my first time shooting arrows, but the targets were closer and it was in a closed-off space so there was no wind to send your arrows astray. We eventually made a competition out of the whole thing to add to the fun. In the end, Sisca, myself, and Albert came out as the top three and Albert was the only one in the top three to have never shot an arrow before.

Sisca

Albert

me

post-archery 

How much did the trip cost you?

All in all, the trip cost me IDR1.043.200 for three days and two nights. Traveling with five people made for a really good deals in car rents, hotel room fare, and dining. We spent a lot of money on food but divided each tab equally among six people since we shared all our meals and thus, we managed to eat a lot but not go overboard with the spendings.

If you want a full budget breakdown, here’s what it looks like:

  • Car rent (Tangerang-Bandung): IDR750.000/6 = IDR125.000
  • Hotel room fare (faveHotel Braga)  — 2 nights, 2 rooms: IDR2.000.000/5 = IDR400.000
  • Water (refillable at the hotel): IDR6.200
  • Food
    • Pandan Wangi Restaurant = IDR210.000/6 = IDR35.000
    • Mandarin Chinese Food = IDR468.000/6 = IDR78.000
    • Tahu Susu Lembang = IDR30.000/3 = IDR10.000
    • Martabak Pinky Porky = IDR42.000/6 = IDR7.000
    • Bakmi Naripan = IDR40.000
  • De Ranch Lembang fees
    • Parking = IDR10.000
    • Entrance = IDR10.000
    • Horse-riding = IDR25.000
    • Archery = IDR20.000
  • Car rent (Bandung – Tangerang) = IDR700.000/6 = IDR117.000
  • Shopping = IDR160.000

How did you feel after the trip?

Honestly, it was the best trip I’ve ever been on.

We had no plans whatsoever, no pre-trip research in whatever form. We just trusted Nico and did extra research – especially in terms of how much something costs – as we went along. The trip was spontaneity at its finest and it was exactly what I needed after the previous couple of months.

What made the trip even more awesome were the people I went on it with. My Bandung trip squad had different ideas on what we considered fun. But somehow, we made the trip work. We figured out a way to make sure everyone had fun during the trip. We were also united over our shared love of food and distaste for the clubbing, bar-hopping lifestyle. What’s crazy was that I wasn’t even that close with these people before the trip and I wasn’t part of their trip plans until the day before. I can’t thank Evita, Sisca, Gabriel, Nico, and Albert enough for letting me tag along with them spontaneously on the trip they had talked about for an entire semester. Until now, I still can’t get over our late night drive around the city and conversations that lasted until past midnight.

The most important thing this trip taught me is this: all it takes to feel alive is to do the right things at the right place with the right people. And a little extra spontaneity should always be welcome every now and then.

Trip squad

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