Archive for March, 2009

bandung shopping expedition (part 1)

This was originally set to be only one entry. However, I have a lot to say on this topic plus some nice pictures also so it’s going to be split up into two entries. Stay tuned!

Living in Jakarta provides us with the best of all possible worlds shopping-wise. Jakarta has a huge range of shopping malls from the cheapest wholesale markets ranging to the most expensive overseas branded mall. Within an hour’s driving distance from each other you can visit ITC Mangga Dua (I’m really shocked to discover this place has a website!) and Senayan City (or Senci for us locals). With the difference in ambience, crowd levels and shopping variety, you also get a huge difference in prices. There’s something for everyone in this overflowing cosmopolitan city, with lots of other malls filling in the gaps between these two extremes. But this entry is not about shopping in Jakarta but actually about shopping in Bandung (don’t worry, there will be more to come on shopping in Jakarta!)

No matter how great the shopping in Jakarta is, sometimes you just need to get away and experience something new. Explore new frontiers and come back with some unusual finds. Thus, we set out to visit Bandung which is a city just 180km and two hours (by car) from Jakarta. Bandung is a fascinating city which is also the capital of West Java province. Bandung is a valley city nestled in between mountains. One of the best things about Bandung is that the weather is far cooler than Jakarta — the city is at an altitude of 768m. On average it feels as though the temperature is around 3-5 degrees cooler at least. The Dutch called it Parijs van Java (the Paris of Java). The city once enjoyed the status of being an exclusive European-style getaway. Today it remains a favorite for Jakartans’ weekend getaways. Any trip to Bandung on a weekend will surely be met with a traffic gridlock, which is why we headed there on Tuesday giving us nice, empty roads both on the way to the city and in the city as well. Note: it is probably not advisable to visit the city on weekends, as the roads are narrow and you will have a really difficult time getting around due to the extreme traffic levels.

There are a great many things that can be enjoyed in Bandung — from eating, to sightseeing to shopping and more! But if I go into all these things, my shopping entry will never finish. You can refer to this great travel guide on wiki travel for more information. On the city outskirts, you can visit the nearby volcano and hot springs, the tea plantations, and so on. Personally, I still have yet to make these side excursions though I do intend to do so sometime in the future.

This brings me to the most important point about Bandung — the city is simply overflowing with factory outlets. These are stores that carry factory rejects and surplus inventory that were not shipped to foreign buyers for various reasons. Prices are extremely low and quality is fairly good (though you must be sure to check items over properly before buying). Nowadays, many of the factory outlets have begun carrying their own brands alongside the foreign selection which increases the variety no end. There are never-ending streets of factory outlets as you drive around the city. So without further ado, I present to you (a very non-exhaustive) introduction to this area.

We set out from home early in the morning (around 830AM) and since it was a weekday, we reached Bandung within only two hours! The drive to Bandung is quite scenic, passing through rice paddies, tea plantations and a lot of open green farming land.

Rumah Mode

Upon entering the city, our first stop was Rumah Mode, which we visited for the first time on the recommendation of a friend. This outlet is a little bit out of the way but definitely worth a visit. Their collection is very unusual compared to the other outlets! They also have their own brand selling in the store — of which some items are quite nice. I picked up a really nice grey sequined babydoll type top from here as well as a basic red Banana Republic Tee — both only at RP69900 (US$7)! From outside the outlet looks small and obscure, but upon entering you will realize it is actually rather big. It is built in a “house” style with two main cottages — one with the food and one with the shopping. There is also a rather nice pond outside and lots of sitting area for bored husbands, brothers and fathers. They have a selection of clothing for men, women and children so there is something for everyone inside as well.

In addition to the main shopping outlet, there are some nice food places outside to enjoy lunch at. After we were done with our shopping, we headed outside to eat at Java Beans, which is a local coffee place (I think). We chose this one based mostly on the fact that they had the best sitting area! I had a delicious cafe mocha. The drinks were absolutely amazing — the others had really great iced drinks as well from there. However the food left a bit to be desired - we ordered a pizza and a tuna spaghetti - and the flavors of both were slightly off. I would suggest going just for the coffee and having your meal from the Indonesian restaurant that is also in the same compound (the nasi goreng - fried rice - was amazing!)

Rumah Mode

Rumah Mode also has other great food available including crepes, gelato, as well as a lovely Eaton bakery. Eaton is a local bakery that carries absolutely delicious cakes and breads. Absolutely not to be missed! My favorite is the yam cake which has layers of butter cake separated by yam cream and a fairly thick layer of yam paste in the middle. There is also a stall selling batagor (a fried fish ball local Bandung specialty). I’m personally not really a fan, but it’s probably worth a try if you’re there and have never eaten it before!

After eating we wandered around for a while to take photos with the lovely decor. There are some really nice statues around, plus the ambience is amazing. The restaurants all serve their food in the open air. Which sounds really horrible but was actually quite nice because the weather was quite cool and the city is far less polluted than Jakarta (that doesn’t mean that it’s not polluted at all though). If you’re exhausted after all the shopping, you can also easily visit the reflexology place at the back. Or you can be like us - eat quickly and then set out again for the next part of your shopping mission!

Next, we headed to the more “populated” factory outlet areas for more serious shopping. Read all about it in the next entry. Also coming up will be the addresses and overall ratings of all these great outlets.

(Rumah Mode is located at Jl. Setiabudhi 41 Bandung; tel: +6221 203 5498)

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