A nomad has arrived in Bandung after an 8 hour train ride from Jogja with fantastic views of the west Java landscapes. Bandung is the country's third largest city and its' urban area has over 7 million people. Having a cooler climate and a natural defense system the colonial administration of the Dutch East Indies once considered it as an alternative capital to Batavia (now: Jakarta). It was developed by city planners into what was known as the Paris of Java. But that's a faded memory of a bygone era. During the Indonesian national revolution much of the city perished.
An old hotel survived all attacks of revolution and modernization. The fully renovated Savoy Homann is a beautiful example of late colonial architecture and is conveniently located in downtown Bandung. I took a cab from the airport and book a room at an affordable 'Harga Ramadan'. Luckily the hotel wasnt fully booked. Most of the guests were Muslims returning home for 'Lebaran'. The rooms are modern, the room service quick and just after sunset I enjoyed a refreshing dive in the fairly large open air pool. Later that night I left the hotel, grabbed a snack with the hawkers across the street and strolled around the quiet and safe city center.
Dont forget to ask for the English language Hotel Savoy booklet. The English is pretty poor, but it has some nice information about the hotels long history. Reading it at breakfast it made me wonder if I might be sleeping in the room Charlie Chaplin once occupied. The highly recommendable breakfast here serves both brown bread and cheese, as well as 'Bubur Ketan Hitam' and 'Pisang Goreng'. And much more.
The hotels location makes it easy to take strolls around the city. Its been a while that this city was called the Paris of Java. Nonetheless there are some prime preserved specimen of old colonial 'art deco' architecture. So perhaps not a lively metropolis like Jakarta or even Jogjakarta, wandering through town and not being hasseled by tourist hawkers gives this place a definite edge to the trappings of Indonesias top tourist destination: Bali.
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