|Garut's Kampung Sumber Alam Hot Spring Resort|
What to do in Garut
Outdoor activities in Garut are huge as there is trekking and hiking available at places like Papandayan Mountain, Haruman Mountain or Guntur Mountain. There is also a historical place of worship called Candi Cangkuang which is an interesting Hindu temple, and also the Kawah Darajat (Darajat Crater), similar to other volcanic craters in the region.
|Batik Garut being made at the Rasya Batik Garutan workshop|
|Nasi Liwet Garut|
They have a massive swimming pool which is using the hot spring water and a hot pool for those wanting the full experience. The overall resort is built with wooden walkways over hot spring ponds and the hot water is pumped directly into these ponds from the highlands of Cipanas. In general, this place is great for a getaway due to the cooling atmosphere from the highlands. Kampung Sumber Alam Garut (http://www.resort-kampungsumberalam.com/en/index.html_) is highly recommended for couples or families who want to try something different out of Bandung.
More information on Garut - http://westjavatourismboard.info/destination/garut/
|The stunning Kampung Naga at Tasikmalaya|
Neighbouring the district of Garut is Tasikmalaya and it is here that you will find one of the most fascinating places to visit called Kampung Naga or Dragon Village. This place reminded me of Shirakawa-Go Village, a UNESCO world heritage site in Japan and the similarities were almost the same. This unique village is about 25 kilometers from Garut and is located in a valley. To get here, you need to walk down over 400 steps into the valley, passing beautiful landscapes, rivers and hill paddy fields. The best part - This entire village totalling 1.5 hectares, runs without electricity, maintaining the old ways of living and is not influenced by modernisation. A total of 300 people live in this village and is truly an amazing place to visit. They also offer homestay experiences for anyone interested.
Kelom Geulis Sagitria Tasikmalaya
Another unique place to visit here is Kelom Geulis Sagitria Tasikmalaya, one of the traditional clogs and wooden sandal maker, which are an important cultural heritage of Indonesia. The shop operates from a house which also doubles as a workshop and gallery showcasing their amazing creations of ladies wooden sandals and shoes. It is truly fascinating to see that every step of the process is handmade but skilled workers and the thing that amazed me was the freehand design carving that was done. Some of the Kelom were also hand painted with traditional motifs and visitors can give it a try when you visit the workshop here.
|Some of the beautiful traditional Kelom Geulis wooden shoes in Tasikmalaya|
It is straight forward that you should buy the traditional West Java Kelom or wooden sandals in Tasikmalaya as they are all hand made and of high quality finishing. Thinking they would be expensive, I was shocked to know that they are really cheap too, and pricing starts anywhere from Rp150,000 per pair. The red wooden sandals in the photo above costs Rp175.000 only. I think they would make a great souvenir for any woman. A tip here is to buy one size larger.
What to do in Tasikmalaya
Generally, Tasikmalaya is a place for a day trip to see the clog maker and visit Kampung Naga, but for those wanting a real unique experience, you can choose to do a homestay at Kampung Naga for a night or two and experience how the locals have been living without electricity for generations.
What to eat in Tasikmalaya
Javanese food is always on top of the menu in West Java therefore, it is highly recommended you try the Nasi Liwet (Liwet Rice) which is of Sunda origins and popular in this region. Most large restaurants (some in the shape of strawberries) serve this traditional dish, and one of the popular places to try this is at Rumah Makan Liwet Pak Asep Stroberi or Nasi Liwet Pak Asep Stroberi along the main road to Garut. (Jalan R Ikik Wiradikarta). This Sundanese style dish is best eaten with the Liwet rice, fried chicken, fried tempeh, salted fish and raw vegetables. While you are at it, ask them if they have the Kopi Luwak or Civet Cat Coffee, if you want to further experience something different.
More information on Tasikmalaya - http://westjavatourismboard.info/destination/tasikmalaya/
|Santirah River Tubing in Pangandaran|
However, for my group, we had the opportunity to experience a new river tubing area at the Santirah River in Pangandaran. This 1.5 kilometer course is quite amazing where you pass a total of four waterfalls and participate in a lot of rock or cliff jumping areas. Truly one with nature, the Santirah River Tubing is one of my best experiences to date with nature. Highly recommended and suitable for all ages. Prices are Rp.175,000 per person and you need a guide to bring you there. The area is about 15 kilometers from Pangandaran in Desa Selasari, Kecamatan Parigi.
What to do in Pangandaran
I will be very honest for the general traveler as the best activity here is the outdoor activities. Apart from that, the beach is quite unique as Pangandaran is surrounded by beaches on both sides of the peninsular, so you have options to choose which beach you want to explore. And for the adventurous traveler, you can also head further west towards Batu Karas area where there is another beautiful beach with restaurants and cafes.
|Mobil Gowes VW in Pangandaran, a great way to see this place|
Biking around Pangandaran - Yes, riding a bicycle around the village area is one of the fun things I did here as it has been a real long time since I did some cycling, therefore I highly recommending the Pangandaran bike tour that takes you through fishing villages, plantations and local villages. Alternatively, for a very interesting time in the evenings around here, you can rent a Mobil Gowes VW, a Volkswagen shaped family bicycle that can seat 4-6 persons for Rp.100,000 an hour. To add on, Surfing in Pangandaran is also a popular activity and you can actually take surfing lessons here, based on season too. Most of the hotels by the sea offer surfing lessons too. For sunset lovers, catch this at Pangandaran Sunset, a dedicated spot for people to see the beautiful sunsets. One of the guides told me that Pangandaran is very magical and special because in one place, you can catch the sunrise in the morning and then sunset in the evening.
What to eat in Pangandaran
Seafood! There are lot of restaurants or eating houses called Rumah Makan or RM around Pangandaran, and one of the recommended areas is Komplek Pasar Ikan Pantai Timur Pangandaran, along Jalan Pantai Timur Road, where you will find over 10 seafood restaurants in one area. The restaurant which I ate at was called Rumah Makan Karya Bahari, and they served a great selection of fresh seafood where you pick what you want and they cook it to your style. You can also order white rice, fried rice and other non seafood dishes here.
|Arwana Hotel and Resort in Pangandaran|
There are quite a number of guesthouses, hotels and resorts around Pangandaran, most of them located near the beaches too. My recommendation is to try Menara Laut Hotel, which is one of the new resorts and The Arnawa Hotel and Resort (http://www.thearnawahotel.com/), which is where I stayed during my visit here. These hotels are very modern and up to standards with the big cities, but don't expect luxury service as they are still within the 2-3 star range. I would say that the service level of the staff was very good.
More information on Pangandaran - http://westjavatourismboard.info/destination/pangandaran/
|The writer, during the river tubing in Santirah|
Main photo by Lakone.
Transport Information for West Java
I spent about five full days moving around West Java to these beautiful locations, and I know that there are many more interesting places worth exploring here therefore, I hope that in the near future, I will have the opportunity to visit these many other places and in return, share them with my readers.