23 September 2011

Bandung (Day 1)

Trying to catch up on some past adventures before our ten days in Bali and points east, 30 Sept through 9 Oct, produce hundreds of new photos.

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We no sooner returned from Sumatra back in July than a not-to-be-missed opportunity came up to make an overnight trip to Bandung, "the Paris of the East," the next week. Iswani and Sena, APEC's ace geophysicist/geologist team, have been working with Indonesia's equivalent of MIT, Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB), on a series of projects. Meetings were scheduled for an afternoon and the following morning; Iswani invited Michael to accompany him and Michael invited me along for the ride.

Bandung is the opposite of Jakarta in terms of traffic: vehicles move pretty freely during the week, but it's gridlock at weekends. Apparently this city of designer outlets is a major tourist destination, with several flights from Malaysia a day, overseas shoppers joined by Jakartans on Saturdays and Sundays. I would have been happy to check out a few of these 90%-off meccas, but I had to prioritize and batik won.

Before our paths separated, though, Iswani, Michael, and I stopped in at the Museum Geologi. The natural stone "sculpture" park in the front of the fine old building was a revelation: all the rock types I've been hearing about for years clustered in one area. I'll include a few photos here and then paste in the rest at the end of this post, so that I can have continuing access to an instant geology lesson.

A rather younger group visiting.

 Explorationists in front of a nodding donkey pump.
 Classic interior, reflecting museum's 1929 vintage.


  Good preparation for the next day's visit to one of the local volcanoes. The old-fashioned didactic approach has a lot to recommend it: no bells and whistles, but a great deal of information, painstakingly illustrated.
 From the oil and gas section:

Derrick reminiscent of "There Will Be Blood."

Plaques dedicated to two geological heroes, one Dutch, one Indonesian. Reinder Fennema (1849-1897) was a government mining engineer and geologist back in the days when living in a limestone cave for a month was par for the course in unexplored terrain; Arie Frederi(c)k Lasut (1918-1949), an ITB graduate from Sulawesi, was kidnapped and executed by the Dutch in their last-ditch attempt to regain control of their former colony after the Second World War. Head of the fledgling Mining and Geological Service, he died protecting data on mining operations.

A superb Sundanese lunch followed the museum visit, at a restaurant right next to Geulis, the boutique hotel where we were spending the night.
Gurame bakar — even the crispy fins were delicious.

Pepes ikan mas (spiced fish steamed in banana leaves).

After lunch, Iswani and Michael headed off for part I of their scientific mission, meeting with sand box modeling researchers at the university.

Meanwhile, Pak Kadam (Ari's driver, who cheerfully chauffeured me on various wild goose chases) and I hunted for a local handicrafts shop, LORI, still advertised online but unfortunately now out of business. In the course of the search, we encountered the first banci I've seen during this sojourn in Indonesia: s/he was stunning, looking like a French schoolgirl in dark tights, short skirt, and perky hat atop a smooth Louise Brooks bob. Pak Kadam had a few coins ready to drop in the collecting tin when it appeared at his window.

No crafts, no antiques, but the resourceful Pak Kadam did find an elegant batik shop, Rumah Batik Komar on Jl. Sumbawa, where I bought a silk tenun that he immediately and correctly identified as being from Cirebon. It turned out the enterprise included a workshop at a different address, so I decided to track that down the next morning; all the material on factory outlets and distros ("distribution outlets" showcasing the work of local designers) that Novie found for me is carefully filed away for our next Bandung visit.

Among the highlights of Bandung architecture are the university buildings themselves, built during the period that the Dutch were considering moving the capital from Batavia (Jakarta) to the cooler mountain city. The central complex is "tropical Art Deco," incorporating a Javanese-style roof, built in 1920 by the Dutch architect Henri Maclaine-Pont. Luckily this was not destroyed in the 1946 Bandung Lautan Api (Bandung Sea of Flame) as Indonesian freedom fighters retreated during the fight for independence from the Dutch.
Beautiful faceted windows.
Distinctive feature of campus architecture: stone columns, some entwined with bougainvillea.
A few of the students who managed the high scores on national tests necessary for admission. According to Wikipedia, an Asiaweek survey in 2000 ranked ITB "first in Asia in student selectivity."

Back to the hotel.
Our room.

Hallway outside room.

Close-ups of three of the pots lining the hall.

Dinner in The Valley, festooned with fairy lights, high on a hill overlooking the city. After mushroom soup with a puff pastry lid, Michael and I both dug into a Singapore clay pot. Iswani and Pak Kadam went western, with steak and salmon respectively. Many thanks to Dundie for the recommendation and the directions that got us here.

Now my geology lesson, which I should use regularly to refresh my memory of what's what in the rock world.

First, some magnificent examples of petrified wood, one of the few rocks even I can identify. Java has an abundance of these, a sample of which — rather smaller — is in our living room.

Basalt columns.


Nummulitic limestone.
More chert (which looks, woe is me, completely different from the example above). To complicate the issue further, Michael tells me that jasper is also a type of chert.

From the inside displays:

A concretion(?) from Krakatoa, labeled as umbi napal, "marl root." Michael is quite mystified and will show the photo to Iswani and Sena. An hour later: still a mystery; no one has come across this before.
 Oolitic limestone (like others, identified via label).
Volcanic bomb.

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