A Bandung suburb with its own attractions, including hot springs and a night market
We went to Lembang for two reasons, to stay in the old colonial Grand Hotel Lembang, built in 1921, and to climb – well, drive up, really – the Tangkuban Prahu volcano. The hotel was a great disappointment: recently renovated it had lost all of its ancient charm, having been turned into one of those typical, huge, impersonal government hotels, and to add insult to injury it was fully booked with government attendants to a government conference. The volcano was closed to visitors, due to recent seismic activity. All of this reduces the attraction of this Bandung suburb somewhat, although the alternative, staying in traffic-clogged downtown Bandung, was even less appealing.
But there are a few other things to do in Lembang. One is a visit to the springs of nearby Ciater, a very pleasant outing to an open-air swimming pool with piping hot water – pleasant for men: as Indonesian pools go, men can wear their swimming trunks, but women are supposed to go in fully dressed, bathing suit, let alone bikini, is highly uncomfortable on account of all those staring men.
Another experience is the Lembang Floating Market, where you can sit in a children’s train, play with rabbits, buy souvenirs, try a mild form of carting (for older children) or a plastic paddle-car (for the smaller ones), go around the lake in a small paddle boat, and stuff yourself with a range of snacks, served from small boats moored along a pontoon. We gave most of the attractions a miss, apart from the snacks, but all together this shows what the Indonesians do on a spare Saturday afternoon, and for that, and for their friendliness and generosity, interesting enough.