Experience nature on Bandung's doorstep
THE crystal-clear waters of a volcanic mountaintop in West Java offer visitors a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of urban life.
Stepping out of the airport in Bandung, the capital of Indonesia's West Java provinice, visitors will be greeted by swarming traffic, humid air and streets filled with motorcycles - the choice of transport for many locals.
But at the city's outskirts, tourists will be greeted by unexpected views of the many mountains surrounding the city of over 2.3 million inhabitants.
Also known as White Crater, Kawah Putih is a crater lake with light-blue waters, located 2,430m above sea level, just south of Bandung.
With its luminous crystal colours, the lake resembles sights in the South Pacific but signs warning visitors to avoid swimming in the enticing waters add a twist to the serene sight.
"The waters are too full now," a local tour guide, Sawal, said. "But it's more beautiful when full," he added, saying that July was the best time to see the lake's beauty.
In the surrounding grounds lie centuries-old sulphur mines that Dutch colonialists and Japanese imperialists had built to extract the bright yellow substance. Stepping near the entrance of the old mines, visitors can get a whiff of sulphur's acrid smell.
Visitors are advised to wear masks and not go near the mines if they have lung problems.
Masks are also recommended for visitors who visit the crater in the evening.
"According to locals, (Kawah Putih) is the oldest mountain here," Sawal said. "They call it Patuah - which translates to old man."
The first Westerner to discover the mountain was Franz Wilhelm Junghuhn, a German, in 1837, Sawal added.
A half-hour drive away from the volcano is Patengan Lake, surrounded by tea and strawberry fields. The lake is a popular location for young couples, according to locals, who also tell a legend about it.
In the middle of the lake is a heart-shaped island where a prince secretly met his lover, a princess. The young couple was forced to split and the locals say their tears created the lake.
But visitors wanting to enjoy the scenery should beware of clouds that occasionally block the lake's amazing views.
In downtown Bandung are the usual modern amenities facilities of urban life. But for city dwellers trying to get away from the urban buzz, Cihampelas Walk Mall provides a unique shopping district that prides itself on its greenness.
Two-thirds of the mall contains local flowers and plants to provide what one local says is were "a natural environment".
International and South Korean brands can be found in the mall alongside multinational apparel makers lining its long and winding corridors.
THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK