The Sundanese people inhabit most
of the western third of Java, the so-called Tanah
Sunda or Sunda Lands. Although physically
indistinguisable from the Javanese, they are
culturally different, known for their mellifuous
language, hardy individualism and staunch Islam.
West Java may be roughly divided into the
Parahyangan and the northern coastal plain. It
boasts wonderful mountain scenery, world famous
botanical gardens and wildlife reserves like
Ujung Kulon, main stronghold of the Javan
West Coast, the coastline from Anyer to
Labuhan is no more than 3 hrs drive from Jakarta.
Carita Beach is the oldest seaside resort on the
west coast. The focal point of the village is the
ageing Krakatau Beach Hotel, overlooking a
crescent-shaped bay with silver sand and safe
swimming. Krakatau Museum, just
over the road of the hotel, has information on
the volcano plus archaeological exhibits.In
addition to sun, sea, sand and solitude, the west
coast is famous for its sunset views of the
unihabited volcanic islands of Krakatau.
Although dormant for centuries,
this volcano achieved instant and lasting infanny
in 1883, when it errupted with cataclysmic force,
ripping out a huge chunk of earths crust to
form a monstrous 40 sq km submarine activity
caldera. In the decades that followed, undersea
activity continued and a new active crater has
emerged from sea called Anak
Krakatau or son of Krakatau. Ujung
Kulon National Park, a good place for trek
through pristine troipical rainforest and a
first-hand look at some of Javas rare
Bogor, only an
hour drive from central Jakarta, is appreciably
cooler than the coast. The main attraction here
is theBotanical Garden (Kebun
Raya) originally opened by the Dutch in 1817.
To the east of Bogor, Puncak Pass is a crowded
highland resort area and then a manicured
landscape of tea plantation. Beyond Puncak Pass, Cibodas
Botanical Gardens, an extention of the
Botanical Garden is famous for its collection of
montane and temperate climate flora from around
the world. The southern coast of West Java,
beautiful but dangerous is also within easy reach
of Bogor. Pelabuhan Ratu, which is a fishing
village is unspoiled and vital. When boats moor
in the morning, the fish market does a roaring
trade in fresh fishes, prawns and so on. A number
of good swimming beaches and hotels line the
coastal for several kilometers past the town, Be
careful of swimming here because this is the
domain of Nyai Loro Kidul, Queen of the South
of West Java is Javas third largest city.
It is a student city, home to the Bandung
Institute of Technology. Geological museum in
Bandung is worth a visit, for a look at the
extraordinary array of rocks, map and fossils
displayed here including replicas of the famous
Java Man skulls found in Central Java.
Bandungs most exciting excursion is a visit
to the nearby volcanic highlands.
The nearest is Tangkuban
Prahu which leads on to the Ciater hot
spring. To the southeast of Bandung about 38 km
to Citarik village, just after the local market
there are Curug Sidulang or Cidulang, the
waterfall which is 10 km from the main road. The
two flows gush down from about 12 m high.
36 km southwest of Bandung is known for
blacksmithing. The Ciwidey valley with terraced
paddy fields and Mt Malabar as a background
providesa beautiful panorama. White
Crater is located further south from
Ciwidey. The crater at certain times turns from
turquois to white, On a clear day, Mt Patuha can
be seen standing proudly at the back of the high
cliff at the other end of the crater.
Cirebon, once a
powerful royal centre and still a fascinating
potpourri of Sundanese, Javanese, Chinese,
Islamic and European influences. Cirebon is
rather a sleepy place now, with a small harbor
and a sizeable fishing industry.
Kesepuhan Komplek in Cirebon, with
its split red brick gate and several elaborately
carved audience pavilion, is undoubtedly one of
the finest example of former Hindu-Javanese
architecture in existence.
Arum Sunyarage, which is built as a
fortress in 1702 and used as a base fro
resistance against the Dutch, this stone and
coral folly was cast in its present form in 1852
by a Chinese architect to serve as a pleasure
palace cum hermitage for Cirebons rajas.