Saturday, August 28, 2010

Chilling, Relaxing and Shopping at Bandung

Just a day after arriving from Shanghai, China for a company event and a few days leave to extend my stay in the city, I once again is headed to another which I am excited about because of a number of firsts. This trip is my first offsite with the team outside the Philippines, my first time to ride a couple of airlines and try their services and my first time to be in that country of destination.
Despite arriving in our house almost midnight yesterday, I had to leave early morning to catch the morning flight to Singapore, where we'll be taking a connecting flight. It's my first time to take Singapore Airlines despite me travelling a lot since I try to consolidate my flights to either Philippine Airlines for regional and domestic flights and Delta for those bound to North America.
We had a clear and fine weather as we take off from Manila en route to Singapore.
It was a smooth flight and I finally understood what they say about this airline's service. Staff seem to be more courteous than the ones I am used to, who sometimes doesn't even smile at all or are robotic. It's also my first regional flight with AVOD so even if it was just a 3-hour flight, it was still enjoyable. Food is still comparable though more generous in portions in my opinion.
We had around 2.5 hours layover so aside from taking the usual glimpse at the shopping outlets in the airport, I still had the chance to eat my favorite Hainanese chicken rice.
Our connecting flight was via Air Asia so we literally jumped from a full service airline to a budget airline. There wasn't any other choice at that time as it was the only convenient way for us to reach Bandung, Indonesia.
It was also my first time to fly Air Asia. This one specifically is an Indonesia Air Asia (Indonesian subsidiary of the airline) flight. Nothing special on the flight, in fact I still would prefer taking Cebu Pacific or Tiger Airways for budget airlines as I felt like I just hopped on a bus throughout the trip. After around 1.5 hours of flight, we finally reached Husein Sastranegara International Airport (Bandung International Airport).
There was no jetways at the airport so passengers are expected to board and deplane at the tarmac via an external rolling aircraft stairs. Arriving at the airport, it is my first time to be in Indonesia, as I haven't been to any place in this country before.
From there it took us almost an two hours (via van) to finally reach Bandung as we have to wait for the immigration to open (there was a long line despite there were only two flights arriving at that time). When it opened, only two counters were servicing the passengers so it really took an hour before we were able to reach the land side. From there, there was still a bit of traffic even if the airport is just around 5km from city center, so it still took us about an hour to reach our hotel.
It was a bliss when we reached Sheraton Bandung Hotel & Towers where we will be staying for this trip. For most of us, the whole trip is averaging to 12 hours just to get there so we were naturally all exhausted and wanted to catch some rest as we got there.
I stayed in a pool access room, sharing it with a colleague in Indonesia, a 32sqm of space with a veranda outside leading towards the pool area. Inside is a cozy atmosphere and I felt very comfortable and at-home staying here.
work area
fruits in the coffee table
Bandung is comparable to Tagaytay in sense because of its climate (cooler than in the city) minus the view of a volcano. The atmosphere is so relaxing and comfortable, and the area is a bit laid-back that most of the time I felt lazy to move and just wanted to sit down or relax the whole time.
As the day fell and night came out, we decided to head out for dinner in a restaurant on top of a hill that has a view of Bandung. It took around 20 minutes for us to get there and were already hungry at that time. Unfortunately, I forgot to get the name of the restaurant, so if anyone would know, help me out please.
dining area.

view of Bandung from the restaurant
my meal
It is still Ramadan until September 9 so most of the places close down early and nothing much going around in the city. We decided to hop into another eating place just to chill out and talk casually. Again, I didn't get the name of this place. It's like a big open food court with lots of stores selling food items and stuff and it was like a food trip for us, trying out different things.

sweet colored stuff in syrup. not sure of its name

After this, we headed back to the hotel and called it a night as there were not a lot of stuff to do in the city during that period.
I woke up a little early the next day to stroll around check the pool area and some of the hotel facilities. The hotel has a couple of pools, presumably for adult and children and the whole place is so nice and inviting. Too bad weather and temperature at that time is so cold.

There is also a drum in the hotel that they used to signal the rising and setting of the sun every day.

chocolate-made structure (is it a mosque?)
open air lobby

The hotel also have an area called Link @ Sheraton experienced with Microsoft, a connectivity hub for guest who wishes to stay connected for business or with family.
leading to the meeting rooms

stone turtle

statue display

The whole day for us was reserved for meetings and team-building activities so nothing much to tell about. We also had lunch in-house at Samsara Lounge (where we also take breakfast) and didn't go out for meal during the day.
At night however, we went out to visit Rumah Mode, supposedly the largest factory shopping outlet in the city. The city is well known to local and tourist for a number of factory shopping outlets that are supposedly for export and surplus although we were also forewarned that sometimes they mixed real stuffs with those that are not so we need to be careful in checking.

The area itself was a feast for non-locals as it has a lot of traditional and cultural touches that adds character to the place. The whole place outside the shopping store is a nice place to just sit down and wander, as well as do some people watching.
elephant statue
garden pavilion

lighting fixture

design on the ceiling of a pavilion

We had dinner at a nearby mall after shopping (I only got a few clothes to trail for me and some family members) while a couple of person were left there as they want to maximize their time shopping. It was late at night when we left and again we all had a wonderful sleep after a very tiring day of meeting, team-building activities then shopping.

We left early to catch a flight to Singapore and ultimately to Manila. As we leave the city, it was a shame that we were there for such a short time that we were not even able to visit some of its natural wonders. Well at least, there's always something to go back after.

Of course, at the layover in Singapore, I again had a sumptuous meal of Hainanese chicken rice.
And lastly, again, having to fly back to Manila earlier this evening with AVOD is such a wonderful experience it was a more personal way of keeping myself from getting bored rather than sticking to what the airline is projecting on the screen on my regional flights (or none at all on budget airlines). Add to that the wonderful meal being served with a smile of the staff, it definitely is a nice way to kill time as I wait for my arrival back in Manila.

as a bonus, ice cream cone for desert!

It was such a short trip that most of day 1 and day 3 were spent for travel and we actually just had day 2 as a whole. Overall the experience was still great and I'm looking forward to coming back to Indonesia soon, perhaps Jakarta or even Bali the next time!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A day in Expo 2010 Shanghai China (part 2)

Continuing my post from here, here are some other pictures of the pavilions and surrounding areas inside Expo 2010 site:
Europe Square, with Teletubbies performing

Czech Republic


Bosnia and Herzegovina





Polis, Greece









 United Kingdom







South Africa 




As you can see, towards the end, we weren't able to enter the pavilions as they are already closed by 10:30PM tonight. Lot's of pavilions to see, so much people, and the lines are so long due to domestic tourism, so it's not really adequate to set aside just 1 or 2 days if you plan to visit here before the exhibit ends on October 31. We also had a hard time catching a cab from the place and had to wait for about half an hour. Plan carefully!

Tomorrow we will be leaving Shanghai and we seem to be yearning for more. What started as a dream last year to be back and see the expo turned out to be realistic due to turn of things. What other could Shanghai give us the next time we'll be back? That I wonder and look forward to!