WEST JAVA, LAND OF SUNDA
West Java Province, known as the Land of Sunda stretches from the Sunda Straits in the west to the borders of Central Java in the east. The province is rich in culture and has its own language. Its people, the Sundanese, are friendly and hospitable, known for their colourful attire and mournful kecapi music. The region is primarily mountainous with rich green valleys and lofty volcanic peaks. The province has numerous attractions, from the wildlife reserve of Ujung Kulon on the south western tip of Java to the isolated communities of the mysterious Baduy, unspoiled beaches, the royal palaces of Cirebon and the world renowned botanical garden in Bogor.
The capital city is Bandung city, which is about 180 kms southeast of Jakarta. The city gamed fame in 1955 as the venue for the first Afro-Asian Conference, which brought together the leaders of 29 Asian and African nations to promote economic and cultural relations and take a common stand against colonialism.
Geography: West Java borders the Java Sea and Jakarta on the north, Banten Province and the Indian Ocean on the west and Central Java Province on the east. This strategic geographical position is an advantage for the province particularly in communication and transportation.
Climate: Hot and humid, with wide range of temperatures, from as low as 9oC in the highlands to as high as 34oC in the lowlands. The average rainfall is at 2,000mm per year, but in the mountainous areas the rainfall could reach 3,000mm to 5,000mm per year.
PLACES TO GO, THINGS TO DO
Situated on a plateau 768m above sea level its cool climate throughout the year makes it a popular holiday destination. Visitors can drive up to the mountain resorts of Lembang, the Bosscha Observatory and the volcanic crater of Tangkuban Perahu, the only crater in Java accessible all the way by car as far as its rim. The crater is an awe-inspiring sight of emanating sulphur fumes and provides the opportunity to look down into the huge crater of a volcano. Not to be missed while in Bandung is the Wayang Golek (wooden puppet show), Angklung (bamboo orchestra) and classical Sundanese dances.
Originally named Buitenzorg or town without worries by the Dutch who built the Presidential Palace here for the Dutch Governor General in 1745. Restored in 1832 the palace still stands elegant today with its big gardens. The town is more famous for the Cibodas Botanical Garden, which borders the palace grounds covering an area of 87 ha and contains thousands of species of plants from all over the world, including towering age-old trees and rare orchids. The palace is also worth a visit.
A typical Sundanese town in the highlands, Garut is surrounded by volcanic mountains and vast tea plantations. Around this area are a few lovely lakes and hot springs, one of which is at Cipanas where comfortable accommodation can be found. People visit thes e sulphur springs, which have medicating effects, to purify their skin.
The seaport of Cirebon offers a wealth of culture and history. In the city are the Kasepuhan and Kanoman kratons, which are now museums exhibiting house ornaments, paintings, calligraphy and other art treasures of the courts. Across the square from the Kasepuhan kraton is the Mesjid Agung (Grand Mosque), which is made entirely of wood and built according to the Javanese Peak architecture. The town is also known for its distinct batik and its seafood, reputed to be the best in West Java.
Ciater Hot Spring
Situated in the north of the hot spring is popular for its waters, which many believe is good for curing skin problems and rheumatism. The area is beautiful surrounded by green tea fields. Accommodation is available for visitors.