After the bottle-green hills of Cibodas, the sprawling bulk of Bandung hits you like a baseball bat across the back of the head. Once the ‘Paris of Java’, the city is now a throng of congested, polluted streets and any romantic notions of colonial glamour have long disappeared. This is one of Indonesia’s megacities (the Bandung conurbation is home to almost eight million people).
But not everything has gone to pot. Bandung attracts workers, intellectuals and students from across the archipelago, and its industries, restaurants and cafes throb with life. Today, grandiose art deco buildings, heaving market stalls, becak and multiplexes jostle for space in the city.
For travellers, the city does make a good base for daytrips to the surrounding countryside – high volcanic peaks, hot springs and tea plantations are all within easy reach.