Note: I am planning to add pictures to this later, but Natalia has the camera so I can't download the pictures yet. I'll get them up here shortly, and you'll love them.
Natalia, Grace, Aldo and I spent Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 7-9, traveling to Bandung to take more wedding pictures, and the locations were a tiki hut garden, the inside of a volcano, and a tea field. We drove out to Bandung Sunday morning and visited some of Natalia's family. Grace's Sister and family live there, and run an open market grocery store. This is one very noticeable difference between the US and Indonesia--the streets are all open markets, and so many places you go you will see shops and street vendors peddling there wares. At first I was a little shocked at this difference, because it makes the streets look very crowded and cluttered, and this doesn't help the awful traffic situation, which I have mentioned before. After driving through these markets, I have started to appreciate them more and more, and it makes it a very exciting and vibrant place, and I enjoy the sights as we drive through. We stayed at Grace's Sister's for long enough to visit, and then travel down to the local market to get some clothes for pictures the following day.
We stayed in a hotel in downtown Bandung until Monday morning, and then we got up and started getting ready to take pictures. I wore a tux and Natalia wore traditional Javanese wedding clothes, which consists of a very ornate skirt, with a translucent sparkly-white shawl-type thing that goes from shoulders to ankles. Don't worry, the top part was not translucent. I was disappointed we were not able to find any traditional clothes that fit me. We could have gone with just the hat, and a jacket, but I said, "All or nothing, baby. If it's not real, I can't bring myself to do it."
Once we were ready, we went out to a place I would describe as a very large garden with Tiki huts and a restaurant with a gift shop. Natalia said this was a place you would bring somebody to eat for important occasions. It was stunning. If you ever watch Anthony Bourdain's TV show "No Reservations" it looked exactly like the Tiki hut where he ate at the end of his Indonesia visit, where he explained he was seriously considering hanging it up and just staying in Indonesia, because he could see himself retiring there. I watch the show pretty regularly and this was the only episode I have heard him say anything like this. This was really my first taste of the "Indonesian countryside," and when I saw this place I could definitely understand his sentiments.
The photographers showed us the pictures when we were done, and they were phenomenal. They include Natalia and I in various Tiki huts, standing in different gardens, walking with a bike, and us in a Javanese rowboat, with me rowing, and Natalia beaming at me with affection. We dressed in the formal wear, and I changed into a Batik, which is a long sleeved button up shirt worn for celebration. It's also very ornate, with beautiful patterns. It kind of reminded me of a long sleeved Hawaiian shirt, only the patterns were more eastern looking.
We spent the remainder of day 2 traveling to the next location, where we stayed in a different hotel. We got there late at night and it was raining. We went to bed pretty much immediately. We woke up at about 5:30 the next day to a rooster crowing. Natalia told me this noise is known as, "Cuckareecoo" rather than "Cock-a-doodle-doo" A cat goes "Meong" a dog goes, "Gong, Gong" (I still haven't figured this one out yet either, but that boxy looking robot with no arms on the Jawa Land Crawler in Star Wars episode 4 comes to mind). When we got up, Natalia started getting ready. I knew it would take me much less time to get ready, so I spent about two hours walking around this place. It was really cool. The hotel was in a small village, and was sort of a resort. It had Koi ponds and gardens all around. To the back you could see rice fields that went up the side of a mountain. Adjacent on one side was a restaurant that had "booths" suspended over a small pond. Adjacent on the other side was sort of an outdoor activity center with places to exercise, family games, and a coffee shop. It had small Tiki huts which were set up for eating, or picnicing, I guess. It also had a zip line with a tower I climbed, from which there was an outstanding view of the surrounding areas. The area was partially surrounded by rice paddies, and we saw farmers working the crops as we walked through.
That morning I talked to Pandi, who is the driver for Natalia's family. He was driving us all around during our adventure. He has driven for Natalia's family for over 25 years, and he is also a very close friend of Berthus. He is somewhat of a mystic, and can sense spirits, and heal with energy. He said the place had spirits, and there was a cemetery behind it. He said that the night before, when he slept on the couch he saw a spirit who sat on the couch by his feet when he was going to sleep. He said she had long hair, and was dressed in a woman's Batik, which is similar to a man's only it is a long dress. He said, it was always customary to ask permission to stay in someone's farm house, so he said, "Excuse me, but may I stay in your place tonight." He said she stood up and moved over to the other chair, and stayed there until he fell asleep. I'm glad he waited until the morning to tell this story.
I haven't finished writing about the trip, but I will do this next and post shortly. Stay tuned for Trip to Bandung Part 2: "I Don't Know Where I'm A-Gonna Go...".