Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Kampong Naga

Since we were in Garut, Irwan suggested we visit Kampung Naga, a well-preserved traditional village on the border of Ciwulan river. 

To get to the village, we walked down a flight of about 400 steps, taking in picturesque views of padi fields and streams along the way.

 
 Kampung Naga is one of traditional kampongs in Indonesia that still upholds its ancient traditions and goes by the law set by their ancestors.

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The villagers do not use any machinery to plough the fields. All the crops are grown organically without the aid of pesticides or chemicals. The rice grown in the rich volcanic soil are the biggest I have ever seen.
Shepard manning his goats.

 There are about 100 wooden houses inhabited by 360 people. The houses are rebuilt every 30 years or so, but there is no place for more. So the natural increase of inhabitants have to make their home outside at Neglasari village on the main road.


According to the guide, the houses are built so close together so that neighbours can share food amongst themselves simply by stretching out their arms . 

Another peculiar feature is the bamboo cup hanging by the main door of every house.

Each morning, the resident will put a spoonful of raw rice into the jar. At the end of the week, the collection is poured into a central stockpile which is distributed to the needy residents in the village.


The houses are built using natural materials, eg, roof  is made from palm leaves. There is no electricity and the community live using the natural resources around them.


I left the village feeling very impressed with the social system that exists at Kampung Naga. The villagers live harmoniously together in the small community, taking care of each other like family. Life is simple here, but so sweet.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Delightful Bandung

It's a good thing I'm still in touch with my friends from junior college. We often travel together and our holidays are always filled with fun and laughter. We've just returned from Bandung, capital of West Java province in Indonesia, and are already planning our next trip. The way things are going, this is turning out to be a yearly event.

Thanks to GC, our head planner, the trip went exceptionally well. The driver cum tour guide is polite, highly efficient and extremely patient.
The flight from Singapore to Bandung is about 2 hours. The airport at Bandung is so tiny, by the time we got to the customs, the queue was already spilling out of the airport. Some people were lining up on the tarmac under the hot sun. It was quite an amusing sight.

We wanted to spend the first half of our trip outside of the city, so Irwan suggested Garut - about 75km away from Bandung City. Garut is an Old Dutch hill station and a characteristic Sundanese town in the highlands, surrounded by mountains, volcanoes, and crystal clear lakes.

Enroute to our lunch destination, we stopped to buy sweet potatoes grown in their rich and fertile volcanic soil. These sweet potatoes have been baked for several hours and were exceptionally sweet!
Fermented tapioca (below) is a local delicacy which has a sweet and sour taste. It smelled rather strange and we gave it a miss.
 We were so enamoured with the sweet potatoes that I bought 1kg (for S$1) of raw ones back to Singapore. 

Irwan bought us to this amazing place in Nagreg for lunch. Asep Stroberi (Asstro) restaurant, located at Jalan Raya Nagreg Number 145, serves Sudanese food in traditional wooden gazebos facing padi fields and lush scenery.
 
 They have a strawberry farm which allows visitors to pick their own fruits but we only found out after we have left the restaurant.

 We were treated to fabulous views in all directions.
 
 The food did not disappoint. The strawberry and avocado juice were delicious. According to the locals, most of the local produce are grown organically. 
So happy to be here!
 I like how they toss in herbs, leaves and chilli to add flavouring to the rice. We should do this at home too!

Monday, 22 September 2014

The 1,200-year-old Hanseatic city of Bremen

If not for my customers, I would not have heard of Bremen, a quiet and quaint town in North Germany. For years, they have been asking me to visit them and I finally made the trip from Vienna.

I arrived at Hanover Airport, about an hour's drive away from Bremen, in the evening. If you're flying into Bremen, pick a flight that goes directly to Bremen Airport as it is more convenient.

My customer picked me up and sped towards Bremen in his sporty Audi. The first thing I noticed about Bremen was how green it is. Large trees line the quiet roads and peaceful neighbourhoods. The dinner location was perfect - Meierei at Bürgerpark which is one of Germany’s best-maintained country parks.
The food at the newly restored restaurant was fantastic.

 More importantly I had the opportunity to finally meet up with the team I had been communicating with for years.













The next morning, I was taken through a quick stroll  across the Marktplatz through the “Schnoor Viertel” with its narrow cobblestone alleys down towards the river.

 
The city is famous for The Bremen Town Musicians which is a fairytale about the adventures of a donkey, a dog, a cat and a cockerel. You will see them everywhere in the town square. I was told that touching the legs of the donkey will bring luck, so here I am, grabbing the life out of those legs!
 Here they are again.
 
 There are lots of story books about them too.

Bremen's history stretches back more than 1,200 years, and is still tangible today. You can feel it in the Baroque and Renaissance ambience of the Marktplatz. I leave you to enjoy the pictures.













I was invited to lunch at Zur Nordseite an old country restaurant where the food is hearty and servings are huge. Every meal comes with sides like potato and salad served in large bowls. It's like eating three main dishes for lunch.