Bandung, the capital of Central Java, occupies a pre-historic volcanic crater. Mountains flank this medium-sized city, the most notable being “Upside-down boat mountain” (guess why.) Wednesday we headed to Bandung to meet Henry Manila, a national league Perkutut breeder and competitor. Little did we know Henry would whisk us away to the mountains when we arrived, but more on that later.
Jaya drove us four hours from Jakarta to Bandung escorted by a rag-tag fugitive fleet of smoke-belching trucks. One truck driven by a dark man with a handlebar mustache and batik cap sported hand-painted scimitars on the front bumper. The highways are dangerous, not from swashbuckling truck pirates but drivers fatigued by morning prayer (the first prayer must be before sunrise or it doesn’t count. And the World Cup is on – at night – you get the idea.) We passed three overturned trucks within on hour. Jaya smiled, pointed at each one and said, “Sleepy.”
As we climbed deeper into the mountains Jaya would pull over insisting I take some scenery shots. The Dutch built the railroad bridges (or let’s say had them built) complete with an occasional train sidestep for pedestrians. For that matter the Dutch built the 13,000-island Indonesia, conquering kingdoms and uniting them under the flag of occupation.
Bandung was one such kingdom and was founded in the 9th century. This is the home of the Sundanese people and it turned out Jaya is one of them. After passing numerous signs for outlet shops we arrived in Bandung, “the Paris of Java” and treated ourselves to a traditional Sundanese lunch: seafood cakes grilled in banana leaves, tomato sambal, coconut encrusted fish, Sundanese gado-gado with prawn crackers and small free-range chicken. (Ayam jalan jalan or chicken walk walk.)
When you order fish the waiter grabs a net and catches it in the decorative fountain next to the parking lot. The gado-gado is eaten by hand witha bent green bean (I did sneak my fork a few times.)
After lunch I got my first barbershop haircut in 18 years.
We have hit a busy schedule and internet has been harder to reach. Great things happened yesterday and today. We had massages and learned how to sew a Perkutut up for tuning from Master Kwan. Tomorrow we will go to visit the general who runs the Xena Warrior Princess Bird Farm. And then on to Solo for the big competition.