Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Bandung! Part 1

--- written on Wednesday, August 4, 2010 ---

This past Sunday, we got up for another 6am flight to Jakarta. This time, we did not leave the airport and got on a shuttle bus to Bandung. We had to wait an hour and a half after we got to the airport though because these minibuses get full very quickly. Lesson learned, book the shuttle while waiting for your luggage. Better yet, don't check in anything because it takes forever. Lion Air from Padang flies into the international terminal and then you take a shuttle to the domestic arrivals. Your luggage takes a long time to get to the domestic terminal because they can't move themselves. I managed to write the massive amounts of updates that I posted last night while waiting.

The bus from Jakarta airport to Bandung takes about three hours. We managed to get from the shuttle bus location to Andi and Greg's hotel by angkot. The angkots in Bandung cost only 1500 Rp and does not offer loud music. It felt strange to be sitting in an angkot with no music and stuffed animals.

We wandered around Bandung for most of the afternoon, waiting for Anggun to come. She took a flight that left three hours later than ours. We didn't really know where to go and got on a few angkots just to get somewhere more exciting. Unfortunately, we seemed to have missed a lot of the more exciting parts of town by just one or two streets. We did managed to play in the lobby of the postal museum before some security guards came to kick us out. Such a shame that they don't open their msueums for longer hours on weekends. I think they have very good collections too.

One of the surprising things about Bandung is the weather. It was not hot and humid like Padang. It is at higher altitude and has more Bay Area like weather. Not quite but Greg and I enjoyed this a lot. The chilis for food also comes on the side. And after eating Padang food for a month, Bandung food is definitely not spicy.

Anggun took us to a place that is very popular with college students to eat fried duck. When I say fried, I mean deep fried. Everything here is fried in a big wok filled with oil. The duck was really good, which explains why the place was packed with people. I really enjoyed going to food places with her. She took us to some places that were really popular with college students, meaning it has good food for a cheap price.

I stayed two nights with her while in Bandung. She lives in a big house that the landlord has renovated to rent out to college students. The place houses several girls. Her room is pretty small but very cozy. One of those places that can really feel like home.

The second day in Bandung started off with us walking over to LIPI, a science research center. They have a caferteria that serves pretty good food. We got there pretty early and the veggies weren't ready yet. I think we all had a pretty good breakfast, which was followed by a really good meeting.

We talked to a getoech researcher about his liquefaction research in Padang. He had really great information and was willing to share with us. I think he was excited that someone was interested in his work. He had done field studies in Padang in 2006 and 2008 (right before the big earthquakes in 2007 and 2009). He presented his results to the government who didn't really care about them and asked him to prove his results. The earthquakes proved his results but his research still hasn't gained the recognition that it deserves.

I've been looking for soil data for this city for ages. It seems like various people and agencies have done their own studies but haven't shared them with anyone. Maybe I will make a database and share the information online somehow. In the US, we spend quite a bit of time finding “historical” geology and geotechnical information for a site before going out to do our own site investigations. Knowing the previous use of the site can help a lot as well. It really difficult to collect such information here unless you're running around gathering these things by angkot (more on this later!).

After this really useful meeting, we had lunch and then had a short meeting with a professor at ITB. We told him about our project and he gave us some references. He seemed interested in having a collaboration between ITB, Stanford, and Andalas but didn't offer any ways to proceed with this collaboration.

We accompanied Greg and Andi to the shuttle bus place that would take them to Jakarta. We walked around in this really cute mall since we got there early. We even took a photo in one of those photo booths. Anggun and I walked around for a while after they left. We went to dinner at this food court that gives you a binder of menus from all the places in the food court. You can choose which place you want to order from. And everyone at your table can order from a different place. Very interesting concept. No, the places are not owned by the same people because they all had different menus and very different foods.

For some reason, when I woke up the next morning, I thought about Boston a lot. The one thing that really reminds me of Boston is the smell of those peanut carts in Downtown Crossing. Undergrad happened so fast and it almost seems like a distant memory now. Where did those years go? Maybe this is telling me that I should go back to visit...

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