In the heart of Java’s volcano alley, perched neatly on the side of Gunung Ungaran is Bandungan; A bustling town of street stalls, hotels and one pretty spectacular view.
Crowded and colourful, Bandungan itself feels like an Indonesian tourist park with stall after stall selling trinkets, homegrown potatoes and local delicacies. It’s 980m altitude brings a refreshing cooler climate and also the rain. Even in dry season Bandungan is lush and tropical boasting fertile crops all year round. Sitting quietly with our nasi goreng, watching the low clouds suffocate the town, we adjust to the fast pace surrounding us. Horse and carts trot by carry giggling teens, tourist buses full to the brim whizz past and a young boy pulls on his mothers trouser pocket whining for Lekker (a style of Indonesian pancake).
Away from town, a strenuous 9km uphill journey, lies Candi Gedong Songo; A popular place for Indonesians to visit and celebrate. It’s temple structures are quaint and somewhat underwhelming but I must add they were barely visible behind the hordes of holidaying Javanese. My tip, get there early before the clouds smother the view and take a peak from the edge of the temple car park; Truly breath-taking. Beyond the silver Mosque, the deep valley plummets before arching up into the 6 perfectly aligned volcanic peaks of Sumbling, Sindoro and beyond to the Dieng Plateau. Unique and extremely impressive.
Half way between Jakarta and Yogyakarta, Bandungan is worthy of a stop-over but probably not a detour.
Hotel Azaya has a ridiculous choice of rooms varying in price. A Bismo room is 300,000 Rupiah a night and is worth every penny. One of the best value for money rooms we have seen in Indonesia. A large room, a wall of windows, a big mattress, hot shower and an al la cart breakfast – oh and a garden maze-like hotel complex that will have you wondering for hours.