This weekend I went to Pangandaran for the Pangandaran International Kite Festival 2016. The trip was unscheduled. I decided to go on the spur of the moment after learning of the event from a friend about four days earlier.
Kite festival is a colourful event and I thought it would be a good chance to take photographs of a rare event like this (pssssst …. I had never been to a kite festival before, that’s why this event sounded even more attractive to me).
Pangandaran is about 250 kilometres away from Bandung and it takes about six or seven hours of driving or bus ride. I decided to drive. It had been a while since I had driven out of town for leisure. I wanted to enjoy the trip as much as the event I wanted to photograph.
I left home at about 3 pm on Friday and arrived there at about 10. The seven hour drive was fun. It was cloudy when I started the trip and it began to rain heavily when I reached Nagreg. The rain continued all the way until I got to the city of Banjar at about 6 or 7 o’clock. The rain made the trip all the more exciting – the twisting and winding roads through the beautiful mountainous areas of East Priangan were quite challenging to navigate; the mist and fog and the small towns and villages I passed were on themselves a treat to the eyes and senses.
I was told that Pangandaran International Kite Festival was an annual event that had been held annually for several years now. This year it’s held as part of the 4th anniversary celebration of the formation of Pangandaran Regency, the newest regency within the province of West Java. The event was initially scheduled in July but was postponed until 14 – 15 of October. I don’t know the reason for the postponement. July should have been a better time for a kite festival considering the season and weather.
Frankly speaking, I was quite apprehensive about the weather when I set out on the journey. I was afraid that it was going to be rainy on the days of the festival. A rainy day would definitely ruin a kite festival (I could not imagine flying a kite on wet day). It had been an extremely wet week in Bandung the week before, and checking the Weather Channel just before I left, I learned that Saturday and Sunday (the days of the festival) would also see Pangandaran area cloudy with a good chance of rain in the afternoon. Luckily the forecast was inaccurate. There was a light rain in the evening on Saturday but otherwise the whole day and Sunday morning the weather was fine.
From the flags I saw at the venue – the Ketapang Doyong field in eastern beach of Pangandaran – six countries were represented in the festival: Finland, Poland, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, dan Macau (China). Participants also came from other parts of Indonesia like Jakarta, Bali, and Central Java. The event was not as big as I had thought it would be. But it was generally still quite a fun and great event.
When you hear the words ‘a palace on a cliff’, your imagination might take you to some place in Europe where medieval castles of some sorts are more likely to be found perching on such an odd place. Despite its name, Bandung’s Tebing Keraton (literally: Palace Cliff) has nothing to do with an actual palace (read the explainer below). But it is a cliff nevertheless, and the view from the top of this cliff is probably no less stunning than what you might see from a European castle on top of a cliff.
Located only about 13 kilometres to the north of the city centre, Tebing Keraton was ‘discovered’ and began to attract attention in 2013. By 2014, it had already become a hip — thanks to the social media! Thousands of people have come to visit it and it remains a popular destination today.
So, what’s special about this destination?
The view, the view, and the view! Like any other high grounds (it is located about 1,200 above sea level), Tebing Keraton’s vantage point offers a sweeping vista of the surrounding hills, mountains, farms, forests, and towns (yes, you can see those things from the top). I think it is partly what makes it an attractive destination.
Another part of the attraction is that, despite its proximity to the city, the location was still somewhat less accessible (at least until last year). This makes going there feels like an ‘adventure’ for those who hanker after adventures but don’t have the resources to engage in one.
Access to Tebing Keraton has become much better now. About 65 percent of the road to the location have been paved with concrete or asphalt. The government has apparently recognised its potential as a tourism destination and has decided to build the necessary infrastructure to support it. The remaining 35 percent of the road is still quite rough and tough though. Hence, I think, the location is best accessed by motorbikes or on foot. (You can still bring your ‘city car’ up to a certain point but I would advise against going all the way up with it – it may break your car!)
The popularity of the place means that it will most likely be quite crowded at the weekends or holidays. That’s why I decided to go there on a weekday and, unless you don’t mind the crowds, I’d suggest you do the same.
To help me get to the place, I used the GPS and Google Map on my smart phone. To my surprise, I found it quite accurate up to the metres. So, I don’t think I need to give you a detailed account of the trip there like what other travel blogs have done.
I arrived there at about 3 pm and, as I had expected, it was comfortably quiet. There were not many visitors that day. The first ‘gate’ I had to go through is that of the parking post. The post is apparently managed by the villagers’ association. If you bring your own motorcycle like I did, you have to pay Rp 5,000 parking fee here (it’s about five times more expensive than the official parking fee for a motorbike in town). The parking is about 100 metres from there, near the actual gate of the park. Here, a wisnu or local (Indonesian) visitor has to pay Rp 11,000 to go into the park. A wisman or foreign (non-Indonesian) visitor has to pay Rp 51,000. These tickets include insurance.
After the gate the path branches into three. The left one will lead you straight to the the edge of the protruding, fenced-off cliff (where you can observe and marvel at the vista of valleys, mountains, and forests that are the main attraction of the place). If you go straight, you’ll find a three-story high observation tower. This tower is apparently a relatively new addition to the park. The path on the right side leads to the camping ground, which apparently is also a new addition to the park. They were put together with the gate in the mid 2016.
‘Tebing Keraton’ Name Explainer
There at least two accounts why the place is named ‘Tebing Keraton’ . Both of them are of dubious origin. To the locals and before it became popular as it is today, the place was called Cadas Jontor, the Sundanese words for protruding cliff, referring to its matter-of-fact terrain. The first account says that the name was given by the earliest visitors who, probably awed by its majestic view, called it Keraton as an allegory for its majesty. The other account has some mystical aura about it. It is said that the place is actually the palace of some spiritual beings residing in the place.
Whichever account you believe in, the place is still a wonderful place to visit if only for the view it offers and its proximity to the city.
Best Time to Visit
Many people who have been here say that the best time to visit the place is at dawn when the forest below and the mountains in the horizon are still covered in mist, not to mention the majestic sunrise you would not want to miss in a place like this.
I went there in the afternoon and just an hour or so before the sunset. I think it was no less wonderful to see the sun set from here too.