Sunday, August 31, 2008

Manisan Cianjur

Manisan Cianjur 2

Text and pictures by Eki Qushay Akhwan

Frankly speaking, I don't know how to translate "Manisan Cianjur" into English. "Manisan" literally translates as "sweet stuff" and "Cianjur" is the name of a small town about an hour away to the west of Bandung.

Manisan Cianjur 1

Anyway, "manisan cianjur" is a kind of traditional food made of fresh fruit or vegetable preserved in sugar and vinegar syrup plus other ingredients (like chilli). I think it is originally from China or was introduced here by the Chinese, but has since been adapted to the local conditions.

Does anyone know what the name of this thing is in English (or other languages)?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bandung Urban Scenes - Exploring Urban Photography #2

16 Agustus 2008 NIKON D70 046BBW

Text and picture Eki Qushay Akhwan

As I Was saying yesterday, urban photography is esentially about finding "order" in what looks like a chaotic realities of urban life. Patterns are one thing that we can look for. Another thing that we can look for to comprehend the chaos is the human elements - their activities, their day to day struggles in navigating the hustle and bustle of a city, etc. Unlike the geometric or "still life" elements, the human factor tells the story of a city through motions (and emotions).

The focus on the human element is, I think, where urban photography intersects with street photography.

I took the scene in the above photo on Jalan Suniaraja (Suniaraja Street), Bandung. Three human figures in the photo depict motions of different kinds symbolic of their stuggles in finding their ways to their uban existence.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Bandung Urban Scenes - Exploring Urban Photography #1

Urban photo 1

Text and picture by Eki Qushay Akhwan

Urban environments may look visually chaotic. But to the discerning eyes of photographers and visual artists, this chaos is just a facade beneath which are hidden an infinite number of interesting elements ready to be discovered if only one can pay enough attention to the details and/or rhythms that make up that chaos. This, I think, what urban photography essentially is: an attempt to discover "order" in what looks like incomprehensible and chaotic realities.

In exploring urban photography, a genre of photography which is generally still categorized as a subform of documentary and/or street photography, a photographer needs to be creative and have a daring attitude to see the realities around them in different ways. One way to do it is to look for patterns, like what I did with this photograph, which I took at BEC (Bandung Electronic Center) parking lot a couple of days ago.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bandung Street Phenomenon: The "Kaki Lima"


Text and picture by Eki Qushay Akhwan

"Kaki lima" - which literally translates as "five feet" - is the popular and accepted Indonesian term for street vendors that sell things on a cart like this. I don't know where this term originated. But if you take a look at the above photo carefully, I think it makes sense. The cart has three wheels. Add these to the owner's two feet, and that makes five; thus the phrase "five feet".

Kaki lima is quite an urban phenomenon in Indonesian cities. You can find them almost anywhere. They sell different kinds of things: snacks, drinks, cigarettes, soaps, detergent, shampoo, over-the-counter medicines, etc. They are like a mini convenient store. "Convenient" is the key word here as they can usually be found within a walking distance of any neighborhoods and open around the clock and seven days a week (24/7).

While the term "kaki lima" may have originated from this kind of kiosk cart, the term is now also used for different kinds of street vendors - with or without the carts.

Kaki lima is both an important mover of our cities' economy and a headache. They often occupy (invade?) the sidewalks and block pedestrians' access to the sidewalks, forcing them to walk on the street and putting them at risk of being hit by motorists. Their unorganized sprawl, I think, is also a sore to the eyes.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

City of People: Bandung Skateboarders


Text and pictures by Eki Qushay Akhwan

Did you know that during its earliest development skateboarding used to be called "sidewalk surfing"?

It did. And that nick name had to do with its origin. It is said that the idea of skateboarding was born when some Californian surfers could not go surfing because the wind was flat and there were no waves; hence was the idea to "surf" on land. That was in the late 1940's.

Now skateboarding has become a worldwide phenomenon, a kind of sport and recreational activity loved by young people from nearly every corner of the world. I have to underline the word "young" because survey statistics shows that 85 percent of its fans are young people under the age of 18. It is also characteristically a male sport (or recreational activity) as nearly three quarters of its practitioners are male.


Skateboarders used to be described as a rebellious subculture group whose image was associated with punk and a reckless lifestyle. This image, however, has changed now as its fans have become more diverse.

I took the above photos at a recent skateboarding exhibition on Braga Steet where this group of Bandung skateboarders - experienced as well as novice - demonstrated their ability to make different acrobatic tricks. Skateboarders have different terms for the different tricks they perform, such as "Ollie" (or no hand aerial) where the skateboarder "flies" in the air without holding on to the board; "kickflip" (or "heelflip"?) where the skateboarder kicks the board so that it flips 380 degrees along the board's long axis; and "pop-shove it" where the skateboarder plays with the skateboard while skateboarding. I'm sure they have a few other tricks, but that's all I can remember.

I have to admit here that it was quite difficult to take photos of their actions because the street was packed with spectators and there were no lines that separated them from the action. Street and action photography do have their own challenges. However, it is from events like this that I learn to hone my street and action photography skills.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What's Success?


Text and picture by Eki Qushay Akhwan

What's success?

According to this billboard, the equation of succes is this: Math + English; and that means the school whose name is advertised there. Does it make sense?


English, although not a language with the largerst number of speakers, is the most widely spoken language worldwide. Logically, one who can speak English has access to all the information there is to succeed and compete anywhere.

As for math, it's the ultimate language of science.

Speaking of science, Indonesians, I think, can be proud of the achievements of their students and scholars. This year, Indonesian high school students ranked 36 out of 97countries participating at the recent International Mathematics Olympics held in Spain, with one silver and two bronze medals plus an honorable mention title.

At the International Biology Olympics, Indonesian team received two silver and two bronze medals.

In Chemistry, our team performed even better, winning one gold, one silver, and one bronze medals at the recent International Chemistry Olympics held in Hungaria.

The best science olympics achievements of our high school students yet, however, is in physics. Indonesian International Physics Olympics team has consistently won a respectable place for many years now. This year, for example, it won two gold, two silver, and one bronze medals at the 2008 International Physics Olympics held in Hanoi, Vietnam, in July.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Creativity on The Steet


Text and picture by Eki Qushay Akhwan

I believe this is what's called "installation art". These rounded-edge geometric shapes were erected (or installed) temporarily on Diponegoro Street in Bandung a couple of weeks ago as part of the 2008 HELAR Fest.

Just a note to my friends and readers:
I'll be very busy this week. So basically I will temporarily set this blog on an "automatic pilot" mode. ;) I'll still be posting one photo a day as I am supposed to do with this Daily Photo blog, but most probably with shorter commentaries. Thank you very much for your visits and comments. I'll be returning your visits soon.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

City of People: Women Entrepreneur and Gasibu Sunday Market


Text and picture by Eki Qushay Akhwan

I don't know exactly how and when it began, but every Sunday morning the Gasibu Square (a large open space/field in front of Gedung Sate, West Java Governor's Office Mansion in Bandung) turned into a market place.

As far as I can remember it, people used to come here only to exercise on Sunday morning. I guess that's how the Sunday market began. When vendors and people with entrepreneurial spirit noticed that a large number of people flocked here every Sunday morning, the saw a potentially lucrative business opportunity and began to open their beverage and light food stalls for those Sunday "sporters". What began small eventually attracted like-minded others. Now vendors at the Gasibu Sunday market do not only offer beverages and food but also a lot of other stuff: clothes, watches, sunglasses, fruit and vegetables, household wares, handicrafts, and even arts and pets. It's like a Supermarket (with large S) that only happens once a week. Gone are the leisurely joggers and walkers who used to come here to exercise. There is simply not enough space left now on Sunday for people who come here to exercise because all the lots are now occupied by vendors of different kinds. But many people with sports attires still love coming here on Sunday, not to exercise but to stroll and enjoy the interesting sights, sounds, and smells of what locals call "Pasar Kaget" or surprise market.

The market usually ends just before mid-day. The lady entrepreneur you see at the photo was biking home with her stuff after Sunday market was closed.

You could see more photos of Gasibu Sunday market here.

The word Gasibu is probably derived from the word gasebo and indicates what this place used to be in the old days.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Colors of The Rain - A Global Warming Symptom?

3 Agustus 2008 CANON A 510 011

Text and picture by Eki Qushay Akhwan

There have been quite a number of weather surprises here lately. August is supposed to be the height of the dry season in Bandung, but there have been a few days where rains fall unexpectedly. While they are a welcome respite from the dry spell, they are a bit surprising nonetheless.

I took this photo earlier in the month on Jalan Wastukancana, Bandung. It was sunny when I left home for the downtown. Some 30 minutes later, the rain began to fall. As I was on my motorcycle, I had to stop. And while I was waiting for the rain to stop, a couple of kids came into sight with their colorful umbrellas. They were playing in the rain. So I took out my camera and began shooting. This was one of the snapped photos.

Weather irregularity is probably a symptom of global warming. Here is what wikipedia says about it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

City of People: Street Photographers and The Freedom of Expression


Text and pictures by © Eki Qushay Akhwan

Just a reflection on ourselves. We, photographers or photography enthusiasts, not all probably, but undoubtedly many of us, are infinitely proud of our gadgets as you can see in these photos.

"Hey, what camera do you use?"
"How big is your thing?"
"Look what I got ...!"
"Hmmm ... that photo I took was a bit disappointing ..."

I don't think I'm one of those photography enthusiasts who are too fascinated with gadgets (I could have, but not anymore). I do have a number of cameras and quite a few lenses. But they were from the old days when I was still very much fascinated with gadgets. Now I just take pictures and don't really care very much about what camera I use. Most of the time I take photos with my 3.2 megapixel point and shoot camera, a Canon Powershot A510, which I always have with me because it's light and easy to carry and inconspicuous in public places. Only occasionaly do I bring my DSLR camera, a NIKON D70, which I bought in 2005, usually when I really intend to hunt for photos.

As you have probably seen from my street photographs, Bandung is probably and quite arguably one of a few great places to do street photography. I've been to (and lived in) quite a number of cities in the world. Nowhere did I feel so much at ease about taking photographs in public places than Bandung. This could be a subjective feeling, I know. I've lived here most of my life, even though I was not born here. But then, there could be a number of other factors that make street photography so much more easier to do in Bandung. People here are very friendly and are not usually shy with stangers. The streets, chaotic though they may look at times, are very alive and bustling with a lot of things: vendors, jay walkers, shoppers, ...

We may not be as afluent as people who live in more developed countries, but I sense the people are genuinely much happier here, freer too.

I once had a bad experience taking pictures in the United States (I studied there for two years). One sunny, summer afternoon, I was taking pictures on the street. Minding people's privacy, which I knew was highly valued by Americans, I only took photos of buildings and architecture. Just when I was busy doing it, a police car stopped right in front of me, and the officers began to interrogate me. Apparently, a good citizen, seeing a stranger-looking guy taking pictures of buildings, had called the police. He/she might have thought that I was a terrorist planning a terror attact of some sort with my photography. Only with difficulty, and after a few phone calls to my university's international students' office, did I convince the officers that I was a legal resident and that I was not a bad guy. Still, I think, they keep a record of my identity.

It feels good to be free in a free country.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

City of People: Mirror Mirror on the Street, Tell Me Who's the Most Sweet


Text and picture by Eki Qushay Akhwan

Put a mirror on a sidewalk, and see what happens to passers-by. ^_^

I feel a bit exhausted today, and don't feel like writing anything for today's post. I hope this petite street humor could ceer you up a bit as it did me when I took this photo.

This is another photo that, I think, could be categorized into the Street Photography genre: It's about a moment on the street (public space), it concentrates on a single human action, it's candid (the photographer - that's me - did not interfere whatsoever with the subject and the development of the event), and it's in black and white.

I took this photo at Bandung's KICKFEST 2008 held earlier this month. This distro fest, as you may remember from a couple of my previous posts, was held as part of HELAR Fest, an annual event that celebrates creativity and Bandung's emerging prominence as a regional center for creative arts industry.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bandung Countryside #2 and The Strawberry Story

morning in bandung 1

Text and pictures by Eki Qushay Akhwan

This is another photo I took at my morning countryside walk with some colleagues recently.

As I said before, Bandung may be a bustling metropolis, but the countrysides surrounding it are still very rural and scenic; better still, they are never far away. This scenic panorama of a village in Cikole area, for example, is located only 17 kilometers (about 10 miles) north of Bandung.

Being located on a highland and surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, Bandung's soil is very fertile. Combine that with the mild and cool climate, what you get is abundance of agriculture produce (I said here, Bandung and West Java in general have the largest and most productive tea plantations in the country). Bandung is a major producer and one of the largest suppliers of vegetables on the island of Java.

Bandung Strawberry

Strawberry, or more precisely garden strawberry (Fragaria X Ananassa), the most common variety of strawberry cultivated worldwide, is the offspring of the accidental cross between North American strawberry (Fragaria Virginiana) whose nice flavor is very well known, and bigger-sized Chilean stawberry (Fragaria Chiloensis). This plant was first cultivated in Europe in the 18th century. There is a large varieties of stawberry cultivated worldwide, but this garden stawberry is supposed to be their Adam and Eve ^_^, including those cultivated in Bandung.

"Strawberry Tourism" (my term) is now very popular in Bandung. A lot of stawberry gardens are now open for the sole purpose of entertaining visitors's curiosity about this non-native plant. In these places you can pick this savory fruit yourselves, then weigh your picks and pay them at the cashier. Prices range from about 20,000 rupiahs (about US$2.2) to 30,000 (about US$ 3.3) per kilogram, depending on size and ripeness.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

City of People: Sunglasses Galore - Exploring Street Photography #3

Sunglasses Galore

Text and picture by © Eki Qushay Akhwan

Did you know that experiments with tinted lenses that are now used in sunglasses began as early as in the 18th century? Did you know that sunglasses (or tinted lenses) were once believed to be able to correct vision impairment, and even cure diseases such as syphilis? If you didn't then you can find the answers here.

For all the interesting and incredulous facts about sunglasses, they are now part of modern artifacts that many people love and use (or wear); not as a cure to a kind of STD disease as they were once believed to be, but more as a fashion statement and/or eye protector against the harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.

According to the same source I linked above, the first inexpensive mass-produced sunglasses were first introduced in the United States by a paticular Sam Foster in 1929. He found a ready market on the sunny beaches of the Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Anyway, I took the photo of the sunglasses vendor above on the steets of Bandung as part of my exploration of street photography themes.

In the previous posts here and here, I already wrote what street photography was essentially about. Now, allow me to write a bit about the technique.

As street photography is about taking photos of candid moments at public places without interference with the subjects and/or the unfolding event, being stealthy and inconspicuous is important for the photographer. Otherwise, you would disturb the subject's (and the unfolding event's) "candid equlibrium". This is a challenge that is not easy to meet, especially when we have to get close to the subject. On the one hand, the subjects would usually feel jittery, uncomfortable of an approaching camera on a public space. They would probably start acting unnaturally or become suspicious of the camera's presence, and this is a failure in street photography. On the other hand, the photographer him/herself would would probably feel shy and inhibited about approaching a stranger on a public space.

To overcome this, we could probably start with telephoto lens to avoid getting to close to the subjects. But this can't be our mode of operation all the time as photos taken with long lenses are not the same as those taken with shorter ones. Therefore, after a while you should try to be inconspicuous in other ways. A method that was practiced by practiced by Henri Cartier-Bresson was to make the camera invisible by wrapping a large piece of cloth around it and by "blending-in" with the subjects, e.g. wear something that makes you "invisible", act like you were one of them, and "befriend" them if necessary; take your time to get familiar with them and let them get familiar with you and don't rush into taking photos until your subjects feel comfortable with your presence and the camera.

I hope this tip is useful to you.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bandung Train Monument - The History of Railroad in Bandung


Text and picture by Eki Qushay Akhwan

Train was first introduced to Indonesia (then, Dutch East India) in 1864 with the construction of the first rail road between Kemijen and Tanggung (26 kilometers) in Central Java.


It was twenty years later, on May 17th, 1884, that the first train arrived in Bandung after the Dutch colonial government successfully contructed the rail road that linked Jakarta (then Batavia), Bogor (then Buitenzorg), Sukabumi, Ciajur, and Bandung. The effort to build this rail road was a formidable one as Bandung is located on a plateau and surrounded by mountainous terrains and deep valley rivers.

The second, more direct, and shorter railway route that connects Jakarta and Bandung through Cikampek and Purwakarta was successfully contstructed and dedicated on May 2nd, 1906, about a month after Bandung received its status as a municipality (Ductch: Gemeente) on April 1 of the same year. This new route cut the travel time between Jakarta and Bandung by about a half (with the former route it took about 6 hours to get to Bandung from Jakarta; with the new rounte it took only 2 hours and 45 minutes). This was a significant development in the history of Bandung as city. The speedier connection between Batavia and Bandung gave a significant boost to Bandung’s growth as an interior urban center.


The monument pictured here is located in the southern gate of Bandung Railway Station. It is a relatively new installation. In the spot where it stands now, there used to be a triangulation lamp tower that was built to mark the unniversary of SS (Staat Spoorwagen – State Railway Company). The lamp tower was designed by Ir. E.H. de Roo.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

City of People: Long Live the Republic - The Story of A Veteran

Text and pictures by Eki Qushay Akhwan

Today, August 17th, sixty three years ago, Indonesia proclaimed its independence. The history about our country's struggle for independence, our flag, and our coat of arms (the quintessential symbols of our existence as a nation state), may be found anywhere else on the internet. So, instead of picturing those symbols, allow me to share with you today the story of an individual; an eye-witness to our struggle for independence and for defending it against the colonial forces that was trying to recapture their former colony and subdue our independence.

Veteran 2

He might be a nobody. He might look like anybody. He's old and fragile. But it was for him and people like him that we now enjoy our independence.


His name is Saleh. A simple name. No title. No glittering stars decorating his chest. Only two simple and worn-out medals recognizing the service he had given to his country. He's wearing them proudly today. He's a fragile 78 year old man now. He was barely 15 when Indonesia proclaimed its independence. Yet, when the duty called to defend the young Republic, he unhesitantly raised his arms: ready to give his life to defend his rights, his people's rights, and the rights of all human kinds - freedom!

Veteran 5

I met him today at the Gasibu Square (the field in front of Gedung Sate, Bandung, West Java's governor's office mansion), just after the ceremony commemorating the 63rd anniversary of our proclamation of independence. He's still very much spirited when I asked him to share the story about the battles that took place in Bandung and its surrounding areas to defend the young Republic.

Veteran 4

I hope we will never forget men and women like him who fought for our independence. Our independence did not come as a free gift. We should never take it for granted. It is our turn now to give our best, so that the country that he and many others like him had helped established may prosper and have a dignified place among nations.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Bandung Countryside

Bandung Morning View

Text and picture by Eki Qushay Akhwan

While Bandung is a busy and bustling metropolis (it is the fourth largest city in Indonesia), the countryiside surrounding it is still basically very rural and surprisingly very close.

I took this photo at a village near Cikole, Lembang, some 17 kilometers north of Bandung sometime ago on my morning walk with some colleagues from the office. The best time to have a countryside walk in Bandung is early in the morning like this (about 5:30 a.m.) when the sun barely rises. The beauty of the scenenery covered in thin fog and the cool and fresh morning air, to me, are so inviting.

Friday, August 15, 2008

City of People: Old Habit Dies Hard - Exploring Street Photography #2

old habit dies hard

Text and picture by Eki Qushay Akhwan

The habit may begin as an innocent tryout. Then it sticks. How many smokers have tried quiting the the cigarette addiction. How many fail. The old habit dies hard.

Another picture of my City of People series taken from the streets. And as I promised yesterday, I'm going to write more about street photography.

Street photography usually concentrates on a single human action caught at what Henry Cartier Bresson called "the decisive moment". It is the moment that tells the whole story in a single frame.

Although not always, street photography is usually done as black and white photographs.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

City of People: Exploring Street Photography #1

Friends on the street 3

Friends on the street 4

Text and pictures by Eki Qushay Akhwan

Moments like this, in my opinion, can reveal more about the life of a city than the whole objects contained in it. It is because people are the heart of a city (It's a reiteration of the point I made when I first started my City of People Series).

In photography, this kind of photograph would be categorized as street photography, a genre of photography that focuses on documenting candid moments that happen on public places, such as the streets, markets, parks, beaches, etc.

This kind of photography tries to capture the scenes and moments as they are with no interference whatsoever in the unfolding of the event or with the subject. As such, technically (in the sense of sharpness, etc.), street photography photos often look "imperfect"; but if you look carefully, you can almost feel the purity and the essence of the vision. It's a piece of life fronzen in a frame.

I'll write more about street photography tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Baby in the Air


Text and picture by Eki Qushay Akhwan

It would certainly be horrifying to see a baby in the air. But this is what I see almost everyday on my way to work at the Pasteur Exit of Padaleunyi toll road. This sight never fails to amaze and amuse me. Come rain or shine, the baby has always been there, waving and smiling in the air. So, one day, I deliberately stopped my car and took this picture, so that when it's (or he's) gone, I can still smile and be amused just by looking at this picture.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

TOBUCIL Creativity and Literacy Club

Tobucil 2

Text and picture by Eki Qushay Akhwan

I came across this curious piece of paper-folding craft entitled "Lafafa Space" at the TOBUCIL tent at BANDUNG KICKFEST 2008, an event which was held as part of the HELAR Fest (Bandung's annual event for creative industry communities).

Tobucil which stands for Toko Buku Kecil (Small Book Store) is not an ordinary book store. It is not just a place that sells books but also a literacy and creativity club. According to its blog (in Indonesian language), this book store has philosophy club, reading club, writing club, and different kinds of handicraft clubs.

I've heard about this place for sometime but have not really got the chance to visit it. I think I'll have to do it soon, so that I can tell you more about it. For now, perhaps you could read this review at The Jakarta Post (Indonesia's largest English newspaper).

Tobucil 1

Monday, August 11, 2008

City of People: Futsal Players

Fultsal Players

Text and picture by Eki Qushay Akhwan

Back to my City of People series.

While Bandung and the Province of West Java in general are well-known for their world class badminton players, e.g. Susi Susanti (1992 Barcelona Olympic Games Gold Medalist), Rexy Mainaky & Ricky Subagja (1996 Atlanta Olympic Games Gold Medalists), Taufik Hidayat (2004 Athens Olympic Games Gold Medalist), it doesn't mean that Bandung people are not as passionate about other kinds sports as they are with badminton. In addition to Badminton, football (US: soccer), and basketball; futsal is a kind of sport that is increasingly becoming more popular in the city. A lot of young people play this sport nowadays. New fields and clubs are significantly growing in numbers as are competitions and championships.

Not being an aficionado of soccer, I did not know much about fulsal. All I know is that it is an indoor version of football/soccer. Unlike football/soccer, however, each team only has five players, one of whom is the goal keeper, and it is played with smaller ball than the ordinary football/soccer. The name fultsal itself comes from Portuguese word futebol de salao or Spanish word fulbol de salon (indoor football).

The young people in the photo above were playing fultsal at an exhebition competition recently held at Jalan Braga (Braga Street), Bandung.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Motorbikers' City: Sea of Motorbikes

Sea of Motorbikes 1

Sea of Motorbikes 2

Text and pictures by Eki Qushay Akhwan

As I wrote in my previous post, motorcycles or motorbikes are the main mode of private transportation in Bandung. As of 2007, motorbikes comprised about 55 percent (370,000 out of 670,000) of all registered motor vehicles in Bandung. This number is currently growing at about 25 percent per year. It is therefore not an exaggeration to say that Bandung is a motorbikers' city and to use the metaphor of sea for their huge number.

Although motorbike is arguably the most economical mode of transportation and the most agile to navigate the city's relatively small streets and roads, their existence is not without a problem. One of the biggest problems Bandung is facing today is the exponential growth of private motor vehicle ownership (not only motobikes but also cars) and the almost-zero growth of road lenghth. For a city of 167.29 square kilometers, Bandung only has about 1,169 kilometers of road (or only about 3.7 percent of the city's total area). I don't have any latest statistics on the growth of road lenghth, but as an example, in 2005, there was only 3.6 kilometers (2.6 percent) of new road being constructed. This condition has made the city more and more prone to traffic congestions, especially during the weekends or holiday seasons when about 1,500 cars per day flock the city from the neighboring cities like Jakarta.

Bandung certainly needs a more efficient public and mass transportation system. There have been talks going on about building a monorail MRT and improving the existing commuter train lines. But until an efficient mass transit system is in place, Bandung is and will still be facing the dire problem of traffic congestion and pollution.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Walini Tea Plantation

Ciwalini Tea Plantation

Text and picture by Eki Qushay Akhwan

Located on a high land and surrounded by mountains, Bandung and its surrounding areas have long been known for their ideal climate and fertility for agroindustry. This potential was well exploited by the Dutch to plant commodity crops such as tea, coffee, and quinine.

Huge tea, coffee, and quinine plantations can be found in the north and south of Bandung. Pictured above is Walini tea plantation located near Kawah Putih (White Crater). This plantation is now owned and managed by a state-owned company PT Perkebunan VIII (Persero). In addition to being a productive plantation producing high quality high land tea, this plantation is now also being offered as an agrotourism destination where visitors can have tea walk, horse ride, and other activities. Right in the middle of this plantation, there is also a natural hot water pool where visitors can swim or have a relaxing hot bath in private bathrooms.

Photography tip of the day: Landscape photography #2
Another thing that we can do to improve the impact of our landscape photographs is to place an object of interest in the foreground to create a sense of depth. In the picture above, the tree I placed in the foreground and the path helped create a sense of depth in the landscape.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Negeri di Atas Awan - A Land over the Clouds



Text and pictures by Eki Qushay Akhwan

On the way up to Kawah Putih (White Crater), there is a forest clearing right on the side of road where we can see the whole mountain range in the South of Bandung. The view from this high vantage point is so breathtaking, that it's worth stopping by just to sit and enjoy the view. To me, it's also a great place to reflect upon the greatness of nature and of our place in it.

Photography tip of the day: Landscape Photography
I took these pictures with a small point and shoot camera, my faithful Canon Powershot A510. I didn't have much control over the exposure. But even with a point and shoot pocket camera, great landscape photographs can still be made. With landscape photography, one of the things we can do to improve the impact of our photographs is to find a high vantage point which could give you a commanding point of the scene. If you have an SLR camera, which gives you control over the exposure, set the aperture to the smallest (larger f number, e.g. f/11, f/16, f/22) to give a wider/deeper Depth of Field, so that every detail will be sharp and in focus.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

KAWAH PUTIH (The White Crater): The Legend


Text and picture by Eki Qushay Akhwan

Before being discovered in 1837, the people who lived around Mt. Patuha believed that the mountain top was a sacred place, haunted by the holy spirits of their the their ancestors. They would never venture anywhere near the mountain top's forests. A trespass like that would mean bad luck or even death. They also believed that on certain nights these spirits would have a meeting discussing the security and welfare of their people and the conservation of the forests and the natural recources that supported their livelihood.

The legend had had the beauty of Kawah Putih hidden and the pristine forests surrounding it preseved for centuries until its discovery in 1837.

A note about the color of the water:
Kawah Putih is a crater lake that covers an active (fumarolic) volcano which has been dormant since 1600. As such they water is typically acidic, saturated with volcanic gases, and cloudy with a strong greenish color. (Wikipedia: Crater Lake).

kawah putih 3

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

KAWAH PUTIH - The White Crater

3 Agustus 2008 CANON A 510 101B

Text and picture by Eki Qushay Akhwan

A Singaporean photographer friend, his wife, and their Malaysian friends came to visit this weekend. I took them to Kawah Putih (which literally means White Crater) in the south of Bandung on Sunday.

Kawah Putih is arguably one of the most beautiful crater lakes on the island of Java, and quite probably in the Indonesian archipelago. It is located about 46 kilometers south of Bandung on Patuha mountain (2,434 meters above sea level). The crater was discovered by a Dutch-German botanist and platation estate owner Franz Wilhelm Junghuhn in 1837. According to geologists, this crater lake was created as a result of Mt. Patuha volcanic erruption in the year 1000 - 1200.

More photos and stories about it on tomorrow's post.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Minimalist Architecture


Text and picture by Eki Qushay Akhwan

I found this interesting "design" at a shop which had just been renovated near where I live. "Minimalist Architecture" (that's what it is called here) is currently a trend in the structural design of buildings in Indonesia. This kind of design is characterized by, among others, the absence of ornate ornaments, the use of straight and simple lines and geometry, and the use of bright colors.

I don't know if this kind of design is also the current trend in architecture in other countries. I would appreciate if anyone could share with me if it is.

Monday, August 4, 2008

AIDS: I care, do you?


Text and picture by Eki Qushay Akhwan

My yesterday's post seemed to have generated some misunderstanding, despite the commentary I wrote. Horny Clinic is NOT a medical institution, but a local fashion/apparel trade mark and store. The name they chose may seem impertinent and offensive to some people, but I should admit that it is very catchy and gets the attention of many (it did get mine).

All that aside, I must also say that I like the creative process the choosing of the name must have involved. In addition to that, the theme of their commercial campaign, like the one they did here at Bandung's KICKFEST 2008, also had some social responsibility that is nicely linked to their namesake: "AIDS, I care. Do you?"

We should certainly do. Teenagers are one of the groups of people who are increasingly prone to becoming infected with this deadly disease. And no means of delivering a message about avoiding risky behaviors (free sex, drug use) that could get them infected with this disease are more effective in reaching this age group than to one of the very things the love most: Fashion.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


horny clinic 2

Text and pictures by Eki Qushay Akhwan

My appology for the title of this post. I don't mean to be impertinent or offensive. The title is not mine, but a registered trade mark of a fashion company based in Bandung. Creativiy seems to have no limit, does it?

I am proud to live in a city where creativity finds its expressions and is generously appreciated, enjoyed, and shared by its people.

horny clinic 1

Saturday, August 2, 2008

HELAR Fest 2008: The Sudden Rain

Text and pictures by Eki Qushay Akhwan

There are a number of festivals going on in Bandung in July and August. One of them is the HELAR Fest 2008. This festival is an annual creative art fest held to promote Bandung as an emerging center for the creative art industry in the country and regionally (I'll tell you more about it in tomorrow's post).

Anyway, as I did not have to go to work today, I decided to go to there this afternoon. The event was very impressive and visually entertaining. Then the rain started to fall. (August is the peak of the dry season in Bandung and we don't usually expect rain to fall this time of the year. So, the rain was actually a nice cooling break from the heat of dry season.)

I was a bit discouraged at first, but, observing how people reacted to the sudden rain through my camera's view finder, I began to realize that it was actually very interesting photographically. So I began to take pictures again, and here are some of them:


Some of them didn't seem to care about getting wet like these teenagers. It was not a heavy rain after all.


Some seemed to have been prepared with umbrellas (I don't know how they knew it was going to rain).


Still, some prefered to find a shelter and waited till the rain stopped, like these two stand attendants who had just had their lunch at a tent cafe when the rain began to fall.

Friday, August 1, 2008

License Plates (Theme Day Picture)


My first participation in the Theme Day, and my 50th post!

Click here to view thumbnails for all participants

Pictured above are license plates displayed on a street side fence by a street side plate maker.

And here are some interesting tids and bits about license plates:
  • Lincense plates have been in existence for as long as automobiles. The first appeared during the transition from horse-drawn carts to automobiles, between 1890 - 1910.
  • The first country to introduce a national license plate was the Netherlands in 1898. The first licenses consisted only of numbers.
  • In the United States, license plates were not originally issued by the goverment. Individual owners of motor vehicles had to make their own. Masschusetts and West Viriginia were the first states to issue license plates in 1903. New York State required motor vehicles to have license plates in 1901, but did not issue them. Individual motor vehicle owners had to make them themselves.
  • License plates have not always been made of metal. At one time they were made of porcelain baked onto iron, plain ceramic, carton, plastic, copper, and even pressed soybeans!
  • License plates are collectible objects and there are groups and organizations dedicated to this.

Indonesian License Plates consist of a combination of alphabets and numbers. The initial letter(s) indicate the region in which the vehicle is registered, the numbers are the unique identification number the vehicle, and the letters at the end are the serial code or district identification. Indonesian license plates are basically categorized into the following:

  • Commercial vehicles: a yellow background and black numbering.
  • Private vehicles: a black background with white letters.
  • Government vehicles: red with white fonts.
  • Dealer plates: white with red letters.
  • Military plates for Army, Navy, Air Force, and also the Police.
  • Diplomatic corps: white plates and black numbering with "CD" prefix.