Situated a couple of hours' drive (70 mi/115 km) southeast of Jakarta, the hillside city of Bandung offers a welcome escape from the heat and pollution of Indonesia's capital.
The city of 2 million is built up and heavily congested, but it is nevertheless green, and its setting—in a basin surrounded by volcanic peaks—is impressive. Although the city is growing fast, it retains its small-town charm. Broad avenues are flanked by handsome European trees, and the downtown area boasts one of Asia's most impressive collections of art-deco buildings.
Famous as the capital of Sundanese culture, Bandung is known for its wayang golek (puppet shows involving intricately carved stick and shadow puppets illustrating epics from history, myth and religion) and gamelan (a traditional orchestra using different percussion instruments similar to xylophones, bells, gongs and drums). Regular performances can be seen in hotels and restaurants in town.
Bandung also has become the "reject shop" capital of Indonesia, with many factory outlets offering visitors great bargains.
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