Friday 28 February 2014

Arsenal 4-1 Sunderland [Hotel Bumi Asih Jaya, Bandung, Indonesia]

Good day Gooners.

Normal service has been resumed, we've wiped our shoes of Sunderland's general shoddiness and clearly have one and a half eyes firmly on the Premier League title (when could we last say that going into March?).
Bandung Gooners

Writing this piece from the same Singapore apartment I was in two weeks ago, I'm rather relieved to be back in a city that doesn't wreak of pandemonium everywhere you set foot. Jakarta was a huge step into the unknown for me, a place where essentially every single one of your senses can be rudely awakened, simultaneously. It's a dirty, smelly place, filled with pollution and people wanting to make money out of you any way that they can. But it's also filled with culture, top-notch arts and great food (if you know where you're going that is). Each person I met was not only incredibly kind and generous, but also very proud of their country.

I didn't just visit Jakarta whilst in Indonesia though, I had the opportunity to visit Bandung, the capital of West Java and the first place to hold the Asian-African Conference (also aptly named the 'Bandung Conference'), in 1955.

Bandung Gooners
It was in Bandung that I watched the Sunderland game, and originally we had planned to watch at the Bandung Arsenal Supporter's homebase, Legian Terrace. Unfortunately, due to new rules being established that prevents bars and pubs from opening past 11pm, we had to choose an alternative venue. Hotel Bumi Asih Jaya was decided upon with only a few hours to go before kickoff. I was
expecting it to be a poor turnout because of this, but to my surprise around 150 Arsenal fans turned up for the game, including a coach-load of Gooners from Karawang more than an hour away.

The Bandung fans certainly are passionate, singing more or less non-stop from kick-off to the full-time whistle. And they were obviously in good spirits because we were watching a dominating display by the Gunners over a poor, poor Sunderland side

After the game we visited a local natural springs hot pool to relieve all the non-stress from the game (it's nice to have a comfortable win every once in a while) before heading back to a graphics studio which local Gooner Arsya had arranged for us to sleep at.

An alley
I was off back to Jakarta the following day, via surprisingly comfortable train, to spend my last evening with the Gooners that I had met during my stay. We had some Murtabuk and some Fried Chicken, took a few photos and shared a few stories (of which I'm sure there would be many more had I longer to stay) before bidding farewell.

Now back in Singapore, you probably won't be surprised to learn that I'm on a crash diet. The coronary fest of the quite typical Jakarta eating habits has gotten the better of me and now my waistline has given in completely. Time for a change!