After a day spent traveling and getting stuck in traffic along Jakarta’s busiest highways, our feet were itching to travel. The morning after our arrival we were faced with two options: visit Old Batavia or go to Taman Mini Indonesia. We chose the latter given its nearness to our residence. Before going to Taman Mini I had some misgivings about visiting a park celebrating all things Indonesia, the very idea was like going to Luneta and seeing the giant relief map of the country with garbage floating near one of the Visayas islands. However my misgivings were turned around when I finally saw Taman Mini and learned a great deal about Indonesian culture.
Taman Mini Indonesia translated is Little Indonesia Park, and it is all things Indonesia, every culture and, tradition, practice, and it was a wonderful education. Upon entering the park we made our way around, not knowing where to go and what to do, as we walked I spotted an old building with an almost temple like architecture. As curiosity would have it I found my first museum in Indonesia aptly called, Museum Indonesia.
Inside the museum was divided into distinct parts: culture and traditions. The cultural parts were overwhelming, glass cases filled with mannequins dressed in the traditional garb of the Indonesia’s many different provinces, jewelry, puppetry, and pictures of the country’s past. I was most amazed with the exhibits on the traditional Indonesia dresses, given its size, each province was able to carve out their own identity and showcase a unique aspect of their own culture. As I moved along the dress exhibit, we couldn’t help remark on how some aspects of Indonesian culture made its way into our own, there were some dresses that looked very Ifugao, others distinctly from Mindanao.
Another exhibit I really enjoyed was the one of puppets, or Wayang, wherein the use of figurines, light, and maybe one or two puppeteers recreate the story of Rama and Sinta (Sita) from the Hindu epic, Ramayana. The exhibit was vast and showed the complexity of mounting a show. Seeing the life-sized wayang diorama only heightened my interest of the practice even more.
The experience inside the museum was a good way to start my education of Indonesia. But it was time for us to explore the park even further. Since Taman Mini is a huge compound and the museum only took about 1/8th of it, there were three options to make the most out of the park: ride a cable car and see the park from above, ride a tramvia and get on/off at different parts, or rent a bike for an hour and go for a leisurely bike. We took the last option and set off to see more of Taman Mini.
To liken the park to one we have here in Luneta is an understatement, the park was vast and the museum we had just went to was only a snippet of Indonesia’s culture and heritage. In fact the park celebrates the country’s heritage through mini museums housed in replicas of traditional Indonesian houses. Buildings upon buildings replicating a certain province and within each building were performers singing and performing traditional arts native to that part of the country.
It was evident though we wouldn’t be able to see the park to its fullest. We biked from one place to another, stopping here and there for breaks, and photoshoots. The one province we did stop in was Bali, the distinct and ancient columns and really colorful Balinese door was enough for us to get off our bikes and see why people love going here.
After spending the entire morning and the first part of our trip, I am glad that we visited the park first before going off anywhere else. I may not have understood much (most of the signs were in the native language) about the country but the visual aspect of seeing, touching, and experiencing all of it was enough to prepare me for the coming days in the trip.
Taman Mini Indonesia
East Jakarta, Special Capitol Region of Jakarta, Indonesia
Open from 7am – 10pm everyday
Rp. 10.000/person for entrance
Rp. 15.000/ person for Museum Indonesia