“Stranded in Jakarta.” That is what comes to mind every time my husband and I have to spend a weekend in the capital city of Indonesia. To beat the boredom, we decided to venture out to see ‘Taman Mini Indonesia’, a sprawling culture-based recreational area, spanning 250 acres that brings to life all the twenty seven provinces of Indonesia. Conceived by the Tien Suharto, wife of the late President Suharto, and built in 1975, the park recreates the architecture, food, dress and handicrafts of every island on separate pavilions. It was a visual delight to see the dazzling delights of one thousand islands captured beautifully in one place. A wobbly cable car ride gives a bird’s eye view of the park which also has a lake that is a miniature recreation of the Indonesian archipelago. There is an aviary housing the 160 indigenous species of Indonesia’s rare birds and a reptile museum housed in a building that resembles a dinosaur. In case you are not a culture-vulture, a water park, an imax theater and a collection of museums ranging from telecom to transport make this definitely one of the must-visit places in Indonesia.The fun part is getting around the sprawling acreage on these eccentric two-wheelers which are designed to make the pillion rider feel way shorter than the driver!
What was shocking though was the incredible tourist-unfriendliness of the place. All the signages are in Bahasa, there was no one at the Information centers and there was not one person we came across that understood even very basic English to give us directions. As though shying away from all things global, the tiny restaurants that dot the park serve only local soft drinks. No coke or pepsi? Dude, seriously! The refreshingly sweet coconut water saved the day.
Taman Mini is Indonesia’s best kept secret. A little sprucing up, a little more tourist-friendliness and Taman Mini could perfectly showcase to the world what a fascinating place Indonesia is.