Taman Mini Indonesia- Jakarta

Big sculpture with fountains around it
Whilst searching for things to do in Jakarta, I came upon Mini Indonesia. I thought to myself, “Definitely a tourist trap, but a cool place to get an overall feel for Indonesian architecture, culture, animals, etc. before we go off to what the city-folk dub as the middle of nowhere.” So off we went. It was only slightly unsettling that the Concierge asked us why we picked Taman Mini when there are other things to see, but really my reasoning was that it looked like a big place with plenty of space for Landon to run around without worrying about him ruining something at a museum or getting ran over by a car. He seemed to think that was an OK reason. We decided to just get a ride there and call the hotel back when we wanted a ride back. In hindsight, not a great plan, but I guess we were safe and it worked out alright in the end. Anyway, our driver was disappointed that we did not want to pay for him to wait for us outside the gates. 

Architecture outside one of the museums

We were dropped off next to this big sculpture pictured above. We were looking for an information booth to get a map. You paid for entry into the place on the drive in, so there was no opportunity to get a map where tickets were purchased. So, we searched and finally found an information booth. All around this sculpture were trees and an Indonesian-proclaimed picnic area. The whole ground was covered with blankets and people eating and relaxing. It was a pretty hot day, but I thought it was interesting that they paid money to come sit on the ground inside of the park.

We had every intention of going to some of the museums inside of the park. The above picture was around the corner from one of the museums in the front, but if I remember correctly, this is when we saw the Information center and made a beeline for that in order to get a map. When we got to Information and told them we were on foot with a stroller, they told Austin he was crazy! It was way too hot to be on foot (without a car). I guess most people who are going to see all of the different exhibits go from attraction to attraction in a car. Oh well! Too late for that! We got a map and some suggestions on things that Landon would enjoy, then Landon picked our first attraction- the Cable Car!

Right outside the Information booth was a station for the Cable Car. It was less than a dollar each to get into the park, but the caveat is that you pay for everything inside separately. For 2.50 each, we rode the Cable Car. It took us way up in the sky- which Landon really enjoyed, and Austin and I enjoyed seeing some of the traditional Indonesian style houses and buildings from the different islands. It was cool to see that some seemed to have more Asian influences, while others looked like more Islander influenced.

My boys enjoying the Cable Cars!

This was one of my favorites… the details on the roof tip were really interesting!

The house on giant stilts

Smack dab in the middle of the park was a big lake. In the lake, they had made islands shaped exactly like the country of Indonesia. It was pretty cool to see it from above.

We also saw the Children’s amusement park from above. We didn’t get a chance to check it out (there was just too much to see and it was WAY too hot!) but this big castle seemed out of place, but a fun place to take the kids!

In order to hit the bird house first, we only took the cable car half way around the park. Outside of the cable car house was this big monument thingy. I’m not sure what it is…

Landon is starting to get bossy, and so as I had my camera out, he said, “Mommy, take picture of dis!” and pointed to the bird on the wall. I obliged. Also, we all tried to stay hydrated in the hot temperatures! In front of the bird house, Landon spotted the “funny bunnies” as he named them. I don’t know where the phrase “funny bunny” came from in his mind, but he says it every time he is doing something silly. WELLL, when some real life funny bunnies came walking toward us, Landon was very excited! Mommy and daddy were a little frightened…
They posed for pictures…

And even picked Landon up…

Then they opened pouches in the front of their costumes, presumably asking for money. Landon had so much fun interacting with them that we had to oblige, plus we had already taken the pictures…

With a few less dollars in our pockets, we went to the bird house. Unfortunately most of the birds were in these cages so the pictures did not turn out as well as I might have hoped. Landon loves peacocks, and remembers seeing many of them in India, so he was happy to see more in the bird house. This first guy was parading around and then did his dance for us. I had never seen the whole display in person so it was quite interesting.

Thankfully, the bird house was just enclosed wire mesh domes so it was not hotter than outside, although I’m not sure that is even possible. There were little streams and ponds going through the domes, as well as some birds roaming free. I was impressed with the root system of these plants- there were very fat roots growing all over the ground. It seemed like if I stepped on them they would wrap around my legs and pull me down into the ground or something…

Boys in the bird house

In between different sections of bird house, there was this bigger pond/lake with big storks, swans and pelicans hanging out in and around it. Landon and Austin stopped to look at all the giant birds!

We saw many tropical type birds like macaus, parakeets, parrots, etc. This one was an interesting color…

From afar we saw this Cassowary and were interested in seeing it up close. It looks like a cross between a turkey and an emu. It was a huge, beautiful bird- although I would not want to come across one in the wild!

After the birds, we walked around the back of the place and passed several museums including an oil and gas museum that Austin really wanted to go in. We decided to try to hit the main things that Landon would like, and then see other things later. So we passed it, as well as this “Monument of Friendship of the Non-Aligned Countries.” I’m not entirely sure what that means…

Next on our list of must-see attractions was the Komodo Dragon museum. I saw a Komodo Dragon at the Toronto zoo when I was in elementary school and ever since then they have held a special place in my heart. Anyway, walking up to the museum there was no doubt we were in the right place- it was shaped like a Komodo Dragon!

Around the outside of the building were different exhibits with reptiles and amphibians. We saw a few big, scary salt water crocodiles…

Before coming to the Komodo Dragon. It was huge! It looked like on a busier tourist day you could pay to go into its enclosure and pet it and take pictures. I will pass on that!

Underneath the Komodo exhibit was an exhibit about all sorts of venomous snakes that are native to Indonesia. While the Komodo Dragon lives primarily on Sumatra, many of the venomous snakes were indigenous to Java and I’m now officially scared to go on hikes. There were several species of cobras, including the King cobra, and at least 10 species of pit vipers. Sounds exciting, right? After that exhibit, there was an area where you could meet and pet some of the reptiles. Landon took an immediate liking to this tortoise, which was not fast enough to get away from him. There was also a giant python of some type. It did not bite, and seemed fairly friendly. When we got there, the handlers were wrapping it around elementary school-aged children and parents were taking pictures. I’m glad that they didn’t try to do that to Landon!
What they did do is stretch the snake out on the benches behind us and let Landon and I handle the head. It was a strong snake! It was shedding and we enjoyed petting it and then washing our hands well afterwards. Don’t worry, Landon’s finger hand never touched the snake!

We were not sure what was inside the Komodo dragon building, but when we went in we saw it was a small natural history museum that included big dioramas with all the animals that live on the islands of Indonesia. Sumatra has tigers and rhinos and komodo dragons, so I’m ok that we’re not going there this trip. Also, this was one of the first signs that we saw that just did not make any sense at all

“except alive at forests also at landing malaya, thailand, indocina birma, streaky the child body,
when big little by little lost by itself.”

After the Komodo exhibit we walked by some of the buildings that represented different styles of architecture for different islands.

This was one of my favorites with the interesting roof shapes! After passing several of these “villages”, we saw the Transportation museum and thought Landon would enjoy that. We were right. There was a helicopter, airplane, cars, buses, several trains, and a boat. Landon ran around like a kid in a candy store. 

We got to go in an old train car!

There were several different groups taking pictures in and around the train cars- like models dressed up or in one case, a couple either taking wedding or engagement photos. That was interesting, and we tried to stay out of their shots!

This double decker bus was huge! I’m not sure how it did not tip over!

Interesting statue at the transportation museum

After getting done with the museum, we decided to check out a few more houses on our way back up to the front of the place. We stopped first at Bali- although we are hoping to make it there this trip! Cross your fingers! Balinese buildings looked very old and ornate with gold detailing.

They also had a gamelan set in a room in the Bali area. When we arrived at Mini Indonesia, I heard a live gamelan playing but we were unable to track down any other performances, which disappointed me. It sounds very metallic- the xylophone looking instruments are made out of metal, as are the series of gongs and “drums”. The music that they perform is very ornate and layered and sounds really different! It is on my bucket list to hear a gamelan concert before we leave Indonesia.

Every island had this sign out front of the architecture so you could tell which island it was from… this one just had the longest name

Pura… building (belongs to the sign above)

 I am surprised by how much Indonesian I can read or deduce by looking at the letters. Latin letters really help with that, but also many words can be “translated” by just sounding them out- take “Katholik” in the picture below- It was a Catholic church. See? I’m not sure if this is just for newer words or not, but I know that taxi is “taksi”. Understanding people speaking Indonesian is a different story.  Another funny thing- we saw one other white person the whole time we were there- seemed most people were Indonesians with some other vacationing Asians mixed in.

Now let’s discuss a series of unfortunate events. We walk up close to the entrance, because Austin wants to be able to tell the hotel a good meeting spot for the driver to pick us up. We try to call the hotel. Unfortunately, Austin doesn’t know that a 0 is very important as part of the area code here. So he can’t get his phone to work. We start walking back to the Information center- it is air conditioned and people there speak English. He learns that he can reach the hotel and the hotel finds a driver and tells him to come pick us up. Turns out, it is the same driver that dropped us off- the one that is not very happy that we did not pay him to sit around all day.

So we wait and wait. Austin calls the hotel back and they say that the driver is almost there! We decide to wait by the library. A graduation has just gotten out and there are people and cars everywhere- mostly trying to leave the premises. So we wait. I decide I need more water and head off to get some. We wait another hour. Austin calls the hotel again, and they call back saying that the driver is stuck in the graduation traffic. Fortunately, about 45 minutes into this debacle, Landon fell asleep. Austin gets hungry and gets fried chicken. The driver arrives! Hooray for air conditioning! 

We were not done yet, though. There was a ton of traffic on the main freeway type road, so he takes us a “back way.” It ended up costing a lot more money on the way back, so we are still not sure if he was taking us on a ride to get more money because he was mad at us, or if he was honestly trying to avoid traffic. He took us down some interesting back roads that were tiny- one skinny lane in each direction with ditches dug on the side because of road work. We got to see a side of Jakarta we had not seen yet- in shanty type homes, small dirt floor shops, and lots of laundry lines. It ended up taking us an hour and a half to get back to the hotel, when it took us about 30 minutes to get there. It was right around 5:00, though. 
In conclusion, Mini Indonesia was worth seeing. In hindsight, calling the hotel when we had about an hour left of seeing stuff would have been a better idea.  There were lots of things we didn’t see- culture museums and science museums and a water park. Maybe next time…  

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