It’s been just over four years since we first visited Taman Nusa, the cultural park in Gianyar with the tag line ‘Visit Indonesia in an afternoon’. In 2013 it had just opened. ‘Just opened’ as in a day or so before our visit. I wrote about that trip here. Back then it was terrific, but it was also about potential. You could see what it might become. So what changes had four years brought?
An area that had been hot and dry was now lush, shaded and cool. The jungle had sprung up, softening and taking the newness away. What had first appeared to be a rather ambitious to-scale rendering of the magnificent Borobudur temple now looked as if it had been there forever and not tacky at all as we had feared, with beautiful carvings obviously executed by very skilled craftsmen. This time we visited with friends who are very familiar with many parts of Indonesia, and therefore eagle-eyed for flaws. None at all, they left very impressed and intend to return with their own guests.
The winding layout throughout a very large parkland begins in an introductory hall and leads through prehistoric Indonesia to post-Independence, visiting all 34 provinces, from Papua to Aceh, along the way. Houses, furniture, artefacts and cultural expressions such as dance, music, weaving, carving and batik have been brought from all over the country so there is no questioning the authenticity.
Taman Nusa is the vision of Pak Santoso Senangsyah, a businessman from Java who has invested hugely in this enterprise. As with our first visit we had the pleasure of meeting him again, and he was not merely polite, he genuinely recalled the meeting, perhaps because of Eddie’s brief TV appearance last time. We noticed that a few adjustments have been made over the years: the museum is now finished and contains some wonderful examples of arts and crafts, particularly textiles. The big restaurant is no longer open, having been replaced with a more casual cafe area. Obviously feedback is being heeded, as prices have been reduced also. As holders of residency permits it cost us a mere IDR85.000 for a full day’s entertainment. Tourists’ price is IDR300.000, very reasonable for all that is on display.
My photos of the day had a theme of the colour and texture of Indonesia. A few here. Taman Nusa whets the appetite for a focused trip to other parts of the archipelago. Independence Day later this week reminds us that the national motto is ‘Unity in Diversity’. With more than 17000 islands and 700 languages, coming to grips with the diversity of Indonesia is a tall task. Taman Nusa is an excellent starting point.