Being the 4th most populous country in the world, Indonesia is truly one of the countries with the most culturally-diverse population, with so many ethnic groups spread throughout its vast archipelago. Each of them certainly has its own traditions, which is interesting to learn and explore.
However, surely it can take you months or even years if you want to visit and get to know more about each of Indonesia’s many ethnic groups. Well, you are lucky enough to be in Jakarta, because here you can go to Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (TMII) Also known as ‘Beautiful Indonesia Miniature Park’, this is where you can learn more about the country’s diversity.
Promoting Indonesia’s diversity
Taman Mini Indonesia Indah is a 150 hectare (370.66 acres) cultural park, founded in 1975 by former Indonesian first lady, Tien Suharto, for the purpose of promoting Indonesia’s rich cultural diversity to the world. This park is so huge that it will take you all day to explore. What can we see inside this humongous park? Read on and you will be amazed!
An aerial view of Indonesia on a lake
The Indonesian archipelago, which is known as ‘the emerald of the equator,’ has 13,466 islands. This makes Indonesia the world’s largest archipelagic country. It’s not an exaggeration for this archipelago to have such a beautiful nickname because Indonesia has the largest tropical forest areas, which means most of its islands are green when seen from the sky. This greenness is well represented on maps, including what you will find at Beautiful Indonesia Miniature Park.
You will find a map in the middle of the park, however, it is not a regular one. It is a giant replica of the Indonesian archipelago on a man-made lake, where every island can be found on the lake’s surface. You can see parts of the replica from land, but to have a better view of it, you can ride a cable car, from where you will travel across this huge park and see all parts of the replica archipelago from above.
The unique traditional houses
There are more than 300 different ethnic groups in Indonesia and many of them are culturally represented in this park, based on the provinces where they come from; from Aceh in the west to Papua in the east. What is so good about it? Well, most visitors don’t have the time to travel all over this vast country, but amazingly, here you can explore the country in just 1 day!
There are 34 cultural pavilions (or ‘anjungan’ in Indonesian), and each of them represents the cultures of ethnic groups in Indonesia. Besides the well-known, unique building exterior and interior architectures (e.g., the thatched roofs of Papuan houses and the pointed roof tips of Minang houses in Sumatra), you will also find unique traditional clothes and cooking utensils, such as ‘kebaya’ (combination of long-sleeved blouse and long skirt with flowery motifs, often worn by females in Java and Bali), and the grinding tool made of stone named ‘cobek.’ You can buy several of these unique goods from the souvenir shop in each pavilion.
Also, in each pavilion, there is a stage where live ethnic performances of traditional ceremonies and dances, such as the graceful Balinese dance and the dead ceremony of the Torajan (from Sulawesi) people, showing at different times throughout the week.
Indonesia’s national motto, ‘Bhinneka Tunggal Ika,’ which means ‘diverse but united,’ is appropriate as this country has become one of the most tolerant of religious diversity in the world. People of different religions live together peacefully. It’s not uncommon to see several different religious buildings in the same neighborhood and this is what this park tries to replicate. There is a mosque, 2 churches (Protestant and Catholic), a Hindu temple and a Buddhist temple located side by side. Indeed, tolerance is beautiful.
Many more kid-friendly attractions
The park has many other attractions, especially for kids. There is a waterpark named ‘Snowbay’ where you and your kids can play on many kinds of water rides. For example, you can relax on Typhoon River, where you will drift slowly along the pool, or you can try a challenging ride, like Tube Coaster, where you will slide through a tunnel from the height of several meters down to the pool.
There are also educational attractions, such as ‘Keong Mas,’ which is a cinema where the building looks like a giant golden snail, that plays films about Indonesian ethnic groups and their cultures. You’ll also find a transport museum, where you will see collections of vehicles from around the world, including the Indonesian ‘becak,’ which is a the human-pedaled tricycle taxi, and the wooden horse carriage called ‘dokar.’
Your kids will also love the Children Palace (or ‘Istana Anak;), a building resembling the iconic building of Walt Disney, where they can learn about Javanese puppets, ‘wayang,’ and traditional Indonesian musical instruments such as the tambourine (gendang).
Don’t leave Jakarta without visiting this park
The park’s operational hours are from 9 am to 10 pm, but many of its attractions close much earlier than that (the traditional pavilions close at 4 pm and the Children Palace at 5 pm). It’s better to arrive in the morning, as you’ll be able to explore the whole area and enjoy cooler morning weather.
It costs 10,000 IDR (0.75 USD) for admission, but other than the traditional pavilions, you need to pay an additional fee for each ride and attraction (from 2,000 IDR to 180,000 IDR, or 0.15 USD to 13.54 USD, depending on what you choose to do). Besides exploring the area on foot, you can also explore the park by car (it costs an additional 10,000 IDR, or 0.75 USD for a car entry), or alternatively, you can rent a motorbike from the park for 100,000 IDR (0.75 USD) for 2 hours.
There are many Western, Indonesian and some other Asian restaurants and cafés in the park, so you don’t need to worry about getting hungry. You don’t really need to bring a guide with you as there are pamphlets in each traditional house and you can ask the helpful and informative staff anything about a particular culture. So, when is your next visit to Jakarta? Make sure you don’t leave Jakarta before visiting this brilliantly designed, humongous park!
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