Taman Festival: Bali’s ghost town
What we say:
Taman Festival is a vast yet never completed entertainment complex a 20-minute bicycle ride north from Sanur beach. While the park had a soft opening in 1997, it closed its doors in 2000 and has been abandoned ever since.
According to Bali news site BaliDiscovery, the park was a joint venture between the local government of Bali and Indonesian businessman Bambang Pengestu, but after shutting its doors the project became mired in legal disputes and I’m not even going to pretend to know the legal status of the place now.
When Pengestu walked away a number of animals were abandoned alongside the park, including a crocodile pit full of, well, crocodiles, and turtles. You can see some photos from 2008 here. When we first moved to Sanur a few years ago, we heard stories of the crocodiles and that locals would feed them chickens.
The story goes the crocs resorted to cannibalism and while I didn’t see any, I’m not going to say I wasn’t more than a little bit concerned and did keep my distance from the more swampy sections. I asked a bunch of security guards hanging about out the front about them, but as I didn’t know the Indonesian word for crocodile, I resorted to making snapping gestures with my arms — they thought I was a bit mad.
The park really is like the land where time stopped. Ticket offices and pizza signs remain and I found a half-smashed scale model of the whole place, adding to the ghost town feeling of the place.
Many of the wooden roofs are half-collapsed and while the “Mongolian Festival House” looked interesting, I’d have had to jump over a lime green pond that if not home to crocs was I’m sure was the lair of a giant anaconda or some other tourist-eating-beastie, so I gave it a miss.
The boulevards are still easy to make out, lined by palm trees that have lost their tops and decorative times under foot. Graffiti is everywhere, but save a solitary fisherman walking through I didn’t see another soul in the place.
Aside from the non-functioning artificial volcano that I think I’d need to have swum the main pond to reach (sorry guys), the most striking part of the complex is a massive lumbung-styled building that has lost much of its roof. You can see it from Sanur proper and it’s a spectacular scene, yet again with its own pond of jet black water hiding who knows what.
The best way to reach here is by bicycle. Ride along Sanur’s beachfront boardwalk and just keep going. The ride should take about 20 minutes. Allow at least an hour to explore the site and don’t forget a stun gun to keep the crocs at bay.Last updated: 3rd March, 2015
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