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Quirky, wonderful sights in Indonesia

Rome Jorge
Quirky, wonderful sights in Indonesia

Romano Cortes Jorge

Dinosaurs, laminated cadavers, a giant taxidermy exhibit – you can find all these and more in Indonesia

There’s more to Indonesia than the beaches of Bali or the temple of Borobudur. On the island of Java, safely away from the winds that spread westward the smoke of burning peat forests, are many strange and unexpected attractions worth visiting any time of the year. 

MALANG. The indigenous masks at the Studio Malang restaurant.

At a time when Indonesia’s environmental problems have become the world’s as well, it’s time to positively support this nation’s move away from forest-destroying palm plantations and deeper into sustainable tourism. 

EID'L ADHA. Muslims of Malang celebrate Eid'l Adha with a mix of the indigenous and the modern.

Imagine a museum shaped and structured like a person where a human cadaver is displayed like sliced bread – more than a hundred translucent, paper-thin histology cross-section tissue samples that give you a sneak peak into the insides of a dead man.

HUMAN CADAVER. Over 100 translucent, paper-thin histology cross-section tissue samples give you a sneak peak into the insides of a dead man. However, photography is not allowed in the laminated cadaver exhibit.

Imagine dining on savory satay sticks in peanut sauce, beef rendang, and roast duck, while right beside you tigers thrash, pummel, and dive underwater, baring fangs and claws.

And there are dinosaurs, polar bears, and hotels shaped like tree trunks, too, as well as a mind-boggling, stupendous collection of vintage cars, and raspberries and apples growing in tropical weather. Strangely enough, you can find all these in Indonesia. 

For kids, ghouls at heart

A two-hour flight away from Jakarta, in the chilly highlands of Batu, Malang, East Java, amid farms that grow tropical fruits such as raspberries, apples, and strawberries alongside with tropical ones such as guavas and dragon fruit, are a surprising number of educational museums, recreational parks, and zoos. 

FRESH FRUITS. Strawberries grown at the Kusama Agro Wisata farms next to the hotel and cottage facilities.

The Batu Secret Zoo and Natural Wildlife Museum, the Angkut Transport Museum, and the Bagong Adventure Anatomy Museum, all operated by the Jawa Timur Park Group, are 3 such attractions that are perfect for travelers with children who’ve overdosed on ancient temples or are too waterlogged and sunburned from the beach. 

Batu Secret Zoo 

The Batu Secret Zoo features live animals from across the globe such as hippopotamus, lions, and jaguars as well as local originates, proboscis monkeys, and tigers. The facility includes a tree trunk-shaped hotel as well. 

STAY IN. The Batu Secret Zoo is not only an attraction but also offers a place to stay with its jungle-themed hotel.

MUSEUM SATWA. The adjacent Museum Satwa focuses on natural history by offering visitors glimpses of various wildlife environs across the globe.

FOR THE KIDS. The Batu Secret Zoo offers a family experience that adds variety to any stay in Indonesia.

Natural Wildlife Museum Bertaraf Internasional

But what is truly strange and surprising is the adjacent Natural Wildlife Museum Bertaraf Internasional.

It’s a taxidermist’s dream, where stuffed animals from across the globe are posed in displays that approximate their native habitats, including arctic, savanna, and aquatic displays.

It also includes towering tyrannosaurus, triceratops, and stegosaurus skeletons, and hundreds of exotic beetles, moths, and butterflies at the insectarium.

DINOSAURS. A tyrannosaurus looms above a stegosaurus.

MOTHS. Moths of Southeast Asia from the Museum Satwa's insectarium.

You can even pose with the taxidermy in wacky poses. It’s equal parts awesome, creepy, terrifying, weird, and funny, and 100% enjoyable.

QUIRKY. The Museum Satwa and the Batu Secret Zoo offer a strange mix of kitsch, education, and wildlife conservation.

Batu Secret Zoo and Museum Satwa are located at Jl Oro-oro Ombo No 9 Kota Wisata Batu – East Java Indonesia 65314. Operating hours are from 10am to 6pm. Ticket prices are 75,000 rupiah on weekdays and 105,000 rupiah on weekends. For details, visit

Bagong Adventure Museum Tubuh 

The Bagong Adventure Museum Tubuh is shaped like its indigenous figure. Visitors enter through the mouth underneath nostrils complete with nose hair. One immediately gazes upon a giant reproduction of the human brain and proceeds to the different organs of the body complete with interactive educational displays. 

ENTER. The Bagong Adventure Museum Tubuh is shaped like its indigenous mascot.

INTERACTIVE DISPLAYS. One immediately gazes upon a giant reproduction of the human brain and proceeds to the different organs at the Bagong Adventure Museum Tubuh.

The highlight of the museum is the display of actual human cadavers dissected and preserved through resin lamination in various action poses, as well as a funny 3D computer animated movie on the sperm’s journey to meet the egg, all voiced in Bahasa Indonesia. The museum is educational, morbid, and whimsical.

HUMAN CADAVER. Over 100 translucent, paper-thin histology cross-section tissue samples give you a sneak peak into the insides of a dead man. However, photography is not allowed in the laminated cadaver exhibit.

The Bagong Adventure Museum Tubuh is located at JL Kartika 2 Kota Wisata Batu. Operating hours are from 10am to 6pm. Ticket prices are 40,000 rupiah on weekdays and 60,000 rupiah on weekends. Photography is allowed except in the cadaver exhibit. For details, visit

Museum Angkut Movie Star Studio

For those who want to ogle at toys for the big boys, visit the Museum Angkut Movie Star Studio – arguably the most extensive public display of vintage cars and motorbikes in Southeast Asia. Automobiles from America, Italy, France, Germany, and Japan are displayed in facsimile streets worthy of Hollywood movie sets.

CAR SHOW. Various vintage American cars from the 1950s on display at the Museum Angkut Movie Star Studio.

A 1950 Desoto Custom at the Museum Angkut Movie Star Studio

There are even live performances recreating famous movie scenes involving cars at certain times. For petrol heads, this is sure to delight and surprise you.

The Museum Angkut Movie Star Studio is located at JL Terusan Sultan Agung No. 2 Batu. Ticket prices are 60,000 rupiah on weekdays and 80,000 rupiah on weekends. 

COMPACT. A 1957 Heinkel Kabine and a 1981 Suzuki CV-1 show unconventional solutions to compact urban transportation at Angkut trasnportation museum.

Weekend and holiday shows include “Welcome to Gangster Town” every 2 to 2:30 pm, “Super Hero Costume” every 3 to 3:30 pm,  “Museum Angkut+ Movie Star Studio Parade” at 5 pm, and “Three Elements Show” at 7:45 pm. For details, visit

Taman Safari 

Over in West Java, a different kind of wildlife adventure awaits at the Taman Safari. Visitors in their cars and buses and on elephants get to ride through the habitats of uncaged lions, zebras, and other majestic creatures, be entertained by tamed tiger shows, and dine while observing tigers frolic and dive for food in their pool aquarium.

DINNER GUESTS. White tigers frolic and dive after food morsels enclosed in a glass atrium while visitors dine at the Aman Safari, West Java.

The Taman safari grounds include many other attractions such as intimate interactions, petting, and selfies with animals, and live theatrical performances that include live animals and special effects.

ELEPHANT. An uncaged baby elephant at the Taman Safari.

MOTHER AND CHILD. An orangutan and her baby at the Taman Safari, West Java.

Taman Safari is located in Bogor, West Java, Indonesia. Ticket prices are 250,000 rupiah for foreign adults, 230,000 rupiah for foreign children, 140,000 rupiah for local adults, and 130,000 rupiah for local children. Operating hours are from 9 am to 7 pm. For details, visit

To stay amid the highland fruit farms, enjoy next-door kid-friendly facilities such as waterslides and pools, and experience nearby activities such as apple picking, stay at the Kusuma Agrowisata Hotel.

NEARBY HOTEL. The Kusuma Agrowisata Hotel offers cool mountain breezes and comfy rooms and cottages.

GO FOR A SWIM. Child-friendly facilities at the Kusuma Agrowisata Hotel include swimming pools and water slides.

SLIDES. Check out these thrilling water slides at the Kusuma Agrowisata hotel.

Prices range from 1,000,000 rupiah for a superior twin room to 4,250,000 rupiah for a President Suite Cottage. Weekend stays cost more. Wi-Fi connectivity is complimentary. For details, visit

Current exchange rate is 292.4 rupiah = 1 Philippine peso and 13,681.9 rupiah = 1 US dollar.

Will you be visiting Indonesia soon? What are your best travel experiences in this unique and beautiful country? Let us know in the comments below. –

Writer, graphic designer, and business owner Rome Jorge is passionate about the arts. Formerly the Editor-in-Chief of asianTraveler Magazine, Lifestyle Editor of The Manila Times, and cover story writer for MEGA and Lifestyle Asia magazines, Rome Jorge has also covered terror attacks, military mutinies, mass demonstrations as well as reproductive health, gender equality, climate change, HIV/AIDS, and other important issues. He is also the proprietor of Strawberry Jams Music Studio.

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