A customer came in today wearing a t-shirt that said Bali on it. I asked when he’d been, and he told me, this past August. His face was still fresh from the excitement. We were exchanging the typical, “did you see’s” and “have you been’s”, while I made him a triple latte. Eventually, he asked me what had brought me to Bali. I explained that the main draw was an abandoned theme park outside of Denpasar. I was really expecting the typical reaction of “what the fuck are you talking about,” but his face lit up with recognition and he said, “Oh my god, that place was amazing!”. We exchanged exclamations at just how insane the building that I dubbed the “skeleton” in my mind. How different our experiences were with getting in. He mentioned how he had to sneak in after the guards turned him away. The guards for us simply asked for a few bucks. They even gave me some advice on where to find certain pieces. It was funny. Having a customer outside of the usuals was different in itself. But, one that not only had recently been to Bali AND had gone to Taman Festival? If that’s not a sign that it’s time to write about this gem, I don’t know what is.
Truth be told, I was kind of holding off on writing about it. It’s definitely one of the best abandoned places I’ve ever been. I’m hesitant to say that it’s the best place ever. It’s hard to put anything at #1 for me. The abandoned waterpark I’d been to a few weeks prior in Vietnam was also exceptional. Hudson River State hospital has the nostalgic factor going for it. Fort Tilden, an abandoned army base in NYC was also a night to remember. When it comes down to straight aesthetics though, Taman Festival might reign supreme from what I’ve seen (so far). Since it was my best experience, I feel like it’s probably my most valuable to write about. I tend to harbor the valuables. Fuck it. Spread the wealth.
I visited Taman Festival March 19th, 2019. I’d stumbled upon it’s existence while searching “abandoned places” on google in around, 2017. I was in my junior year of college, in my apartment, probably with my dog snoring by my side. I was looking for places around New York, or at least, the east coast. I saw the pictures of it before I read the location. Indonesia. My heart sank. I wanted to go there. It would’ve been easy to say, wow, that’s ridiculous, and edit my search terms. But, I thought to myself, why can’t I go there? Why don’t I just….go to Indonesia. I mean, hell, if I’m going to Indonesia, why don’t I just go around Asia for a bit? That was the spark. Before that, the idea of traveling fascinated me, but I figured, I’m too broke for that. Maybe, one day. Seeing that incredible place, just out there existing, made me no want to be a one day person. I wanted to make it happen, as soon as I could. It holds a special place in my heart for that alone.
It was in the last week of four months that I finally went. I almost decided not to go to Bali at all. Everyone I’d met was saying it was a tourist trap. Go to Laos, Go to the Philippines. Go somewhere else. Two things convinced me otherwise: Taman Festival, and an adamant recommendation from a girl I’d met my first week. After all, if it wasn’t for that place, I might've never experienced everything I did before it.
I’d read a decent amount before going there. I usually do. I’m an extremely spontaneous control freak. I had an idea of the expected process of getting in, and it was different than what I was usually expecting. In the United States, I’d never not snuck into an abandoned place. Rarely there were guards, and if there were, you could be in trouble. It was a totally different story in Bali. We arrived in a Grab Taxi, and were greeted by two ‘guards’ at the front. I had read online that these guys are just scammers who sit outside waiting for tourists to demand an entry fee, but they only asked for the equivalent of 2$, so I didn’t really care if it was a scam. Let them keep the damn 2 dollars, if I’m allowed in without worry of being chased.
As soon as I walked in I started jumping from one piece of beautiful graffiti to another. They were all so completely unique and thought-out. Some were, to put it simply, immense. And, the architecture to match was just breathtaking. The fact that it was surrounded in a lush forrest was just a cherry on top.
The first room we walked into was the one I referred to as ‘the skeleton’. I’d seen remains of buildings that had a similar vibe as this place. Where the body has completely melted and all that’s left behind is a crippled frame. There was one particular building at Letchworth that reminds me of it. This put that one to shame though. It was enormous. I hate when people say cliche shit like, “pictures don’t do it justice”, but in this case I have to say that pictures REALLY don’t do it justice. Maybe I just didn’t have a good enough camera (brighter futures ahead). It engulfed you. I feel like this in most abandoned places, that’s why I love them. This structure particularly though illuminated my smallness in the world.
There were a few notable artists that tagged throughout various buildings. One of my favorite is someone who does all the ‘flow-y guys’ as I’ve mentally dubbed them. They were some of the most faded, so I have a feeling they were an older piece. But they’re rainbow, cute, and I enjoyed them.
There was a couple realism pieces but from what I can tell on the signature, it’s two different artists.
There were also a few different cartoon kind of pieces.
One thing to mention though, while I was researching this place, there was one piece of graffiti that I DESPERATELY wanted to find. It was basically three pillars. The center was a woman’s face, and the two surrounding it were here hands holding two more eyes next two her. I’d add a photo, but I don’t have any of my own because it is no longer there. I looked around for, about, an extra hour and even resorted to asking one of the guards who’d charged me 2$ at the front entrance. He informed me that piece was now gone. Just in case you’re looking forward to it. Not to worry though. There’s still plenty to see.
It was truly an exhibit, and one of my favorite things I did traveling. I wandered around for hours, and if I went back, I might wander around even longer. Definitely worth going to Bali for. Fuck it, why not just go travel around Asia for a bit?