A T-Rex and a giant hand. Those two were the first glimpse of art I saw while riding the bus around Bandung, Indonesia. Two art installations that looked out of place yet it all made sense after our 2 days filled with arts and culture.
We have just come off a 3.5 hours train journey from Jakarta to reach the Central Highlands of West Java. The climate was noticeably cooler here than the hot and humid capital. The traffic situation was almost the same, though. Since it was a weekend, Bandung was once again filled with city dwellers and tourists from Singapore and Malaysia, eager to escape the concrete jungle or to shop their hearts out.
Bandung | NuArt Sculpture Park
Inside Setra Duta residential area in the northern part of Bandung is where one can become one with art, culture, nature and the Creator. This three-hectare park opened in 2000 and filled with around 3000 trees is the brainchild of Indonesia’s foremost modern sculptor – Nyoman Nuarta.
Filled with brass, copper, and stainless steel art pieces, NuArt Sculpture Park is not just Mr. Nuarta’s gallery. It also houses his workshop, N Cafe, craft boutique, and can also exhibit other artists’ artworks.
It is definitely an art lover’s dream, for you will be amazed at the art installations you will pass by upon reaching the park’s gate. Couple that with Sigur Ros-like music from this duo playing in the open area that made me feel like I was transported to a different place.
Leaving the whale behind, I followed the others upstairs to N Cafe where we were treated with Bebek Goreng and other Balinese food. After lunch, there was a film showing about NuArt Sculpture Park and Nyoman Nuarta’s visionary project – Garuda Wisnu Kencana.
We were also very lucky to meet the artist himself, Mr. Nyoman Nuarta and have a Q&A session with him. When asked what is his inspiration for his sculptures? Problems. Not just his country’s problems but world problems too. Which was evident when Mr. Nuarta showed us his gallery. You’ll see pieces inspired by the sexual violence in Indonesia, the 2004 tsunami, 9/11 and shark’s fin controversy among others.
We were also given a tour of his private workshop where we saw his artists pounding on different metals to add to the towering sculptures of Garuda Wisnu Kencana. Visualized around 20 years ago, this colossal project has not been an easy one for Mr. Nuarta and his team. Once finished in a few years, though, it will be a pride not just of Bali but of the whole Indonesia nation as well as Garuda is Indonesia’s emblem.
NuArt Sculpture Park
Jalan Setra Duta Raya No. L 6, Bandung, West Java, Indonesia, 40151
Opening hours: 9 AM – 5 PM on Sunday to Thursday | 9 AM – 9 PM on Friday and Saturday
Bandung | Saung Angklung Udjo
Welcomed into the Saung with sounds of Sundanese gamelan, I inspected the mini angklung necklace given to us. As stated in the brochure given to us upon entrance, Mang Udjo‘s fascination and passion for the Sundanese bamboo traditional musical instrument was the reason Saung Angklung Udjo (Udjo’s House of Angklung) was born.
Inscribed on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List, the Angklung played an important role in Indonesian, particularly Sundanese, ceremonies, and events. It is also the “art and cultural pride of the Sundanese.”
Saung Angklung Udjo aims not only to preserve the Angklung tradition for the next generations but to preserve Sundanese art and culture as well.
We were treated to a series of performances, all of them very interesting and enjoyable as well. First up was Wayang Golek, a wooden doll puppet performance accompanied by a gamelan (musical ensemble). It was amazing to see the puppets dance, fight, and act with each of them having different voices too, all performed by one puppet master!
The next was entertaining dances performed by kids and teens. Helaran is usually played during the celebration of circumcision and harvest season while the two-part Mask Dance is a traditional dance that tells the story “about the Kencana Wungu Queen who was chased by Prabu Menakjingga, who was madly in love with her.”
The Angklung soon took center stage with the following performances. The Mini Angklung had us singing along to children’s songs. We were captivated by the sounds of the traditional musical instrument called Arumba and the ethnic dance performances during the Angklung Massal Nusantara.
My favorite has got to be the Angklung Interactive where we were all given the chance to play the Angklung. The Angklung Orchestra was a wonder to watch, as the players managed to produce such beautiful sounds to the tune of popular music. It sure didn’t look easy and the way the players handled their angklung was impressive! The whole performance ended with the young dancers joined by some of the audience dancing to the tunes of Angklung on stage.
Saung Angklung Udjo brought out the child in us that afternoon. And we definitely had fun while learning about Sundanese arts and culture!
Saung Angklung Udjo
Jalan Padasuka 118, Bandung 40192 West Java Indonesia
Daily Performances: 1530H to 1700H
Quick Travel Guide: Bandung, Indonesia
How to get to Bandung, Indonesia:
- Plane – You can fly to Bandung’s Husein Sastranegara International Airport via the following carriers: Garuda Indonesia, Air Asia, Lion Air, Silk Air, Wings Air
- Train – We took the KA Argo Parahyangan train from Jakarta’s Gambir station to Bandung (travel time: 3.5 hrs). But there are other train options you can take, from air-conditioned to non-airconditioned ones. Be sure to get a seat by the window!
- Bus – You can easily get express or non-stop buses to Bandung from Jakarta or other cities. There are also shuttle bus or minivan options
- Car – Bandung is only around 2 hours drive from Jakarta. But on weekends, be prepared for the traffic.
How to get around Bandung, Indonesia:
There are different options to get around Bandung but some of them are hard to understand like the Angkot. If you’re going to go for taxis, take Bluebird taxi. You can also use Uber, Grab, or Go-Jek.
Where else to go in Bandung for arts and culture?
If you’re interested in architecture, add these places to your list: Grand Mosque of Bandung and Villa Isola.
If you’re looking for street art in Bandung, you can find murals along Jl. Siliwangi from the #MuralBdg project. There are also graffiti along the walls of Bandung City Zoo at Jl. Tamansari.
Bandung also holds the annual Bandung International Arts Festival (BIAF).
Where to stay in Bandung, Indonesia:
Splurge: Sheraton Bandung Hotel & Towers [Check for availability and discounted rates]
WATCH BELOW FOR THE HIGHLIGHTS OF OUR TRIP OF WONDERS IN BANDUNG:
Disclaimer: Special thanks to the Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia for inviting me to be part of the Trip of Wonders. As always, all opinions and biases are my own.
Do you like learning about a place’s arts and culture? Let me know in the comments below!
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