There is a Safari park south of Jakarta about 90 minutes away... we have looked at it repeatedly in our guide books and thought,
"Really? A safari park? After actually being on safari? After actually living in Africa for years?"
We went to the Houston Zoo once after returning from Africa and we were, to put it kindly, underwhelmed. It was just anti-climactic and a little sad.
Actually a lot sad, given that we had seen so many of the animals in the wild and knew how terribly different it was from their captive lives...
But, ultimately we couldn't resist, not having much opportunity to see wildlife in a city of 20 million and having an even bigger negative response to the idea of the Jakarta Zoo.
Plus, Cooper is home for the summer and it's time to do goofy things!
So we loaded up the van and told Ivan, our driver, "Taman Safari, tolong!" and off we went into the countryside to be driven through a wildlife park where the animals would hang out and watch us as we drove slowly through their small Serengeti.
And it was pretty cool.
So nanny nanny boo boo on us and our safari pretensions.
Not everything has to be 'authentic'- god knows huge chunks of our lives are not.
The place is very large and they charge about 15 bucks to get in (as usual in Indonesia, they count the car, they count the people and they charge by nationality).
All the way up the hill to the park we saw people selling veggies by the roadside, which isn't remarkable,
but most of them were selling carrots by the bunch, which was.
At one point Ivan asked if I wanted carrots.
I said no, thinking that was a pretty dumb question, while wondering if the carrots of this area were somehow special. I can get carrots (and everything else for sale on the roadside) in Jakarta, and that wasn't what we were on this trip for...
Then as we enter the park, I'm looking around for maybe some station that sells food for us to give the animals, and tell Ted and Coop to check too.
They both burst out laughing and start mocking me for not buying carrots on the road- what did I think Ivan asked me if I wanted some for?
Well, not for the animals! Sheesh! There were no signs, no indication that they were Safari carrots! What am I a mind reader?
Again they burst out laughing and mocked me worse. What a dope! Why on Earth did I think they had all those freakin' carrots every twenty feet?
Well, sez I, NOT for the animals. You aren't even allowed to feed them, sez I, pointing to a sign that has just come into view:
DO NOT FEED THE WILDLIFE!...
And we glide quietly into the enclosed area behind a line of cars.
At that moment the windows of at least four cars ahead of us slide down and every one of them sprouts at least two arms waving bunches of carrots as we roll into an area full of giraffes and hippopatomusses just waiting for us and our bounty of veggies.
Except we don't have any because I'm as dumb as a stump and my traveling companions are more interested in laughing at me than making sure we have goodies to offer our captive wild friends.
We won't feed the animals.
We will be the only car in the park following the rules. So there.
And we will fool as many animals as we can into thinking we actually have carrots so they will come close to the car.
At one point, Coop rolled down his window to get a photo of a hippo in the water right next to the car.
As the window went down, the hippo opened his mouth wide to accept the expected carrots.
Hippo mouth closes, hippo gives us the hairy eyeball, and we tell Ivan to move along before we become a Jakarta Metro headline.
The park has "airlocks" you drive through to separate the predators from the prey, and there are rules about not rolling down your window in the Prey area, for obvious reasons.
But we have heavily tinted windows!
So I got yelled at (actually whistled at) by the guy in the zebra painted jeep stationed inside the killer animal airlock just for scofflaws like me (I wanted to tell him at least I wasn't FEEDING them!), but I still managed to snap a few good tint-less shots of the top of the food chain animals.
It's not like the guy was gonna jump out of his jeep to come and ticket me. There were maneaters on the loose!
Anyway, it was a hoot. We had a good time- even at the part of the park that comes after the animals... the part where the junk stores and carnival food and carnival rides are.
I had my scale model pose in mortal danger with a cement hippo to show you what would have happened to us if Ivan hadn't driven away after the No Carrot Episode...
What follows are representative pictures of the sorts of things we saw...
|I was able to touch (probably foolishly) many of the animals.|
|As I took this, I hear from my brave boys: "Take it quick before he spits on us!"|
|Awwww. Note the smaller Indian elephant ears.|
|Kind of a lame picture except we were RIGHT THERE!|
|Tourists are boring. But tasty.|
|South side of Westbound Rhino...keep moving folks...rely on his notoriously bad eyesight.|
So that was the Taman Safari on Java, Indonesia.
We aren't original, or even very special sometimes, but we do have fun!