Bogor’s Botanical Gardens were founded in 1817 and continues to function as a botanical research facility to this day. For casual visitors it’s functionally the city park, with wide walkways, plentiful benches, and lots of shade. Because of the nearly year-round rains in Bogor, the garden is prime territory for tropical and rainforest plants, so the look and feel is quite different from a usual city park.
Many of the trees in the garden are marked, both for their interesting characteristics, and their particular dangers. This lychee tree, for example, was planted in 1823, about 15 years after the garden was founded, and has a tendency to drop branches from overhead.
Inside but separate from the botanical garden is the Presidential Palace complex. I’m not entirely sure what goes on here, but there’s a huge fence, lots of security, and some impressive buildings.
The president also keeps a herd of deer in the compound. They were mostly uninterested in us and seemed generally pretty bored.
All around the gardens are interesting flora – Natalie got a great shot of these mushrooms.
And we got to see our old friends the cacao fruit! Sadly these were scientific specimens and government property so no picking. They were also very unripe judging by their color.
We even saw some local fauna – a small family of cats.
Indonesia, and these gardens in particular, are famous for being the origination point of the palm oil industry in Asia. Four seeds from a West African Palm were brought over and planted, and from these trees grew the local industry. Indonesia is now one of the leading producers of palm oil and it plays a huge part in their economic and export agenda.
We found the garden in a confusing state of clearly cared for and nearly abandoned. While the plants and trees were flourishing, and the main walkways of the park well maintained, there were plenty of small gardens or fountains dotting the park that seemed left to the elements.
From the park there’s a great view of the river running through the city – beautiful and wide, and unfortunately very full of trash.
Despite the fountains being dry or clogged, and some of the smaller walkways overgrown with plants, it’s still a beautiful place to visit. The jungle within a park is quite a sight, unequalled by any other city park we’ve visited.
As for our continued adventures, Bogor’s gardens is where I lost my small folding umbrella, not even a full day after purchasing it. I was very mad at myself over this, and spent a bit of time looking around for it to no avail. With our newly learned “payung” – the Indonesian word for umbrella – we wandered various convenience stores looking for a replacement. On the way back to the train station we met a man who was so eager to find us an umbrella, he ran to the corner store we had just checked and returned with the large umbrella we had already passed on. Despite his desire to help and make a sale, we eventually had to wave goodbye and walk away, but only after the virtues of the umbrellas he had on hand were extolled. Between that and haggling for bracelets, Indonesia marked a strong return to the haggle and hard sell of South America which was noticeably missing during our time in Australia and New Zealand.