The Art Center

Also called the Balai Seni Toya Bungkah. Above the air panas is a retreat for the study of the arts, including a dance academy and amphitheater. Rooms and bungalows spread out among nice peaceful gardens (see “Accommodations,” below). If you stay here, you can watch the dances and an occasional wayang kulit for free. Good selection of books available to guests, with the emphasis on painting, from Dyer to the Fauvists. If no visiting study group is in town, the center seems virtually deserted; no one can provide any information on anything other than the rooms and restaurant. When an event is going on, the place is bustling.

The center (tel. 0362-7802719) was established in 1971 by Sutan Takdir Alisjahbana, a North Sumatran novelist, philosopher, and painter. Known as “The Father of the Indonesian Language,” Alisjahbana played a pivotal role in developing Bahasa Indonesia as a tool for sophisticated intellectual and technical usage. The old professor now spends but a few days a month here; the rest of the year he’s in Denpasar or Jakarta.