Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by viravira on 7 March 2015 • Itinerary
Pekanbaru, the capital city of Riau province in Sumatra, has been known as a city that’s smothered by smoke from the Brneo forest fire at least once a year, aside from being a petrol city. It also doesn’t offer much tourism attractions, but somehow I enjoyed slow strolling in the city, and I was lucky to have visited in clear air. Paying visits a Buddhist temple in Sumatra and an elephant conservation center, located a little out of the city, also gave me interesting experiences.
Here are the brief summaries of my experiences in Pekanbaru and around. Click on the links to get the complete stories.
The thing attracted me the most was some of the building designs. Some are modern and almost futuristic, some are keeping a traditional touch. I can’t decide which one is my favorite. The giant open book public library or the beautiful An Nur Mosque that has attracted me like no other mosque has done before.
See all the list of my favorite iconic structures of Pekanbaru here.
Only an hour away out from the city, I got to join an elephant bathing experience! It was the conservation center at Minas, part of the Tesso Nilo National Park. It is home for saved elephants due to lack of their natural habitat.
Why did these elephants needed to be saved? And what else could you expect from a visit to the conservation? Read on.
Having had a wonderful experience spending Vesak at Borobudur temple a few years back, I thought it might be interesting to see the celebration at Muara Takus temple. It’s one of the few Buddhist temples known in Sumatra, I thought I could see more of the procession than the crowd like in Borobudur. Turns out, I was wrong.
The ceremony of Vesak at Muara Takus that year was to be commenced later in the month, after my trip back to Jakarta. So what I found at the site was just the temple with wooden scaffoldings for cleaning purpose. Only a few visitors were in sight, and no guide whatsoever that could take me around for explanation on the temple.
I was bummed, but I was the one setting up the expectation for myself anyway. Thanks to my friend Kandi who had been willing to chip in for car rent and gas, and Bang Amri who drove the car for us for the whole 3 hours one way.
I had not written a post on Muara Takus temple because there’s really not much I can say about it. So here’s the Wikipedia page on Muara Takus to get you started on the information.
Kopitiam on Jalan Juanda
If you’re a fan of coffee culture, this is the area you should hangout. I’m not talking about the coffee itself because I only have a little to say about coffee in general. I’m talking about the hangout culture. And the noodles and porridge that make hanging out here more enjoyable.
Click this link to find out what I’m really talking about.
For the zillionth time, discount airline tickets was one of the triggers that got me flying to Pekanbaru. This time, I flew with Airasia from Bandung (while I live in Jakarta, 3 hours drive away from Bandung). The discount price was, I think, only about IDR50,000 for return tickets! I’d be crazy not to go, right? And the cost to get me to Bandung and back to Jakarta was about IDR200,000. The whole cost was still cheaper than the normal price for a return flight between Jakarta and Pekanbaru.
Here are some options of airlines that could take you to Pekanbaru:
From Jakarta: Citilink, Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, Batik Air
From Bandung: Airasia and Lion Air
From Kuala Lumpur: Airasia, Firefly, MAS, and Garuda Indonesia
Kandi and I took mostly the Trans Metro bus. It was quite convenient, as it reaches most of the key places of the city, air-conditioned, had its own dedicated bus stops, and only cost IDR3,000/ride.
However, we got a little confused because some of the actual routes didn’t match what it said on the route map. There was one time or twice that we waited for the bus that never came, and we were sure we were waiting at the right bus stop according to the map we found on the Internet and on some of the bus stops.
One way you could do to help make sure about the route is to ask the officer that’s usually standing by at each bus stop. They’ll tell you which bus will take you where.
I was so fortunate to have known Hesty, a travel and food enthusiast, from twitter. She let me stay at her place for the whole 5 days I was in Pekanbaru! Kandi also spent one night or two there. And Hesty even cooked meals for us and baked brownies to bring home! All that, plus giving us direction and tips to go around the city and insights on the people’s culture. Check out Hesty’s culinary blog here.
But, of course, I can’t give you her address because it’s not a public accommodation. Just to give you a start on looking for accommodation in Pekanbaru, here are a few hotel chains you can find in the city:
Jl. Tengku Zainal Abidin No. 23, Pekanbaru 28112, Indonesia
Tel:+62 761 851008
Jalan Soekarno Hatta Kav 148, Pekanbaru 28294, Indonesia
Jalan Sultan Syarif Kasim No.150, 28141 Pekanbaru, Indonesia
Swill-Bellin SKA Hotel Complex SKA Mall
Jalan Soekarno-Hatta Lot. 69, Pekanbaru 28294, Indonesia
Tel: (62-761) 61888, Fax : (62-761) 63788