“The ship’s engine is damaged, at least another ship will go to Siak at half past three in the afternoon,” said a crew member at Duku Harbor, Pekanbaru.
Even though I went to the port early in the morning to go to one of the oil-producing districts in Riau. I plan to make a one day round trip to Siak. Because there’s not much that I can see in Pekanbaru.
“In Pekanbaru, there is nothing. What do you want to do there?” said a friend when I told him that I got a promo plane ticket from Jakarta to Pekanbaru.
My friend was not completely wrong. The city, which is the center of the oil trade, has minimal tourist attractions.
But when I took a walk in the city center, I found many buildings with unique and magnificent architecture.
From the protocol road, you can see the Riau Governor’s office which in my opinion looks more like a hotel in Marina Bay Singapore than a typical government office in Indonesia. At night, this nine-story building will emit colorful lights from the glass.
Not far from the office of the Governor of Riau, there is another building that is no less magnificent and unique, namely. Soeman Hs Library. This building is in the form of an open book with yellow pillars supporting it. The library is open from 8 am to 4 pm. With a room that has quiet conditions and is full of air conditioning, this place can be a place for Pekanbaru residents who want a conducive place to work or study.
Several other buildings that are not less interesting are the mosque. The mosques here have a flashy Malay color. And several other buildings as I captured in the photo below.
Back to my trip to Siak. My choice is to just rent my own vehicle or take a ‘travel’. Renting a car was not an option because I was just traveling alone. The motorbike rental that I googled on the internet got no response. Finally, when he asked the hotel receptionist, he suggested taking a travel that would depart at 10 am. It’s a bit late, but that’s okay. After all, I only wanted to visit three locations not far apart: the Siak Sri Indrapura Palace, the Siak Chinatown area, and the Siak Bridge.
Pekanbaru – Siak road trip is very smooth. But the scenery is predictable, almost more than half of the way the scenery is oil palm plantations. Just like what I saw from above the airplane window.
Two and a half hours later, I arrived at Siak Sri Indrapura. Sri Indrapura is a Sanskrit language which means the shining city of the king. This kingdom on the Malacca Peninsula once reached its golden age in the 19th century.
Entering the city of Siak, the view of oil palm slowly disappears and is replaced by buildings that are no less excited than Pekanbaru. The difference is, if Pekanbaru is very crowded, the roads in Siak tend to be quiet. Contrasted with roads in other island districts such as Kalimantan or Papua. Wide roads and bridges that are fairly majestic for this small district, it is certain that Siak’s budget is not small.
The travel car that I was traveling in immediately took me in front of the Siak Palace. The travel car here is still door to door, I was picked up at my hotel in Pekanbaru, and dropped off at the place we want in the destination city.
This brownish white palace has a combined Malay and European architecture. This palace is a witness to the golden age of Siak Sri Indrapura when thousands of merchant ships always passed by in the Malacca Strait and anchored in Siak. This kingdom had good relations with colonial countries such as England and the Netherlands so that it developed rapidly at that time.
Even when he joined independent Indonesia, the Sultan of Siak who was then held by Sultan Syarif Kasim II donated 13 million guilders to his homeland. If it is broken down at this time, the amount is around 1.1 trillion rupiah. The amount is quite fantastic and very helpful for a newly independent country.
I took off my shoes and entered the Palace. Inside the palace there are some typical European decorations of the industrial revolution era.
I thought the Siak Palace would look like a rundown, unkempt museum in a small district far from the city. But I was wrong, the palace in this oil-rich district is really well-maintained.
The front garden has green grass that is well-arranged, plus small, fresh flowers. The palace walls look clean, there are no traces of rain or significant dirt.
The collection inside is also quite well maintained, still showing the remnants of the glory of one of the Malay kingdoms in the Malacca Strait. The residence of Sultan Syarif Kasim, who is a national hero and personal adviser to President Soekarno, has become a place for elementary school children to go on excursions. They seemed very happy to enter the Palace as is usually told in fairy tales. Sultan Syarif Kasim 2 was buried not far from his palace, right next to the Syahabudin Siak Grand Mosque.
Opposite the Siak Palace, the red-painted buildings caught my eye. It turns out that he is a Malay restaurant whose menu is similar to Nasi Padang.
Unexpectedly, it turns out that along the road all the buildings are red! I already guessed this was a Chinatown area. Most of these red buildings are shops. Uniquely, the shop name sign also reads Arabic script. And the traders here are a mixture of Arab-Malay and Chinese descent.
After all, it’s a very instagram-able place.
These red buildings are also located on the outskirts of the Siak river. There’s a kind of waterfront which is a city park here. The place is clean, spacious, and nice to relax in the afternoon. Many coffee shops can be a place to relax while chatting with friends. The sun slowly went down, I remembered that I had to catch the last speedboat to return to Pekanbaru.
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