Annanta Travel from Pekanbaru to Bukittinggi

Staying up late with a true friend.

The last evening in Pekanbaru became a nostalgic session in durian aroma and a savory portion of fried Malon (Manuk Londo-a type of quail) which looked plump on a plate. This was a meeting which I deliberately prepared with a durian businessman that I didn’t know how long we didn’t meet, before leaving Pekanbaru tomorrow.

—-****—-

Morning came together with chewing toast from Ganda Bakery, which remained since my arrival in Madani City (other name of Pekanbaru), tasteless but still quite delicious to eat.

Smartphone ring which I was waiting for finally arrived.

Is this Donny?“, he shortly said.

Annanta Travel, Sir?“, I briefly replied and asked.

Yes, Don. What is an easy landmark to find the hotel?”, he asked in detail.

Quickly reflex, I ran to reception desk and handed my smartphone to the staff on duty. Somehow the staff explained to driver. As I understood, they spoke in Minang language.

Ten minutes later, a black Kijang (Toyota’s varian) which labeled “ANNANTA” stopped its engine roar in Sri Indrayani Hotel courtyard. Saying thanks to reception staff, I left the lobby and entered travel car in right rear seat.

Snack and mineral water provided by travel agency.

Do you understand Javanese language, Uda (mention for brother in West Sumatra)?“, I was curious because driver played Didi Kempot’s song which stored on his blue flashdisk.

Ah, I don’t really understand, Donny. Just tunable to listen it“, he was laughing.

Ha ha ha“, I laughed off.

I became the first passenger who he picked up. I just enjoyed every step on gas pedal into narrow alleys and streets in some housing complexs to pick up five other passengers. On second taking, I finally found my seat couple, a smiling grandmother who only could speak Minang language. Meanwhile, the last passenger was a stocky young man who seated in the front seat next to driver.

Situation in travel car.

222 km journey would be taken in 7 hours interval and through the famous Kampar River. Pekanbaru-Bangkinang highway was like a street race track like Monaco Circuit. Annanta Travel was so swiftly moving among heavy and slow-goods trucks. Grandmother who sat next to me only occasionally smiled to face me while enjoying this single race.

Entering Payakumbuh City, I kept awake. Didn’t want to lose a brief moment when passing a scenic spot. It was none other than Kelok Sembilan. I was so fascinated when I crossed this overpass, along 2.5 km and as high as 58 meters. Tall, dashing and charming to everyone who passes it.

Fascinated when Marshall Sastra and David John Schaap peeled it off on a Indonesian TV program “My Trip My Adventure”.

Overland journey for USD 11.8 passed 4 Regencies (Kampar, Rokan Hulu, Lima Puluh Kota and Tanah Datar) and 3 Cities (Pekanbaru, Payakumbuh and Bukittinggi) and leaved a natural beauty which is tempting to my eyes.

A trip which only provided a lunch break. This morning toast wasn’t longer able to withstand hunger, even wind had acquired my stomach. That afternoon, Minang’s typical black rendang (West Sumatra’s typical meat with spices) became my dining companion. This was the first time I felt rendang in its origin land.

Annanta Travel, “The Fast” from Sumatra.
Uwan Labuak Bangku Restaurant in Lima Puluh Kota Regency.

Rain began to fall when the trip entered Bukittinggi City through Tanah Datar District. I started to get ready to got off, because Annanta Travel have last destination in Padang. I was dropped off at Veteran Street, right at T-junction with Tuanku Imam Bonjol (Indonesian national hero) Monument in the middle.

Arrived in Bukittinggi.

Towards dark, I must head to De Kock Hotel.

Local Endemic on Jenderal Sudirman Street, Pekanbaru

Ikan Selais Tiga Sepadan Monument.

Is “Ikan Selais Tiga Sepadan” Monument, the first icon which I met on Jenderal Sudirman Street. It is caused by this monument which is the closest spot to Putri Kaca Mayang Park. Depiction of community harmony which is symbolized by harmony of three Selais fish sculptures which are endemic animal in Pekanbaru.

As should be a protocol road, then Jenderal Sudirman Street has a superior charm with architecture distribution of modern buildings. Not so hard to find some iconic buildings with typical architecture along this street. This protocol road stretches about 7.5 kilometers in distance, starting from Siak IV Bridge at north end and ending at Gurindam 3 Police Station at southern end.

Enchantment of Jenderal Sudirman Street which looks Islamic with Al Asma Ul Husna signboards.

A building which looks quite striking is regional library building which is at street number 462, known as Soeman HS Library.

Soeman HS is a national poet of “Angkatan Pujangga Baru (1933-1942 Indonesian poet era)” who is so phenomenal.

While 700 meters to north of library lies Point 0 Km Pekanbaru, which is marked by Zapin monument, which is a monument with a malay women pattern and is right in middle of T-junction roundabout. While on street west side, there is a building known as “Menara Lancang Kuning“. Owned by Riau Provincial Government, this nine-story building functions as a joint office.

Menara Lancang Kuning.

12 years old, this building has a Sky Garden on top floor. Freely opened to local residents who want to relax and enjoy beautiful views of city from various sides.

My visitation that afternoon was enlivened by spill of a religious mass organization which was protesting in front of Governor’s Office. It seems they are protesting against state’s decision to dissolve this organization.

Therefore, I couldn’t freely enjoy charm of Zapin Monument uniqueness which its surrounding area was tightly closed by demonstrators presence.

Couldn’t step farther.

While on north side of Menara Lancang Kuning, there is an iconic building with typical Malay architecture. That is office of Riau Province Governor, a three-layer front-roofed building with “Selembayung” on each top and has upturned arches on front window. While just to its left is Riau Governor Office Mosque with a net-pattern metallic brown dome.

Quite spacious office

Back to south, before closing exploration in Pekanbaru, I found Bank Indonesia building. Unlike most Bank Indonesia building in other big cities which often use former Dutch buildings, Pekanbaru Bank Indonesia Building looks more like a modern building. Maybe, this is because Pekanbaru is a city which is actively developing, so every important building which is owned by the city is always completely new.

Bank Indonesia building is hiding behind trees shade.

My step this time will be the last step in my visitation in Pekanbaru, because next day I will leave for Bukittinggi.

It was time to go back to hotel and rest.

Goodbye Pekanbaru, welcome to Bukittinggi.

Heroic Story behind Putri Kaca Mayang Park

Bambu Runcing Monument.

A roundabout in southeast of An-Nur Great Mosque is decorated with a yellow pointed bamboo monument with background of University of Riau right behind it. I continued to direct my Canon EOS M10 towards the monument until an online motorcycle taxi driver came to call me.

Looked like I would spend the afternoon with local residents to enjoy city atmosphere in a Green Open Space on edge of the protocol road. From An-Nur Great Mosque, I headed south for 4 kilometers with a 15-minute motor driving.

Ten minutes to four I arrived. Dozens of people have drifted into quiet atmosphere of park even though roar of vehicle exhausts adorned sound color around it.

A park with background of The Premiere Hotel.

Unique, this park is divided by a shortcut which connects Jenderal Sudirman Street in east of park and Sumatera Street in its west. It is pinned a name as RTH Kaca Mayang Steet, it is short splitting along a hundred meter.

Three-legged concrete seating, three categories of modern trash can, mushroom shaped concrete canopy with green roof, a pair of sand playful area with up-down stairs which flank a theater area, small diameter trees as a sign that they are recently embedded, jogging track with continuous pattern of two halves of park and two small bridges over a fairly clean water flow are types of facility which are seated in this one hectare park. That is a brief description of Putri Kaca Mayang park that I can catch.

Putri Kacang Mayang park is one of eight Green Open Spaces in Pekanbaru which is known as the most child-friendly park. Regional government has to spend USD 45,000 to build this park.

Park naming itself is taken from a local fairytale which is believed to be the origin of Pekanbaru city. Putri Kaca Mayang is said to be described as a beautiful princess who was later kidnapped by a king from Atjeh who was hurt because his marriage proposal was rejected.

Commander Gimpam who is the strongest figure in Gisab Kingdom feels his pride was trampled by princess kidnapping, because King from Atjeh with a help from a traitor had managed to fool him who was preparing to wait for battle at city borderline, while his enemy managed to enter the kingdom through another very path secret.

Without long thinking, King Atjeh was chased alone by him. With his power, Commander Gimpam destroyed the entire enemy kingdom alone and finally princess was returned to him. But unfortunately, Princess didn’t survive returning to Gisab Kingdom because of falling ill on the way.

That is a story piece of Putri Kaca Mayang Park naming. Apparently, there is a classic story behind beauty of this city park.

Heading to An-Nur Great Mosque from Chinatown

I took a moment to close my eyes after I finished check-in process at Sri Indrayani Hotel. An uneasy night on a middle bench of INTRA Bus, continued for four hours on foot to explore Senapelan area had made my calf muscles exhausted and my eyes felt heavy.

My smartphone which was still charging, shouted to wake me up, exactly one hour before Asr Prayer. Prayer times was indeed an option as a starting marker for continuation of my journey in Pekanbaru. That was because I chose to visit the grandest mosque in the whole of Riau Province or it could be said as one of the grandest in the country.

No longer postpone for late lunch, I went through Chinatown along Dr. Leimena Street which isn’t far from my hotel gate, until I found a small restaurant which exposed fragrant spices and looked very crowded. Its entire seat in downstairs was almost full and without long thinking, I immediately occupied one seat in between.

Noodles with bean sprouts mixed with lontong (Indonesian compressed rice), shrimps, eggs and fragrant with a sprinkling of fried onions….Hmmh, delicious.

Slowly drinking a sweet-sour of cold-orange juice made my body felt cool for a moment in the middle of city heat. And right at a last sip, an online motorcycle taxi came to pick me up.

Heading southeast for three kilometers and arrive at the gate exactly twenty minutes before Asr Prayer arrived. So many police officers in mosque courtyard, it seemed to be securing an important agenda that afternoon. Every vehicle which entered mosque area didn’t escape from strict inspection.

Where are you going, Sir?” a young policeman which armed with long barrel gun said at entrance gate. “Asr prayer, Sir“, a password was so effective for passing the inspection.

It’s like the Taj Mahal, right?
Domes like an upside down “spinning top” and that palm trees….Hmmmhh, nice.

I hadn’t entered yet the mosque room. Busy in courtyard to enjoy the beauty of architecture which was presented in front of my eyes. A greeny dominant mosque which is a half of century old with large area which I estimate to be more than ten hectares….Really, very vast.

Just look at how spacious a parking lot side is?

The Mughals are still be dominant architectural style in it, its distinctive arches resembling arches of Mumtaz Mahal’s tomb in Agra. While nuances around the mosque was slightly adopted Al-Masjidil Al-Haram atmosphere in Mecca and Al-Masjid An-Nabawi in Medina.

The Malay style is embedded to green color of main building, red color on tower ornaments and yellow gold color on interior ornament and calligraphy. Then the Malay custom is depicted on two levels of floor with veranda below. It adopts a concept of Malay’s houses on stilts.

Five pillars of Islam are symbolized by five domes and leadership of Prophet’s Caliph is represented on four towers.

Now I was preparing to Asr Prayer, purified myself on lower floor and then climbed stair by stair leading to main worship room on second floor. The atmosphere inside was so solemn, it made me feel grateful because I was still given an opportunity to visit this magnificent God house.

Six giant pillars with green color in base layer and white on top layer.

I made my sitting time so long in the back to enjoy this iconic religious tourism of Riau Province which is said able to accommodate almost five thousand worshipers.

Dome arch from inside.

This famous architectural creation in Pekanbaru can’t be separated from Kaharuddin Nasution cold hands, the second Riau Province Governor who moved Provincial Capital from Tanjung Pinang on Bintan Island to Pekanbaru in the 1960s. Certainly, this displacement had consequences for him to facilitate religious activities of residents majority who in fact embraced Islam. That is why the Governor felt it was important to present An-Nur Great Mosque.

Cool……

Warlords in Nur Alam Grand Mosque

A assumption which never materialized was to entering Tuan Kadi Halfway House. I wanted to sit relax in it and enjoyed history strands in its small cubicles. Simultaneously, sweat which had continued to melt in my temples, slowly but surely shed every assumption in my head. House doors were tightly closed as if it said to me “Just go, enough for you to just see my beauty“.

I went…..

Footsteps which I was unconscious began to little bit drag, indicating that I needed a lot of rest after four days before in exploring Medan, Samosir Island and Pematang Siantar. Alas!, my desire to know about Pekanbaru had beated feet tiredness which had actually screamed to stop.

I began to enter Kota Baru Street. Giant bolts, rolls of thick wires, large pipe casings seemed scattered in shop house rows which were transformed into mechanical workshops. Every swing of my steps seemed to recharge my enthusiasm to immediately arrive at Kampung Bukit area where Pekanbaru City was established.

In this area, a land plot of former new market (Pekan Baharu) which was pioneered by Sultan Abdul Jalil Alamuddin Syah stands a special heritage, the oldest mosque in Riau Province.

Again….Yellow dome symbolizes Malay greatness.

A mosque which was born as a consequence which was carried on Sultan Abdul Jalil Alamuddin Syah shoulders, the 4th Sultan who moved the center of Siak Sri Indrapura Sultanate from Mempura Besar to Bukit Senapelan in the mid XVIII century.

It is “Tali Berpilin Tiga” tradition which makes King’s Palace, Custom Deliberative Hall, and Mosque as requirements which must be fulfilled by the Sultan if he intends to move the sultanate. The King’s Palace symbolizes government, the Custom Deliberative Hall symbolizes ancestral custom and the Mosque as a religion symbol.

Half of dome in arch canopy reminds me to Mughal architecture at Taj Mahal.

By the Sultan, the Palace Building was named Istana Bukit, the Custom Deliberative Hall was named Balai Payung Sekaki and the Mosque was given a name as Alam Mosque which was taken from the Sultan’s youngname, King Alam.

Some people call it Pekanbaru Senapelan Mosque, also some people call it Pekanbaru Grand Mosque.

I arrived at the mosque as a Masbuq (late for prayer), didn’t want to be left behind of entire rak’ah, I rushed to ablution room and immediately followed the last two rak’ah in prayer congregation. After completing last 2 rak’ah, I began to be stunned by six large white pillars which on its top were covered with golden domes and didn’t really support the roof, like a lighthouse.

Sunlight which was penetrating permanent glass windows on top wall increasingly displayed typical Persian arches. While golden calligraphies which set in a typical Middle East green background seemed to circle around mosque as an interior.

A green-roofed golden pulpit with golden crescent moon tower.

Went out from mosque, I headed east to a cemetery gate. Named as Marhum Pekan Cemetery Complex which is cemetery complex of Pekanbaru city founders such like Sultan Abdul Jalil Alamuddin Syah (4th Sultan), Sultan Muhammad Ali Abdul Jalil Muazzam Syah (5th Sultan) and their loyal warlords.

Gate of Marhum Pekan Cemetery Complex. Marhum Pekan itself is a term for Sultan Muhammad Ali Abdul Jalil Muazzam Syah (founder of Pekanbaru city).

Nur Alam Mosque is a closing for my exploration about Siak Sri Indrapura Sultanate. Satisfied and happy to get to know more about the famous sultanate in Sumatra land.

Come on …. Back to hotel, check-in and lunch!

Sharia Law Behind Tuan Kadi Halfway House

I began to leave the Tunjuk Ajar Integritas Green Open Space on foot. Along Wakaf Street, I slowly approached a traffic policeman who was arranging an intersection. Not awkward, I called him when he still sounded his whistle following flashing green lights which automatically moved dozens of vehicles to cross the intersection.

Unsure of answering my question, he shouted at his colleague at a police post. After his friend stretched his arms parallel to the road and followed by his palm which turned to right, this young policeman was very sure to tell the closest direction to Siak River to me.

Mutiara Merdeka Hotel in Jembatan Siak I Street.

Enjoying one part of Siak River, was able to amaze me, this is inseparable from historical facts behind its water flow. Siak is the name of sultanate which ever stood in this river body. If I could reconstruct journey history of Siak Sri Indrapura Sultanate which had ever triumphed, it would certainly perfect my exploration in Pekanbaru.

Linger over Siak Bridge I, as far as eye could see, it was clear that Siak III Bridge was right in front of me and looming behind it was Siak IV Bridge (better known as Sultan Abdul Jalil Alamuddin Syah Bridge) which hadn’t yet finished its construction. While from my standing position, in my back side was Siak II Bridge.

Siak River which was formerly known as Jantan River.

Bright brown of water color and river width which represents Siak River valor is enhanced by greeny river body which soothes anyone in its banks. Geographically, the river passes through four districts i.e Rokan Hulu, Bengkalis, Siak and Pekanbaru.

Next, I continued to go through a small road on edge of the river until I came to an open park under Siak III bridge, better known as Sultan Muhammad Ali Abdul Jalil Muazzam Syah Bridge. Many young people looked cheerfully chatting with their friends or their partners enjoying peaceful atmosphere around the river. At other side, it was clear that Water Police Office of Riau Regional Police was busy. Seen two fast patrol boats leaning on river edge.

Riverside park under Siak III Bridge.

While next to riverside park was a stilt house with a dominant light yellow color. With greeny graded lawns and black-orange square patterned tiles which at the edge was bordered by a blue mosque and river viewpoint area. This courtyard is known as Tuan Kadi Park.

Tuan Kadi Halfway House.
Tuan Kadi Park.

Tuan Kadi / Qadhi is a title which Sultan has proclaimed to someone who is appointed as an advisor in Islamic sharia law (Nasyih) and acts as a munakaah judge in marriage matters and heirlooms distribution in Siak Sultanate.

After Dutch Colonial occupation , Tuan Kadi/Qadhi title was pinned to Chairperson of Siak Sultanate’s Shariah Deliberative Board. This house itself is owned by Qadhi Haji Zakaria bin Haji Abdul Muttalib who ever held that position. And in his time, this house was ever be a stopover for Sultan Syarif Kasim II, the 12th Siak Sultan.

Hhmmhh …. Already past noon, let’s do Dhuhr prayer…..Come on, went to Siak Sultanate’s inherited mosque!

From Sri Indrayani Hotel….The Adventure was Began

I still didn’t budge with an offer of taxi drivers, while other INTRA Bus passengers preferred to use taxi services towards their final destination in Pekanbaru.

Several time later, from across the street, an online motorcycle taxi driver waved to me. Of course he knew, I was wearing a blue jacket with same color backpack. I had sent a description to him via message in application.

Are you originally from here, Sir?” I asked in back seat.

No, I’m from Padang, Sir. Are you from Java? your accent is typical“, he answered and asked.

I ever studied in a college at Yogyakarta, Sir. Which Java are you from?“, I didn’t have answered yet, He had asked again.

I’m originally from Solo, Sir. Are local residents nice, Sir?”, I began to wonder.

Most of Pekanbaru residents are from Padang, Sir. Calm down, Sir, anywhere is safe“, he soothingly said .

From an article I read afterwards, it’s true that 40% of Pekanbaru residents are Minang native migrants. Indeed, Minang people are great in odyssey

Not even 10 o’clock in the morning, I arrived.

The three-star hotel which I booked through Airy Rooms exactly on nine days before my arrival in Pekanbaru was only USD 6 per night. Cheap, right?

I deliberately chose to stay in Senapelan area just to tracing the glory of Siak Sri Indrapura Sultanate. Looking at economic activities of city residents, remembering that the name of Pekanbaru came from words of Pekan Baharu, a market which was pioneered by Young Sultan named Tengku Muhammad Ali, the 5th Siak Sultan. It can be said that Senapelan area was the forerunner to the formation of Pekanbaru City which was born as a positive impact from Sultanate economic development.

Hotel front yard is on an edge of Sam Ratulangi Street.

Coming too early, I tried my luck in front of reception desk. Maybe they could put me faster to rest in hotel room.

The room isn’t ready, Sir. Just wait in our lobby until 13 o’clock”, young staff on duty said in neat uniform.

Oh well, Sir. Can I put my backpack here. I better go around the city first, then come back when I can check-in“, I replied.

Oh sure, sir. Just put it here“, he asked my backpack to put behind the table.

Sir, is there a power outlet to recharge my handphone?“, I asked him

Oh, the plug is in hotel’s restaurant at right of the lobby. Just go in, Sir!“, His index finger pointed at a door.

Straightening my waist for a while in the lobby, I was still staring at the authentic reception room, golden yellow dominated. Three roofs with three selembayung at the end. praying hand shape symbolizes the close relationship between living things and God.

In addition to selembayung, motifs like a Malay songket is beautify the room.

After my camera and handphone was charged, to take advantage my time while waiting for check-in, I began to explore some traces of Siak Sultanate which were clearly represented along Siak River, Tuan Kadi’s Halfway House and Nur Alam Grand Mosque

Entering twin bed room at 2 pm.
Cheap but luxurious hotel room for me.

Sri Indrayani Hotel was originally a guesthouse which was rented by an airline for its air crew since 1971. Along with Pekanbaru development, this guesthouse perfected itself by transforming into a leading shariah hotel in Pekanbaru during the city’s development. Its location which opposite the Chinatown also made hotel development was quickly its time.

Finally, I found warm water after didn’t bathing for 38 hours.
The park behind hotel is bordered by Bangka Street.

From Sri Indrayani Hotel, my adventure to exploring Pekanbaru was began. It was time to got around the city and got to know about the capital of Riau Province.

7 Tourist Attractions in Pekanbaru

Entering Pekanbaru, all INTRA Bus passengers were unloaded in a non-permanent restaurant building which is made from green colour wood. Entering in back of restaurant, long row of simple bathrooms made me easy to washing my face and preparing myself to explore “Madani City“.

Entering city’s roads for the first time on an online motorcycle taxi seat, I began to save my curiosity about destinations which I could visit in the city. Until I finally arrived at Sri Indrayani Hotel lobby before check-in schedule. After charging my camera and smartphone to several cell bars in the hotel restaurant, I immediately swung my steps to nearest spots.

  1. Tunjuk Ajar Integritas Park

Not far away, half a kilometer to northwest of hotel, there is a fairly well-known park in Pekanbaru. It is Tunjuk Ajar Integritas Park which has became a favorite play ground for city residents whice its development is dedicated to corruption resistance program in local government.

Integrity Monument in the park.

Not yet midday, hot air began to feel. Forcing me to took a shelter on park edge. Visitors was still quiet, considering I didn’t visit on weekend.

2. Siak River

Continuing my steps, I went down to Wakaf Street before finally being led by a traffic policeman to turn right and passing Jembatan Siak I street then reached edge of Siak River.

Visiting Siak River and imagining the glory and prosperity of Siak Sri Indrapura Sultanate who once stood on this river edge was a thing that was interested me to made it as one of my destinations this time.

Panorama of Siak I Bridge.

3. Tuan Kadi’s Halfway House

Still wandering along the river, now I headed to Siak II Bridge. People call it as Bridge of Sultan Muhammad Ali Abdul Jalil Muazzam Syah, taken from name of the 5th Sultan of Siak Sultanate.

Stunned to stare at a building under the bridge, an original house since golden era of Siak Sultanate. This tourism site is known in the name Tuan Kadi’s Halfway House. Kadi or Qadhi itself is a famous title during the sultanate. The first owner of this house is Qadhi Haji Zakaria bin Haji Abdul Muthalib who had served as Chairperson of Siak Sultanate’s Shariah Deliberative Board.

It was once be a stopover for Sultan Syarif Kasim II, the 12th Sultan.

4. Nur Alam Grand Mosque

The sun began to slip from its highest position, meaning that I was able to entering Sri Indrayani Hotel’s room. Taking southeast direction, I intended to stop by and praying Dzuhur at Nur Alam Grand Mosque before arriving at hotel.

The oldest mosque in Pekanbaru.

The relic mosque of Siak Sri Indrapura Sultanate still firmly stands with its yellow dome as a symbol of Malay greatness. It feels, Pekanbaru residents worth give a thank to Sultan Abdul Jalil Alamuddin Syah, the fourth Sultan who had built this magnificent mosque.

5. An-Nur Great Mosque

The heat of city began to subside, especially after I finished to bathing in hotel. Finishing lunch then I continued my exploration. After visiting the oldest mosque, now I headed to the grandest mosque in Riau Province.

Exhausted after walking almost 4 km, I chose to use an online motorcycle taxi towards An-Nur Great Mosque, two kilometers to southeast.

Indonesia’s Taj Mahal.

An-Nur Great Mosque itself has been a religious icon of Riau Province since the first year it was built, in 1963. Make sure that you don’t miss to visiting it when you are in Pekanbaru.

6. Putri Kaca Mayang Park

Next, I hurried to downtown. My next choice was Putri Kaca Mayang Park. Located on a side of Pekanbaru’s protocol street, this park looked more presentable than the first park which I visited.

The park name is taken from a princess name in a legendary tale in society.

Time that had slipped towards afternoon, one by one residents were seen coming to the park to just releasing fatigue or bringing their children to spending time by playing around the park.

7. Jenderal Sudirman Street

Like the same street name in Jakarta, Jenderal Sudirman Street in Pekanbaru also plays a role as a protocol road in the city.

As a main road, of course there are many things which can be enjoyed along the way. Road width with busy passing of vehicles is decorated by classy buildings architecture on both sides made Jenderal Sudirman street as a photography spot which worth to visiting.

The Soeman HS Library, Lancang Kuning Tower, Riau Governor’s Office and Dang Merdu Tower are architectures which look striking and different from other buildings along Jenderal Sudirman Street.

The road is decorated with Asmaul Husna along its edge.

Come on, vacation to Pekanbaru!

Visiting Siak River, Pekanbaru

Conversation in Javanese language (with taxibike driver) at that time gave me a fact that Most Pekanbaru resident are Minang descent. It is strengthens my mindset that Minang descent has a very strong migratory culture.

It only took 10 minutes for taxibike driver to explain everything about Pekanbaru until we both stop precisely in front of Sri Indrayani Hotel lobby.

Putting my backpack and eating 4 slices of toast made me ready in first minute inside Pekanbaru exploration.

“Hi Donny, you have to walk to north if you want to enjoy Siak river”, I murmured.

When I hear a word….”Pekanbaru”….my mind is always think about Siak river. How come? This river ever known as the deepest river in Indonesia, which in its heyday is usually traversed by tankers and container ships.

Hot weather in Pekanbaru burned my skin and crowded streets in downtown accompanied my steps to get closer to Siak river. And finally, I asked to a policeman to show me the fastest road towards Siak bridge 1.

Based on information which I got, Siak river has 4 bridges which become Pekanbaru’s landmarks. After sweating a lot, I finally arrived at side of Siak river. Precisely under Siak bridge 1.

Well-known as Leighton bridge which was built by PT Chevron Pacific Indonesia

Can’t wait to see river stretch with beautiful architecture of entire bridge which built above this legendary river, I immediately rushed to top of Siak bridge 1.

I was in middle of pedestrian path on Siak bridge 1, which was 42 years old

Once on bridge, I could enjoy river width more freely … Yes, I believe that tanker ships could sail on it in the past.

Looking far ahead, another bridge stretchs were looked also. Yellow arches that become a characteristic of Siak bridge 3 and construction of Siak bridge 4 which at that time hadn’t yet been finished but had already appeared its design. (Based on information in newspaper, this bridge had been opened in February 2019).

That is Siak bridge 3 and in the distance is Siak bridge 4

Didn’t want to leave Siak river immediately, I tried to see residents activities around it. I slowly walked to Siak bridge 3. Passing one side of river, and I found culinary stalls which hadn’t been partially opened.

Culinary stalls along Siak river.

Then I sat in a park to take shelter from hot sun while seeing Pekanbaru residents activities. I noticed a young couple who was busy playing in the park with their first child. I also diligently saw some residents catch fish under Siak bridge 1. Sometimes, Riau Water Police Patrol boat back and forth distracted my attention when I was looking at those activities.

Park on banks of river, near the Siak bridge 1

15 minutes later, I walked along river bank until I arrived precisely under the Siak Bridge 3. The yellow bridge which looked more artistic.

Area below the bridge is very well maintained by existence of a wider park. And under the other side of bridge is a tourist destination also i.e “Rumah Tuan Kadi”.

Riverside park precisely under Siak bridge 3
Rumah Tuan Kadi

And across river is clearly visible the water police headquarters with activity inside a patrol boat that was so busy.

Riau Police Water Headquarter

After feeling satisfied enough to visited Siak river and I saw my watch on 11:15, I finally left this river to find another tourist attraction in Pekanbaru.

Bus INTRA from Pematang Siantar to Pekanbaru

I left Lake Toba by a taxi (in Jakarta, it may be called “omprengan”.…(using minibus to transport passengers) for USD 3 with 1 hour 50 minutes travel time. It finally led me to visit a new city … yes, Pematang Siantar. The city that I never think to visit it.

The taxi dropped me off in Parluasan area, an area which famous as hoodlums producer in Indonesia. Horrific, but for me this was an extraordinary mental experience.

The driver drove me right across INTRA bus office on Sisingamangaraja street. A INTRA bus parked to upload passengers makes it was easy for me to make sure that I didn’t get it wrong.

INTRA office

Hurrying up and heading to ticket sales counter then paid for my ticket which was ordered by phone call a day before. Fearing if my order didn’t recorded and I could miss Pekanbaru in next day.

Buy a ticket here !….You better order at least a day before departing

Thank to God, my name was in list and I gave USD 17,5 to exchange with a sheet of ticket to Pekanbaru … Yes, welcome Pekanbaru.

Sitting in a waiting room, my gaze was fixed on my watch and INTRA office yard … Never seen when He arrived, from right end of bus office yard He shouted for me. Happy, meet old friend.

His name is Andy Erwin, we met on Hop On Hop Off (HoHo) bus in Kuala Lumpur in 2013. Since it, we have been friend and I never thought that I could stop by to his home….an umpteenth surprise on my journey.

waiting room at INTRA bus office

Waiting for four hours wasn’t a pleasant thing, it would be nice to go around city. Incidentally, Erwin was ready to take me around by his motorbike. I won’t discuss what I got for 4 hours journey in the city, I’d better tell it in another article.

After returning from my exploration in city which famous for its “war veteran bentor” (bentor is public transportation in Pematang Siantar which using old Harley Davidson) , I went back to INTRA bus office and was ready for departing to Pekanbaru. Thanks Erwin for brought me to sightseeing Pematang Siantar.

Slowly I started to get in INTRA Bus. It is embedded in my mindset that I must ready to ride this land roller coaster all night. There is a lot of info which I have gotten in internet that this “running box” will run very fast through roads towards Riau. Indeed, drivers from Sumatra are very well known for their high adrenaline in driving cars or buses. I’ll also tell you later when I couldn’t sleep when riding ANNANTA travel from Pekanbaru to Bukittinggi which is just as crazy in its speed.

That soft seats that I will occupy for 14 hours to travel about 600 km towards Pekanbaru.

I said that this bus is very comfortable, as comfortable as Jakarta to Solo buses (Jakarta is capital city of Indonesia, Solo is my hometown in Central Java) that I often ride when going to my hometown.…Well, you just know my origin.

It will become perfect if a socket under my seat is functioning, so I can just write on laptop or just charge my camera which is low battery. Unfortunately, all socket on all seats didn’t work.

Of course, I can’t enjoy night views out there because condition was really dark. I can only enjoy speed of bus in preceding every vehicle in front of it. This driver is amazing.

On next day, I could see real views from suburb of Trans Sumatra Highway.

Gardens belonging to residents

Or economic growth was seen from appearance of these shop houses.

Only 1 or 2 traffic jams which I encountered along the way because there was a road renovation, so all vehicles had to queue with other side to get through half of road.

Entering Pekanbaru city, bus began to slow down because urban traffic would certainly be more dense.

It wasn’t a terminal like I imagined where I will be taken down. But it was only a non-permanent building which is the final destination of INTRA bus:


A restaurant with a row of clean toilets.

After cleaning my body then I was exiting the building, I was offered by motorbike and taxi drivers to head to downtown. But to avoided a high price, I prefered to use online transportation services to go to Hotel.

I put my backpack and started exploring “Madani City” (madani city is another name of Pekanbaru city)