Home to almost 2 million people, Palembang is Southeast Asia’s second oldest city. As the capital of the Sri Vijaya Empire, it once held vast power and influence over most parts of Southeast Asia, including current Malaysia, Solot (Sulu archipelago) and Brunei.
To me, this trip is my chance to journey back to the past.
I was overwhelmed listening to our eloquent tour guide, Bapak Latiff from Indonesia Tour Guide Association. While listening to him about history, culture, culinary, tourist destinations and other ancient beautiful places in Palembang, I was observing a large construction site along the road. I was informed later that it was a construction site for a new LRT rail. The project is part of the Indonesian government preparation for Asian Games 2018, which Palembang is hosting along with Jakarta.
The Ampera Bridge was built during the time of Soekarno, Indonesia’s first president. It used to be named Bung Karno Bridge after him but was later renamed Ampera Bridge, short for Amanat Penderitaan Rakyat, which means the mandate of the people's suffering. The construction was part of a Japanese war reparations program. Designed as a vertical-lift bridge, it had a mechanism that could allow it to open to let ships pass below it. For a few years after it was opened, the center span could be lifted to allow ships to pass underneath. However starting 1970, the government stopped allowing ships to pass through.
After two days in Palembang, it was already time to go. I was with the group expecting Ibu Irene Camelyn Sinaga, Head of Culture and Tourism of South Sumatra to arrive the morning of May 15. When we talked at Arista Hotel, one of the best hotels in Palembang, I felt that she confirmed my thoughts about poems when she said, “We have poets and poems here and legends as well as culture and history. When you hear of Palembang, it is synonymous to Sri Vijaya”.
As I was thanking the team from the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism, Indonesian Consulate General, Kota Kinabalu and Indonesian local travel partners, I want to quote Pak Ruben’s reply: “Thanks are due to the time that we have spent together, the time we were able to know each other and enjoy the beauty and wonders of Indonesia. We are especially grateful for the chance of establishing brotherhood and friendship among us all. We hope to see you again.”
I hope to come back again there. If you haven’t been there yet, I recommend that you go. There are direct flights from Kota Kinabalu to Jakarta. From Jakarta, you can take a one-hour flight to Palembang. There are also many tour packages that arrange your trip to Palembang, South Sumatra, Indonesia. Inquiries could be made through the Ministry of Tourism Indonesia and through local travel agents. Before anchoring our sail, let us read one of my poems I wrote at Arista Hotel, on 15 May 2016 at 7:48AM.
Tidak sah datang ke Palembang
jika tidak menatap Ampera
jembatan dibina ada cerita
dari hati dan jiwa warga.
Amanat Penderitaan Rakyat
namanya diambil dikenang ummat
sejarah tidak harus dilepas
kerana itu hidup terbebas.
Bung Karno namanya dulu
dari Jepang mula dibantu
seksaan Perang Dunia Kedua
penderitaan warga diberi makna.
Jembatan ini tanda kesatuan
tiada siapa bisa menentang
terbina benar luahan hati
datang kemari mendapat erti.
Kami di sini menyusur sungai
tempat laluan di Sungai Musi
kapal berhias indah berlabuh
penduduk maju bersatu padu.
Local Travel Agents:
Connie Chong, General Manager
Fun Holiday Tours and Travel SDN. BHD
Lot 8, 3rd Floor, Block H, Sadong Jaya Complex,
88200 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, East Malaysia
Fax: +6088250093 / 729301
GH Mulia Travel
Jalan Veteran No. 173 A, Palembang
Tel: (62-711) 351587, 353377
Fax: (62-711) 3513382
Jalan Demang Lebar Daun Kav. IX,
Palembang, Sumatra Selatan, Indonesia
Tel: (62-711) 356661, 311345, 357348
Fax: (62-711) 311544