Prior to visiting South Sumatera, I thought the province was only about ancient history and gastronomy. After undergoing a seven-day and six-night media familiarisation trip organised by South Sumatera Culture and Tourism Bureau to learn more about the province in conjunction with the Total Solar Eclipse Festival in Palembang last March 2016, I now realise that there is more to this province than what I first thought. The trip certainly taught us that South Sumatera is indeed a province that never fails to delight visitors from all walks of life.
Located on the southern-most rim of the South China Sea and close to the one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes linking the Far East with Europe, South Sumatera possesses many offerings that are bound to fascinate travellers. It is a destination, by far, that allows you to skip the tourist crowds and become among the first one ever to discover this beautiful region. Read on to find out what travellers can experience and savour when travelling in South Sumatera.
Renting a car is the best alternative since it would give you the freedom to stop at any place that you like and explore the treasures that make South Sumatera unique and special.
What to experience?
Visiting the Iconic Ampera Bridge
The Ampera Bridge is always on top of everyone’s mind when it being in Palembang. Situated at the heart of the city, this bridge connects the areas of Seberang Ulu and Seberang Ilir that are separated by the Musi River. Besides, it is also known as the centre of attraction among locals as the venue for exciting festivals and the place to spend their weekend for fresh air, great food and carnival-like atmosphere.
On top of that, Ampera Bridge marks a new history as for the first time, it was closed to cars during the recent Total Solar Eclipse festival that took place on 9 March 2016. I suppose it is safe to say that I was one of the luckiest persons to witness this rare phenomenon, when the moon fully covered the sun for 1 minute and 52 seconds – it felt like experiencing two nights and two sunrises in one morning. Priceless!
GPS: -2.991355, 104.763411
Best way to explore the Ampera Bridge is on foot since it allows you to catch the breeze from the Musi River.
Learn the tales of Goa Putri in Baturaja
Located 230 kilometres from Palembang, Goa Putri (Princess Cave) is one of the popular tourist attractions in South Sumatra. Travellers can feast their eyes over the beautiful stalactites and stalagmites inside this cave. There are many myths and folk tales related to Goa Putri such as the legend of Si Pahit Lidah (Bitter Tongue) whose curses come true and a princess called Dayang Merindu who was cursed into stone due to her arrogance. Indeed, by visiting this cave, visitors garner two experiences at one time: learning about the legends and enjoying undisturbed nature.
Admission: IDR5,000 per person
GPS: -4.086391, 103.940514
Enjoy the breeze around Ranau Lake
Renowned as the second largest lake in Sumatera, the Ranau Lake is located some 179 kilometres from Goa Putri, formed by a major earthquake and volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. The lake is surrounded by Mount Seminung that stands firmly beside, lush highland topography and fresh air.
On the other side at the foot of the mountain lies a hot spring that is often used by locals and tourists who come to Lake Ranau. To travel around this lake, visitors may opt for a motorboat locally known as ketek. The rate starts from IDR100,000 to IDR250,000. Wish to spend the night here? There are plenty of accommodations to choose from.
GPS: -4.810692, 103.938913
Admission fee to enter the lake: IDR1,000 per person
Admission fee to enter the hot spring: IDR1,500 per person
Discover the beauty of Pagar Alam
If you need a getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city, Pagar Alam is probably the ideal destination, popular for its stunning Mount Dempo, scenic tea plantations and natural wonders. To landscape photography enthusiasts, be sure to take a drive up the hillside for the mesmerising view over the sea of tea plantation. Travellers should also take the opportunity to mingle with the tea pickers and experience picking tea leaves.
If you love adventure, you should hike up Mount Dempo, which rises up to 3,195 metres above sea level, making it the highest volcano in South Sumatera. Travellers also can head to Padang Serunting to try the adventurous and fun off-road journey. I was thrilled beyond words by this experience!
Take the flight from Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport in Jakarta to Pagar Alam Airport. You can also approach Pagar Alam overland using public transport or private vehicle.
GPS: -4.040878, 103.234350
Also read: Embracing the Wonderful South Sumatra
What to eat?
Enticed with local delights
Along the trip, we savoured several local cakes in Palembang including kolak or ketan durian (durian with glutinuous rice), engkak ketan (with glutinuous rice), kue lumpur kismis (raisin cake), engkak medok (a special cake made from wheat flour, coconut milk, sugar and egg), and srikaya (green custard made from sugar, coconut milk and egg). Each of those are as delicious as it looks. You can get these local delicacies at Kue Harum, a simple café situated in the heart of Palembang.
Besides, trying out a tasty dish named pempek is a must. It is made from fish, flour and spices served with cuko, a spicy and sour sauce. Though it can be found throughout Indonesia, Palembang is the best place to savour pempek.
Pempek comes in various types pempek lenjer (long cylindrical pempek, shape is similar to sausages), kapal selam (shaped like a submarine), pempek kulit (fish skin), pempek adaan (ball shaped pempek), and pempek keriting (curly pempek).
GPS: -2.989777, 104.757589
Savour the succulent Mujair Kumbang fish
No trip to Ranau is ever complete without trying Ranau Lake’s special fish, which is the fresh Mujair Kumbang (a type of tilapia), known for its succulent taste. I think it was the best fish dish I have tasted during my South Sumatera trip, perfectly grilled and undeniably lip-smacking – ultimately a treat for the taste buds! Mujair Kumbang is available at most local restaurants around Ranau Lake.
Gaya Travel expresses our heartfelt gratitude to the South Sumatra Culture and Tourism Bureau for this wonderful trip.