Benteng Kuto Besak is a plaza at the bank of Sungai Musi (Musi River) that was once used as the centre of the kingdom. This place was built by Sultan Mahmud Badarrudin I in the eighteenth century by using limestone and egg white.
Since 2011, Benteng Kuto Besak, which literally means Great Kuto Fortress, has been refurbished and renovated to support government's initiative of making Palembang a tourist destination. The place has been equipped with huge parking lots to ease the visitors. In front of Benteng Kuto Besak, there is a newly built structure called Dermaga Point whereby people can chill in one of the cafes or take boat trip from there.
Besides Benteng Kuto Besak, there is a museum called Museum Sultan Mahmud Badarrudin II. You can park your car at Benteng Kuto Besak or inside the museum compound. We parked our car at Benteng Kuto Besak and we were straightaway asked for parking fee of IDR 4000 (~SGD 0.4) by the (illegal) parking attendant. Beware that many boat owner/operator will chase you to take their boat once you step out of the car.
Our first destination is to visit the museum. Therefore, I told the guy that we were going to museum and not taking the boat.
Boat Operator : The museum is closed.
Me: It's okay, we just go and take some photos.
So we went over to the museum and the guy followed us. If this occur to you, just ignore him.
|Museum Sultan Mahmud Badarrudin II|
|The main door at the first floor which is not opened|
We went over and found that the museum was not closed at all. The museum's operating hour is Monday to Saturday from 10:00am to 04:00pm and Sunday from 10:00am to 12:00pm. We bought the ticket that cost us IDR 5000 (~SGD 0.5) per person and we got free museum guide. The old man brought us along and explained every single artefact inside the museum.
|Top: Prasasti Kedukan Bukit (Kedukan Bukit Epigraph) - Prasasti Telaga Batu (Telaga Batu Epigraph)|
Bottom: Masjid Agung (Great Mosque) - Palembang's traditional house
|The type of ships that people used to cross the river in the past|
|The wedding decoration that is still used in traditional Palembang wedding until now|
|Palembang traditional wedding outfits|
|Palembang traditional wedding outfits that got influenced by Javanese culture|
|The traditional bridal suit. The scale at the corner is for the couple to weigh their clothes and two sides shall be balanced to illustrate everlasting love|
There are quite a number of things that can be seen in the museum. From all the way back when Buddhism was the main religion under Sriwijaya Kingdom until it changed to Hinduism under Majapahit and how it finally absorbed the Islamic teaching through the Palembang Kingdom and Admiral Cheng Ho. Palembang is essentially a mixture of all. Even the patterns of the traditional wooden furniture still have some elements of Buddhism such as lotus flower.
We visited the museum for about half an hour before making our move to Dermaga Point. Dad already helped us to secure a more-than-ten-seater boat for IDR 200,000 (~SGD 2.2). To my surprise, when we stepped out of the museum, the guy who pestered us previously still waited for us there. We just walked and ignored him completely.
We took our boat to see Musi River and stopped over at Pulau Kemaro.
|Dermaga Point and Pasar 16 Ilir (16 Ilir Market) at afar|
|The view of Jembatan Ampera while we set sail|
|The view of Jembatan Ampera after I put on some instagram filter :)|
|The boat was just so-so with the engine rumbling like mad at our ears. I guess they can do better by covering the engine below the deck so we can save our ears.|
|However this guy still enjoyed himself|
|We passed by traditional floating houses, i.e. rumah rakit|
|Factory of PT Pupuk Sriwijaya, the producer of fertilizer|
After 30 minutes of annoying boat trip, we stopped at Pulau Kemaro. Pulau Kemaro is an island at the delta of Musi River that is always dry no matter how high the tide is. Kemaro means dry. So I guess that's how the island got its name.
Legend says that long long time ago a Chinese merchant called Tan Bun An falled in love with a girl from Palembang named Siti Fatimah. Tan Bun An brought Siti Fatimah back to China to meet his family soon after. After a while, they sailed back to Palembang. Before they set sail, Tan Bun An's family presented them 7 jars of presents and told them not to open the jars before reaching Palembang.
When they were on Musi River already, Tan Bun An opened one of the jar. To his surprise and disappointment, he only found salted cabbage in the jar. Being so angry, he threw the jars into Musi River. The last jar that he tried to throw fell onto the ship's deck and only then he found that below the salted cabbages there were many golden jewelries. He regretted his decision and threw himself to the river to get back his presents. His attendant also jumped with him.
After a while, Siti Fatimah, who did not see her husband coming up from the river, also threw herself into the river to rescue Tan Bun An. However, nobody ever managed to find these three people.
A few days after, a pile of ground was seen nearby the location. Over the time, the pile of ground turned into a small island. The island is believed to be the graveyard of these three people.
There are a Chinese temple and a pagoda in Pulau Kemaro and people usually come here to pray during Cap Go Meh Festival. The place will be full of people during the period of fifteenth day after Chinese New Year. When we visited the island, it was almost empty and the temple was closed. We just walked around.
|Full team in front of the famous pagoda of Pulau Kemaro|
|There is a graveyard of Siti Fatimah and Tan Bun An inside this temple|
There is also a huge tree in the middle of the island that people refer as love tree. It is said that when you write your partner's and your name on two pieces of paper and stick them on the tree, you will know whether you two are meant to be together a few days after when you visit the tree back. If both papers are still there, you are soulmates. However, now, nobody does that anymore. As replacement, surrounding the tree, there is wooden fence, and people write their names and their loved ones on it.
After walking around, we hopped on to the boat again and went back to Dermaga Point. Another 30 minutes and we stepped down the boat. Beware that the boat operator will ask for extra money from you. Just ignore him. When we went back to the car, the (illegal) parking attendant also asked for extra money, we just told him we had paid and drove away.
We then drove to Bakmie Terang Bulan to enjoy the famous noodle of Palembang. Bakmie Terang Bulan has been in operation for many many many years and the old man who cooks the noodle almost never smiles to the customers. He never hesitates to scold the customers even. But why people still come back? I guess it's because of the quality of the food.
When we reached there around 5:30pm, we were lucky that we could find seats easily. After we sat down, people started coming in and put themselves under waiting list. When unlucky, people can wait for 1-2 hours for that bowl of noodle.
|There were two types of noodles served here, bakmie and fried noodle|
|And you shall try the pangsit (wonton)|
The bakmie and the wonton are the best here! So, when you visit Palembang and you are not restricted to eat non-halal food, you must visit this place.
After we finished our meal, we drove back to Benteng Kuto Besak to catch a view of Ampera Bridge at night. We went to Dermaga Point again and stood there to wait for the sun to set.
|The Golden Gate of Palembang|
|Indo CEE yeah :)|
Love is in the air,