Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Neighboring Palembang Indonesia

AirAsia with its brand new Airbus and free flight ticket, exclusive of course the airport taxes to and fro KLIA LCCT terminal took us to Palembang within one hour and twenty minutes. It was a new vista that greeted us: large expense of open land as the plane approached the city and a sparkling new Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II Airport which certainly heralds greater flow of passengers to this southern part of Sumatra. Our family group of eleven adults and two young twins had booked tickets months ahead and as such had a steal of a price. I paid RM185.00 for one return ticket which surely met with the airline's advert that now 'every-one can fly'. Our tour agent Raden Wisata was there to meet us and after the usual baggage clearance we boarded the air-conditioned bus to the hotel in the city. Along the way we had a brief introduction to the city with the guide pinpointing several known buildings and landmarks. I had chosen to stay at Horison Hotel based on the internet advert and was happy that it met with my expectation.

Palembang in name is not alien to Malaysians as the early founders of Malacca historical kingdom had originated from the 7th Century Srivijaya maritime kingdom. There were many similarities and reflections we could identify and Bahasa Indonesia spoken here is strongly akin to Bahasa Malaysia with less of the color and varieties one find in Java. 'Songket' ( gold thread cloth) expertly woven by womenfolks using aged heirlooms is not to be missed. We visited one house where works were on display and the ladies did not regret spending one or two million Indonesian Rupiahs to get their share of the exquisite cloth. 'Kain Palembang' just like any 'sarong' is another souvenir the visitor would not like to return home without. Unlike the common 'sarong' of the 'Gajah Duduk' or " Kerusi ' brands from Java or India, the Palembang variety is in a class by itself. I did not purchase one but got one as a gift from my daughter. It allows me to compare with one in my possession which my father bought seventy years ago. It is still in perfect condition none for the ravages of time and use.

For the benefits of visitors to Palembang I have given a webpage report http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g608501-r7550388.r7550388.Palembang_Sumatra.html . At one branch of the Indonesian Gramedia bookshop I was delighted to find a much sought 'Ensiklopedia Kris' written by Bambang Harsrinuksmo. Still I did not manage to find a kris either of Palembang or Bugis made in the city. Neither did I see or was shown an antique shop in the city. Perhaps it calls for a return visit.


No comments: