I visited Pekanbaru during a weekend on April 2014. I have two reasons why I chose Pekanbaru, first I want to visit one of my best friend, Ica, who stays there. I haven’t met her and her family for a long time. The second reason is I have never been in Sumatra Island, other than Palembang that I visited when I was in college. So, when Tiger Mandala offered a free return ticket, I could not think the better opportunity to visit Pekanbaru. Moreover when I finally found out that TigerMandala closed all their routes in the following months. It’s so unfortunate since in my experience, their flight is always on-time, even ahead schedule sometimes.
My plane landed in Sultan Syarif Kasim II International Airport at 7 AM. The airport always gave me the first impression of every city and Pekanbaru has a modern airport – it’s not big but nice and clean. I even think that it is better than Soekarno Hatta Terminal 3 Airport. Before I went to Pekanbaru, as usual I did some research about the places that I would like to visit there. Surprisingly there is not much information about it, so I did not really have any idea how the trip was gonna be. I figured out that I will ask Ica for the best recommendation in Pekanbaru. The alternative idea was to turn this trip to be a culinary trip – because I believe anywhere in Indonesia we can always find new and tasty foods to try!
So, I was picked-up by Ica and her husband, Nanda. And before went back to their house to meet their cute son, Ghazi, and also her family, we stopped by to get breakfast, my first Pekanbaru culinary experience. The food was “sayur paku” which sounded a bit strange at first for me, because “paku” means “nail/ spike” – can you imagine the soup of nails? :D. But then I realize that “paku” has other meaning in Bahasa Indonesia – it also means “pakis” or “fern” in English. I have never eaten fern before so it was a new experience for me. It was good and also quite spicy, a common characteristic of dishes from Sumatra.
After I met Ica’s family and breakfast, my Pekanbaru tour was started. I could not wait to experience “Trans Metro Pekanbaru” – their public transportation system, which from what I read in the internet, is as good as Trans Jakarta Busway. But it is turned out to be wrong, according to me; TMP still needs a lot of improvement. First of all, not all the bus stop are clearly marked and named – so most of the time, I had no idea where I was without asking locals. Even some of the bus stops are appeared just like a stairs without any information on it. The ticket of TMP is bought on board by paying money to the “kondektur”, and they provide changes. The ticket fee is Rp. 3000 for one ride and it is good for one transfer. The “kondektur” shouted the bus stop so the passenger can now – but the problem was often they mentioned location name that is different with the bus stops listed on the route map, so only locals can understand it. I took the wrong direction twice and end-up having unintentional tour on TMP. However the bus itself quite comfortable and air-conditioned, it is very important because Pekanbaru is extremely HOT, it reminds me so much to Tangguh Site at Papua. The following pictures summarized my TMP experience.
Pictures of places I visited in Pekanbaru are presented below. The most memorable is Masjid Agung Pekanbaru, because the place is HUGE. The mosque is so big and according to me, the design (from outside) is similar to Taj Mahal. The unique thing is also because the plaza surrounding the mosque are so big, on the afternoon, there are a lot of people comes for jogging or just hanging out. The next one is H.S. Soeman Library, I think that was a first time that I visited any library during my trip, but it seems that Pekanbaru citizen are very proud of this library because it is always appeared in all Pekanbaru-related website. The library is very unique with shape of “opened book” from the outside and it is also very big and modern inside.
Next is the best part of this trip, Pekanbaru delicious food!! Pictures are presented below, including the beautiful cake shop owned by Nanda & family: L’Cheese Factory. During the 2nd and last day, I also made a visit to Masjid Raya, the oldest mosque in Pekanbaru; Pasar Bawah – the best place to find Pekanbaru’s souvenir; Jembatan Leighton to cross Siak River; and Chevron Camp in Rumbai; and Gelanggang Remaja Pekanbaru.