Jambi is a relatively small province of Indonesia on the east coast of central Sumatra. Consisting of nine regencies and one municipality., it extends to the Barisan Mountains in the west. Its capital and largest city is Jambi. The province has a land area of 50,058 square kilometers and a population of around 3.5 million people. The Topography of Jambi Province generally varies from lowland areas in the east to mountains in the west. The province is home to four national parks: 1) Kerinci Seblat National Park, 2) Berbak National Park, 3) Bukit Dua Belas National Park, and 4) Bukit Tiga Puluh National Park. Each of the national park has its own characteristics and plant and wildflife.

Jambi was once the center of the Melayu ancient kingdom. It gained influence some time in 7th century but was overshadowed by its larger neighbor kingdom, Sriwijaya. The Chinese traveler I Tsing once spent some time in Melayu and from his record it can be deduced that this area was called Chan Pi by the Chinese then. Melayu then became a subject of Sriwijaya. When Sriwijaya fell, Majapahit took over this kingdom. Then Minangkabau people of West Sumatra claimed this area after the fall of Majapahit. In 17th century, the Dutch East India Company created an alliance with Sultan Muhammed Nakhruddin. The Dutch then monopolized pepper trade in this area. Later on 1901, Dutch East India Company moved its place to Palembang in South Sumatra and Jambi was free of its influences then.

Jambi is dominated by Malays but it is home to a tribe that prefers to dwell in the forest that are called the Kubu, Anak Dalam (Children of the Forest) or more appropriately the Orang Rimba (People of the Forest). Some still maintain their age-old beliefs, practice-animism and have no contact with the outsiders. Others have contact with locals and have left many of their old customs behind. Forcing Orang Rimba to leave their way of life and mingle with modern society is not always the good solution. Sometimes they have adjustment issues dealing with the modern world, plus we lose their wealth of knowledge and form the loss of their age-old ways. Some educational institutions have assignes teachers to join the nomads so they'll be able to teach the young generation how to read, write and count.

Jambi has similar cuisine like in South Sumatra. It is a good place to enjoy traditional delicacies such as fried pineapple (nanas goreng), roasted corn (jagung bakar) and the like. Western Sumatra dishes cuisine such as nasi padang can easily be found anywhere. Most of the food is spicy.

There are six daily flights departing and arriving in Jambi. It takes 60 minutes flight from Jakarta, 15 minutes from Palembang and 60 minutes from Batam Island or Singapore. The province is also accessible by boat or ferry from Batam (5 hours) and Malaysia (7 hours). By bus Jambi is 6 hours from Palembang, 8 hours from Padang and 10 hours from Bengkulu. .Tourism Office: Jl. KH. Agus Salim, Kota Baru, Jambi, Tel. (62-741) 445050, fax: (61-741) 445050, kotajambi.go.id

Places in Jambi Province

Mount Kerinci (278 kilometers from Padang) is the highest mountain on the island of Sumatra and it is popular with mountain climbers. The nearest village and climber’s base is Kersik Tuo, near Kayu Aro, Kerinci. The route is marked by signs, posted at half kilometer intervals. The best season to visit is January to October. The mountain is accessible from the town of Sungai Penuh, District of Kerinci in Jambi Province which is 7 - 8 hours drive from Padang. Alternatively, you can go to the village of Kersik Tuo, 211 kilometers or a six hour drive from Padang. Kerinci Seblat National Park, Jl. Basuki Rahmat 1, Tel: (62-748) 21095, 2230

See Kerinci Selbat National Park

Muara Jambi Temple

Muara Jambi Temple (35 kilometers northeast of Jambi city) is considered one of the richest archaeological sites in of Sumatra. The eight temple-like structures appear to be Buddhist, and were probably built around the 14th century. Archaeologists conclude that the site was the center of Old Jambi, the capital of ancient Malay kingdom. The capital was sieged and destroyed in 1377 by armies from Burma. For centuries, the site had been lost and forgotten deep in the jungle, only to be rediscovered in 1920 by a British military expedition team.

Muara Jambi temple complex covers an area of 12 square kilometers, along the side of Batanghari river. There are eight main temples in the complex. All of them are located in the center area, fortified by walls. Three of them are already renovated. In 1982, a 32-centimeters tall female bronze statue was found at Koto Kandis, in the Muara Sabak sub district. It is believed to be the Hindu goddest Laksmi, holding a lotus bud in her left. In addition to the archaelogical sites, many visitors find the riverside an ideal recreation and picnic spot.

Muarajambi Temple Compound was nominated to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009. According to a report submitted to UNESCO: “The site is spread along 7.5 kilo-meters of the riverbanks of Batanghari River in which old canals or man-made rivers are positioned to connect the Batanghari River with the site. Through these ancient canals that circulate the site, people could reach the temple compounds. In the Muarajambi Temple Compound Site that covers an area of 2062 hectares, there were at least 82 ruins of ancient buildings made of brick construction. Seven of these ancient temples have been given intensive conservation treatment; meanwhile the remaining structures are covered with primary and secondary vegetation, and surrounded by the local community plantation of Sumatran endemic plants (planted by the local people known as Menapo). The seven temple compounds are the Gumpung, Tinggi I, Tinggi II, Kembar Batu, Astano, Gedong I and Gedong II, and the Kedaton Temple. In addition to that conservation treatment, several of the ancient canals and the old ponds that were previously covered with water vegetation have been cleared and are now restored to normal, such as the ancient canals in Jambi River and the Telago Rajo Pond. [Source: Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Indonesia]

“Based on archaeology research and historical sources, the Muarajambi Temple Compound Site was once the centre for worship and education of the Buddhist religion in the period of the Ancient Malay Kingdom in the 7th - 14th century AD. The Muarajambi Temple Compound Site illustrates the exchange of culture and human values over a span of time within the period of the Hinduism - Buddhism culture in Indonesia and specifically in Jambi. The values of humanities are reflected in the building of the temples based on the philosophy of Hinduism-Buddhism. In terms of technology and architecture, the structures illustrate the skills and the knowledge in various fields starting from selecting the location, method of constructing the temple and land use adjusted to the geographical condition and environment of the temple compound. The Muarajambi region -that is located in the natural leavee of Batanghari River and is a floodprone area- has been realigned to become a viable area for worship rituals and for settlement at that time. The findings of man-made canals -that pass around the temple complex and the water reservoirs- are evidence that the people of the past have the local wisdom to conserve water, use the canals for transportation, obtain source of protein from the various fish cultivated in these canals connected to the Batanghari River.

“From the architectural point of view, it is apparent that the local community of that time around the Muarajambi temple compound already possessed the capacity to design and build structures from bricks following the Hinduism-Buddhism philosophy. The technology in producing brick blocks -starting from selecting the material, molding, heating, and applying construction techniques- is considered as unique knowledge and skills of the people in that age.” The structures are typical of those “built in the age of the Hinduism-Buddhism era in Sumatera around the 7th Century AD up to the 14th Century AD. There were at least 82 ruins of ancient buildings that were discovered in this site. Seven of them have been exposed and have been given intensive conservation treatment, namely the Gumpung, Tinggi I, Tinggi II, Kembar Batu, Astano, Gedong I and Gedong II, and the Kedaton Temple

Getting There: The Muarajambi Temple Compound Site is situated 35 kilometers northeastof Jambi, along the Batanghari River is located in the Muarajambi Village, in the District of Maro Sebo, Muaro Jambi Regency, Jambi Province. It can be reached by land transportation or via a river in one hour from Jambi You can travel to Jambi from Medan or Padang. Medan is an international gateway, so there should be no problem in reaching it. If your departure point is Jakarta, there are both direct and connecting flights scheduled from Jakarta to Padang. It's a popular destination, so travel agents in Jambi usually have packages related to this destination.

Bangka Island

Bangka Island (reached by overnight boat service from Palembang) has a developed white sandy beach is 400 meters wide and six kilometers long. Near Pangkal Pinang is Pasir Pad Beach which has no accommodation but endless rows of coconut trees. On the other side of the island is Muntok which contains a big lodging house where the first president of Indonesia was held captive during Indonesia's fight for independence in 1945.

Bangka Belitung Island is a province with archipelago nomenclature. It embraces approximately 81,725,14 square kilometers of which 16,424,14 square kilometers is land and 65,301 square kilometers in territorial water that surround the land. In other words, the province is about 80 percent water. Bangka Island consists of two big islands, with 254 islets surrounding them with a coastal length of 1,200 kilometers, divided in seven sub-provinces. Bangka Island, smaller Belitung Islands and other smaller islands used to a district in the Province of South Sumatra. But in 2000, the island group was officially declared the 31st province of Indonesia called the Bangka Belitung Islands Province. Belitung

The name Bangka is derived from the local word wangka meaning tin. Tin tin was found here in 1710. After that tin was extensively mined there. These days tin is still mined but not as much as before. Chinese make up at least 20 percent of the population of in some places. The majority of the Chinese are direct descendants of the coolies who worked the tin mines. Due to its proximity to sea, sea food has become a favorite. Chinese influence also can be seen in the dishes that mainly use Chinese spices. While you're here try gebung, the local dialect for chicken fish. Its firm and tasty flesh will delight your senses.

Banga can be reached flighs from Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta Airport or by boat from Palembang. Tourism Office: Dinas Perhubungan dan Pariwisata Provinsi Bangka Belitung, Jl. Jend. Sudirman 10, Pangkal Pinang, Bangka Belitung, Tel. (62-717) 437705, fax: (62-717) 438850; Website: visitbangkabelitung.com

Places on Bangka Island

The oldest temple is in Batu Rusa, a village along the road from Pangkalpinang to Sungai Liat. A beautifully decorated temple is found near Tayu in the north of Bangka Island. There are approximately 55 Chinese or Buddhist temples on Bangka alone that are still in use.

Matras and Parai Tenggiri are beaches in the northeast of Bangka, 48 kilometers. from Pangkal Pinang and 12 kilometers from Sungai Liat. The beach is about three kilometers long and its width is almost 30 meters. Parai, a beach set between rocky capes is an ideal location for relaxing and swimming. Local fishermen moor their vessels here after a day of fishing, giving the beach the picturesque feel of a fishing village.

Mount Menumbung is a 355-meter-high hill in the neighbourhood of Mentok (North West Bangka) on which stands a memorial to the history of the Indonesian nation. A guest house which was built here by the Dutch in 1932 that was used to house the former President Sukarno and Vice-President Hatta during their imprisonment from February to July 1949.

Belitung :

Belitung is an island that lies off the eastern coast of Sumatra, flanked by the Gaspar and Karimata Straits. It is beautiful place with pearly white sand, clear water, and magnificent granite stone formations on its shallow water shores. The Island itself is divided into two districts, the Belitung district with capital Tanjung Pandan city, and the East Belitung District with Manggar city as its capital. Once known mainly as a mining island producing tin, quartz sand, and Kaolin, the island was featured in a novel and movie called Laskar Pelangi movie which brought the island a lot of attention in Indonesia.

The most distinct features of Belitung’s beaches are the fascinating granite rock formations that spread through its shallow shores. They range in size from several cubic meters to house-size giants. Some formations have short tunnels underneath. Some of the interesting granite rock formations are found at Tanjung Tinggi Beach, which was featured in the Laskar Pelangi movie. Among the beaches that have granite rock formations are Tanjung Kelayang Beach, Burung Mandi (Bathing Birds) Beach, Tanjung Binga Beach, Punai Beach, and Membalong Beach.

Belitung is surrounded by more than 100 small islands. Almost all of them have white sand and granite rocks, and only a few are inhabited. Lengkuas Island is the site of a 19th century light house built by the Dutch. . Burung (Birds) Island, Babi (Pig) Island, Pengadaran Island, Lutung Island, Kera (Apes) Island and Jenang Island, are among some of the smaller islands that offer great experiences. Among some of the best places for snorkeling are: Batu Penyu Beach, Tanjung Binga/Bukit Berau Beach, Tanjung Tinggi Beach, Batu Camar Beach, Kelayang Island and Tanjung Kelayang Beach, Babi Island, Lengkuas Island, Memperak Island

Tanjung Pandan, the main town on Belitung, has many Dutch colonial buildings and shop houses. Most of the government buildings are original Dutch buildings and the Old Dutch tin mining housing compound is still kept up. Traditional Bugis fishing craft and an odd assortment of other boats make the wharf and fish market an interesting place, certainly for its smells, to visit. Culturally, Belitung has a rich diversity, Malay style wooden houses share space with Bugis traditional raised houses with a half dock used to dry fish. A Chinese Buddhist temple, said to be one of the oldest in Indonesia, was built by the survivors of an ancient Chinese trading vessel. Balinese migrants have a thriving community which continues to carry on Bali's traditions and religion.

In Tanjung Pandan, the Museum of Belitung holds vast collections features displays on mining as well as artifacts like traditional house-ware, pottery, and traditional weapons. There is a beautiful 18th century Buddhist temple located at the Burung Mandi village, in the sub-district of Manggar. The Vihara dedicated to the goddess Kwan Im was built in 1747 and still serves to this day as a sacred place for Buddhists. Bearing distinct Chinese architecture, the temple sits beautifully on the top of a hill and offers a fascinating view of the island. More Information can be found at: belitungisland.com

Accommodation and Restaurants at Betilung Island

There are several hotels and modest inns you can chose when you spend your holidays on the island. Here are among some of the accommodation you can choose from: 1) Hotel Makmur, Jl. Depati Endek No.23 33411; 2) Tanjung Pandan - Belitung, Tel. +62 719 21086, 213230, fax: +62 719 22112; 3) Pondok Impian, Jl. Pattimura No.08 Tanjung Pandan 33415 Tanjung Pandan - Belitung, Tel. +62 719 22076, 25298, 23190, fax: +62 719 22381; 4) Bukit Berahu Cottages; 5) Desa Tanjung Binga, Sijuk, Tanjung Pandan - Belitung, Tel. +62 719 23633; 6) Surya, Jl. Depati Endek 808, Tanjung Pandan - Belitung, Tel. +62 719 21550; 7) Hotel Dewi, Jl. Sriwijaya No.122, Tanjung Pandan - Belitung, Tel. +62 719 21134; 8) Esbe Inn and Restaurant, Jl. Jendral Sudirman No.23, Tanjung Pandan - Belitung, Tel. +62 719 24147, 7003093, Email. sinarbunda@yahoo.co.id; 9) Hotel Simpang Empat, Jl. Jendral Sudirman Simpang Empat, Manggar - Belitung Timur, Tel. +62 719 91605; 10 ) Nusa Indah, Jl. Pegadaian Manggar - Belitung Timur, Tel. +62 719 91293

There are many big restaurants in Tanjungpandan serving Nasi Padang or Chinese foods. There are many stores and supermarkets in Tanjungpandan that provide any stuff needed. In Tanjung Tinggi there are many traditional seafood restaurants along with top international standard restaurant in hotels that are located along some of the beautiful Beaches.

The special dishes of the Island are the Suto Belitong, which consists of soup, rice cake and vegetables; and the authentic Balitung noodle or the Mie Belitung. Among some other favorite menu of Belitung include: Gangan (fish soup), Pais (spicy grill fish), Grilled Fish, Coconut milk Crab soup, and Fried calamari, prawn or fish

Getting to and Around Betilung Island

Belitung is small enough that some interesting points on the island can be reached in less than two hours from Tanjung Pandan. However, taxis are non-existant and public transportation on the island is hard to find, so the only practical way to move around is to rent a car or a motorcycle.

From Jakarta, the easiest way to get to Belitung is obviously by airplane. There are several daily Boeing 737aircraft served by Sriwijaya Air and Batavia Air leaving from Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta Airport direct to H.A.S. Hanandjoeddin Airport in Tanjungpandan, Belitung. All flights from Jakarta to Belitung depart from terminal 1B of Soekarno-Hatta Airport. The flight takes 45 minutes and will cost you around USD 40 to USD 70 one way, depending on ticket class.

Alternatively, you can take the Sea route by PELNI passanger ship, or kilometers Tristar from the Tanjung Priok harbor, in Jakarta. Keep in mind that the ship only serves travel to Belitung once every 2 weeks. The journey will take about 24 hours. The trip will cost you less than USD 15,- one way.

From the Provincial capital, Pangkal Pinang, you can get to Belitung Island by taking the daily Bahari speed boats that will take 4 hours. This is by far the most convenient means of Sea transportation and comes complete with air conditioner. It will cost you around USD 17,- per one way trip. Bahari express leaves daily at 14.00 from Pangkal Pinang, Bangka, to Belitung, and leaves at 07.00 from Tanjungpandan Belitung to Pangkal Pinang.

Bengkulu Province

The capital of Bengkulu Province is the coastal city formerly known as Bencoolen. It was the site of Sir Stamford Raffles first entrry into Indonesia and there are still remains of British influence in the area. The primary crops of the area are pepper, coffee, nutmeg and sugar cane. The most fascinating nature charms are the exotic Rafflesia Arnoldi. Dubbed the largest flower in the world, it's actually a parasite luring insects into it by emitting rotten odor.

Not much is known about Bengkulu's past, save from the fact that it used to consist of small kingdoms. It developed its own script called ka-ga-nga. Majapahit seemed to take Bengkulu into its wings but after this mighty kingdom fell, Bengkulu was left to its own devices until the British came and take over. The British wanted to monopolize the pepper, grown abundant here, but constant attacks of malaria and boredom made them think that Bencoolen, like they preferred to call it, was not that promising. When Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles arrived in 1818 as the British ruler, he somehow managed to turn Bengkulu into a success. He made the best of pepper trade, and he also make them grow coffee, nutmeg and sugar cane here. Bengkulu is also well-known as the exile place of Indonesia's first president, Sukarno, in 1938-1941.

Fort Marlborough Fort Marlborough. The British or ‘Raffles’ Fort, was built between 1714 and 1719 and was famous as the second-strongest fort built by British in Asia, Fort George in Madras, India being the first. It was restored and opened to the public.

Bengkulu Province is easily accessible by land, air and sea transportation. You can catch regular buses directly from Medan, Padang or Jakarta. Flight arrives there times a day. Domestic ships from Jakarta, Padang and Medan stop by in Baai Harbor, Bengkulu. Most inhabitants here are Malay and the culture and habits are somewhat similar to neighboring provinces. Tourism Office: Jl. P. Tendean 17 Bengkulu, Tel. (62-736) 21272, fax: (62-736) 342200, 342100; Website: bengkulu.go.id

Bengkulu Food

Like other provinces in Indonesia, Bengkulu has its own specific cuisine for which it is renowned, among which are pendap, gulai tempoyak, and bagar kambing. Pendap is a tasty sidedish wrapped in taro leaf, containing fresh fish, cooked in a bed of spices, consisting of garlic, galangale (a root resembling ginger, known in Indonesia as kencur) and chilli paste, then mixed with rasped young coconut meat. Wrapped in taro leaf, pendap is boiled for no less than 8 hours. Pendap is best eaten with steaming hot rice.

While gulai tempoyak, or more familiarly called tempoyak is a dish made of fermented fresh durians, then cooked with chilli paste and salt. Although tempoyak is also known in other parts of Indonesia, here in Bengkulu, tempoyak is mixed with shrimp, unlike fish used in other provinces. Since tempoyak has a strong smell, it is often not served as a sidedish but used as ingredient in other dishes.

Bagar kambing is goat meat, cooked in an array of spices including coriander, nutmeg, pepper, tamarind, galangale, garlic, chalots, chilli paste and fried rasped coconut. There is also the Bagar Hiu or shark’s meat that is cooked with the same ingredients and follows the same process.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Indonesia Tourism website ( indonesia.travel ), Indonesia government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Japan News, Yomiuri Shimbun, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in August 2020

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