Pekanbaru Indonesia Riau Province is an interesting place to observe big plantations, oil exploration and a varied population very different from Bali, its hotels, and international tourism. The traditions and culture here are different, authentic, steeped in history, wars, and development.
Indonesians have the tradition of Mudik (traveling to one's hometown) during the Lebaran holiday. Idul Fitri marks the end of the Islamic Fasting Month which is celebrated with family and friends. It is a bit like Christmas in Western countries; where feasts and family traditions are upheld and observed. Masses of revelers leave big cities to journey back to their families in the villages and the usually crowded urban areas become quiet and empty.
Our family has started a unique way of keeping this tradition alive. To not have to decide whose family turn it is to visit, we have decided to make it easy and celebrate all together. Two families, get together, two times 3 generations and explore a new part of Indonesia or go back to renew old family ties. In 2016 it was time to gather in Sumatra, Pekanbaru, and Duri.
We started out in Pekanbaru the capital of Riau Province in Sumatra. This also used to be a royal town, the capital of the Siak Kingdom. Many different tribes and cultures mix here and live peacefully next to each other. Minangkabau people make up the majority, Malay, Javanese and Chinese form important communities too.
Since Papa, Fithri’s father worked at Chevron camp for many years and many family members still live in Duri; that was our main destination. Chevron operates two major fields in Sumatra Minas and Duri with one of the world's largest steamflood developments.
The road from Pekanbaru Indonesia to Duri is wide and asphalted and yet it is quite dangerous with its many tight turns and plenty of slow trucks. Left and right you see endless palm oil plantations and occasionally also a pipeline or two. Along the road, there is an elephant sanctuary. It is not commercialized; there is no website and facilities for tourists.
Locals know where it is; only a small sign points to the dirt road the way in. Buy some vegetables and fruits for the elephants and expect to leave some money for their upkeep and support, especially if you ride them.
We stopped at a Padang Restaurant the fast food restaurants of Indonesia on the way. Mama said this one was the best. As soon as guests enter a Padang Restaurant, the waiter fetches a myriad of little plates filled with mouthwatering dishes like the famous Rendang beef stew, chicken braised or fried, boiled eggs in sambal (spicy) sauce, fish in coconut sauce, vegetables and much more. Guests chose their favorites and eat them with steamed rice and hot tea. At the end the waiter will count what you eat and takes back the rest.
In Duri we celebrated Idul Fitri (end of fasting month) with morning prayers at the grand mosque inside the Chevron compound. Then we had to visit the different family homes in exact order, discuss the latest news, introduce our grand son and of course everywhere we went we had to taste their food. That day we eat Minang or Padang food, Aceh fare, Javanese kind of noodles and soups… what a delight!
Sumatra is also a lush garden; we found plenty of fruits and vegetables in patches around private houses and on the fringes of the big plantations.
Are you looking for affordable accommodation in Bali, here some suggestions: Kebon Villa in the mountains of Tabanan has a large fruit tree garden. A good and affordable hotel for big groups is. Or maybe you are looking for small apartment like long term stays? We recommend: Jadin Studio Denpasar; Gangen Apartment also Denpasar. Here a villa a bit closer to the beach and water sports. Some interesting small hotel in the center of Sanur, the museum is next door.
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