Palembang from the Musi River

(Part 2)

I was going to put some inspirational river quote here to make y’all feel properly inspired, but I couldn’t find any that I actually liked.

So whatever.

On Wednesday, we went on a little boat on the Musi River. The Musi River splits Palembang in two. One side of the river is named Ilir and the other Ulu. Of course, I actually had no idea which was which. Such is life.

My crew.

With my host aunt, uncle, and cousins.

We passed under the famous Ampera bridge. On our way there, I saw this:

How's that for a job?

I do not envy their job. At all.

Riding down the river was fascinating to me. People built their homes right on the edge of the river. Most of the homes were shanties and hobby wooden structures.

I come from a desert. There is a river in my city (in America), but it’s really small and gross. So river life is wholly unknown to me.

Houses on the Musi.

Passing by these houses, I felt like I could see a little into these people’s lives. I saw them sitting on their porches, washing clothes and dishes in the river, hanging laundry, and a lot of kids playing and jumping in the river.

Boys playing in the river.

Boys playing in the river.

It was fascinating.

The river was busy. There were a ton of boats (obviously) and a ton of guys working on them. Some of the boats were really pretty.

Boats. (Musi River)

Some people lived on the edge of the river, and some people lived in the middle of it.

Another house boat.

Kind of tough, though. No neighbors, and it’s kind of hard to bring friends and guests over.

We made our way to Kemaro Island, an island in the middle of the river. This island was right across the way from a fertilizer factory, which made for a pleasant aroma throughout the island.

The walkway on Pulau Kemaro

The island was a nod to the Chinese Palembang occupants, complete with a either Buddhist or Taoist temple. The walkways were lined with lanterns for a post-Chinese New Years celebration that would be happening a couple days after our visit.

With Abi, Om Ahmend, Mama K, and Ahi.

Sadly, we weren’t allowed to enter the temple. We just took pictures with it and then had fresh coconuts.

The island wasn’t very big or very crowded, but apparently the latter changes on the weekends.

The next day was a more relaxed day. My host uncle has a fish farm in his (large) backyard. He hired two boys from the kampung, or the villages/country, and another guy to help him manage it. I was the first bule the boys had ever met.

They showed me around the fish farm.

Om Ahmed's fish farm

And showed me the fish they sold, pecel lele. 

A full grown pecel lele

The pecel lele was a little strange because it didn’t have any scales. It was smooth and slimy and apparently worth a lot. Come to think of it, I have seen a lot of side-of-the-road restaurants advertising pecel lele.

My host uncle asked if I wanted a fresh coconut from their coconut tree and I said yes. Next thing I knew, one of the boys was climbing the tree and pushing coconuts down with his feet. Palm tree climbing is apparently something they learn in the kampung and it’s super cool.

Selamat up there, no problem.

After watching the boy do it, I informed my host aunt and uncle that someday I would climb a coconut tree. I received doubt as an answer.

Yes, I know I’m a bule, but I swear I’ll do it someday. It’s too cool to pass up.

Later that night, after watching a movie with my host cousins, I was dropped off at my other host aunt’s house.

The next day, I hung out with my host aunt’s 13 cats.

All in one.

But holy cow is their family tree complicated. In the box, there is a grandma, two sisters (one is a newborn), and grandchildren the same age as their aunt cat. And apparently there was a great-grandma walking around the house somewhere.

My host aunt is a baker. I’m not a baker per se, but I really enjoy baking. I haven’t been able for the time that I’ve been here because ovens are not super common. I don’t have one in my house in Bogor.

So my host aunt and I made cakes and eclairs.

Leftovers go to the cats.

Leftovers go to the cats.

My host aunt was really good about teaching me. I’ve definitely never made eclairs before, but I enjoyed making them with her.

Making eclairs.

After making the cakes and eclairs, my other host aunt picked me up. We headed home.

I don’t have any pictures of Friday, but I went with my host aunt and cousin to the Palembang museum downtown. After, we visited a strangely shaped war memorial/museum and then had lunch at a Sunda restaurant.

The Sunda restaurant was so familiar and reminded me of Bogor (since Bogor is in Sunda area). It was an interesting experience, being familiar with something that was alien a few months ago. I suppose that’s pretty much applicable to most things here now.

Later that night, I tried on my host uncle’s mom’s traditional Palembang dancer clothes.

With Niai, the owner of the clothes

Then we waited for her to come home. When she did, we took pictures. I think she was happy.

The next day, after eating an early breakfast, we headed to the airport.

And that, friends, wraps up my time in Palembang. It was a blast.




2 thoughts on “Palembang from the Musi River

  1. Michael Rogers Reed says:

    I don’t know how I missed this post, but it is really cool with lots of neat pictures. Tell your host aunts thank you for showing you such wonderful things


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