If like me, you were bored of Batam and/or Bintan and you just wanted to explore somewhere nearby then welcome to Tanjung Pinang! This place is the capital of Bintan and while planning for the trip, it seem like a newly opened to the market place where everything is still raw, new and not crowded by tourists.
I will share again on the main island of Tg Pinang but as the title of this post states, I am going to share more about Penyengat Island. It is just a short bumboat ride from Tg Pinang ferry terminal to cross over to the island, which costs about 7,000 rupiah (est 73 cents). The bumboats are quite frequent and they will usually wait till there are about 15 pax before setting off. Now for safety reasons, we know that we are supposed to have life jackets for each individual on a boat, but being rural and all there was no such thing (but boy, I sure prayed a lot that day).
The weather was quite dark and it was raining the whole night and morning, we decided to take the boat across only because the sky seem to have cleared up. The journey over remind me a lot like a trip from Changi jetty to Pulau Ubin. In fact, it can be safe to say that both island may be similar in size.
A little bit of fact on Penyengat Island as garnered from Wikipedia.
Pulau Penyengat (malay for wasp island) sits in the Riau Islands Province, Indonesia. The historial significance of the island goes way back to the 18th century when it was established as a fort as part of the Sultanate of Johor-Riau by the Bugis.Although the history have passed for many years, Penyengat still bears traces and memories of its past. Ruins, abandoned for many years were recently restored. The oldest ruler’s palace and royal tombs are the legacies left by the Riau Sultanate.
Now, as I mentioned that this place was fairly new and recently opened to public, be prepared that there are not many articles or brochures which you can just pick up from the visitor’s centre or post. This place breeds a hometown feel, a quaint little village where the occupants are mostly descendants from the royal families. If I were to compare Penyengat to Tg Pinang, they are two world of a difference. The area on Penyengat are well-maintained and well-kept. Even the ruins have been restored and maintained to a certain extent, the houses are clean, neat and tidy. Even though the main households are brick and wood kampung houses, the usage of colours and nature makes their home look very appealing and welcoming.
What you can do, as you reached the island jetty. You will definitely pass by the many stalls as you walk into the centre of the island. Grab some food and drinks while you are there. Try the local and kampung food before starting your exploration. Main attractions on Penyengat island would be the Sultan’s Mosque (Masjid Raya Sultan Riau Penyengat), then there are the tomb of Raja Ali Haji (author of the grammar and history of the Riau Malay Language), tomb of Engku Puteri Permaisuri, Queen of Sultan Mahmud, tomb of Raja Jakfa, Kantor Palace, Princess well, Balai Adat Melayu Riau (cultural arts house).
Inside the Masjid Sultan Riau Penyengat is the oldest form of handwritten Quran which was on display. The wonder of the mosque is also that one of the main ingredients used in the building structure is egg white.
As you step out of the ferry terminal, the first main post that you will see will be the map of the island. It shows the simple graphic of the few historical buildings and structure which you can follow.
Generally as a guide, it is safe and possible to walk on foot to explore but if you would like a breezier ride, there are motorised tricycle on standby which costs about $3 per hour. They can bring you around but as what I always do. Check the prices first before getting on any vehicle. The island is good for one to take a stroll and breeze along as you soak in the history and feel for the place. Even so, it would not require you to be there for a full day even. As long as you managed to cover the major landmarks and historical ruins, the rest that you would be left to discover will be the life of the people presently living on that island and calling her home.
As a plus point, it is important to note that Pulau Penyengat has a majority of Malays who are devout Muslims, so as a form of respect if you are a non-muslim visiting the place it would be appropriate to be well-dressed and well-behaved. Although the mosque seem to be out of bound to non-muslim, as you will be visiting the other places like the tomb and royal palace, it is acceptable to watch our behaviour. As a general guide, no sleeveless, no shorts or short pants above the knee. Most places of worship and not just on Penyengat Island have such rules applied as a form of respect.
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