Going Around In Circle…well kinda

Map from Google showing the places I travel. A is where I start and end

It had been about two weeks since I returned from a trip to Pekanbaru in the island of Sumatra. It is the capital of Riau Province, Indonesia. The trip was a result of my initial planned trip to Penyalai, Teluk Dalam in the island of Mendol to photograph a pair of White-bellied Sea Eagle which I came to know on my first visit to Penyalai a few months back.

Speed leaving Penyalai

From Singapore, I boarded a ferry at Harbour Front Ferry terminal to Tanjung Balai, Pulau Karimun. I then immediately continued onwards to Tanjung Batu, Pulau Kundur and spent a night there. The next morning I boarded a fast boat called ‘Speed’ by the locals for a short half hour journey to Penyalai.

Penyalai is a small town, similar in size to the towns seen in cowboy movies. There is only one accommodation and a very humble one for that matter. Since it is a monopoly, the price for a night is not cheap, Rp 60000 for a room with fan and Rp 100000 for a room with air-conditioning and you only have electricity when it gets dark. I paid Rp 60000 in Tanjung Batu, far more better room condition plus air-conditioning and 24 hours electricity. That said, it is just a note here, I am not complaining. I like the place and what makes me like the place is the eagles that sometimes fly low and very near.

Market in Penyalai near the pier

A reminder of my childhood

Strong current in the strait

The pair of eagles appeared at the area around the pier at about the same time as before, in my previous visit, at about an hour after noon. Since this was my second encounter with the birds, I was getting better but still not perfect. I felt much more composed. Maybe next time I should offer them some goodies.

White-bellied Sea Eagle

Its partner

Old habits die hard but bad old habits need to change. People need to wise up. I was surprised to see two young ladies on the bridge merrily walking and talking to each other, each carrying a box. They then edged closer to the railing, flipped the box over and emptied it over the sea. 50 years ago this is not a problem, they are all organic, and the weather and time will take care of it. Now there is plastic and sadly in a hundred years it is still plastic. People attitudes are the same wherever they are. There are the good, the bad and the ugly. I do see people with good habits in Penyalai. They burn their rubbish. No truck collecting rubbish in the island.

The plastic trash is an eyesore

The next morning I boarded a Speed for a six-hour long trip up the river to Kerinci, stopping at Teluk Meranti1 for lunch. I did not feel like spending the night in Kerinci, maybe next time, so I continued on to Pekanbaru. The van that ply the route between these two towns is known as ‘Siputih’, named after its colour white.  The journey took more than an hour. I spent two nights in Pekanbaru and did some shopping and walking around.

Somewhere in Pekanbaru

I obliged to the request of these young entrepreneurs

Morning rush hour in Pekanbaru

I did my shopping at Ramayana

Man fishing at Siak River

The Grand Mosque of Pekanbaru

Motorcycle park

Avian for sale

headgear for sale

On the third day at about 10.00am, I left for Dumai on the east coast of the island of Sumatra. Another six hours of road journey plus stoppage for lunch. I told the driver to drop me at the ticket office for the ferry to Malacca. After I had bought the ticket I checked in at a hotel just next to it. I was too tired to walk around looking for cheaper alternative and furthermore it was nearer to the ferry terminal.

Dumai town. The ferry ticket office is just behind this van

Dumai International & Domestic Ferry Terminal

Next morning I decided to walk to the ferry terminal which was about two or three kilometres away. I left Dumai for Malacca at about 11.00am and from Malacca I boarded a bus to Johor and home.

Melaka Sentral Terminal

Shops inside Melaka Sentral

On my way home


  1. At a certain time of the year there will be huge waves rolling-in up the river called Bono. I sure would like to see this phenomenon but I do not know if they have enough accommodation for the influx of seasonal tourists there in Teluk Meranti. Click here to have a look at the phenomenon.