Padang and Bukit Tinggi: Good food, good memories

Rokiah Mahmud

Renowned for its welcoming and friendly community, the City of Padang is the capital of West Sumatra and has become the largest city on the western coast of Sumatra Island.

With an area of 695 square kilometres and a population of 914,970, the City of Padang is the 10th most populated urban centre in Indonesia and 4th most populated city in Sumatra.

The City of Padang is a popular spot admired by tourists as an access point to Bungus Bay, one of the popular surfing sites of Mentawai Island, the inland hills of Bucketing and Kerinci Seblat National Park.

A delegation of media representatives recently had explored Padang, which is home for an array of delicious food, with the city full of restaurants and endless street stalls.

The historical town of Padang is populated with many old buildings and a colourful harbour with distinctive Dutch influence and architecture that has become one of the city’s main attractions among tourists. The Old Town of Padang, or Kota Tua Padang is located on the banks of the Muara River.

The Masjid Raya Sumatra Barat. PHOTOS: ROKIAH MAHMUD
Media representatives during the trip
The Jam Gadang

If one visits the city, it is worth taking a walk along the beautiful pedestrian area at the river bank with a row of Old Dutch buildings.

On the river there is the historical harbour of Padang built by the Dutch who were once a colonial power.

Today the harbour and the river are full of colourful little boats, and there is also the beautiful Sitti Nurbaya Bridge connecting Kota Tua with the city centre. At night, the bridge is decorated with colourful lights. Another notable location is the Masjid Raya Sumatra Barat (West Sumatra Raya Mosque), the largest mosque in West Sumatra with an area of 4,430 square metres. It has three structures and can accommodate up to 15,000 congregants at one time.

The mosque has an 85 metre-high tower and people can reach its peak using a lift and enjoy the view of Padang City.

The Minangkabau influence can be seen at the mosque from its roof, which shows the culture.

In addition, its walls have Minang paintings shaped with air cavities to keep the air circulation inside the building.

There is a local saying that if one comes to West Sumatra but has yet to visit Bukit Tinggi, they have yet to be considered coming to the Island. Bukit Tinggi has a refreshingly cool climate of about 18 to 25 degrees Celsius due to its elevation of over 900 metres above sea level.

Compared to other spots in West Sumatra, Bukit Tinggi only receives a handful of visitors that use the town as a base for nearby hikes to take cultural tours to the Minangkabau Highland.

There are several unique spots and interesting places to visit such as the Jam Gadang, which is akin to that Big Ben in the United Kingdom (UK). The name Jam Gadang derives from a Minangkabau word that means ‘Big Clock tower’, and it is one of the major iconic landmarks located in the city of Bukit Tinggi.

The clock structure was built in 1926 during the Dutch colonial era and was a gift from Dutch Queen Wilhelmina.

The Jam Gadang tower has been used as an observation post during fires, such as the one that affected the Ateh Market. During Ramadhan, the call to prayer that marks the breaking of the fast is sounded from the tower.

At night, the clock tower is illuminated with neon lights where visitors and local families in Bukit Tinggi take a stroll.