“Air Manis Beach is a beautiful place to visit. Here we can walk in the sea at low tide and visit the attractive Pisang Island. Air Manis Beach is a favourite spot for Europeans in Padang,” noted L. C. Westenenk, a senior official of the colonial government at Fort de Kock, a 19th century Dutch base in West Sumatra, when he visited Padang.

In his 1909 book Acht Dagen in de Padangsche Bovenlanden (Eight Days in the Padang Highlands), Westenenk noted how the local government had improved and beautified the city: building roads and pavements, cleaning up the environs, and even constructing a pleasure park on the riverbank in central Padang. At the beginning of the 20th century, according to Westenenk, there was an excursion package by boat to De Apenberg, or Bukit Monyet (Monkey Hill), where visitors enjoyed going hiking, caving, climbing and feeding the shy resident monkeys.

Bukit Monyet, usually referred to as Gunung Padang, is a small hill that juts out slightly into the sea off the West Sumatran coast, where it is pounded by waves on the south side of Padang. From Padang city to this tourist attraction is only a 10 minute drive. Before arriving there, I walked through the historic port city. Warehouses nearly two centuries old still exude the distinct aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. According to Ibnu Abbas, an old man who sells spices, the Old Town is a harmonious, diverse community, where people of Minang, Chinese, Bugis, Hindustan and Nias backgrounds work and live, practising a range of religions, from Islam to Christianity, Buddhism to Confucianism.

The Old Town is separated from Gunung Padang by the mouth of the Batang Arau River. Spanning the waterway is the Siti Nurbaya Bridge, a popular gathering spot in the afternoons, especially on holidays.

It is true what Westenenk wrote more than a century before: climb the small hill of Gunung Padang and you will be treated to a beautiful panorama of the surrounding landscape. There is a coral cave and a tomb dedicated to Sitti Nurbaya, a fictional female character in the novel Kasih Tak Sampai (Unrequited Love) by well-known Indonesian author Marah Rusli. This hill has become a symbol of unrequited love, a metaphor for love that is broken by wealth and greed.

Visiting Sitti Nurbaya’s grave is a highly unusual experience, where fiction merges with reality. She died of a broken heart, and her body is now supposedly buried among the coral, between stones, stuck between the bitter earth and the boundless sky. A cool breeze blows from the west, the waves crash against the cliffs, and the blue sea stretches out endlessly towards the horizon.

On the northern side of Gunung Padang are the remains of a fort and cannon, and also a rail line for trolleys to carry the exotic spices that lured Europeans to the Indonesian archipelago, and that made Padang the largest trading port on the west coast of Sumatra.

Standing at the peak, Padang city is clearly visible, a still-buzzing provincial capital crowded with pointy-roofed houses and government buildings within its maze of streets, vehicles travelling back and forth, the river and its mouth dividing the urban centre, and the timeless presence of the beach, waves rolling in white foam, spanning the length of this small city. It is truly an amazing view.

Behind Gunung Padang, I follow a winding road. Several kilometres away, Air Manis Beach spreads out before me, a tranquil spot popular with visitors for its low waves and sublimely picturesque setting, all lush green hills and sleepy islands begging to be explored a mere 500m off the coast. Only 15km from Padang (30 minutes by car), this is the kind of tropical beach that holiday dreams are made of a long belt of sand stretching as far as the eye can see, an invitation to while away the days soaking up the sun, swimming in the Indian Ocean and generally doing not very much at all.

Air Manis is the setting for a popular Indonesian legend about Malin Kundang, an ungrateful son who was turned into stone. In the folk tale of the Minangkabau people, there is the story of a boy who was obedient and diligent, so he was called Malin, a commendable name for a man in Minang culture. Malin lived in a poor sailing community that depended on the salty sea for its livelihood. His mother worked by gathering firewood, and his father was no longer alive.

As a teenager, Malin sat alone watching the Indian Ocean every day. During his reflection, at last he felt a unanimous determination: he would cross the ocean to change his destiny. Changing one’s destiny was not an easy matter on the West Sumatran coast, but Malin was resolute. He found a boat, and then said farewell to his mother and his homeland.

He passed through fierce ocean waves. For months he floated out at sea, pounded by the waves and tumbled by storms. From island to island, from peninsula to peninsula he sailed, trading to change his destiny. Seasons and years passed, and Malin became a famous merchant, and he married a beautiful woman of noble descent from the Champa country. From poor beginnings, Malin Kundang now lived in enviable wealth.

One day, he decided to visit his birthplace across the ocean. He even prepared an ark, complete with dozens of his staff to serve him. However, when the large ark landed on the west coast of Sumatra, he didn’t want to recognise the old woman who greeted him at Air Manis Beach as the mother who long ago had bid him farewell with a face full of tears.

“I am not your son,” he said when his mother welcomed him. The old woman didn’t move. Malin, who used to be submissive and obedient, was facing her, but he was no longer the Malin of decades ago. This man was the Malin who had been raised by the ocean, brought to life by roaming the salty waves. The old woman’s tears fell instantly and were swept away by the water. The sky suddenly darkened. Bolts of lightning flashed and thunder rumbled overhead.

“God, bring back my child as before, even in the form of a rock,” thought the old woman, as the waves crashed increasingly loudly. Immediately, heavy rain began to fall, as the sky went dark and seemed to collapse. The wind blew violently, lightning flashed and thunder roared. Slowly, Malin’s body began to harden into rock. He knelt and begged forgiveness.

These waves were still the same waves as before, the same waves in the legend when Malin Kundang was about to sail away from his home. But what had happened, Malin? Is the ocean strong enough to change a man’s personality?

At Air Manis Beach, the legend of Malin Kundang is brought dramatically to life – I was stunned to see a man kneeling down on the deck of a boat, all made of stone. Part of the statue has been eroded by the tide over time. The petrified rope rigging of his ship makes a broken line towards the west, where the sun sets on the horizon. The waves crash endlessly, pounding the white sand.

According to local residents, in the beginning there was only a rock that resembled a ship o the beachfront. “However, in the 1980s, a sculptor, Isbenzami Usman, perfected it. On the rock that resembled a ship, he presented the figure of a man in a prostrated position. The people believe this is Malin Kundang, turned into stone because of his mother’s oath. After all, myths don’t need proof or clarity, they only need stories and practices,” said Muhammad Ibrahim Ilyas, a West Sumatran cultural expert.

Behind the rock of Malin Kundang, Pisang Island is a vibrant, inviting green. From Air Manis Beach to Pisang Island only takes 10 minutes by boat. In the morning when the tide is out, you can walk over the exposed sand to the island (at other times, you can rent a motorboat to visit). To the south, the white sand of Caroline Beach provides further temptation to stay a while and relax.

The many beaches and peaceful islands are among the main reasons Padang is such an alluring destination. Combined with the city’s colourful past as a historic spice-trading post and the charm of local legends, you will find that one visit may not be enough to sate your appetite for this exotic port of call. The fragrant mix of nutmeg and cloves, seasoned by the salty sharp tang of the Indian Ocean, is sure to call you back.

202 thoughts on “The Sins City

  1. Zycie, uswiadomil sobie, bardzo przypomina piosenke. Na poczatku jest tajemnica, na końcu – potwierdzenie, ale to w srodku kryja sie wszystkie emocje, dla ktorych cala sprawa staje sie warta zachodu. – Nicholas Sparks

    http://www.metale.xmc.pl

  2. Please let me know if you’re looking for a writer for your site.

    You have some really great articles and I believe I would be a good asset.
    If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d love to
    write some content for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine.
    Please blast me an email if interested. Thanks!

  3. Hey there! I understand this is somewhat off-topic but
    I had to ask. Does running a well-established blog such as
    yours require a large amount of work? I’m completely
    new to running a blog but I do write in my diary on a daily basis.
    I’d like to start a blog so I can share my experience and thoughts online.
    Please let me know if you have any kind of ideas or tips
    for new aspiring blog owners. Thankyou!

  4. Thanks a lot for sharing this with all people you really recognize what you’re
    talking approximately! Bookmarked. Kindly also consult with my web site =).

    We could have a link trade contract among us

  5. obviously like your web-site however you need to test the spelling on quite a few of your posts.

    Several of them are rife with spelling problems and I to find it very bothersome to tell the reality nevertheless I’ll definitely come again again.

  6. Unquestionably believe tһat wһich you said. Your favorite reason sеemed to
    bee on the internet the еasiest thing to be awɑre οf. I saʏ to ʏoᥙ, I certainly
    get annoyed while people consider worries that they plainly do not
    know about. Yоuu managed to hit the naiⅼ upon the top and also defined out tһe
    whole thing without having side-effects , ⲣeople could take a siɡnal.
    Will likely be back chat websites to meet people (freedatingsiteall.com) get more.
    Thanks

  7. Its like you learn my thoughts! You appear to know so much
    about this, like you wrote the e-book in it or something.
    I think that you just could do with a few p.c. to pressure the message house a
    little bit, however instead of that, this is magnificent blog.

    A great read. I’ll certainly be back. asmr 0mniartist

  8. Does your blog have a contact page? I’m having a tough
    time locating it but, I’d like to send you an e-mail.
    I’ve got some ideas for your blog you might be
    interested in hearing. Either way, great blog and I look
    forward to seeing it expand over time. 0mniartist asmr

  9. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems
    as though you relied on the video to make your point.
    You definitely know what youre talking about, why waste
    your intelligence on just posting videos to your blog when you could be giving
    us something enlightening to read? asmr 0mniartist

  10. Normally I don’t learn article on blogs, however I wish to
    say that this write-up very pressured me to take
    a look at and do it! Your writing taste has been surprised me.
    Thanks, very great post.

  11. you are truly a just right webmaster. The web
    site loading speed is incredible. It seems that you are doing any distinctive trick.

    Also, The contents are masterpiece. you have done a wonderful activity on this subject!

  12. Woah! I’m really digging the template/theme of this blog.
    It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s very
    difficult to get that “perfect balance” between user friendliness and appearance.

    I must say you have done a very good job with
    this. Additionally, the blog loads extremely fast
    for me on Internet explorer. Excellent Blog!

  13. Whats up very cool web site!! Guy .. Beautiful .. Superb ..
    I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds also? I am happy to search
    out so many useful info here in the put up, we’d like develop extra strategies
    in this regard, thank you for sharing. . .
    . . .

  14. Just desire to say your article is as astonishing.
    The clarity for your submit is simply excellent and i can think you’re knowledgeable on this subject.
    Well with your permission allow me to take hold of your feed to keep updated with forthcoming post.
    Thank you one million and please carry on the enjoyable work.

  15. Undeniably believe that which you said. Your favorite reason seemed to
    be on the net the simplest thing to be aware of.
    I say to you, I definitely get annoyed while people think about worries that they plainly don’t know about.

    You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the whole thing without
    having side-effects , people could take a signal.
    Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

  16. I blog often and I truly thank you for your content.
    The article has truly peaked my interest. I am going to take a note of your blog and
    keep checking for new information about once per week.
    I subscribed to your Feed as well.

  17. Hello there! I know this is somewhat off topic but I
    was wondering if you knew where I could locate a captcha plugin for my
    comment form? I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having problems
    finding one? Thanks a lot!

  18. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you design this website yourself
    or did you hire someone to do it for you?
    Plz reply as I’m looking to create my own blog and would like to
    know where u got this from. many thanks

  19. Do you have a spam problem on this blog; I also am a blogger, and I was wanting to know your
    situation; many of us have created some nice practices and we
    are looking to trade methods with other folks, why not shoot
    me an e-mail if interested.

  20. scoliosis
    Whats up this is kinda of off topic but I was wondering if
    blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.
    I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding expertise
    so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated! scoliosis

  21. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something that I think I would never understand.

    It seems too complex and very broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post,
    I’ll try to get the hang of it!

  22. free dating sites
    Having read this I thought it was rather informative.

    I appreciate you spending some time and energy to
    put this informative article together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time both reading and commenting.
    But so what, it was still worthwhile! free dating sites

  23. Undeniably believe that which you stated. Your favorite justification appeared to be on the web the simplest thing to be aware
    of. I say to you, I certainly get irked while people consider worries that they plainly do not know about.
    You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people
    could take a signal. Will probably be back to get more.
    Thanks

  24. Hey there! I’ve been following your blog for a while
    now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and
    give you a shout out from Huffman Tx! Just wanted to tell you keep up the great work!

  25. We are a bunch of volunteers and starting a brand new scheme in our community.
    Your website provided us with helpful information to work on. You have done an impressive task and our whole community will
    likely be grateful to you.

  26. Can I simply say what a relief to find someone that really understands what they’re discussing over
    the internet. You definitely understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important.
    More and more people should check this out and understand this side of your
    story. I can’t believe you aren’t more popular given that you certainly have the gift.

  27. First off I want to say excellent blog! I had a quick question which
    I’d like to ask if you don’t mind. I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your mind
    before writing. I have had a difficult time clearing my thoughts in getting my
    ideas out. I truly do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes
    tend to be wasted just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or hints?
    Cheers!

  28. What i do not understood is in fact how you’re not really a lot more well-preferred than you might be now.
    You are so intelligent. You recognize therefore significantly relating to this matter, produced me in my opinion imagine it from
    so many varied angles. Its like women and men aren’t interested
    except it’s something to do with Woman gaga! Your own stuffs nice.

    At all times maintain it up!

  29. You really make it seem so easy along with your presentation but I in finding this topic to be really something that I think I’d by no means understand.

    It seems too complicated and very large for
    me. I am having a look forward on your next
    publish, I’ll attempt to get the hang of it!

  30. Definitely believe that which you said. Your favorite reason seemed to be on the web the simplest thing to be aware of.
    I say to you, I certainly get annoyed while people consider worries that they plainly do not know
    about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as defined
    out the whole thing without having side effect , people can take a signal.
    Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

  31. An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a friend who had been doing a little homework on this.
    And he in fact ordered me dinner because I found it
    for him… lol. So allow me to reword this….

    Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending the time to talk
    about this topic here on your web site.

  32. Good day! I know this is kinda off topic however , I’d figured
    I’d ask. Would you be interested in trading links or
    maybe guest writing a blog article or vice-versa?
    My site goes over a lot of the same topics as yours and I believe we could greatly benefit from each other.
    If you happen to be interested feel free to shoot
    me an email. I look forward to hearing from you!

    Terrific blog by the way!

  33. Hi there! I know this is kind of off-topic however I needed to ask.
    Does managing a well-established website like yours take a large amount of work?
    I’m brand new to writing a blog however I do write in my
    journal daily. I’d like to start a blog so I will
    be able to share my personal experience and views online.
    Please let me know if you have any ideas or tips for brand new aspiring blog owners.
    Thankyou!

  34. Hey there just wanted to give you a brief heads up
    and let you know a few of the pictures aren’t loading properly.

    I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it
    in two different internet browsers and both show the same results.

  35. First of all I want to say superb blog! I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask
    if you don’t mind. I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your thoughts before writing.
    I’ve had difficulty clearing my mind in getting my thoughts
    out there. I do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are wasted simply just trying to figure out how
    to begin. Any suggestions or hints? Many thanks!

  36. Hello! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after reading
    through some of the post I realized it’s new to me. Nonetheless, I’m definitely delighted I found it and I’ll be book-marking and
    checking back frequently!

  37. Having read this I thought it was really enlightening.
    I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this article together.
    I once again find myself spending a lot of time both reading and posting comments.
    But so what, it was still worthwhile!

  38. I have read several just right stuff here.
    Definitely price bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder
    how so much effort you place to make such a fantastic informative website.

  39. I was suggested this web site by way of my
    cousin. I am now not sure whether or not this post is written by him
    as nobody else recognise such distinctive approximately my difficulty.

    You are amazing! Thanks!

  40. Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of
    any widgets I could add to my blog that automatically tweet my newest twitter updates.

    I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping
    maybe you would have some experience with something
    like this. Please let me know if you run into anything.
    I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to
    your new updates.

  41. I like the helpful information you provide in your articles.
    I will bookmark your weblog and check again here regularly.
    I’m somewhat sure I will be informed many new stuff proper right here!
    Best of luck for the next!

  42. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I have
    really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts.
    In any case I will be subscribing to your feed and I hope
    you write again soon!

  43. Hi there! This post could not be written any better! Looking
    through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept talking about this.
    I am going to forward this post to him. Fairly certain he will
    have a very good read. Thank you for sharing!

  44. What’s Happening i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I have discovered It absolutely helpful and it has aided me out loads.
    I hope to contribute & assist other users like its aided me.
    Good job.

  45. I’m not sure why but this website is loading very slow for me.
    Is anyone else having this problem or is it
    a problem on my end? I’ll check back later on and
    see if the problem still exists.

  46. Hello! Do you know if they make any plugins to assist with SEO?
    I’m trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but
    I’m not seeing very good results. If you know of any please
    share. Many thanks!

  47. Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in reality was a amusement account
    it. Glance complicated to far brought agreeable from you!
    However, how can we keep up a correspondence?

  48. Hmm is anyone else experiencing problems with the images on this blog loading?
    I’m trying to find out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the
    blog. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  49. Greetings! I’ve been reading your site for
    a long time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Kingwood Tx!
    Just wanted to tell you keep up the fantastic job!

  50. My partner and I stumbled over here by a different web address and
    thought I might check things out. I like what I see so now i am following you.
    Look forward to finding out about your web page repeatedly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.