The Island of Penaga
Northwest of the City of Jambi is a very small island that people in the surrounding villages claim has a Dutch ship buried under it. The story is that the ship either sank or the Dutch just abandoned it, and then through the process of time, sand from the Batanghari River covered it up as the river levels rose and fell. The local people couldn’t give us an approximate date of when the ship was supposed to have been last used. If the story is true, the date could be anywhere from when the Dutch first arrived in Jambi (1600-1700s), until they left during WWII. The oldest people in the village (in their 80’s) told us they never saw the ship, and that it was only a story that was circulated when they were still a child.
Is this a Myth?
We went to this little piece of land to see if there was any external evidence of a ship buried there. Upon our arrival at the island we saw no evidence of a ship, nor did we attempt to do any excavating. Some of the teens were doubtful that there ever was a ship there. They said they don’t know if it was a myth of if the story was true. The older people, however, claim that it is true. The reason why the teens question the story is because different people say different things about this ship. When we talked with people about it, one person said it was a Japanese ship, which was left from when the Japanese occupied Jambi during WWII. Others insisted that it was a Dutch ship. The oral transmission of Jambi’s history has opened the door for embellishment and many myths to emerge as fact.
Best Times for Excavation
If anybody would want to go to the Island of Penaga and do some excavating to confirm whether or not this story is true, it would be best to go there during the dry season (June-Sept.) when the river level is at its lowest.
Getting to the Island of Penaga
To get to the Island of Penaga (which is nothing more than a 75’ round hill next to the bank of the Batanghari River), cross over the Aur Duri I bridge and head north 5.5 kilometers to the intersection called Simpang Rengas Bandung. Turn left there and continue 2 kilometers, you will then enter the Village of Rengas Bandung.
In this village you will need to ask the assistance of the people to take you to this island with their boats (ketek). Pak (Mr.) Sidol (pictured above) is the one whose boat we used to reach the island.
When we visited this island the river was at the -29 mark on the river water level meter. The small boat we used wasn’t able to make it all the way up to the island and we had to wade 100 meters (109 yards) in 1 meter deep water (3 feet). We then walked around the island to see if anything was visible (in ankle deep muck), but we saw no evidence of a ship ever being there.
Below is a Video We Made of Our Visit to Pulau Penaga
February 26, 2013