After living in Palembang for a full year, I had come to believe that I would never be able to see some of its original houses. They were all made of wood and were burnt down in a huge fire in the 1980s.
It was the new driver that asked me one day if I wanted to see the original houses of Palembang. Of course I did! I went there thinking that I would see some old house that was about to collapse. Instead, it was brand new. So, it wasn't an 'original' but it is an exact replica and fully decorated in the original style. Supposedly, it was also made using the same techniques as in the past.
The original house would have been home to an aristocratic family with at least three generations living in it. Internally, it is divided into 6 areas with the upper floor had three tiers to it. The tier that you were allowed to hang out at was dependent on your rank as family member or guest.
This place is now a boutique on the lower floor. The upper floor is decorated in the original style and is going to be rented out as a wedding reception venue.
I was totally blown away when I entered the upper floor of the house. The decoration was so elaborate and the gold was glittering from everywhere.
The formal reception area for guests.
The traditional 'women's area' at the back.
This is the extremely gaudy wedding chamber. The wedding couple doesn't actually spend the night there but they have set it up this way so they can perform some of their traditional rituals.
What surprised me the most about this house was the strong Chinese influence on their furniture. I shouldn't have been surprised though because Admiral Cheng Ho (ancient Chinese Muslim explorer) visited Palembang about 600 years ago and supposedly had a large part to play in bringing Islam to Indonesia. And, after him there were plenty of others in search of new lives and opportunities. Even their famous Pempek is actually of Chinese origin.