Samarinda, E Kalimantan (ANTARA) - At the center of East Kalimantan Province, the Mahakam River depicts a life source that divides Tepian City, the nickname of Samarinda City.

The river, which is the pulse of the city where locals conduct their activities, is proof of the civilization that thrived in the Mahakam River.

The city of Samarinda, established on January 21, 1668, is now 356 years old. The city that was called "Sama-Rendah" by ethnic Banjar does have a long history and civilization.

The Mahakam River is a silent witness to how Samarinda became a tolerant and welcoming city for migrants.

The stunning scenery of Mahakam River, as seen from the riverbank, indeed attracts scores of tourists. However, Mahakam's charm becomes more magnetic once tourists come closer.

One can ride on the susur sungai, or the river ferry tour, to explore Samarinda's center. The city will become a main buffer to Indonesia's new capital, Nusantara.

By taking the river ferry, tourists can experience the city's beauty that cannot be found on the land.

"We want to build Samarinda into the 'City of Civilization,' the most attractive among other cities," Samarinda Mayor Andi Harun stated.

Harun said he has a vision to build Samarinda with several infrastructure programs, one of which is the Teras Mahakam at the riverside whose first segment is being accelerated in 2024.

The Teras Mahakam, with scenic parks and a walking promenade, will cover seven kilometers.

Currently, the first segment of the Teras Mahakam project, located at the East Kalimantan Governor's Office, which costs Rp36 billion, or around US$2.2 million, is projected to be completed in 2024.

The Teras Mahakam Point will be a stopover for tourist boats in the Mahakam River. Currently, the river tour boat pier is centered at Mahakam Ilir Port, adjacent to the Pasar Pagi, or the Morning Market area.

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Samarinda from Mahakam River
Throughout the river cruise, Mahakam never ceases to exude its charm. A magnificent bridge that crosses the river is a silent witness to modernity alongside the traditional boat klotok and other ships.

Samarinda from the river's point of view is a fascinating mosaic. The Great Mosque of Darusalam, the Islamic Center, the Big Mall, the Mahkota "Crown" Bridge that lights up when the day goes dark, to the rainbow colors of the Mahakam Bridge at night, all mingle in the landscape of the Mahakam River that never stops flowing.

More than just a tour, cruising through Mahakam is like diving into the pulse of Samarinda. Tourists will witness how this river is the source of life, a place for children to play, and a transportation route that connects people to the city's economic center.

On board the Pesut Boat, passengers are not just tourists. They are part of the story of Mahakam. A story about a river that flows like the lifeline of humans and about a city growing alongside the river.

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River ferry facilities
One of the crew of the Mahakam River tour boat, Abdul Sani, stated that the river cruising tour was initiated by the East Kalimantan provincial government. Since its launch on May 10, 2018, public interest in the attraction has kept increasing.

In the past, there were only four ferries, though now, six ferries are operating.

The tour offers six types of ferries, ranging in capacity from 75 people to 180 people. The six ferries are Pesut Kita, Pesut Mahakam, Pesut Etam, Pesut Mahkota, Pesut Bentong 1, and Pesut Bentong 2.

Each ferry has complete facilities, such as prayer rooms, karaoke, canteen, seats, and banquet tables. They are also equipped with passenger safety tools, such as life jackets, ring buoys, first aid, and light fire extinguishers.

The Mahakam River ferry tour only serves tourists on every Saturday and Sunday as well as on all national holidays. The ticket price is also affordable.

The price offered includes Rp5,500 retribution per pax paid to the local government. With so much public interest in the river ferry tour, it certainly has the potential to become a promising source of local income.

In addition to the regular schedule, the ferries can be rented out as a family tour or corporate activity package.

The routes currently available are Pasar Pagi Pier to Tenggarong, Kutai Lama, and around Samarinda City. Travel time varies depending on the route.

The ferry's name drew inspiration from the Irrawaddy dolphin, locally called Pesut, the iconic mammal of the Mahakam River.

The Samarinda city government has planned to integrate river tourism with villages as well as other historical sites of the city by building a tourist pier in the Samarinda Seberang Sub-district.

The effort aims to develop the tourism potential and preserve local historical and cultural values.

The tourist pier in Samarinda Seberang will facilitate tourists to go to Shiratal Mustaqiem Mosque, which is the city's oldest mosque that was built in 1881.

The Samarinda city government is finalizing the plan for the tourist pier at the mosque area that is expected to create new destinations.

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Editor: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
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