One of Indonesia's least-known provinces, Bengkulu is stepped in history. Separated from the rest of Sumatra by the imposing Bukit Barisan mountain range, the region had its own language and script until being absorbed into the mighty Majapahit kingdom in the 13th century. Colonized by the British in 1685, the city became an important exporter of pepper under British Governor Sir Stamford Raffles in the 19h century. Bengkulu was also home-in-exile to Indonesia's first president, Sukarno, from 1938 to 1941. The city's long isolation has preserved its historic charm, and an altogether slower pace of life. For those looking to escape the city, the Bukit Barisan range beckons, just a short drive away.