After finishing my never-ending posts about Flores Island I visited last December, I am blessing your timeline with yet another Indonesia’s beauty. Last weekend, from Friday to Sunday, I went to another beautiful island in Indonesia. Have you ever heard of Belitung?
Just like everyone else, the only island most people know is only Bali. People made Bali sounds that beautiful. But is it? The last time I visited Bali was probably 2011, and even though most of my friends still visit that island every year, I never had any intention to.
I never thought Bali as a unique island. Yes, it is beautiful, at least it used to be. Nowadays, the beaches are getting more crowded, dirty, and most lands in Bali are owned by foreigners, making it hard for the locals to buy new homes. People are building big villas and hotels and ugh. Basically its not enjoyable to me anymore.
Gladly my parents and my family have the same opinions. Since then, we never visited Bali anymore. We spent time exploring other islands in Indonesia, the smaller and more underrated ones. The trip was way cheaper but the experiences are priceless.
One of them, is this wonderful Belitung Island. I visited Belitung years ago, back when I was around 7 years or so. The name Belitung Island became more famous ever since a book written by Andrea Hirata, Laskar Pelangi, or so-called the Rainbow Troops was released, a story about kids in Belitung and their journey to get education.
Anyway, this time, instead of my family, I went there with my mom and her friends! Most of you will probably cringe while thinking about a big group of loud middle-aged moms, but trust me I had such a great fun.
We went to Soekarno-Hatta International Airport from 2.45 am in the morning, while all of my friends were still sleeping, probably dreaming about the exam they were going to face that morning. Meanwhile, here I was, enjoying my scenery of a beautiful foggy sunrise while waiting for the bus which will took us to the airplane.
The flight was only one hour long, so we arrived at H.A.S Hanandjoeddin International Airport at around 6.30 a.m in the morning. I realized when I walked inside the plane that I was in the same flight as my favorite Indonesian food blogger, Hans Danial, from eatandtreats.
Sadly I was to shy to come up to him and say hi, so I ended up stalking his Instagram profile and fangirl all the way.
After we got our baggages out, we went straight to our first stop, a breakfast spot, at Belitung Island, which was no other than the one and only famous noodle restaurant in Belitung, Mie Atép!
Belitung’s noodle was a little bit different from the original noodle I usually found in Jakarta. The pasta was bigger, and it was served with shrimps and fried breadsticks or as Indonesian called as Cakwe. The taste was a little bit sweet, unlike any noodles I’ve tried which were usually savory.
My mom didn’t really like the sweet taste, so she got herself a Nasi Tim Ayam, steamed rice with chicken and mushrooms. It was also a very well known Chinese/Asian food, especially in Indonesia.
After the tummies were fulfilled, we went straight to our next stop, which was the Replica of the Rainbow Troops’ School. As I mentioned before, Belitung became very famous since a writer from there, Andrea Hirata, published his book, The Rainbow Troops, a novel about the story of the children in Belitung Island and their journey to pursue education, which back in the 90s were uncommon. Most kids in Belitung never really cared about school before as soon as they are old enough and able to read and write, their parents would courage them to help their jobs.
The book was soon became famous, and it started to get translated to a lot of languages. Soon after that, it became a movie. The Indonesian called it Laskar Pelangi. In the story, the kids went to a school named SD Muhammadyah Gantong. After the booming of the movie and the book, a lot of people started visiting Belitung to see the film scene where it was being shoot.
The real school later got renovated and it became an actual school, so to keep the visitors happy, they built a replica for the school. It looked exactly the same, but it was built with better foundations. I visited the real school on my first trip to Belitung years ago though.
The next was Museum Kata Andrea Hirata, which means Andrea Hirata’s Literature Museum, the first literature museum ever in Indonesia. It was built and designed but Andrea Hirata himself and it was located not that far from the replica of the school.
As someone who really liked words and poetry and writings, this is one one of my favorite museum ever. Literature was not really a big topic Indonesians talk about, unlike music or other art. But I am in love with words ever since I am a little girl. This is officially my happy place.
Not only it contains a lot of memorabilia from The Rainbow Troops’ book and film, but also a lot of poetry, pictures of well-known people in literary world, drawings, and obviously, cute photo spots!
I am so in love with the architecture of the building. On one of the rooms, it has a lot of doors and windows pasted to the wall and the ceiling, as the symbol of the saying “book is the window of the world”.
At the back of the museum, there is a little coffee shop. They sell what called as Kopi Kuli, a coffee very well known in Belitung. Years ago, the majority of people in Belitung worked as kaolin miners. There are still a lot of kaolin mining in a lot of places in Belitung even until now. Miners are often called, “kuli”, an Indonesian word meaning “someone who work using their physic”. The coffee they sell used to be very famous for the miners who drink it everyday after they got home.
Are you familiar with the name Ahok? Yes, he is the governor of DKI Jakarta. He becomes so famous worldwide along with his controversies last year. Right now he is coming back for his second election to be the governor of Jakarta for another 5 years.
Ahok was born and raised in Belitung Island. He started his political career here in Belitung, and later on, because of his hardworking and they way he leads his employee, he was nominated to be the vice-governor with Jokowi. Since then, his whole family moved to Jakarta.
But Belitung people loves him, and a lot of people who like him want to go and see his old house in Belitung. Right now, the only person living there is his mom. In front of his mom’s house, there is a replica of a Belitung traditional house called “Kampung Ahok” or translated as “Ahok’s Village”.
In that building, his family (I met his cousin there) sell a lot of Belitung traditional foods. Apparently his mom is so good at baking so she sells some of it there too. There are also a lot of his merchandise there.
The next stop was The Temple of Kwan Im, a Buddhist temple in Belitung. It was being renovated though, so we only visited it for like 10 minutes or so. Who is Kwan Im? She is one of the Buddhist goddess. Her actual name was Guan Yin, but Chinese people with Hokkian dialect call her Kwan Im.
I grew up in a big chinese family, and my grandma is a buddhist. That explains why am I so close to buddhist culture, like going to temples and praying to my own ancestors. My grandma prays to Kwan Im, and because of it she doesn’t consume beef.
The last stop before finally going back to the hotel was the beach! It was called as Pantai Burung Mandi. We stopped there only for around 15 minutes to enjoy the view and bought some coconuts from the locals who live there.
After a short rest at Burung Mandi, we went straight to Tanjung Pendam Beach, a beach located exactly in front of our hotel, Gran Hatika Hotel. The tour guide said that it was the best spot to see sunset in Belitung.
Sadly, it was too cloudy for us to see the sunset, so we ended up with this beautiful scenery of pink stripes across the sky. I am a big fan of the sunset and sunrise, especially in the beach! It was just so calming. I really do hope one day I get to spend the rest of my life living next to a beautiful beach, with the love of my life. Ah, can’t wait.
Thats the summary of my first day in Belitung! I think I am going to divide it into a couple of posts just like what I did to my previous travel posts to Flores. I am having a long weekend ahead of me, so please do expect a long and well-written posts this time. I am seriously putting my heart and soul.
Until the next post, love.