The Beautiful Belitung Island, Indonesia
The first time my sister proposed the idea to visit Belitung Island, I was a little bit confused. Having planned for ages to visit Lombok or Padang (none of which were realized since 2007), I can’t help but doubt, is Belitung really that “cool”? So we looked up for pictures of Belitung and found out that it does have the most breathtaking beaches, with amazing granite rocks that you will not find elsewhere. So visit Belitung it is :D
Then my sis browsed some informations via Mr. Google, and found this very useful website that informs about traveling to Belitung. The guy’s name is Heru and we immediately contacted him to book our “weekend getaway”. Later on, surprisingly, some of my friends were excited to join us, so we extend the schedule into a 2 night stay.
The fee for the tour is quite expensive for a 2 night vacation (plane tickets excluded ~1.300.000 IDR; the fee for one way plane tickets vary from 300.000 – 750.000 IDR, depending on when you book them — search for Batavia or Sriwijaya Air), but it is worth it because you WILL need full service from the tour agent. They don’t have public transportations in Belitung, so backpacking without any travel reservations would be just a way to sacrifice your life to nature’s will.
People in Belitung are very nice and friendly. Some are overtly excited to see tourists visiting their homeland, the kids literally ran to us and asked to be photographed when we arrived at Tanjung Tinggi Beach on a shiny Saturday. They even sneak around (in groups or individuals) to at least get shot by our camera while we’re taking pictures! :lol: This is because Belitung has not yet published themselves as one of the main travel destinations in Indonesia, unlike Bali. So the land is unspoiled, the people are unspoiled, and you better leave it exactly the same after you visit it.
One thing I learned from the Belitungese is, they always give more than we expect. Except for the hotel service where geckos run wild (they have outdoor bathrooms, which is a total nightmare for me), I was more than satisfied with every little service they had to offer. For example, one night the idea of sitting at the beach to celebrate our last night in Belitung just popped out of nowhere. So we impulsively stopped the car and Mas Heru the tour guide asked at some random people we met, asking for torches. To our surprise, he easily got two torches from those people. Just like that, for free. Which leaves us somewhat perplexed: Who are those people? How could they be prepared with free torches just when we needed them?
So on our last night we just sat there at the beach, my crazy friend stole the bedcover from our hotel room so we can sleep there comfortably. Laying there enjoying the breeze and watching the incredible night sky, it just felt so surreal! I insisted to try taking pictures of the night sky, but to do so, we will need a big fat telescope, so I got over that thought and decided to just enjoy it in silence instead. And something happened for the very first time in my 23 years of being alive: a meteor crossed and I saw it with my bare eyes! At that time, everything just felt so magical I wanted to freeze and stop the moment to make it last longer. After some Astronomy lectures (it turned out that Mas Heru has a degree in Physics, and was eager to tell us all about the constellations up above), and of course some series of picture taking, we took off and went back to the hotel (the Lor In resort is located just across the beach).
Some highlights of the trip (ooh I love making these):
1. Since the airplanes that fly from Jakarta to Tanjung Pandan (the capital of Belitung) are small airlines, be prepared for an uncomfortable bumpy ride. The plane will dance around the sky before it lands and when it finally does land, it bounces. Not so funny when you’re already scared of flying in the first place, and even worse for the others: use gloves so they won’t scratch and injure your arms :lol:
2. The temperature in Belitung is hotter than Bali, or Jakarta. The sunlight is so immense that you will get perfectly tanned skin in only 10 minutes of sunbathing. But at night, the temperature is quite cold.
3. Fishes actually jump around while our boat was passing by, it was very entertaining to watch them.
4. The animals are just as friendly as the people. Geckos, cats, cockroaches, they don’t run when you shoo them away. Instead, they will come closer, curious and excited to get to know you.
5. If you are not interested in blending with the local people, try your best not to visit during school holidays. Hey, it’s their homeland and they’ll play around if they want to :D
6. Dark clouds and rains come and go so easily across the island, so you will want to have backup plans in case the weather changes all of a sudden. Or do it our way: don’t make plans at all! It worked perfectly for us hehe…
7. You have to try their foods, they’re all so YUMMY: cah kangkung, gangan (it’s a curry of fish heads), mie kuah (i think they only have this in town), and of course the seafood. Allergic to them? Then bring your anti-allergy medicine already!
8. As a wise traveler, ALWAYS find complete informations before departing to your travel destination.
9. And again, as a wise traveler, ALWAYS prepare cameras to capture all the precious moments that occur in paradise.
some pictures of Belitung Island on flickr: