3 Days Belitung Island Trip

I always cherish the Eid Mubarak season every year. This year, I went on a 3 days trip to Belitung during eid mubarak with a very good friend of mine. Credit to her, for most of the pictures here. Our itinerary was like this:

First day (half day): East Belitung (Tarsius, Kwan Im Temple, Ahok Village, Manggar, and Laskar Pelangi village), Tanjung Pandan for sunset

Second day (full day): Hopping island + Bukit Berahu

Third day (half day): Kaolin crater + Laskar Pelangi beach, souvenirs shopping

East Belitung

Tarsius park

Forget about the national park where the Tarsius is, you cannot find the Tarsius there anymore. I strongly suggest skipping this attraction.

Kwan Im Temple

This is a Confucianism temple, worshiping the goddess of universal love. This is located on the far east of Belitung, far from everywhere. If you want to get your luck and life to be read, you can try here. It is using the ciamsi or qian shi method that had been used since the hundred years ago. Basically you will pour some wooden sticks (after praying in the altar toward gods) and count the numbers of wooden sticks. The number you get will be matched with the poetry, mainly talk about wisdom, praise (good), or warning (not good luck). Anyway, fun things to try.

 

 

Manggar

Coffee everywhere! A small villages in the East, with a lovely beach. We just passed by the village and went straight to the beach for lunch. There is nothing worth visit in the village itself, since the attractions in East Belitung are Laskar Pelangi and Ahok villages, and the Kwan-Im temple.

Laskar Pelangi village

There are two main attractions regarding the Laskar Pelangi. The Andrea Hirata museum and the school building that is being used for the shooting. We went to both places but chose to enter the latter only. We were not really interested in the literature things and the admission ticket is pricy. Because I was not into the Laskar Pelangi hype that time, these places were just okay. If you mean to go to East Belitung for another purpose, these places can be your 10 minutes short stop (only for taking pics). But a special visit just for these places are not worth the long distance. Just my two cents.

Ahok village

Just like Laskar Pelangi village, just okay for me. Ahok is the famous politician in Indonesia, who was born in Belitung. Basically in Ahok Village, you can visit Ahok’s childhood home and neighborhood. Not really interesting for me. We just paid a short visit to buy some souvenirs and took some pics.

 

Hopping around the islands

This is a full-day activity. What you do is actually hopping from one island to another islands in the area of north-western beach (Pantai Tanjung Kelayang). The typical islands visited are: Pulau Pasir, Pulau Lengkuas, Pulau Kelayang, Pulau Batu Berlayar, and Pulau Burung Garuda (this is not accessible, only viewing for afar).  You need to book the trip beforehand and you can pay later after the island hopping finished. That time I rent Bang Midun’s boat (081949245345) after seeing other’s blog review about his service. His crew is the best! They were always ready wherever we want to go, no complaint at all when we were slacking in some island to chill and drinking coconut water, simply the best! And anyway, one of the guy took good picture as well! The price is around 500,000 IDR. When you choose to use other’s service, bear in mind that the price of one boat should be around that range.

 

The tips for island hopping:

  1. Bring your own lunch from the main island. There are some food stalls in Kelayang and Lengkuas Island, but would not be enough for a fulfilling lunch. You will need a complete meal because you will do a lot of physical activities!
  2. Apply a really good sunblock, and re-apply. The sun is really strong there!
  3. Wear a comfy outfits and always be ready to get wet.
  4. If you start in the morning, make the Pulau Pasir as your first destination because the later it gets, the less accessible it is. The high tide will make the island disappear.
  5. Bring snacks for your energy booster: chocolate and sweets. Do not forget to bring biscuits to feed the fish.

My favourite island is the Kelayang island. The famous rainbow granites are here. It only took several minutes walk into the mini forest to reach there. There were a lot of big stones but the slope is okay, so everyone will have no difficulty to reach it. I reached it after the noon so the tide was quite high already (waist level). To get a good picture, suggest coming earlier to have lower tide level.

Seafood eating spree

We tried two seafood restaurant on the first and third day there. The first one was on the East Belitung and the last one was on the West.

1. RM Sinar Laut Ayung BB

In East Belitung, there are three big restaurants that tourist usually visit: Fega Restaurant, Sinar Laut Ayung BB, and Rudi Fakistan. Ayung BB and Rudi Fakistan are located side by side on Pantai Nyiur Melambai. Both of them served fresh seafood, cooked in local style. We decided to try the Ayung BB because Rudi Fakistan was closed that time (Ramadhan holiday). The verdict about their foods:

Must try their fish soup (Gangan) that is served in fresh herbs with a sour and sweet taste. The others are just normal menu that you can have in any Indonesian seafood restaurant. But, the seafood there are just so fresh! For Jakartans like me who used to eat the not-so fresh sea creatures, Belitung seafood was just tantalizingly good. If only they do not contain so much bad cholesterol though! Total costs for three people were around 200-300 thousands.

2. RM Amat

Here you can enjoy a good seafood with a sea view, because they have a outdoor seating concept just beside the sea. While waiting for your food, you can play at the beach. There are swings nearby so I guess this restaurant is very suitable for family. The food was okay but again, the freshness was just perfect! Look how nice the squid from nearb sea was served with the Padang sauce on the picture. Hmmm. The total cost was almost the same like the first restaurant.

 

 

Coffee everywhere!

Kong Djie coffee is the most famous chain of coffee shops here. It existed since 1943 and all Belitungnese just loved this brand. I tried only one branch in Tanjung Pandan beach (amongst several branches all over Belitung), while waiting for the sunset in Tanjung Pandan beach.

Verdict about the coffee: okay, nothing special about the flavour though.

 

Second eating spree – Hakka Chinese Food

Atep vs Acin

These are the KFC and McDonalds of the Belitung noodle. We tried Acin’s and we loved it. The noodle was not the typical Chinese noodle which is served dry. This one is served alongside some sweet sauce and some fried fishcakes, eggs, and beansprouts. The taste is more strong on the sweetness but somehow still have the refreshing taste. Must try!

Hakka restaurant

We tried a Hakka restaurant based on the driver’s suggestion. I totally forgot the name of the signature dish. It was a pork based dish, served with pork stomach and intestines. Loved this restaurant as well. Must try the local Hakka dish of the Belitungnese.

 

 

 

 

Closing remarks: Belitung is underrated. I love this destination so much. I am not a big fan of beach but still I had a good time there. The foods are also amazing, even though we did not have time to explore all. The price is cheap as well and the beach is still relatively clean. People are also nice! Come and visit Belitung!

*they are building a good hotel and golf range on the seaside so you can even consider playing golf here after doing some water activities

What kind of Chinese are you?

I sometimes wonder about my identity as an Indonesia born Chinese. As Indonesia consists of myriad ethnics and culture, Chinese ethnicity has contributed much to Indonesia, made us a considerable part of the Indonesia society. I never thought about my family history, never crossed in my mind before how my ancestor got to Indonesia. And then it happened after I finished reading Kevin Kwan’s book entitled Crazy Rich Asians. The book was amusing, the author was a Singapore born Chinese residing in the States now. Kevin told the complexity of rich Chinese family hierarchy and tradition, which I found realistic in Indonesian Chinese. My family is not rich, but the tradition also descripted in the family. In the book, antagonist character considered Mainland Chinese as a poor Chinese, unlike the sophisticated and rich Singaporean Chinese. I was very curious about the mainland, knowing that my ancestor sailed from the Mainland to Indonesia in early 1930s. So I started browsing and asking my uncle and grandma who knows the most about our family history.

Are you Hakka, Hokkien, or Teochew?

Before, I only know that I am not a Hokkien Chinese simply because I don’t speak the language. Hokkien language is the one spoken in high speed and high intensity. Hokkien mostly heard in Chinese people dense region like North Sumatera and Riau. Their number is kind of big in Indonesia, maybe around half of Indonesia Chinese is Hokkien. Note that almost two-fifth of Singaporean Chinese is also Hokkien. If we step back ahead of these three, Han Chinese is the root. Han Chinese is everywhere, it has the largest numbers among other Chinese. Han Chinese accounts for 19% of world population by the way. In short, most all Chinese you see or know are Han. Language dialects are what differentiate them. Later I found out that I am a Hakka people.

My grandfather from mother side had a journey from his home in a small vilage near Meizhou, Guangdong Province. Guangdong is a province on south-east China, Guangzhou is its capital city. I do not have the opportunity to interview my grandpa because he already deceased 17 years ago. I wonder what motivate him to embark on the journey to Indonesia, some said mainland Chinese went to Indonesia in search of a job. It seems very plausible for me. His first job in Indonesia was a chef, he was known as a prominent chef in my family. He also did some labor job in logistic company before doing business in plastic industry. He made a fortune by making home appliance using injection molding machine with thermoplastic materials. How come an unskilled immigrant labor in Indonesia could grew a business? I clearly do not know the real motivation, maybe the job market was very harsh back there. Forcing Chinese either to sell something or make their own business to earn a living. In the long run, many Chinese rose as prominent business leader in several industry in Indonesia. Was it true opportunity lies beneath the hardship and adversity? Only Confucious may answer that..

My grandfather from my father also originated from Meizhou, but he was a city boy unlike my other grandpa who was a village boy. So could I say Meizhou is my far-home land? Both of my grandpa were born in it. Yet I have not visited Meizhou to know it.

Famous Hakka People in Indonesia

Governor of DKI Jakarta
Governor of DKI Jakarta

The most controversial governor Jakarta ever had! Basuki Tjahaja Purnawa or famously called as Ahok. He is a Hakka Chinese, born in Belitung island. Belitung and Bangka are dominated by Hakka people. Ahok is the first Chinese ever who sits as Indonesia’s capital city. Yeah, for us it is a accomplishment and pride. Haha. However, some Chinese businessman later regretting it because Ahok’s bureaucracy potentially troubled their ‘fruitfull’ business.

Chinese Stereotyping

We like to stereotyping fellow Chinese. Who does not? Mostly the stereotype I heard were about Hokkien or Teochew girls. Because I am the Hakka one. Maybe Hokkien girl also given Hakka stereotype during the storytelling. However I do not really believe in stereotype but I do not really deny because sometimes it is legitimate. But the idea of stereotyping is basically bad, so I do not really buy the stereotype things.

The Marginal Chinese – Cina Benteng

There is also a type of Chinese, known as Cina Benteng (Benteng is fortress) who resides in Tangerang area. Tangerang is a neighbour city of Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. Cina Benteng fought alongside mainlander during the Dutch colonialism. They were forced from Jakarta into Tangerang area due to the fight. This is the evidence of Indonesia Chinese nationalism, that we fought together against the Dutch colonial as one team. The battle that lost made some of them become poor, forced them to live in the forest and sub urban area. They have darker skin than the other Chinese because of the acculturation and marriage with mainlander. Some of the famous results from the mix are Gambang Kromong music and kelenteng architecture.

Closing remarks

I am a truly Indonesian. My ethnicity is Chinese and I love to maintain the tradition and culture. Even though, we are still a fellow Indonesia that should respect each other and fight together for a better Indonesia.