Although not as popular as Bali or Lombok, Belitung is blessed with some of the best beaches of the country. The sand is soft and as white as palm sugar, and some even argue that the sand here is even whiter than that in Bali. Belitung is also surrounded by more than 100 small islands. Almost all of them are decorated with white sand and granite rocks, and only a few are inhabited. One island in particular, the Lengkuas Island is the site of a 19th century antique light house. The Light House was built in Dutch colonial times and offers a beautiful overview of the area. Burung (Birds) Island, Babi (Pig) Island, Pengadaran Island, Lutung Island, Kera (Apes) Island and Jenang Island, are among some of the smaller islands that offer great experiences.
Belitung is small enough that some interesting points on the island can be reached in less than two hours from Tanjung Pandan. However, taxis are non-existant and public transportation on the island is hard to find, so the only practical way to move around is to rent a car or a motorcycle.
From Jakarta, the easiest way to get to Belitung is obviously by airplane. There are several daily Boeing 737 aircraft served by Sriwijaya Air leaving from Jakarta’s Soekarno Hatta airport direct to Hanandjoeddin Airport in Tanjung Pandan, Belitung. All flights from Jakarta to Belitung depart from Soekarno-Hatta Airport. The flight takes 45 minutes.
Alternatively, you can take the Sea route by PELNI passenger ship from the Tanjung Priok harbor, in Jakarta. Keep in mind that the ship only serves travel to Belitung once every 2 weeks. The journey will take about 24 hours.
From the Provincial capital, Pangkalpinang, you can get to Belitung Island by taking the daily Bahari speed boats that will take 4 hours. This is by far the most convenient means of Sea transportation and comes complete with air conditioner. Bahari express leaves daily at 14:00 pm from Pangkalpinang, Bangka, to Belitung, and leaves at 07:00 am from Tanjungpandan Belitung to Pangkalpinang.
Lengkuas Island, a Pristine Beach The Icon of Belitung
With a total area of less than 1 hectare, Lengkuas is located within the Sijuk sub-district, Belitung Regency. While it may be small in size nevertheless it offers a wide range of splendors. This humble little island offers idyllic landscape, lush palm trees and staggering boulders that are great fun to climb on or swim beneath. Lengkuas Island is blessed with a pristine beach, turquoise blue waters and distinct huge granite boulders, the icon of Belitung beaches, located north of Tanjung Binga Village in Belitung. Adding to the splendor is the existence of a hundred years’ old Lighthouse which offers complete fascinating views of the island and its surroundings.
One can reach these unique, giant granite clusters by walking across the shallow waters that are no deeper than 1.2 meters. The water is so transparent that the bottom of the sea is clearly visible. Below the surface, the waters around the island are filled with colorful fish of various kinds, pristine coral reefs, a large number of starfish and more of the fascinating granite boulders. The moderately calm and shallow water makes it a perfect place for swimming and snorkeling, while on the beach the fresh breeze will truly indulge those who lay down on the soft white sands.
The pride of Lengkuas Island, however, is the iconic old lighthouse. Built by the Dutch in 1882, it still maintains its main function today in guiding ships sailing through and out of the island of Belitung. Approximately 50 meters in height, it is as tall as a 12-storey building. While the lighthouse itself is an exceptional feature, the spectacle it offers from the top is truly spellbinding. Here one can get a complete 360 degree view of the fascinating Island and all the wonders that surround it, including the crystal clear waters and other spreading tiny islands.
To reach Lengkuas Island you can rent a boat available at several beaches in Belitung such as at Tanjung Kelayang, Tanjung Binga, or Tanjung Tinggi. From Tanjung Kelayang the boat trip will take approximately 20 minutes, while from Tanjung Binga or Tanjung Tinggi it will take about 30-45 minutes.
Along the way you’ll be presented with fascinating sceneries of several small islands off the coast of Belitung. As boats have a capacity of up to 10 persons, it is wise to share the boat with others to reduce costs.
Andrea Hirata’s Museum of Words: Inspirational Window of Dreams of “Laskar Pelangi”
The beautiful Belitung Island, off the eastern coast of Sumatra was once known only as Billiton, the top producer of tin and tin mining in the world. But with the decline of this commodity, interest in the island gradually waned.
However, one fascinating book, which was later made into a movie threw back the spotlight on this island with all its beauty. The book was “Laskar Pelangi” or “The Rainbow Troop” and its author, Andrea Hirata, a writer born and raised on Belitung. Today, a museum named the Andrea Hirata’s Museum of Words stands as an inspirational window for all, that it is possible to achieve our dreams despite many drawbacks, just as the novel has taught us.
Located on Jalan Laskar Pelangi No 7, in the town of Gantung, East Belitung, in the Bangka Belitung Province, the Museum is in fact the first and only Museum on Literature in Indonesia. Initiated and established by Andrea Hirata the author himself, the Museum was first built in 2010 and was officially opened to the public in 2012.
The Novel “Laskar Pelangi” was published in September 2005 and became an instant success. The novel even managed to cross geographical and language barriers as it was translated into English, Malay, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean. “Laskar Pelangi” tells about how a boy grew up in a small and relatively remote island amidst all its limitations and drawbacks yet managed to hold firm to his dream to one day be able to travel to other parts of the world, which he eventually achieved. In 2008, the novel was made into a movie, and the enchanting sceneries of Belitung Island were introduced to the rest of the world. The name ”Laskar Pelangi” even became the name of the island’s seaport following the movie’s fantastic success.
The museum took the concept as a replica of the Muhammadiyah Gantung Elementary School which was the central setting of the story that Andrea attended as a child. Today The Museum is located not far from the original Muhammadiyah Gantung Elementary School which was the location of the movie. The construction of the museum is to fulfil a promise that Andrea made when he received profits from the novel. He once stated that he would allocate part of the profits from the novel to build something that would have lasting educational value for Belitung.
The inspiration to establish the Museum of Words came when Andrea visited The Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal Missouri, USA, where he attended the University of Iowa on a scholarship to study literature for seven months.
The distance between the main city of Tanjung Pandan to Gantung Sub-district is about 11 km and can be reached in about 2 hours drive. From the airport at Tanjung Pandan, you can take a rental car.
If you wish to take public transportation, there are buses and mini buses that serve the route of Tanjung Pandan-Gantung. However they are infrequent and then operate only from morning to 12:00 PM.
Source : indonesia.travel