Belitung, The Rainbow Troops’ Island

On December 24, 2014 by Novita Karana

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Belitung Island is famous for beautiful beaches, giant granite rocks, and shooting place of Rainbow Troops (Laskar Pelangi) movie.
Local says Belitong, and Native says Billiton. Never mind, we call it Belitung :) Belitung is an island on the east coast of Sumatra, Indonesia in the Java Sea.

Belitung decorated with white sand beaches, crystal clear water, and magnificent granite stone formations. You don’t want to skip this island for snorkeling and enjoy your getaway moment.

So, why did we choose Belitung?
First, the flight ticket is cheap enough, around Rp. 900.000 for return. (if you’re lucky)
And, Highlight of Belitung can be explored for 2 or 3 days.
Then, our photographer friend keep push us and said: ” You have to go to Belitung before it get very crowd of tourist and dirty. ”
I did plan the trip with 7 persons: @rivermoa @hismamaz @sasmier @shirilpa @sugeliang @fugenaja and Shiril’s grandmother. Many thanks to @tesyablog for the tips and info :D
… so what are you waiting for? Set your backpack and buy the ticket!

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How to Get to Belitung from Jakarta?
From Jakarta,  you can take 1 hour direct flight. I suggest you to take morning flight, so you will have time to explore on first day. The budget planes are Citylink, Sriwijaya, and Lion. We chose Sriwijaya, and got light snack during the flight (mineral water cup and banana bread).

 

Where to spend night at Belitung?
I’m a picky person for hotel. I always want my holiday to be perfect. I always want to have quality sleep. I did googling, read people blog, search the hotel rank in tripadvisor, and also read some review in tripadvisor, and read the tips. If the hotel is in range top 20% from the total, it means the hotel is good. And we dropped our choice to rank #1 hotel in Belitung based on tripadvisor.
And you know, sometimes we can request goose feather pillow, and higher floor (usually higher floor has best view than lower floor).  IMG_1771
The picture above is our morning view and sunset view from executive suite room. I chose premier room with extra bed at Aston Belitung, 4 stars hotel with 202 rooms.
Why did we choose premier room? Premier room has a balcony with beautiful view facing the Tanjung Pandan Beach. My friend’s grandmother loves to see sunset from the balcony.
Superior and deluxe room has balcony also, but the view is facing the city.
I knew that by phone the hotel directly.

If you add an extra bed, the third person automatically get free breakfast. Their swimming pool is facing the Tanjung Pendam beach. All my friends also love Aston.

IMG_1277When we checked in, the premier room was sold out and we got upgrade with executive suite room. Ow Yeah! 54m2 room executive suite room has spacious living room, is perfect to have a small family activities and enjoying the Ocean view.
Tips for getting cheaper price for Aston Belitung: book the room direct from their website,  input promotional code and click apply. I got 10% off for the room (October 2014)

Wake up early and you will find the pool with this view :D
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If you want a hotel that you can jump in into the beach, you should choose Lor In Resort. Lor In Resort lies at the Prime beach of Tanjung Tinggi. Lor In has 20 cottages.

The Itinerary
I think Belitung is a perfect destination for short getaway, you can explore Belitung in 3 days 2 nights. Indonesian people love to escape for short days to beach. Below is our itinerary in Belitung.

Day 01 : Explore East Belitung
After breakfast in local restaurant, visit Satam Stone Monument (0 KM of Belitung) and Hero Monument in one location. Continue with a visit to Belitung traditional houses (free, no admission fee). After that, discover Kaolin Lake. This lake is the former site of the abandoned kaolin mining and enhance the natural beauty. Kaolin is an industrial mineral materials such as cosmetics, paper, food, toothpaste. Continue to Replica of Muhammadiyah School. And then explore Andrea Hirata Word Museum. You have to buy the coffee here. Then, we visit Mr. Ahok’s house and see his batik workshop. Don’t forget to lunch at Fega Restaurant. Fega located in Manggar, and has scenery direct to lake. It also has ship replica, so you will feel eating inside the ship :)
Next, we drop to Serdang Beach, Tanjung Pandan Beach, dinner sea food and then return to hotel.

Day 02 : Explore West Belitung for island hoping
You can photo stop at Welcome to Belitung Landmark, go to Tanjung Tinggi Beach, and then do island hoping with boat. There’re so many island to explore, we did explore Pulau Batu, Pulau Lengkuas, Pulau Kapayang (lunch here)

Day 03: Back to normal life
You can spend the rest of day by sightseeing independently or simply relaxing, or buy Belitung snacks and then transfer to airport for your flight home.

How does the best way to explore Belitung?
Well, i suggest you to rent car or motorcycle. In Belitung, there’s no public transportations. Belitung Island has very good road. Not bumpy at all. The rate of rent Inova car is around Rp. 650.000/day include driver and fuel.

Make Your Stomach Happy!
This part will tell you about what we ate in Belitung 
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1. Atep’s Noodle Belitung
The noodle taste a little bit sweet and yea.. you must try yourself when you go there.
Tips: try take away and you will get the noodle wrapped beautifully with teak leaves.

2.Kunci Orange
Tips: try kunci orange with ice at Atep’s Noodle and Dynasty Restaurant. They have the best Kunci Orange.

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3. Fega Restaurant

Fega Restaurant is located at Manggar, East Belitung. The cuisine is ok, but the Kunci orange is better at Atep.
Tips: Try Gangan Soup. The Gangan soup is mixed with turmeric sauce, shrimp paste, small hot chillis and cubes of pineapple, giving it that special aromatic sour, hot and spicy taste.

IMG_12874. Sari Laut
Sari Laut is very big restaurant with big tables inside. If you want to eat crab, don’t forget to drop a reservation first. On first day, we got no crab. It sold out.
Cost per person around Rp. 80.000 with shrimp, squid, chicken, and vegetables.

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5. Lunch at Kepayang Island
Where to get lunch when you’re done snorkelling? Some islands don’t provide restaurant and shower.
The best place to stop is at Kepayang Island. They have lots of shower boxes, and also nice restaurant. So we booked table at Kepayang Island before we got to Belitung. The island is perfect for lunch and enjoying the white sandy beach. You can have lunch with view direct to beach. The cost/person around Rp. 80.000 with 3-4 menus. Coconut costs Rp. 25.000 each. They give free flow for Manggar coffee and tea.

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6. Dynasty Restaurant

One of the fancy Chinese restaurant in Belitung.
We order crab with padang chili sauce, fried mini crab (with filled of crab meat and fish inside), fish balls (the best one), brocolli, and tofu.
The crab with Padang sauce is very delicious.
Tips: If you want to eat crab, don’t forget to drop a reservation first. On first day, we got no crab. All crabs were sold out.

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7. Breakfast in Local Restaurant

When travelling, sometimes we want to feel like how locals do everyday.
The first food that fill our stomach was uduk rice. Although we can get uduk rice in Jakarta, but it’s ok, we want to feel uduk rice in Belitung :))
The home made uduk rice with eggs, chicken and vegetables really suits with hot tea :)
The place also awesome, we can sit in one big table in front of local home :9

The Place of Interest Based on Our Itinerary
We did place number one till seven on day one.

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1. Satam Stone Monument and Hero Monument (Free, no admission fee)
This place is our first stop at Belitung Island. Satam is a black stone like ordinary stone used for jewelry. What is special about Satam is the random natural carving on its surface that can take various unique forms. According to local people, Satam stone can only be found in Belitung, and are believed to come from an Asteroid that fell on the island many centuries back. Do you believe it? Doens’t matter, just take a pic in front of Asteroid shatter :))

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2. Traditional High Footed Belitung House (Free, no admission fee)

The location of the traditional house is not far from Satam Stone Monument. The house is call Rumah Panggung, the design has similar characteristics with Malay architecture. The traditional Belitung house is built on wooden supports with bark walls and roofs of sago palm leaves. You can see their wedding bed with colourful ornaments, wedding presents (most of them is food), some picture of governor.

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3. Kaolin Lake (Free, no admission fee)
Tips: Sunrise moment is the best time to visit this lake. So if you have more days to spend, choose early morning to go there.  Kaolin is one of natural resources from under ground of Belitung island. This mining have created many job opportunities for people of Belitung. All of kaolin mine products are shipped to outside Belitung for row materials of paint and cosmetics factory. The negative impacts is environment damage. But, from photographers’ eye, this lake has a different touch. The combination of white clay and blue lake water is a perfect blend to catch in the morning.

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4. Replica of Muhammadiyah School (Free, but there’s donation box if you want to donate)
 This Replica Muhammadiyah School stands on the hill with soft white sandy. This replica built for shooting place of Rainbow Troops movie.
Tips: take picture with the local kids and give them some money :)

IMG_10945. Andre Hirata Literacy Museum (Free, no admission fee)
Andrea Hirata Words Museum is the first Indonesia’s literary museum, since 2010. This a-must-see museum is very unique and photogenic. Every corner tell story and make you want to stop every step you walk :))
This is the entrance and outside atmosphere.

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Get in and you will find yourself in living room area with unique decor. You can find some pictures of Rainbow Troops movies in the wall accompanied with traditional music instruments and old stuff.  Step further, and the smell of coffee will welcome you.

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Some ares in the back of kopi kuli are created very detail and artsy. The museum make a rainbow way that lead you to replica Rainbow Troops school. The decorated banana trees in the middle want to tell you about the dreamers.

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This museum also have stage and lot of colourful stools for some occasions.  And, also ticket box :)) mk

One area that i love most is Books Of Windows Of The World Project: Open The Doors, Read, Learn, and Be Inspired. It’s very colourful, dynamic and photogenic. You can check the photo above.

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Tips:
1) Buy Kopi Kuli.
Manggar is famous for it’s coffee called Manggar Coffee. If you drop by at Andrea Hirata Literacy Museum, you have to taste the coffee Kuli. It’s very cheap. The price on October 2014:
Manggar Black Coffee : Rp.5000, Black Coffee with milk : Rp. 7.000, Tea : Rp. 5000
I drank two cups of coffee, one black coffee and one black with milk :))

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2) Send A Postcard.
Cross the coffee corner, there’s table and mailbox, and it’s mini post office! You can buy postcard, write the message, stick the stamp (real stamp), and send the postcard by put them on mailbox.
It cost Rp. 10.000 for postcard include the stamp. My sis Shiril was writing postcard for her sis. (October 2014)

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6. Mr. Ahok House and Batik Simpor Workshop (Free, no admission fee)
Next stop is Mr. Ahok House and his batik workshop. Mr. Ahok or Basuki Tjahaja Purnama is an Indonesian politician who is the current Governor of Jakarta. On November 14, 2014, he was confirmed by Jakarta City Council as the 17th Governor of Jakarta.
Price a little bit pricey, only Mamazo bought batik stamp short for Rp.95.000.
Tips: Don’t sleep with batik clothes on white bed sheet. It will leave its ink :)) 

IMG_12047. Serdang Beach, Manggar. (There’s entrance fee for car)
It was raining when we arrive in Serdang Beach. There’s some cute creature pop up behind the green boat, we can’t wait to take two tourist photo stops here.  :))

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If you explore East Belitung, don’t forget to drop a visit in this beach.  Your eyes will be pampered with this location. Lots of colourful katir boats can be seen here. Katir boat is a type of small and slim boat with bamboo arm at both sides to balance the boat. This boat is painted with many different colour and some has eagle ornament, it seems the owner want to make their boat unique that others. And Sugeng found some spot that quicksand pit exist there :DIMG_1244

This gently sloping white sand beach is decorated with pine trees along its coast and also some recycled instalation art. Check the photo above. It looks like at nami island where some art instalation is put in unique way.

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8. Welcome to Belitung Landmark (Free, no admission fee)
On the second day, we did island hoping. Tips: Use your swimsuit under your clothes, it’s hard to find nice toilet. You can take off clothes and jump for snorkeling without have to search for changing room. Another photostop-that-have-to-stop recommend by our guide :) It’s like proof that we visited Belitung :)) We only spent 5 minutes here and then transfer to the beach :D

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9. Tanjung Kalayang Beach
From Tanjung Kalayang, we hopped in a boat. Our boat name is “Kapal Kita”, or it has same meaning with “Our Ship”. We rent the boat for a day, and it costs around Rp. 400.000/boat/day (October 2014). We’re eight, so cost per person is Rp. 50.000, pretty cheap.
You can also request snorkelling mask and life jacket to rent (Around Rp. 35.000 in October 2014).
553228_10152563067799401_5552646327807204018_n copyAlong the way, your eyes will be pamperred with beautiful big rocks during our trip, clear sky and turquise sea water. The left picture below is when we went to the beach. The right picture below is when we sail back to the land (raining condition).

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10. Stone Island
First stop is Stone Island (the guide said that), very small island. I think it’s not island, it just a big family of granit rocks :))  I touch the star sea for the first time here :D

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11. Kapayang Island (Rp.5000/person for Sea Turtle Conservation admission fee)
There is one island in west Belitung that has sea turtle conservation. It similar like we saw in Pramuka Island, Jakarta. To enter the conservation, you can pay Rp. 5000/person. If you have time, please drop by a minute and donate Rp. 5000 for the conservation.

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12. Lengkuas Island (Admission fee Rp. 5000 if you want climb lighthouse)
And, finally we go to Lengkuas Island. Lengkuas has good snorkelling spots, recommend by our guide. The picture below is when we jump from the boat and start to explore Lengkuas Island.
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First, the guide plan to bring us snorkelling. But we want do the lighthouse first, so the boat was heading to lighthouse. We think it would be nice if we do climb light house, make a lot of sweat, and then wrap it with jump into the water for snorkelling. And we direct go to lighthouse. They put the information board about the lighthouse. So you can measure yourself. you have to take off your shoes before entering the lighthouse, then wash your feet and you can enter the lighthouse. I think this regulation to make the lighthouse always in clen condition.

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Reach 18th floor and hold your breath! Don’t forget to take panorama shoot.
Actually, the 65 meters height and 18 floors lighthouse is the pride of Lengkuas Island, and also icon of Belitung. This 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.

Tips:
- First of all, bring your camera and get a pic of the spectacular scenery.
- Bring tissue and bottle of water when you climb.
- Do climb the lighthouse first and kick back and relax with snorkelling.
- Never stop and direct climb to 18th floors. Once you stop, you will find yourself hard to continue.
- The best time to visit is March to November. During this period sea wave tends to be quieter.During the period from December to January, the waves larger than usual, and sometimes it rains all day.

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—–and finally, snorkelling time——
Belitung’s weather can change really quick. From raining and windy and turns to really hot.
After snorkelling for 1 hour and half, we decided to have lunch. YEAY!

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13. Gede Kapayang Island 
Our lunch was set on Kapayang Island with family style (you just sit and the food will keep coming on the table). Kapayang Island Restaurant is little bit fancy but it has good facilities such as shower boxes and nice view. After shower and lunch, the sun was shiny again and we were heading back to Tanjung Kalayang for next place to visit: Tanjung Tinggi Beach.

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14. Shooting Place Rainbow Troops at Tanjung Tinggi Beach (Free, no admission fee)
First activities when arrived at Tanjung Tinggi Beach, of course: picture with the information text of Laskar Pelangi (Rainbow Troops) Shooting Place :))
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And then we go to a small pathway and find the big family of granite rocks with natural carpet of white sand. Surrounding by these giant granite rocks make me feel small.  Spoiled yourself in  warmed of sun and the blue of sea. You will feel that the beach is your own.

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15. Tanjung Tinggi Beach
Definitely my favourite beach. It located before the Rainbow Troops shooting place, in front of Lor In Resort. The unique of this beach, there’s some part of the water that separated by white sand like the picture below. Our guide was very nice, he help us to take picture from a far :))

IMG_1713So, see you again, Belitung. We will back for your beauty, crab and also coffee Kuli :D

 

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