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Belitung

Not too long ago I went for a vacation with my family to Belitung. For those of you who don’t know where Belitung is, it’s here. It’s on the western part of Indonesia. With the island next door, Bangka, it forms the Banka Belitung Province. And in relation to the larger landmass, it’s closest to the province of South Sumatra.

One of my (and everyone else’s) favorite tourist attractions there are the gorgeous turquoise sea and white sandy beaches of the small archipelago on the northern coast of Belitung island. These islands are really small and as far as I know, no one lives there. Tourists go to these islands on short day trips to see the beauty of the islands.

Pulau Lengkuas. One of the islands in Belitung's archipelago. Belitung islands are known for its large granite rocks.
Pulau Lengkuas. One of the islands in Belitung’s archipelago. Belitung islands are known for its large granite rocks.

Belitung is not as developed as that really famous Indonesian beach getaway spot, aka Bali. Tourists may find the facilities lacking as it might be more difficult getting things. International or larger chain corporations are not allowed to set up shop in Belitung cause the government want the local mom and pop industry to grow. So you won’t find any McD, Starbucks, or 7-11 here. People might have problems with that, but this makes me love the island more.

Other than the main city of Tanjung Pandan, where the airport is located, most of Belitung is made up of smaller towns and villages. In between these living areas are expanses of greens. Some are farm areas, some are swamps. They make a nice drive going from one side of the island to the other, which takes about 2 to 2.5 hours.

Unfortunately, a lot of the land is ruined from tin mines that have been abandoned. Belitung and Bangka islands produce about 90% of the tin for Indonesia. And (I just learned) Indonesia is one of the biggest tin exporters in the world. A lot of the tin mining in Belitung has stopped; it’s now done mostly in Bangka. However, the mine sites are just abandoned. These abandoned sites ends up filled with water and became still lakes, which doesn’t do much for the ecology of the areas [someone please correct me if I’m wrong]. If only the sites are closed properly, the land could’ve been rehabilitated into water catchment area or farming area, or even residential area. My brilliant childhood bestie, upon seeing the sunken oval shape of the minefield remarked that someone should turn it into an amphitheater, which I think is an excellent idea. Anyone want to set up a theatre company in Belitung? 🙂

Solar Eclipse My family’s main reason for visiting Belitung was actuallyto see a complete solar eclipse. And on 9 March, we witnessed the moon passing the majestic sun. And for a short moment in their embrace, the land turned dark. I felt the air around me tingled as people watched, some in complete awe, some in trepidation, as the sun and the moon stood in alignment on the sky.

There’s something extremely mystical experiencing darkness during the day. I felt so thankful to have watched that rare phenomena.

I had many favorites from my trip to Belitung, but the most memorable one didn’t come from the beach. It came from our trip to Museum Kata. A museum of literary and words opened by a local author Andrea Hirata, who claimed fame after his novel Rainbow Troops became an international hit.

In the timespan I was there, I got goosebumps all over my body. I knew I had these goosebumps cause I had stepped into a place full of magical creative energy. And at the same time, I found the place that I want to build one day.

One of my dreams in this lifetime is to create a creative holistic space where people can come and be creative and share their creations. And this space is all that. It has beautiful artworks on the wall. It has tons of books, with a little reading nook. There’s a small stage where they hold open mics, poetry reading, jam sessions, and all sort of performances. The museum was also created to encourage the local children to read and write their own stories.

The colorful brick buildings or Museum Kata by Andrea Hirata. Beyond those pillars are the space where they hold poetry jam, music jam sessions, and many other performances
The colorful brick buildings or Museum Kata by Andrea Hirata. Beyond those pillars are the space where they hold poetry jam, music jam sessions, and many other performances

For some people, this colorful brick compound might just be another tourist attraction, but for me it’s a place of inspiration. It spoke to my heart and I told myself I’m going to have that space one day, to inspire people to create and express themselves through creativity and the arts. And at the same time use this to connect with themselves and each others.

May you continue to be inspired in this life through what you do, through the things you see, through the people around you. And may you continue to see the wonders of this beautiful world through these inspirations.

Thanks for reading. If you want to see photos from the trip, you can find it here. And if you’re planning to go and need recommendation or help, I’ll be more than happy to do so. Plus, I can hook you up with the travel company that my parents used. (Oh and btw, I’ve been helping people with their travel. It seems that Travel Consultant is my new occupation. 😀 )

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