Explore Indonesia #9: A Hidden Gem in Belitung (Seychelles of Asia)

Sorry I’ve been MIA-ing for so long! I was pretty occupied the past two weeks and couldn’t find time to sit down and update. Today, I’m staying in because there is a mass demonstration by Islamic hardliners happening around Jakarta. Am praying that peace will reign in Indonesia. For more information:

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/indonesia-on-high-alert-for-nov-4-protest-against-jakarta/3249324.html

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/thousands-of-muslim-hardliners-to-rally-in-jakarta-over-alleged-blasphemy-by-governor


So last week, Ivana and I made an impromptu decision to visit the secret tropical paradise of Belitung. We booked our air tickets and hotel just four days before and off we went!

Belitung is almost like the Seychelles of Asia, with its unique and beautiful granite rock formations all over the island. Its beaches have fine white sand surrounded by pristine waters a brilliant shade of turquoise. And the best thing yet – it is only one hour by flight from Jakarta! 🙂 🙂 🙂

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Belitung, Seychelles of Asia. #nofilter

We didn’t want to rush around ‘seeing’ things and decided to take things easy for our three (two full) days there.

Our first stop was the magical Kaolin Lake – a world of white and blue formed from extreme mining activity decades ago. Isn’t it such a beautiful irony?

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Kaolin Lake.

After checking into the hotel, we spent some time exploring the city centre. Belitung is pretty untouched by tourism and is not as commercialized as Bali.

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Belitung, city centre.

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There are no malls in Belitung, only shops like these.

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A must-try in Belitung – Mie Belitung Atep.

We spent the latter half of the day hiding from the rain at the BW suites bar, which has a lovely view.

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Fries by the pool/sea.

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Rain, rain, please go away!

Thankfully the rain cleared up after three (!!!) hours. According to the locals, it is the rainy season now and heavy showers can last for an entire day. I guess we should count ourselves lucky.

We headed to Tanjung Tinggi Beach to catch the sunset + have dinner by the beach.

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Tanjung Tinggi Beach.

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Such cloudyyy skies.

Tanjung Tinggi is one of the more popular Belitung beaches after being featured in the Indonesian movie, Laskar Pelangi (The Rainbow Troops). The film was the highest-grossing in Indonesian box office history and won a number of local and international awards.

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HUGE granite boulders.

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So this is how an ant feels like…

Dinner was a short walk away at Lemadang Seafood and Grill. A boardwalk connects the restaurant to the beachfront. One can opt to sit by the beach and enjoy the fresh breeze over dinner, which we did.

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Sun finally setting over the sea.

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Dinner under the stars. 🙂

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Highlight of our meal – seafood soup in coconut.

The dishes were simple but delicious. Our tummies were filled with happiness. 🙂

We woke up early the next day for our island hopping tour with Street Taxi (IDR 400K for a private boat/day). The islands of Belitung are simply gorgeous! I’ll let pictures do the talking…

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Pulau Lengkuas from afar.

Pulau Lengkuas is a small clean island surrounded by big rocks and dreamy white sand. The many big palm trees around the island provide shady spots for a picnic and allow you to seek respite from the sweltering heat.

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Setting foot on the island.

Pulau Lengkuas has an iconic lighthouse, which was recently re-painted without any change to its historical interior.

Do not skip climbing up to the top-most storey of the lighthouse — awaiting you is a view to behold like no other. Just standing there and taking in the vast expanse of the ocean to infinity and beyond = BREATHTAKING.

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Thank God for the good weather – sun hiding behind the cotton candy clouds.

We snorkelled around Pulau Lengkuas and saw many cute fishes and beautiful corals.

Our next stop was Pulau Kepayang, home to a conservation centre that promotes eco-tourism. Baby turtles are kept there till they’re big enough to be set free into the sea.

One can also dive, snorkel, or canoe around the lovely island.

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Picturesque Seychelles-like boulders and pristine turquoise waters.

The guy who took us around the island told us that he has been staying on the island for years. He loves taking photos and reads up on photography techniques at night because there is simply nothing to do on the island. At that point, I loaned him my camera so he could hone his skills.

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Photo taken by our island friend.

Whilst waiting for lunch to be ready, we explored the granite boulders tucked away on the other side of the island (all photos taken by our enthusiastic photographer).

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Take #1: In the waters.

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Take #2: My ANTM moment.

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Take #3: Up on a boulder.

And more photos…

We were super duper hungry towards the end of our ‘photo shoot’. Thankfully lunch was ready in good time. We ordered our lunch (IDR 110k/pax) through Street Taxi because it is apparently cheaper than ordering on the island itself.

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A feast by the sea – cooked by our two boatmen.

After lunch, we stopped by Pulau Kelayang to see its caves.

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Mesmerizing blue.

Just before boarding our boat, we caught sight of a starfish!!! This little one was washed up to shore along with the receding tide.

From a distance, I saw some thoughtless tourists remove a starfish from the sea. To my dismay, they were taking turns to take selfies with the starfish!! :/ [Note: Starfish are a delicate species that cannot survive out of water for long.]

We headed back to the hotel to wash up thereafter. Dinner was at Belitung Timpo Duluk, which serves traditional Belitung-styled dinner.

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Belitung Timpo Duluk.

The interior of the restaurant is homely yet quaint and vintage at the same time. And there’s AIR-CON (!!!) inside, a rare find in Belitung.

You have to try their speciality ‘Dulang Set’, which consists of gangan ikan (fish head), ayam ketumbar (coriander chicken), sate ikan (fish satay), atiampela (gizzard and heart innards), lalapan (raw vegetable salad) and sambal serai (lemongrass hot sauce). #sogoodANDawesome

I cannot remember the exact price of the Dulang Set but it was very reasonable.

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What’s cooking?! Surrprissssse!

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Great meal to end off our Belitung stay.

You’ve been nothing short of ah-maaazing, Belitung! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

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And thank you, Ivana, for coming along this adventure with me! 😉

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