By Maulana Bachtiar
Together with a small group of friends, I recently visited Pulau Belitung, which is part of the Bangka-Belitung Islands province located in the mid-west of the Indonesian archipelago.
Here is the important take home message: I do not recommend anyone else making a trip there. Please DO NOT go. After visiting the island that was once famous for its tin mines, I could report EIGHT reasons why you should not go there for a holiday.
1. The Sunset View
The first reason is this sunset view from Pantai Tanjung Tinggi (Tanjung Tinggi Beach), which cannot be accessed by public transportation. Unbelievable… Also, there was nobody around so you could not hear people talking, so lonely… How can an island be so empty?
2. The 130-year-old Lighthouse
Again, unbelievable, they have this 130-year-old lighthouse planted on a small island called Pulau Lengkuas (Lengkuas Island). It could be reached by a short boat ride from a white sand beach called Pantai Tanjung Kelayang. There was not even a jetty to assist boarding to the non-air conditioned boat – so not modern!
And worse, there was no elevator to assist us in climbing the 18-storey lighthouse. How could one climb up quickly when no modern technology was embedded into its structure? Gee, can someone please help…
3. This Sea View
Furthermore, after almost half an hour climbing the lighthouse (by manual spiral staircase!!) at Pulau Lengkuas, I was then greeted by this unprotected view of only sea and other natural stuffs. Where are all the buildings and people???
4. The Colour of the Sea
What’s with the non-standardised colour of the water? I was so stressed at the top of the tower, I did not understand why… And talking about people, finally from the top of the lighthouse, I saw some arrive late in small boats. For some reasons that city people do not understand, these boats took ages to cruise the blue sea, reaching the island very slowly… But still, how come only this many people visited the light house on a Saturday?
5. The Marine Life
Ok, let’s give Belitung, the island that became the setting for Indonesian blockbuster novel and movie Laskar Pelangi, another chance.
Since the island did not have many people, I thought perhaps it should have an abundance of marine life. BUT what… oh wow, they told me that I had to snorkel to see the fish! Didn’t they have some kind of glass aquarium or ocean theme park? Look how bored I was snorkelling with these fish in real sea water…
6. This Other Sunset
Finally, for heaven’s sake, let’s leave the island and the lighthouse alone… I was still disappointed, because how could it be so dark during sunset? Could you please help explain why the ‘lighthouse’ did not start emitting some kind of light to help big ships navigate, right at 6 PM when the sun disappeared on the horizon? Well anyway, there was no big ship to begin with…
7. The Empty Roads
So it was time to go back to the Belitung ‘mainland’ by car… I’d like to see some real cars and smell that carbon dioxide. BUT what… Unbelievable! There was no other car around for the next 30 kilometers or so, except for our own ride… and so I thought this road belonged to my grandmother!
Oh well. Are you now convinced that Belitung Island is a no-go zone for a short holiday? Or are you still considering going there?
Well, this is my last chance to detour you…
8. This Beach
Please, take a look at this beach… If you do not think that this looks boring, dull and so normal, then please just go. Good luck with all the white sand, real fish in their natural habitat, and lack of people. :p
This article was written by our friend Maulana Bachtiar from Global Indonesian Voices (GIV). GIV is established for ‘Connecting Indonesia to the World‘ by publishing independent news and stories. Check out their site here! 🙂