Bangka and Belitong are two neighboring islands with almost similar geo-characteristics that separate themselves from the rest of the northeastern Sumatra’s small islands. Here, kingdoms and colonial rulers came to take control since centuries ago. Tin was and still is the sole cause for the ruling powers to take charge. Bangka itself means "tin" in an ancient language, the Sanskrit. In Belitong, there are meteorites found everywhere within the soil that also bears tin ores. The locals name it Batu Satam, while the Dutch named it the Bilitonites. With so many distinctive features to offer, Bangka and Belitong are presented here in a series of images.
Gedong Village is some 50 kilometers away northern of Sungailiat, Bangka Island. Here, traditional houses of Hakka people are set out along a meandering red soiled road. The light blue house is one of the 150-year-old original houses. The local government attempted to develop the area to reduce the impact of annual flood, but the residents refused the idea in the name of heritage preservation. Gedong Village is now one of the prominent tourism villages to be promoted in Sumatra.
Mention the name of famous Tung Tau, and you will be led to one of the most elusive coffee houses in Bangka Island. Mr. Fung Tung Tau started his coffee shop in 1938 in Sungailiat, a small town, 35 kilometers from Pangkalpinang, Bangka. Now, the name emerges to represent coffee drinking habit of the locals. It serves various delectable home-made breads and invigorating coffee as its best carte du jour.
Four-hour voyage by a fast boat from Bangka’s harbor, Pangkal Balam, you will be in Belitong Island whose distinctive beaches are quite illustrious. Giant granite rocks mysteriously enhance the clear turquoise water. In an island named Lengkuas, the description of Belitong’s beach is best epitomized. A light house built in 1882 is its imposing icon you can never miss.
We had to agree with the locals when they urged us to sample Bangka’s best noodle, Mie Koba. It is named after a city where it originated decades ago. Although Koba is where the noodle was created, the best served Mie Koba is still in Pangkalpinang, the capital city of Bangka Belitung. Come to Jalan Balai no. 83, in Pangkalpinang to experience their recommended offer.
To understand a destination, one must understand its historical record. Bangka, whose name is derived from a word ‘vanka’, meaning tin in Sanskrit, is presented audio-visually here in the same house where Soekarno, the first president of Indonesia, held a meeting to claim national independence.
One of the stunning beauties in Bangka is Matras Beach. This quiet local recreational beach is located between Pangkalpinang and Sungailiat. The beach is actually linked to a picturesque resort called Parai Beach Resort & Spa. There, giant rock formations that complement a crescent beach are found. Come in the afternoon to watch sunset, although sunrise here is also particularly spectacular.
The Rock Island in Parai Tenggiri Beach is a part of the existing resort, attracting both locals and tourists to enjoy beach life. Come to a grill and café there to spend a romantic evening on the island, connected by a bridge.
There are hundreds of beaches in Bangka and only a few have names. This is Rambak Beach, a secluded and a beach less visited by the locals. Giant rock formation is a good foreground for those surreal pictures you take to brag about.
Crossing the strait from Bangka to Belitong Island for about 4 hours, and you will find more giant granites. In an island called Lengkuas, the combination of rock formation, history, and beach activities is packaged as a one-day excursion in Belitong. Climb up the light house, and be prepared to get visually astounded.
Belitong's beautiful scenery and social life had encouraged a Belitong-born artist, Andrea Hirata to film his childhood life. Laskar Pelangi, or the Rainbow Troops, is a movie in 2008 that inspired many, both nationally and internationally. This tarnished school is one of the movie sets. Gaining a national fame, it has attracted many to visit.