Thursday, January 10, 2019

Makan Bedulang tradition in Belitung

Being a country with more than 17,000 island, it comes as no surprise that every island/provinces/district/ethnicity will have their own tradition and culture. Same goes for the beautiful island of Belitung, located on the far east of Sumatera; an island that also goes by the name of The Rainbow Troops Island or Pulau Laskar Pelangi, an island that was made famous by a movie of the same name. For Malaysian visiting this Laskar Pelangi island, you will be surprised to hear the way they speak, it sounded like ‘bahasa Melayu zaman P.Ramlee’.

What amazes me is makan bedulang tradition in particular as it reminded me of nasi ambeng from the Jawa ethnicity in Kuala Selangor, Malaysia. The objectives of makan bedulang or nasi bedulang is to promote unity, fairness, strengthen the family institution as well as respect to the eldest. Makan bedulung is usually practised during an event or traditional ceremony such as Idul Fitri, Maulud Nabi and such. Having said that, in order to educate, introduce and promote this unique Belitung culture, makan bedulang can be experienced in some of the restaurants around Belitung. The restaurant will explain and guide the guest on the protocol or procedure, every steps symbolizes their custom.

The uniqueness of makan bedulang is that even its preparation is being taken into account; Mak Panggong is the protocol or procedure coordinator, Tukang Berage role is to lay the dishes on the dulang (tray/large platter), then you have the Tukang Periksa Dulang where she will be checking an ensuring all the dishes are correctly put/laid, pouring the drinks into the glass being done by the Tukang Ngisi Air and last but not least, Tukang Ngangkat Dulang will carry the dulang (tray/large platter) to the guests. As you can see, custom and tradition is being upheld strongly by the locals here.

Upon the dulang (tray/large platter) being serves to the guest of which per tray/large platter shall not be lesser than 3 person ideally 4 person, the youngest in the group will need to serve the eldest first (or the highest in social ranks) before the rest can join the meal.

Interestingly, the dishes serve are rather standard and consistent; 7 plates/bowl/dish in total - nasi, ikan goreng bebulus, sate ikan, oseng-oseng, ayam ketumbar, sambal serai and gagan darat. The other unique thing is that when all the dishes beingn displayed in the dulang, it is covered with tudung saji or mentudong known to the locals. Mentudong is a large dish cover is made of daun mengkuang (screw pine leaves) that is being weaved into a conical shape with a crochet cover decorating top.

If you to sample the food and experience the whole process, head over to Rumah Makan Belitong Timpo Duluk.

Rumah Makan Belitong Timpo Duluk
Jalan Lettu Mad Daud
22, Kampung Parit, Tanjung Pandan
Parit, Tj. Pandan
Kabupaten Belitung
Bangka Belitung

Fam ‘Getaways’ Trip to Belitung Island is made possible by MTN Getaways.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Not everything in Belitung is about Laskar Pelangi

True as it can be.
Despite the fact that beautiful island is made famous by the movie Laskar Pelangi, many might not know that it has more to offer. All you need is to give it a little more time and space to appreciate the island as it is, then you will see Belitung as Belitung. I was tasked to write 3 entries on Belitung trip, having to complete the first one of which I felt rather easy (everything about Laskar Pelangi), this time around seems hard to share it in a listical manner without injecting my personal take on it. So I figure, let’s be blunt about this, let’s put my thoughts with some background facts to the list below.By the way, this trip was sponsored to promote the new Garuda Airlines route to Belitung via Singapore.

Slower pace
I have been to a few cities/towns in Indonesia, am yet to experience an Indonesia island that moves in a more leisure pace as Belitung (then again, Indonesia has 17,000+ islands). Located in Selat Sunda, to the west of Sumatra, Belitung was a quiet (quieter is more like it) island back then till the Laskar Pelangi fame brought the world’s attention to this pristine island. Yet, it feels as if time stood still, everyone is ever so friendly, no hurry in live, the tendency to appreciate mother nature seems to be higher too. Perhaps the decline of tin mining industry slows everything down, till now.

Jalan Warkop 1001
This was the second thing that excites me when Eka and Oki highlighted about the Jalan Manggar or Manggar Street. Not a coffee lover, but the smell of a coffee being brewed tends to make me ‘high’ for some reason thus stopping and sampling the famous Belitung coffee became a must. I managed to sample the Belitung coffee (with milk) as well as the Kongi coffee; a Belitung equivalent of Starbucks. Apparently this coffee is the one that will make you fall in love with Belitung (katanya lah).

I was made to understand that coffee is the lifestyle of Belitung, it started during the tin mining ear where you can see all the tin miners stopping by a warkop (warung kopi) before kick-starting their daily routine at the mines. After awhile, it became a Belitung lifestyle to lepak at a warkop. In fact, some warkop (like seriously, a tepi jalan warung kopi) has wifi to encourage younger patrons to stop by. Starbucks-Starbucks tak main lah… warkop pun ada wifi hokkay.

Don’t be surprise as most warkops tend to be slightly creative with their menu. My advice is to go with a few friends and each orders different drinks and food, the best way to sample local culinary *wink*.

Danau Kaolin
Once was an active kaolin mine, this danau or lake resembles the famous Turkey site – Pumakkale (but now not anymore). The turquoise blue water pops-out against its milky white sand, an instagrammable sites that is now restricted (yeah, swimming is highly DIScourage). Having said that, one can still stop by enroute to the airport as you probably need 15-20mins or so to take some photos.

Dermaga Kirana
This place is rather unique and is situated just across the street from SD Muhammadiyah site, do make a point to stop by as there are a few Rumah Kong there (shell like rattan hut). There is also a café by the name of Owly Café at the end of the Dermaga Kirana if you feel like you wanna lepak and laze around and perhaps just enjoy the calming mangroves riverscape. According to the locals, this place was built as a place for the locals and tourist to ‘photoin suka-suka’. Not wanting to go against the advice, I also photoin-photoin, suka banget gue *cheeky smile*.


Burung Mandi Beach
The name inself raised the curiosity in me, translated to ‘Bathing bird Beach’ makes me wonder the history behind its name. Pestering the guide was not helping as they themselves did not know how the beach got its name but one thing for sure, I realized that all the fishing boat that is docked there has a carved bird in front. I suspect there bathing bird and the carved bird have a deep dark secret that is waiting to be told (eye squinting trying to figure out the secret). 

As of now, I am here to appreciate my rojak buah with fresh coconut drink while enjoying the Laskar Pelangi breeze gently brushes my face. Drama sangat.

Kampung Ahok and Rumah Ahok
Ahok's home in Belitung, popularly known as Kampoeng Ahok has been renovated 3 times), the Rumah Panggung architecture is made of 'kayu bulin' (kayu belian) of Rumah Limas design in Palembang.

The actual house that the family is living in is located right across Kampoeng Ahok (last photo). Ahok or Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (chinese name : Tjung Ban Hok) grew up in Manggar, Belitung. He was the Indonesian People's Representative Council and Regent of East Belitung as well as former governor of Jakarta.

Kwan Ying Statue
Like any other Kwan Ying Statue and temple, this one is located on a hill overlooking the sea. The colourful temple is definitely a good venue for photo shoots but other then that, there is nothing much. I would suggest to give this a miss and spend more time at the Museum Kata.

Fam ‘Getaways’ Trip to Belitung Island is made possible by MTN Getaways.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Laskar Pelangi movie buff Must Visit Places

‘The story covers the struggles they and their two teachers face in keeping the Muhammadiyah Elementary School on Belitong Island, Sumatra, up and running, as a tin mining company circles their fecund land. The students each have individually interesting backgrounds, providing prisms for real insights into the diversity of Indonesia. Take, for instance, the child genius Lintang, who cycles 80 kilometres a day for the chance to study: “Lintang’s family was like the epitome of poverty for Malay and Indonesian traditional fishermen. They carried that misery in their hearts from generation to generation. They swallowed the bitterness of empty expectations for the future and their doubts about their children’s education.” Then there is the singer Mahar, who since the second grade has “worked after school as a coolie, grating coconuts at a Chinese produce stall.’ – Travelfish (

With that in mind, my movie-adventure-trip to Belitung begins - The Land of Laskar Pelangi (roll montage, queue music). A place where movie-hunters should make a point to visit, with Garuda flying to Belitung from Singapore makes it even easier. For me, it is more of curiosity, especially of Museum Kata Andrea Hirata (Andrea Hirata's Museum of Words). Of Laskar Pelangi. Of Andrea Hirata himself.

Laskar Pelangi Beach or Tanjung Tinggi Beach
Located in Sijuk District, approximately 45mins to an hour from Tanjung Pandang is the Tanjung Tinggi Beach. Famous for the smooth large oddly size granite boulders, on a pristine beach with powdery sand is where one of the Laskar Pelangi scene was shot. Tanjung Tinggi Beach; now goes by Laskar Pelangi Beach is a place where the locals hangs-out on a weekend. Stalls selling snacks, coconut drinks and beach toy to lure the kids are seen scattered along the coastline.

On a calm sunny day, the water is crystal clear with sun rays piercing from the clouds that sometimes shading the clear blue sky. Often you seen shots taken here reenacting scene of Laskar Pelangi, it is either that the starfish floating shots (no, didn’t do any as the current was too strong on that day for us).

SD Muhammadiyah or Muhammadiyah Elementary School
Another iconic site made famous by the LaskarPelangi book and movie is the replica of SD Muhammadiyah or Muhammadiyah Elementary School. This is where most of the scene centered on, where the teachers are devoted to inspire, teach and guide students from tin mining families who've come to study at the poorest village school on the island of Belitung, while having to brave 80km round trip by bicycle.

The replica of SD Muhammadiyah was set to looks as real as possible, ensuring each detail are accounted for. Stepping into the classroom creates a sense of childhood in almost all visitors where you can easily see the ‘pupil and teacher scene being acted out (dramatically)’. At times, you can see locals kid coming over with kaolin clay covered on their body, depicting the kids from mining family from the movie. And if you are lucky, you can have a picture of them or perhaps even with them.

About 100km from Tanjung Pandan City, rented car or tour arrangement would probably be the best mode of transportation for the drive can be up to 2 hours max.

Museum Kata Andrea Hirata or Andrea Hirata Museum of Words
Once known as Billiton; one of the top producer of tin and tin mining in the world, has now waned due to the decline in tin commodity that hit the world. This was during the time where many of the countries around South East Asia were impacted, Malaysia included.

This happens to be the most looked-forward place if you are in Belitung; for those that the appreciate museum, the those who love of art and those that got bitten by the travel bug. The book Laskar Pelangi or ‘The Rainbow Troop’ has achieved a worldwide success that a Museum of Words was erected for Andrea Hirata himself. Having produced a few sequels namely Sang Pemimpi, Edensor and Maryamah Karpov: Mimpi-mimpi Lintang, and his success in putting and highlighting Belitung in the map, aside from the fact the Laskar Pelangi book was translated to more than 20 languages and is being read around the world, this Museum of Words is the best (and yummies) icing on the cake.

The book not only introduce us to Belitung, but also the poverty, the desire to learn, the hope and dream. And that everyone can excel, given the right attention, guidance and encouragement. Nothing is impossible. From the word of Andrea Hirata – Bermimpilah kerna Tuhan akan memeluk mimpi-mimpimu (Dream for God will embrace you dreams).

The museum was the first and only Museum on Literature in Indonesia and was officially opened to the public in 2012.

Fam ‘Getaways’ Trip to Belitung Island is made possible by MTN Getaways.

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