A few of my friends and I had talked about going to Labuan Bajo this year. Before plunging in to a big trip such as that, we decided to go to an island closer to our home. Belitung Island is located in the Java Sea, about 45 minutes away from Jakarta by plane. Round trip tickets to Tanjung Pandan, the capital city with Garuda Indonesia is quite affordable at about USD 100 per person.
The day finally came, we met up at the airport before sunrise. There were 4 adults and 3 kids in our group. As usual, I appointed Miss Kiki as our official snack lady. She stuffed her backpack with snacks to be shared with everyone.
The baggage dropoff process went through smoothly, and our book-loving children quickly got their own paperbacks while waiting. This was a good start, they're easy to supervise :D
Garuda Indonesia now flies to and from Terminal 3 Ultimate at Soekarno Hatta Airport, and it was my first time there. The airport has a lot of familiar cafes and restaurants, I'd say even better than at the mall! We didn't have much time before boarding but we wanted to check out the lounge at the new airport. The Garuda Lounge was right at the centre while the other lounges are waaay down close to the end. We walked all the way there only to find it was a sad looking thing on the side with very limited credit card access option.
It was time to board! We walked through this corridor I had thought was a jetway but at the end we had to go down the stairs to take the bus to our plane. :D It's a Canadian Bombardier!
That early flight brought us to Tanjung Pandan HAS Hanandjoeddin International Airport at 8:35 am. It was a very enjoyable flight without turbulance. There was only one (!) conveyor belt for luggage at the airport and we had to wait for ours for longer than I think it should have been.
After we finally got our luggage, we went out and met up with a driver we hired with a car for our trip. We were all hungry so we made our first stop at the famous Bakmi Belitung Atep. It was egg noodle with tofu, shrimp, and cucumber and emping (the chips), with sweet broth. I have to say, the taste was too foreign to me. Miss Kiki ate it no problem though.
Another specialty of Belitung Island is Jeruk Kunci, a small super sour orange with green peel. I think it's quite similar to Manado's Lemon Cui. You can buy the juice at most restaurants in Belitung. It's commonly mixed with water and a lot of sugar.
Originally, we had planned to tour the city on the first day and cover East Belitung the day after. However since it was still early and our driver told us there was nothing to see in the city, we decided to cover East Belitung right away. It seems like the local attractions and the tour models are pretty much the same for everyone. We kept seeing the same people we saw at the noodle restaurant at each of the places we went to afterwards.
Laskar Pelangi site is a shooting site of the movie Laskar Pelangi (Rainbow Troops) based on the novel of the same title.
Across the road from Laskar Pelangi site, there was a deck with woven domes. It was clean and was a good spot for for picture-taking. I think if there were more visitors a proper cafe would do well there. We stayed there for a little while and let the kids play.
Our next stop was Museum Kata or Word Museum. We took some pictures right outside their colourful front and moved on.
From the museum, we went to Galeri Daun Simpor and Kampoeng Ahok. These two are actually located almost right across from each other. Ahok was our beloved governor and Belitung is his hometown. His house area is open for public viewing and I heard that if you were lucky to visit while his mother is home she would invite you inside the house.