Monday, 14 June 2010

Belitung Indonesia

 A long week that one. Started slowly. Got to hump day (Wednesday) and then suddenly got better. Work for the best of it was well ordered and easy going. Everything was going well and stayed that well.
Wednesday was my birthday and I would like to thank everyone who sent me birthday wishes. Thank you.
I ordered JCO doughnuts as they deliver!!! What a great idea and I am just so lazy to go get them . Unbeknown to me my boss got me a cake and everyone sang happy birthday to me, something which did delight me and I was made to feel very humble. Then the doughnuts arrived and it was sugar rush all round and all day.
I finished work early on Thursday and I was home by 5.30pm, some thing that is so unheard of in my work and it felt great. I got some stuff done and then waited for my gf to arrive.
We were flying to Belitung for a weekend on Friday and had to be at the airport for 6.20 as we had the first flight to the island. We were not supposed to be on the morning flight as we opted for the 9am flight but the flight was going to be delayed/cancelled so we had a chance, either 6.30am or 2pm. So I went with the 6.30am. It meant more time on the island and then to return the flight back had been set back to 4.20 over an hour later, so that was good.
The taxi like normal to the airport took a little over 30 mins and so we joined the queues for flights and waited to check in. We were flying with Sriwijaya and it was to be the first time that we had taken this airline.
They do not issue e tickets but still the paper ones. So we checked in and went for some breakfast.
Anyone who knows the airport in Jakarta will know that the domestic terminal is busy, noisy, full of smoke and independent restaurtants, probably a friends of friends etc and so the choice is never good, but a warm cheese slice sandwich later we were sat in the departure lounge. Yovita noticed that she had the return ticket removed from here ticket book and spoke to the man on the desk who said it would be no problem and the ticket would be returned when on the plane. She accepted that. I never.
I spoke to the man on the spot and told him that the ticket was wrong and I wanted the right one back and now. He looked confused and then understood that I would not sit back down and so he told me I had to go all the way back to the check in desk to get it sorted. So I did. When I got there, he shouted at various people who seemed to ignore him so someone else came over and did some more shouting and then eventually it was sorted out. It took about 20 minutes and luckily the flight was delayed other wise I would have made it so.

Luckily the cabin crew and service on board was far better than the ground staff at Jakarta airport. We got fed and watered and in a short space of 40 minutes flight time and the flight was smooth and quick and it was a lovely clear day, so flying into Belitung was lovely.
We were met at the airport by a driver from the cottages and whisked away through palm trees plantations and through unfinished roads to the resort.

Belitung is a lovely island which is 40 minutes flight time to north west of Jakarta, east of Sumatra and next door to Bangka. It is full of old mines and new palm tree plantations. It is fairly rural but the roads are well looked after and there was little mess anywhere. It was quite orderly.

The resort was amazing. It was just 8 bungalows, a main building, sea, sand, smiles and big rocks. Which was great.


The views on the beach were amazing and the sun was so strong the photos do not do the place justice.

It was like a real paradise island, better than the places I had visited in Thailand, Malaysia, Spain and other parts of the world. The beaches and quality of the water is far better than the beaches around Bali and Lombok. Although Bali does offer something different. A nightlife!



But as you can see there is nothing much happenuing on the beach or the island.
 

 There are huge boulders everywhere and the water around them is so clear and clean and the sand is really soft. The rocks though do have shell fish stuck on them and they hurt your feet when climbing.





















                                                                                I could have sat under the trees for hours, I should                   
                                                                                    still there actually or rather I wish I was
                          




 The second day was a boat trip on the seas which were flat and despite the rain never got the boat to rock more than it would anyway so that was good.
 We stopped off at the old lighthouse, which is still in use today. It is manned by 2 men, 1 from Jakarta and one from Ambon who are employed to sit there and make sure the light works and not much else. Its pretty squalid but they just sit about the island or lie in the hammocks and do nothing. I guess they could clean the island up or wash the building to make it more pleasant for guests. You can go up the lighthouse for free although they do welcome donations. They did not charge nor want to. They seemed happy to see us and stood about and chatted for a while before retiring to their hammocks for a lunch time snooze.



 The great thing about the Lighthouse was that not only was it over 110 years old but it was also built by the British!!
The lighthouse is basically a jigsaw puzzle of iron pieces bolted together. and it gets narrower at the top. Each piece of the puzzle is numbers so it all fits together. Genius.





 The view from the top is amazing and on a clear day I can only imagine how hot and sweaty I would be to see the views. I think if I went back it would be amazing to watch the sun go down from it. Something that I might just do!



 I have seen starfish in the aquarium but not just lying around in the sea, or swimming to new homes and to pick them up was great. What happy murderous creatures they are.









The starfish were found on one side of a huge pile of sand in the middle of the sea which fills up with people to have their photo taken and then empties again. Just a sandbank and a builders delight. The sand reminded me of what Jewsons ( a builders merchants back in the UK), sells!
 Here is my cottage and it was nice on the outside and lovely on the inside. The AC was good but the water was from a groundwell so it was brown and certainly unfit for drinking or cleaning teeth but for showering it was ok, the soap was good.
There were lots of mosquitoes though at night and that is why all the beds had huge mosquito nets which did work.


 Just more picture postcard views.

I went through some pain for these photos. With beer at 20,000 for a large bottle of Bintang the need was more urgent than ever, the bigger issue was the little sandflies which live on the beaches. They took an instant liking to me and I am covered in bites. Very strong repellent with high levels of toxic DEET will keep them away. Strong winds and apparently different seasons also. But for me I am not in a world of pain with the tablets and creams keeping the need to scratch to a minimum.
As Buffalo Bill says in The Silence of the Lambs: "you don't know what pain is!". Too right. This is agony but at the end of the day with sunsets and views like the ones I shared with you, they are definately worth it.

My last day on the island was in the rain which made it cooler and so we hung around and read books, finished the beers off and scratched alot.
I had the driver take me to the main town of Tanjung Pandan to get me to a pharmacist to get some medicine as the chinese oil I was given to help never.
We eventually found a small chinese store that was open as everything else was closed on a Sunday, open and so for 6000 idr I got a tube of something in chinese which was supposed to make me feel better.
It never but it got me from the island back to my apartment where 120,000idr later I had real stuff that works and makes it all go away for awhile until I shower and then all the bites come out and play.

But despite this it was awesome and a great trip away. Not sure where my next trip will be but it for views and laid back nothingness it will be hard to beat thats for sure.

For more information click one of these

http://placestostayindonesia.blogspot.com/2010/06/keyalang-beach-cottages-belitung.html (my hotel review site)
http://www.kelayangcottages.com/

and for more pictures all taken by me
 http://picasaweb.google.com/lreg72/20106JuneBelitung?feat=directlink
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