I have the opportunity to visit the island of Belitong in the beginning of the month. As a small island near the island of Bangka, which was my grandparents from my mother side’s hometown, the location is made famous by the movie Rainbow Troops or Laskar Pelangi in the local language. While now it’s also known as the hometown of Ahok or Mr. Basuki Tjahaya Purnama, the Jakarta Governors. During my stay there, I was accompanied by a local guide, natives of the island. That way, we got to explore the local delicacies, not that Belitung is swarmed with one, but at least we can get around the more touristy spot and go straight to where the locals went.
Being a small island, Belitung also has a few smaller island surrounding it. Well, it’s basically like that all around Indonesia, it’s like an island-ception. But oh boy, the beaches was fantastical. Even in the ‘dirtier’ area of the beaches it still has the magical white sand and clear water. I am almost tempted to do a Baywatch scene by emerging from the sea water and walks slowly towards the beach. Since Belitung is known as a tin producing island, there were also some old mines that transformed into a travel destination. The underwater ecosystem of Belitung is also one of a kind. They have magnificent corals and fishes. Too bad I am not a diver myself, so I can’t really tell you how it is.
What I can tell you is the food over there is amazing.
Let me repeat, one more time.
UH MAY ZING!
From a merely grilled fish into a succulent roast pork, to a relish martabak. they have it all. For the record, I am not a seafood eater, but they have the freshest produce anyone can offer. I can testify to that since I got bad itches when I ate a bad seafood. I am itch free over there. They have a fish exclusive to the island called ‘Ilak’ this fish has a flaky texture and not a strong fishy smell. It’s perfect for grilling with a simple Soy Sauce or special spices by the restaurant. Another delicacy for a seafood lover is the crabs, especially the rajungan. Again, I can only say what my brothers said, it was the best rajungan he ever had, it’s so full of meat and sweet, and you can believe him since he is such a diva for food. Another recommendation called gangan. a sort of fish head soup cooked with pineapple so it gives that fresh vibrant that goes well with the island feeling.
For those that not a seafood person, is the noodles. I spent 4 days 3 nights, and I had like five noodle meals. The noodle they served here consisting one bowl of noodle with minced pork and beansprouts, and another bowl of fishball and ‘cakien’-some sort of fishcake. The funny thing here, all the noodle seller is open for business in different time, it’s like they saying to have noodle all day long with variety because every store has their own unique taste. If you not eating pork, you can ask for no meat. Or you can just go to the famous Bakmi Atep for their prawn broth noodle.
As millennials as I can be, I have the need to get coffee. The famous coffee shop in the island is Kong Djie Coffee, it is an old school coffee shop, a kopitiam, to be exact. it establishes during the 40’s, with their original store still standing strong and a bunch of franchise store opening up all around the island with a younger vibe. This original store is the perfect place to have your morning fix since the original store served some snacks such as fried banana and assorted fritters, as well as traditional cakes provided by other small business. Just perfect, a grass root business model, small business being helped by another small but more established business.
Another highlight is their martabak, a bit similar to Bangka style martabak, they attract you with the smell of butter melting on the surface of hot martabak. That greasy glossy treasure is calling you like an ant towards sugar. During my stay there, I haven’t found one bad martabak, even the worst is still acceptable. When Bangka and Belitung share a similar martabak, their roast pork is completely different. What I can tell you is the food over there, is amazing If Bangka style is heavier on the spices, Belitong have a more gentle taste with a crispier skin. Me personally prefer the Bangka style, but I also won’t say no for Belitong style. To quote a friend of mine, ‘Pork is never a mistake!’
Belitung is not only an island about Rainbow Troops, this is a nice place to chill and have a nice beach moment. Not to mention that it is so affordable, sure the infrastructure is not as good as Bali or Lombok, but there are a lot of hidden gems that can still be found if you willing to explore the island. If you wanted to go for a chill vacation, I suggest you consider Belitung for your destinations.