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Published: September 3rd 2013
Taken from our porch. The background is the beach
Belitung (or Belitong to the natives) is a beautiful Island off the East coast of Southern Sumatra. It is a undiscovered and unpolished jewel in the treasure chest that is Indonesia.
It is a good sized island with just over 200,000 inhabitants. It has the potential to be a major tourist destination. The island is framed by stunning beaches with white soft sand, clear calm water and dramatic groupings of large boulders begging to be climbed upon and explored. This is then completed with lush primary forest in the middle of the island, home to crystal clear rivers and unique fauna.
I set out to Belitong on a long weekend trip with my girlfriend (Chrissy), it was our first trip away together and we were looking for a good time exploring this relatively untouched and unvisited island.
On our first day we arrived at our stunning Cottage on the North Western tip of the Island. They were situated all of 10 yards from the calmest and beautiful beach I've ever laid my eyes on and the fact it faced West meant for a spectacular Sunset. We arrived early morning and spent some time pottering about and discovering the
Giant boulders, pillow sand and clear water
empty pristine beach, we had a small rest because we were slightly exhausted from our early morning flight. However, keen not to waste the day, we quickly hired a driver to take us around the island.
Note: The only was around Belitong is by hired bike or car with driver. If you choose the latter, I suggest researching well enough to discover the man on the island who owns all 25 cars which can be hired. Every hotel on the island uses his services and naturally add a ludicrous booking fee.
We head out towards a fantastic Chinese temple, which is perched on the top of a valley over looking beautiful green forests. The temple is stunning, but I must admit, I prefer a good piece of natural scenery any day, so while my significant other took her photos of the building I simply surveyed the scenery. We all visited several beaches that day, one of which is famous for being the set of the Indonesian film rainbow soldiers. After a few hours spent walking around the gorgeous beaches, we returned to our favourite, right in front of our porch to sit down and watch as the sun
Gorgeous setting, gorgeous temple and its in my favourite colour to top it off
set out on the horizon.
The next day for me was an incredible highlight. Belitong is the only small island which is home to the curiosity inducing primate that is the Tarsius. Tarsius are famed for their unusual shape and their fantastic eyes, which are supposedly bigger than their stomach. We made our way to the Sanctuary for the Belitong Tarsius set up in the centre of the island. Its founder was Dr Indra Yustian, who's PhD thesis in 2006 successfully described the Belitong Tarsius as a separate species.
Tarsius bancanus saltator is bigger than its Phillipino, Sumatran or Sulawesian cousins, it is completely a loyal monogamist and unlike the others, never makes a sound audible to humans. It uses ultra sonic sound to communicate, it is such a powerful means of communication it can even kill or cause pain to other members of its species.
We were fortunate to meet Dr Yustian and received a small lecture first hand on just how fantastic the species is, the survival challenges it faces and also the work being completed to ensure it carries on for future generations.
Our final full day on the island was spent with
The most beautiful and perfect sunset I've ever witnessed. The lighting, the sea and the amazing boat in the foreground.
a hired bike and boat. We took the bike as a cheaper alternative to the car to take us to a boat which we chartered for a small amount to take us island hopping. We went to three islands in total. One was home to a large spiky species of starfish, the next contained a large lighthouse, which if you're brave enough to take the climb will offer breath taking views of the surrounding area. And then finally onto a turtle sanctuary where we met the people dedicated to conserving the indigenous turtle populations. We were able to visit the sanctuary and its tanks and to really cap the day off, we released a young turtle back into the wild.
Our trip to Belitong was compact and we really squeezed the most we could into the days we had. I really do not recommend anything longer than a few days on this island, mostly because things are still a little expensive due to the remote nature of island living and ATMs are extremely rare, so you would need to carry enough money to see you through the entire trip.
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