Surprise Trip to North Bangka

Indonesia recognizes six official religions: Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Confucianism. With this official status, Indonesia is (on paper at the very least) very accepting of different beliefs. More practically, Indonesia has a lot of public holidays as observed by all of these religions. A lot.

What this means for me: I have plenty of days off. Case in point: May 5th and 6th (last Thursday and Friday) were national holidays. And no, they were not for Cinco De Mayo and the following Man-I-Need-A-Day-Off-To-Recover-From-That-Tequila-Hangover Day. They were days off thanks to Christianity, though in honor of what I am still unclear.

What I hoped to do with this time was check out Jogjakarta, a sizable city on Java that is reputedly the cultural capital of Indonesia. However, this plan tidak jadi [didn’t happen] because by the time I got around to looking at plane tickets they cost almost 3 times what they usually cost from Pangkal Pinang. There are other things I would rather spend money on, so I decided to do a stay-cation on Bangka instead. After all, next year (spoiler alert!) I’ll be living on Java, so I’ll have plenty of time to jalan-jalan on the world’s most populous island. But for now I might as well take the opportunity to explore Bangka because who knows when I’ll ever have the chance again to check out the harder-to-reach spots of this under-rated island.

I went to Mentok (occasionally spelled Muntok) first where I spent the night, followed by another night in Belinyu.

Pangkal Pinang-Mentok: 3.5 hours

Mentok-Belinyu: 2.5 hours

Belinyu-Pangkal Pinang: 2 hours

Here’s a map with some Japanese on it for kicks:

bangka-island_map_01f

Thanks to my lovely partner-in-crime, Dian, we saw just about all there is to see in Northern Bangka. Pics of this adventure are below. 🙂

My partner-in-crime for almost all of my time in Pangkal Pinang: Dian.
My partner-in-crime for almost all of my time in Pangkal Pinang.
Despite the extreme heat, I insisted we stop for a selfie with this killer tourist sign. I'm happy we did since Mentok was pretty cool.
Despite the extreme heat, I insisted we stop for a selfie with this killer tourist sign. I’m happy we did since Mentok was pretty cool.
Bangka is the tin capital of Indonesia, so there is not one but TWO tin museums on this island. I went to the one in Pangkal Pinang with all of my Science track students a couple of months ago. This one in Mentok was definitely more impressive though. The tour guide even spoke decent English, which was a pleasure.
Bangka is the tin capital of Indonesia, so there is not one but TWO tin museums on this island. I went to the one in Pangkal Pinang with all of my Science track students a couple of months ago. This one in Mentok was definitely more impressive though. The tour guide even spoke decent English, which was a pleasure.
Once upon a time there was a train on Bangka, presumably to cart aforementioned tin to the ports. This train stands as a relic. Its parts still move, hence my surprised smile.
Once upon a time there was a train on Bangka, presumably to cart aforementioned tin to the ports. This train stands as a relic. Its parts still move, hence my surprised smile.
Choo choo. Aww yeah.
Choo choo. Aww yeah.
Spongebob is an international phenomenon not to be underestimated.
Spongebob is an international phenomenon not to be underestimated.
There was a Confucian temple sharing a tiny alleyway with a mosque. I've been to several temples here but have yet to go into a mosque after almost 9 months here. Hmm. Temple was cool though.
There was a Confucian temple sharing a tiny alleyway with a mosque in downtown Mentok. I’ve been to several temples here but have yet to go into a mosque after almost 9 months here. Hmm. Temple was cool though.
Mentok was the scene of several tragedies during World War II. These skeletons are remnants of Australian warships, taken down by Japanese forces. Apparently the Japanese shot down all of the crew--including 20-something war nurses--of which only a couple survived by playing dead. Prior to this I did not know that Bangka was the host of certain events during World War II.
Mentok was the scene of several tragedies during World War II. These skeletons are remnants of Australian warships, taken down by Japanese forces. Apparently the Japanese shot down all of the crew–including 20-something war nurses–of which only a couple survived by playing dead. Prior to this I did not know that Bangka was the host of certain events during World War II.
The ship skeletons above are located directly below Mentok's lighthouse. With permission of the locals, Dian and I were able to climb to the top. My legs are still sore, but the view was great.
The ship skeletons above are located directly below Mentok’s lighthouse. With permission of the locals, Dian and I were able to climb to the top. My legs are still sore, but the view was great.
We came back to the lighthouse and the beach to watch the sunset. Some lovely construction equipment in the process of making who-knows-what is in the foreground.
We came back to the lighthouse and the beach to watch the sunset. Some lovely construction equipment in the process of making who-knows-what is in the foreground.
Nothing like watching the sunset on the water.
Nothing like watching the sunset on the water.
Mount Menumbing as seen from the top of the lighthouse. Mount Menumbing was the home of President Soekarno, Indonesia's first president and a leader in the struggle for independence from the Dutch.
Mount Menumbing as seen from the top of the lighthouse. Mount Menumbing was the home of President Soekarno, Indonesia’s first president and a leader in the struggle for independence from the Dutch.
The view from the top of Soekarno's estate at the top of Mount Menumbing. Beautiful, right? ;)
The view from the top of Soekarno’s estate at the top of Mount Menumbing. Beautiful, right? 😉
Another view, this time posing with the merah-putih (red and white, Indonesia's flag).
Another view, this time posing with the merah-putih (red and white, Indonesia’s flag).
With Soekarno's pimped out ride. This car was yuuuuuge.
With Soekarno’s pimped out ride. This car was yuuuuuge.
The inside of Soekarno's pad. Looks like a meeting room for fancy-schmancy people.
The inside of Soekarno’s pad. Looks like a meeting room for fancy-schmancy people.
Mentok is a city with plenty of history and I am so happy we got to visit.
Mentok is a city with plenty of history and I am so happy we got to visit.

While Mentok had plenty of tourist attractions and historical sites to visit, Belinyu was not so happening. It is a much smaller town, though it had some cute streets. The only touristy thing we did was driving way out to Romodong Beach, the #1 beach in Belinyu. I brought clothes for swimming and enjoyed splashing around and (unsuccessfully) trying to catch fish with my bare hands.

Pantai Romodong, or Romodong Beach, was a nice spot to go for a swim and watch the start of the sunset.
Pantai Romodong, or Romodong Beach, was a nice spot to go for a swim and watch the start of the sunset.

Overall it was a lovely trip. We returned to Pangkal Pinang Saturday (yesterday) morning, after which I started packing for my rapidly approaching departure date. Today I planned on getting some work done, but Dian’s family invited me to join them for yet another round of wedding parties so I ended up doing that instead, followed by trying my hand at fishing at a neighborhood pond. Wedding parties were successful… Fishing? Not so much.

In three out of three weddings this is the only photo that was asked of me by other attendees, which is a new record since usually people are aggressively clamoring for photos. Plus this one barely counts since I've met these ladies and/or their offspring before anyway.
In three out of three weddings this is the only photo that was asked of me by other attendees, which is a new record since usually people are aggressively clamoring for photos. Plus this one barely counts since I’ve met these ladies and/or their offspring before anyway.
I didn't catch anything during my brief attempt at fishing, but Dian did. His cousin Andre is the one laughing in the background.
I didn’t catch anything during my brief attempt at fishing, but Dian did. His cousin Andre is the one laughing in the background.

 

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One thought on “Surprise Trip to North Bangka

  1. Nice post Kelly. Looks like you did a lot of exploring. So much to see everywhere.
    I love the dress you have on for the wedding celebrations. Love, Mom

    Like

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