Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Andrea Hirata : Bringing Belitung to The World

It’s too late to state this about “Reminiscence from 2014”, but am sure it'll never be too late to bring you the interesting stories from what I’ve been witnessed on my trip to Belitung last year. If you have noticed, that I’ve been posted about the beauty of Belitung- the Island located in east Sumatra, where you could take direct flight from Jakarta just for about 45 minutes, now I will focus on the subject, the local figure who has successfully brought this tiny island to the world. 
Belitung is less traveled as before the book “Laskar Pelangi” or “The Rainbow Troops” released in 2005. Andrea Hirata is the man behind this Indonesia biggest’s – selling novel, the author of “The Rainbow Troops”, which has sold millions copies at home and abroad, translated into 34 languages and available in 87 countries in the world, It’s also made its US debut in 2013. The book is the story about 2 village teachers and their 10 local-elementary-students who struggle with the constant threat of their school closing. Together they were combating the poverty, crumbling infrastructure and the government corrupt to keep studying inside the dilapidated school building. The fight and effort they made has draw the great inspiration  how children in another part of our Islands still struggling to get the education meanwhile we’re sit in a comfortable chairs in our school here in a big cities. Hirata called this story as “semi-autobiographical novel”, where actually it’s the true story about his school-life when he was young. The story of the students told that many of them had made success by following the college scholarship to Sorbonne, Paris – which is the true story of Hirata himself.

Laskar Pelangi or The Rainbow Troops Books

“The Rainbow Troops” filmed and released in 2008, clarifying the fighting of children in Belitung and showcased the fascinating view of Belitung (or Belitong). The release of the movie has drawn a big impact to tourism development in the Island. People started talking about the idyllic view of Tanjung Tinggi which is located in West Belitung and the most popular place-where they came from, Gantong Village (East Belitong) and other magnificent beaches around there. Then people keep talking about going there, to witness the view where ‘The Rainbow Troops’ grow and filmed.
It’s about Hirata’s hand and his style of writing which takes great care and effort to illustrate the vivid picture of the landscape, the local culture, the people and their way of life, and anything about the Island. Then he build “The Literacy Museum” known as the 1st literacy museum in Indonesia, now the museum or “The Andrea Hirata Museum of Words” has been one of tourist destination in Belitong. Built in Kampong Gantong, the village where he was born and where “The Rainbow Troops” has been growth, the museum standing with 150 literacy from the authors around the world, the small museum holds poetry reading and talks, encouraging the visitors to be creative and love to read books/literacy. The museum built with colorful interior reflecting the fun of literacy, it also showcased local culture, for instance how local serve and consuming coffee, all built with simplicity and expressing how Hirata grow with limited facility of education but go globally.

At first I stepped in to the gate to the museum (in my last trip to Belitung), what I’ve been seen was the creative-simplicity of them. The gate made from colorful mosaic with unique words hanging on it, stepped inside I saw the installation artworks made from the irons displayed at the garden.

At the front room, they showcased about “The Rainbow Troops” at a glance and many of souvenirs like t-shirts or caps or tiny handicrafts displayed on the shelf. On the next room, there were colorful copies of various cover from “The Rainbow Troops” translated to various languages, the room with the only one chair facing the window—wooh..this’s my favorite spot, it illustrates how people may have the inspiration just by seeing the outside view through the window (which is so drama..), many of old equipment's and furniture’s reflecting the simplicity of how Hirata got the inspirations. There also many of plaques Hirata has been achieved from literacy award both in national and international level and well..One of them is from New York Literacy Award (so proud!).

The book-cover that has been translated in to various languanges

The Award Hirata has been achieved from his books

The Coffee Corner

The Postcard corner

There were also the artificial of the school – where the children studying at theback of the museum building then The postcard corner- where you can purchase the postcard only for Rp 10,000 (US$ 1) and write anything and send to the world from Belitong. There was also a library corner, coffee corner where you can order local coffee and noodles, there was a garden as well with local plants and vegetables. At the end of the showcase there was a huge room, a colorful room with so many quotes painted on the wall.

The colors inside and the artificial school

Done strolling around the Museum, I drove the car about 15-20 minutes to go to the school, passing the villages and ya…the school standing with rickety with patches here and there. There was also a garden with tables and chairs where kids can play around or… I thought it functioned as a place for showcasing games or poems or those sort.

The figures of the artificial school SD Muhammadiyah - the place where the children took their education

Well, that’s all about ‘Andrea Hirata, The Museum of Words’ – built with his passion about literacy. Arguably..through his hand, Hirata has made a huge impact to grow the tourism. Local communities are really appreciate his works and his value by putting "The Laskar Pelangi" words to any souvenirs and information. If you go to the UKM (Craft-Shop or Souvenir’s Shop), I bet you’ll always find something with “Laskar Pelangi” words printed on it ;)
As I have mentioned before, from my previous post about Belitung, you can take direct flight from Jakarta, Medan or Singapore to this Island (Tanjung Pandan Airport). For the ride- there are lots of car rent available with range Rp 250,000 – 500,000/day. I recommend to explore the west side first, island hopping to Lengkuas Island, there's Tanjung Tinggi beach – the place where “The Rainbow Troops” take place for shooting and many other beaches. On the next day, you could go straight to the East Belitung, about 3-4 hours driving with the iddylic view along the way,beautiful verdant and oil palm plantation and also Kaolin Mining Lake - This is not really a nature-tourist attraction, the unnatural bright blue lake was formed due to Kaolin mining. Kaolin is fine white clay normally used to making pottery.

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Reminiscene from 2014 : pedaling all day long at Ubin Island, Singapore

It’s been many? 3 months not update you..and I forgot how to start to write haha

Well, I’ve been to many cities in the country during 3 months, off course it’s because I have some projects to be done within those months, not holiday.

I re-digging my time in SG, exploring an island called Pulau Ubin or Ubin Island. First, I was captivated by the Island, the fact that Spore has this kind of place near the town (well it’s not really near the town, it was about 1 hour bus tour from Geylang to Changi Ferry and then took a small boat to reach the Island).

Ubin Island located in eastern Singapore and often considered the last 'kampung' (village) in Singapore. A stroll through Ubin takes me back to Singapore in the 1960's with the simpler pleasures of life. The slow lane starts as soon as you join the queue for the bumboat at Changi.

Ubin Island is a great day trip spent walking or pedaling through rustic roads under swaying coconut palms, exploring shady trails in overgrown rubber plantations, checking out the coastal and flourishing mangroves. In Ubin Island, the air was fresher and sights and sounds so soothing to the soul.

Entrance gate at Ubin Island

I went there with Giana~my bestfriend, we took a bus near our hostel-dorm in Geylang Road. Well, I tell you something special we’ve been found near the MRT Station. It’s a delicious soy-pudding stall beside the MRT entrance which is soooo yummy, you could taste a healty-tasteful pudding with just SG$ 2,5 with many variant like Taro, Green Tea, Chocolate and Original, and we love the Green Tea. The stall started open on 8am or 9am to 9pm. The bus station was near to the MRT station, so no worries..we finish our pudding a few second before the bus arrived.

The bus take us to Changi Ferry and continued with the small boat.After bought some food (Nasi lemak up to SG$4), we stepped in to the harbor and pay the tickets SG$2,5 /person. At first stepped in to the Ubin Island, it looks like Harapan Island (thousand island located in Jakarta), The sun-light embrace us with its warmth and encourage us to do some outdoor activities J

So, what was inside the island ?? There are so many activities you could do during your trip in Ubing Island, biking ~ no don’t have to bring you own bike because they rent the bikes with price SG$8 for all day long. So, we choose the bike fits us and start to explore the forest and mangrove area..We stopped by after about 1 hour biking, parked our bike at specified area, and start entering the coastal, yep..the coastal with a long long bridge and beautiful view showered by the sun-light which got warmer hours by hours. Anyway, there so many marine-creatures pictures hanging on the bridge, mostly has been photographed by the winners of kind of photo contest rolled out by the government. Unfortunately we didn’t saw one of them L, perhaps because it’s December and the creatures will appears in dry season when the tide is low.

Hours walking and took photos over there, we paused a while..took our bike and continue pedaling to the forest. We ride to the quarry area-many quarries actually, and tries to follow the other group to see the Orchid garden but failed..we decided to return to the main road after ended up inside the forest and don’t know where the footpath would end..haha geez!

The sun was 90 degrees above us, time for lunch, then we stopped to park our bike and open our meals that we brought at the harbor, any food taste sooooww good when we’re starving, right?! That what was I felt..:)). At the Island there was still monkeys and the wild boar.. and some of birds species which was unusual for me to found in the city.

The Quarry

We start to ride again, since we need to return to the city very soon and catch my flight in the afternoon.
So, we ride back to the island’s harbor and back to Changi Ferry at about was quite exhausting, my skin got darker hahahaa and yah I’ve been slept during our way back to the dorm but feel happy!!

By the way, if you don't like bikin, there was a group car available to rent to explore the Island..

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