Thursday, November 04, 2010

14 Oct. 2010 - Belitung, Indonesia



This island, off southern Sumatra in the South China Sea, turned out to be a most pleasant surprise. Belitung is full of tin mines (BHP Billiton, the mining conglomerate, was named after this island), but seeks to become “the next Bali.” Without even a mention in the 2010 Lonely Planet, and nothing that we would consider a resort hotel, they have a long way to go.
Maybe sometime we will be able to say “we were there when it was nothing.” The fundamentals are there. Beautiful beaches. Clean water (unusual in Indonesia). Friendly people. Two hours by air from Jakarta or Singapore. And local government that is willing to throw a lot of money and energy into the development of tourism.
Our last Rally stop, we were treated to gala meals, bus tours, bike tours, live music and dance morning, noon and night. By this point we had learned that even veiled Muslim ladies love to bump and grind to the local pop music and joined in at every opportunity. We also came to appreciate that one of the critical skills required of an Indonesian official is the ability to sing well. The most honored people get up on the stage and perform karaoke – beautifully – and then invite the honored guests to do the same. Great fun.

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