It was the night before Christmas and all through the house… Actually we were staying in a bungalow on the small tropical island of Bangka Belitung, a place famous for two things; as the location for Indonesia’s highest grossing box office film, Laskar Pelangi and tin mining.
Laskar Pelangi has had a Lord of the Rings affect for domestic tourism on Bangka Belitung, because it highlighted the beautiful scenery and amazing rock formations found on the island. The illegal tin mines on the other hand is a blight on the landscape, but offer much needed employment and money for local Indonesians who are lacking both. Unfortunately they don’t go together very well.
I digress, back to Christmas Eve on Bangka Belitung… We had already opened up our Christmas in a box in preparation for the next morning (for all those who are interested, Christmas in a box is essential for any Christmas spent in a hotel and consists of; one tiny fir tree, baubles, a bit of tinsel and a handful of crackers. In short everything you need for some Christmas joy) and we were trying to formulate a plan for the next day.
The idea we came up with was to head out for the day on a small boat across the choppy waters off of Bangka Belitung to do a bit of island hopping. Everything rested on the fact that Christmas would be sunny. If it rained, or there was too much wind then everything would be called off and we would be spending the day inside with the air conditioner on; a strange alternative to a European Christmas of cold weather and a warm house.
I woke up at 5 in the morning on Christmas day to the sound of thunder and the patter of rain. This was not going to be a very merry Christmas! I turned over in my bed and went back to sleep. Three hours later I woke to the sound of rapping on the door. Groggily opening the door, I was greeted by sunshine and a clear sky, we would be spending the day out on the open sea after all.
In the end we spent a great day out on the water visiting different islands off the coast of Bangka Belitung. My personal highlight was visiting a steel prefabricated lighthouse that had been built at the turn of the last century in the Netherlands and shipped halfway around the world. Although the boat ride there was very bumpy, the view from the top was definitely worth it.