As we steered our dinghies between the beautifully painted traditional boats bobbing at their moorings in water so clear that you could see right to the sea bed, we could see a figure striding down to greet us as we made our landing at Kelayang Beach, Belitung.
We were at the stunning anchorage on the north coast of Belitung and the person who had met us on the water’s edge was Ringgo, whose family owns the warung on the far righthand side of the beach.
We needed to buy provisions as we had been on the move for a while – Ringo’s Dad (Papa Ringgo as we called him but his name is Pak Anjung) had a car for hire and we learned that Ringgo could drive us into town to go to the traditional market, the supermarket and anywhere else we needed to go, including later on, the Immigration office where we needed to extend our social cultural visas.
In addition, he could organise the delivery of water and fuel and was even able to take our washing in and make sure it came back super clean and neatly folded at an economical price. Best of all, Ringgo knew where we could get our gas bottles refilled – a great relief as we were down to our last bottle and its contents were dwindling. Because our bottles have Australian fittings a special adaptor is required to fill them and a place with one of these is hard to find.
The traditional market at Belitung is bustling and colourful with all the produce you could want and some you wouldn’t – for example turtle eggs. We bought up large ready for our trip to the Kumai River which we were planning to do in three long day hops arriving at lunch time on the fourth day. There we were meeting up with our friends from Sydney – Jackie and Lucky – and boarding a traditional Klotok boat to visit Camp Leaky and see Orangutans in the wild.
Ringgo parked the car very close to the the market and we enjoyed watching the very small but very neat and dapper parking attendant -who wouldn’t have looked out of place in a band like the Village People – deftly manage the market traffic.
The following day our water and fuel were delivered and Ringgo brought along his young son on the delivery boat.
This small boy was intensely curious and his sharp eyes rested on all the moving parts of the boat and every strange object. He was soon looking through the binoculars, winding the winches and watching everyone working, emptying the contents of the big water vessels into the tanks.
This was the first time we had taken water in this way as usually we make enough water with our trusty desalinator for our daily needs but we knew we were heading for a river mouth where the water would be too muddy to process as it would clog up the filters and probably wreck the membrane.
It was quite a mission hefting the heavy water bottles onto the deck and pouring the contents from each of the 40 or so containers but Ringgo and his helpers worked hard to get it done quickly and efficiently. Thank goodness for Belitung’s Mr Fixit!
After it was all done we had a late lunch in what turned out to be our favorite warung which stands on an isthmus between Kelayang and Marina beaches and has stunning views as well as delicious barbecued fish cooked over coconut husks and cumi cumi (squid) cooked in various different sauces or deep fried.
After we had eaten we took our dinghies over to Pulau Gede Kepayang where the sand was gleaming white and the sea a stunning turquoise. We had a gorgeous swim in the clear water and a wander down the beach to check out the barn-like beach restaurant.
As we left the sun was going down reflecting gold on the calm sea and tingeing the white sand a delicate rosy pink.