30 August 2011

Sumatra (Day 5)

Since it turned out that everything we had hoped to see on Sunday in Bangka's capital, Pangkalpinang  — the tin museum, the shop with "unusual tin gifts" — was closed, our final day might have been a disappointment. Taufiq, however, hired again for the day, made sure this wasn't the case. 

After breakfast, I first visited the resort gift shop to make what ended up being my sole purchase in Bangka, a kopiah (fez-like Muslim cap) made from bracken fern fibers called resam. We'd seen it the day before but I had balked at the Rp 150,000 price. I had never seen anything like it, though, and when I thought about its being handmade, the $18 price was far from excessive. I hope my using it, inverted, as a basket isn't too irreverent.

I may have bought only one lightweight item, but our suitcases were distinctly heavier, thanks to Michael's sand and my beach pebbles.

 First Taufiq took us through Sangailiat on our way to Matras public beach, known for its white sand.

A Dutch house, built over a century ago, on Jalan Parit Padang.

Homes along the river.
What is this strange man doing on Matras Beach?
The best treat of the day: a visit to Taufiq's home, to meet his wife Ida, son Ryan, and newborn daughter Alisa. I admired the baby's scratch-preventive mittens: such a cherished bundle.

Other glimpses of Bangka life on our way to Pangkalpinang.

These beautifully made baskets were a common feature on the back of motorbikes.
One of many female motorbike drivers, helmet over jilbab/hijab.

We arrived in Pangkalpinang just in time for lunch. The restaurant, though recommended in the Rough Guide, was nowhere near as good as Raja Laut, in terms of service or food. RM = rumah makan = house of eating = restaurant.

Tenggiri (mackerel) again, always a safe bet in Bangka.
Cooking took place inside (above), but dishes were washed in the alley outside the restaurant.
Another view of washing-up alley.
The customer toilet.

Matras may have the whitest sand of any beach on the island, but Pantai Pasir Padi, which we visited after lunch, is clearly the most popular.

Stalls selling corn on the cob punctuated the shoreline with yellow exclamation marks.

Another toko jalan.

Worth a second photo.

Serious work was being done, too, but unfortunately there was no catch this day. Nets were empty.

Final scenes of Pangkalpinang before Taufiq dropped us off at the airport's El John Executive Lounge — a far cry from Singapore's lounges, especially when the air conditioning stopped working.

We wonder if a tin magnate lives here.

Stores were closed, but even on a Sunday the open markets were busy.

Mosque under construction.

Last sight before airport, Sentosa (quiet, tranquil) cemetery on Jl. Soekarno-Hatta, 27 hectares of "more than 11,478" Chinese graves, according to the May 2010 Garuda in-flight magazine. The oldest dates from about 1915. Ethnic Hakkas (subgroup of Han Chinese) were first brought from Guangdong to work the Bangka tin mines by the sultans of Palembang in the 18th century. The large Chinese population often intermarried with ethnic Malays, and interracial tensions were far less than in pre-1998 Java, where until Reformasi the Chinese were regularly targeted in any civil unrest.  When we lived in Jakarta in the 1980s and early 1990s, you couldn't bring into the country any book or other object with Chinese characters.

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