There is an old Greek proverb that says “Simplicity is the shortest path to beauty”; this is the perfect expression for the small charming Gedong Village located at Kuto Panji, Belinyu sub-district, Bangka Regency, in the Bangka-Belitung Province. Standing as solid proof of Bangka-Belitung’s uniquely diverse cultural origins and highlighted with heavy Chinese atmosphere, Gedong Village is arguably the oldest Chinatown complex on Bangka island.
Far from the glittering lights, high rise buildings, and all complexities of the modern world, Gedong village is situated 90Km or about 2 hours’ drive north of Pangkalpinang, capital of Bangka Belitung Province. The village itself is said to date back to the early 18th century, and was established by the first generation of Chinesemigrants who came to Bangka and its twin island Belitung to work as tin miners. These early settlers are believed to be of the Hakka ethnic group, brought here by the Dutch Colonial government from the Guangdong Province, which is known to produce excellent miners.
A distinct sense of simplicity and serenity envelopes the village. Entering Gedong village, the peaceful ambience will make anyone feel almost like stepping back in time, into scenes of some old Chinese Kung Fu Movie. Set on 2.5 hectares of land, antique buildings with distinct Chinese architecture dominate the scene at Gedong Village. A modest steel monument greets visitors at the entrance of the village before their eyes are treated with antique wooden houses covered by clay roof tiles.
Although some of the buildings have undergone renovations, a number are still kept in their original state. Some houses even still use wooden pegs instead of steel nails. These antique buildings are estimated to be over 100 years old but still firmly withstand the test of time.
The village is home to approximately 50 households or about 300 people who still preserve some of the indigenous traditions. For years, the village has also become the center of Chinese traditional ceremonies such as at Imlek (Chinese New Year), Peh Chun, and Qing Ming. While some of the families use electric generators for basic needs, the village has yet to receive electricity. However, the lack of electricity contributes to the creation of a natural ambience to the village.