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Story of Indonesia, Every Picture Tells A Story

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25 October 2013

Bangka and Belitong are two neighboring islands with almost similar geo-characteristics that separate themselves from the rest of the northeastern Sumatra’s small islands. Here, kingdoms and colonial rulers came to take control since centuries ago. Tin was and still is the sole cause for the ruling powers to take charge. Bangka itself means "tin" in an ancient language, the Sanskrit. In Belitong, there are meteorites found everywhere within the soil that also bears tin ores. The locals name it Batu Satam, while the Dutch named it the Bilitonites. With so many distinctive features to offer, Bangka and Belitong are presented here in a series of images.

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Bangka Belitung

Gedong Village is some 50 kilometers away northern of Sungailiat, Bangka Island. Here, traditional houses of Hakka people are set out along a meandering red soiled road. The light blue house is one of the 150-year-old original houses. The local government attempted to develop the area to reduce the impact of annual flood, but the residents refused the idea in the name of heritage preservation. Gedong Village is now one of the prominent tourism villages to be promoted in Sumatra.

Banjarmasin is the capital and the pulsating heart of the province of South Kalimantan. The largest and most beguiling city of Kalimantan - the Indonesian territory on Borneo – it rests gingerly over a labyrinth of canals thus giving it its illustrious nickname as the city of a thousand rivers. Located on a delta near the junction of the Barito and Martapura rivers, Banjarmasin, together with its neighboring city, Banjarbaru, form the center of the ninth largest metropolitan city in Indonesia, named Banjar Bakula, which together comprise the area covering the Banjar Regency, the Barito Kuala Regency, and Tanah Laut Regency.


Banjarmasin has an abundance of wide and mighty rivers, which have always played a significant role in the Banjarese’ (the indigenous ethnic group of Banjarmasin) way of life. To this very day, every morning there are floating markets where farmers and merchants ply their goods on boats to trade. Floating markets such as at Muara Kuin and Lok Baintan in nearby Banjarbaru have always been a farmers’ market and it is interesting to see the genuine river-based way of life.


Just a short drive away east of the capital, one will find Martapura, a sparkling little city literally filled with diamonds and all the precious rocks delved from inside Borneo’s earth. The city is well-known as the center of the diamond industry as well as the main diamond cutting and polishing venue in Kalimantan, in addition to being producers of top quality jewelry. If one wishes to see how these precious gems are unearthed, the go visit the Cempaka Diamond Fields, in nearby Banjarbaru.

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In and Around Banjarmasin: Where many rivers meet

The sky creates a beautiful composition of colors as the sun sets beyond the Barito Bridge that connects South Kalimantan with Central Kalimantan.