Lindblad Expeditions offers a good mixture of both wildlife and culture on all its expeditions, and today we immersed ourselves in a colorful community of local people on the island of Pulau Belitung. We started with a visit to a small temple in the heart of town. I must say that the highlight of my day was our visit to a large outdoor market, where shoppers could purchase anything from vegetables to fresh meat to decorations for the home. We observed stall after stall of amazingly colorful fruits and vegetables, fresh meat, and everything in between. What made this place particularly wonderful for me as a photographer was everyone’s desire to be photographed. You could hardly move to the next stall without someone asking you to make an image of them. Smiles and laughter created a bridge between our different cultures, and we truly had the opportunity to engage with the local people of Pulau Belitung. Afterward, we bordered our bus to visit a traditional house, and we enjoyed a ride across the island to a beach with incredible rock formations where our Zodiacs waited to shuttle us back to National Geographic Orion.
National Geographic Orion
On a calm, tropical morning, National Geographic Orion anchored off the coast of Pulau Belitung, an island in the Java Sea off the east coast of Sumatra. By Zodiac, we landed at the beautiful beach of Tanjung Kelayang to a warm welcome with a dance performance by members of the local community. The beach is very photogenic with many colorful longboats anchored beside the white sand. Under cover and protected from the hot morning sun, we were entertained by the reenactment of a traditional Indonesian marriage ceremony, complete with the requisite gift giving and financial negotiations between the families before the union could be completed! Before heading back to the ship for lunch, guests enjoyed snorkeling around the spectacular granite boulders in the area, which is formally recognized as a UNESCO geopark.