Visit Andrea Hirata’s Museum of Words, the Epitome of Laskar Pelangi in Belitung Island. This beautiful Belitung Island situated off the eastern coast of Sumatra was once known only as Billiton, the top producer of tin and tin mining in the world. Unfortunately, with the decline of this commodity, interest in the island gradually fades away.
However, one intriguing book got so popular that it was later made into a movie threw back the spotlight on this island with all its beauty. The book is entitled ‘Laskar Pelangi’ or ‘The Rainbow Troop’ written by Andrea Hirata, a writer born and raised in Belitung. Today, there is a museum named Andrea Hiratas Museum of Words that stands as an inspirational window for all. It is intended to inspire people that it is actually possible to achieve our dreams despite many drawbacks happening into our life just as the novel has taught us.
History of Andrea Hirata’s Museum of Words, the Epitome of Laskar Pelangi
Located on Jalan Laskar Pelangi No. 7, in the town of Gantung, East Belitung, in Bangka Belitung Province, the Museum is in fact the very first and only Museum on Literature in Indonesia. Initiated and established by Andrea Hirata the author himself, the Museum was first built in 2010 and was officially opened for the public in 2012.
The Novel Laskar Pelangi was published in September 2005 and blasted as an instant success. This extraordinary novel even managed to cross geographical and language barriers as it has been translated into English, Malay, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean.
Laskar Pelangi tells us about how a boy grew up within a small and relatively remote island amidst all its limitations and drawbacks yet successfully managed to grip firmly to his dream. Eventually, one day he was able to travel to other parts of the world, which he eventually achieved. In 2008, the novel was made into a movie, and the enchanting sceneries of Belitung Island have been shown off to the rest of the world. The name of Laskar Pelangi even became the name of the islands seaport following the movies spectacular success.
The museum adopts the concept of a replica of Muhammadiyah Gantung Elementary School which was the central setting of the story that Andrea attended as a child. Today, the Museum is located not far from the original Muhammadiyah Gantung Elementary School which became the location of the movie. The construction of the museum is to accomplish Andrea Hiratas promise made when he received profits from the novel. He once stated that he would allocate some part of the profits of the novel to build something that would have endless educational value for Belitung.
Andrea Hirata got the inspiration to establish the Museum of Words when he visited The Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal Missouri, USA. That is the place where he attended the University of Iowa on a scholarship to study literature for seven months.
How to Get to Andrea Hirata’s Museum of Words
You have to take a quite long journey of approximately 11 km from the main city of Tanjung Pandan to Gantung Sub-district. Moreover, you can reach this place in about 2 hours drive. From the airport at Tanjung Pandan, you can directly rent a car.
Nonetheless, if you wish to take the public transportation, there are buses and mini buses available that serve the route of Tanjung Pandan — Gantung. Yet, you should beware that they are infrequent and then operate only from morning to 12:00 PM. Thus, it will be safer and more convenient for you to rent a car, instead.
In short, Andrea Hiratas Museum of Words, the epitome of Laskar Pelangi is surely worth a visit when you happen to be in Belitung Island. It will be great to experience yourself how the main character of the novel actually lives amidst the obstacles existing within the Island. If you have read the novel, this museum will truly connects you into the setting depicted in the story.