The name Lemukutan Island, in Sungai Raya District, Bengkayang Regency, West Kalimantan, is no stranger to being a tourist destination. Not only the natural charm, the saga of life that wraps around the island is an attraction worth exploring.
Bengkayang has 12 small island clusters, but only five islands are inhabited. The five islands were recommended by the Regional Government of Bengkayang Regency as tourist destinations namely Lemukutan, Randayan, Kabung, Penata Besar, and Penata Kecil. On average, the island has blue beaches and beautiful coral reefs.
From Pontianak, the capital city of West Kalimantan, it takes about three hours to reach Lemukutan Island by boat. The best time to go to the island is in the morning around 08.00 WIB to 10.00 WIB. After all, the wind gets stronger during the day.
In Lemukutan there are two reliable tourist spots, Melanau Bay Beach and China Bay Beach, with amazing underwater charms. Make sure the time of visit is not in the west wind season, September to December. High waves and erratic weather will thwart planned diving and snorkeling activities.
The Village Head of Lemukutan Island, Datok Ahmad Nizam, is the fifth descendant of the Punggawa who protects the island with a population of around 1,400. This village consists of several hamlets, in the east such as Surau Bay and China Bay, and in the west such as Tanjung Panjang and Teluk Besar.
“During the holiday season, many people come, reaching 400-500 people every week. Weekdays about 100 people on weekends. Guests come from Singkawang, Pontianak, Bengkayang, Sekadau, Sanggau and Landak. Apart from water sports, the tourists also visit Kima Marine Park, which is under the supervision of the Pontianak Coastal and Marine Resources Management Agency (BPSPL).
There is a charming place that is still rarely visited by tourists, about 30 minutes from the village center, by motorbike. It is called a split stone or a Meruhum stone, in Teluk Meruhum hamlet. The view is simply fantastic. The sea water is clear blue, the shadow of the coral reefs below and the white sand are so dominant.
Nizam said that the split stone is a promontory where fishermen fish. When the Sambas Kingdom was in power, Pulau Lemukutan Village was a Kembangan area. The Kingdom of Sambas was the predecessor of the Sultanate of Sambas. In Negara Kertagama it is stated that the kingdom was founded in the 13th century, which at that time was under the Majapahit Kingdom.
This is corroborated in the book The Collapse of the Hindu-Javanese Empire and the Emergence of Islamic Countries in the Archipelago (Slamet 2005). As mentioned, Sambas is located between the shipping lanes from China to Champa to Tuban (port of Majapahit). The leader at that time used the term Ratu. It fits perfectly with Nizam’s explanation that at Tanjung Meruhum, there is a place called the Queen’s Latrine, a niche located between the cape’s rocks. “The place that is slightly in is the Queen’s bathing place when visiting Lemukutan,” he said.
It is believed that Lemukutan Island itself was originally nameless. The relationship between the Kingdom of Sambas and the Kingdom of China is reflected in the local saga. Is a princess from the Kingdom of China, who was affected by a skin disease, her recovery must be by way of exile in the highlands. A sailor named Lay Muk Tan is entrusted with searching for the area in question. The fleet equipped with maids and warriors landed on one part of the island. The place is currently known as Dusun Teluk Cina.
Several Chinese boats came over the years to supply the princess with food and needs. The cargo was unloaded in the area that is now the Gulf Coast of China. One of them, there are lots of bamboo on the top of the hill. Residents believe that the bamboo plants were planted by Lay Muk Tan. Likewise chili, Ferengi or Chinese pumpkin, sugar cane, Chinese Petai, and pepper. It was the name Lay Muk Tan that later became the name of the island.
However, some say that Lemukutan comes from the local language, for rice that failed to harvest so that it becomes ‘Mukut’. Nizam only knows the story of when the kingdom sent his ancestors to set up an observation post on the island. “Panglima Datok Meruhum is my ancestor.”
From his family’s documents, Nizam said Datok Meruhum was commissioned in the 1800s. Datok Meruhum’s latrine was used as a basecamp. On the high part of the headland, a cannon called Meriam Meruhum Anom is placed
The sun will sink below the horizon. Buying, our guide, urged us to hurry. “Someone who has just set foot on the island, cannot be on the rock when the sun sets,” he said.
Residents who enjoy the panoramic beauty of the headland climb the ridge and go home. The desire to breathe the evening air and wait for the sun to set at Tanjung Meruhum has vanished. The sound of seabirds riding the waves crashing against the cliffs could be heard clearly. Accompanying the steps of my return trip with other tourists.
Lonely Friends on the Beautiful Island of Popaya
Saturday afternoon, February 18, 2017. I headed to the building marked Pulau Mas Resort Office, Popaya Raja. It is located in Dunu Village, Monano District, North Gorontalo Regency, Gorontalo. This office belongs to the Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) Region II North Sulawesi.
Behind the office, the Sulawesi sea peeps through the palm trees. On the stretch of white sand, fishing boats moored. Drop anchor, take a break, and sail again. Across, uninhabited islands lie silent. Accompanied by wind, waves, and sea birds. The harmony blended in the silence.
To reach Papaya Island from the beach, only about 20 minutes. The area of the island is 2.42 hectares and around 621.44 meters long. In front of Popaya Island is Raja Island. This is the largest of the three; 5,677.51 meters long with an area of 144.95 hectares. While Pulau Mas is the smallest with an area of 0.75 hectares and a circumference of 397.6 meters. The total area that Ismail Kulupani has to protect alone is 147.94 hectares.
The three islands are conservation areas. The total area was determined in line with the Gorontalo Province spatial and territorial plans, which issued a decree from the Ministry of Forestry (at that time) Number 325 of 2010 concerning the Pulau Mas, Popaya, and Raja Nature Reserves.
The designation of a nature reserve has existed since the Dutch colonial era. The story begins when Raja Island is ruled by a female king named Malio who rules the Kwandang Kingdom. In 1929, a Gorontalo Bosch Arsshetek (Dutch official), A Uno, made a working visit as well as research on the island.
The visit resulted in a recommendation to the Dutch government that Raja Island and its surroundings be designated as a nature reserve area. The Dutch government, through Queen Wilhelmina, designated the three islands as conservation areas through a letter of appointment by the Netherlands Number BG.29. Stbl. 629, dated 17 October 1939.
“Since the Dutch era, there have been people guarding Pulau Mas, Popaya, and Raja. In 1971, I helped the caretaker of this island named Rudin Abusina. In 1987, I was appointed as an honorary worker, then in 1993 I became a Civil Servant of the Forestry Police,” said Ismail.
For about 30 years, Ismail Kulupani has guarded the three islands. Now, he is entering retirement age as a servant of the state. To be precise, in May 2017, he will no longer officially have the status of a ranger. Even so, Ismail Kulupani was determined to keep up.
Raja Island’s topography is indeed hilly with very dense tree cover. In front of him, a beautiful coral reef stretches. However, this island experienced a disaster, in the late 1990s. The long dry season hit. A former fisherman built a fireplace on the beach, splashing it on dry leaves and twigs, causing a massive fire. The best capabilities have been deployed, but the fire burned for two weeks. Ismail Kulupani could only remain silent. The red flame can only be extinguished when it rains.
Mas Popaya Raja Nature Reserve has 27 species of birds and 20 species of plants. The existence of these three islands is indeed very interesting. Throughout 2016, almost every month someone took care of entry permits to stay on Raja Island or Popaya Island. Their only goal is to retire to the island.
The existence of these three islands is being discussed as a downgrade of status. From Nature Reserve to Nature Tourism Park (TWA). Head of BKSDA Conservation Section II of North Sulawesi in Gorontalo, Syamsudin Hadju, said the discourse on downgrading the status was carried out considering the three islands are very suitable to be made into nature conservation areas. Mainly used for tourism and nature recreation.
In North Gorontalo Regency itself, there are several tourist destination points, one of which is famous as Saronde Island. This tour package from Saronde to Mas Papaya and Raja Island is an offer to travelers.
When I asked for Ismail Kulupani’s response regarding the status change discourse, he was silent. According to him, the idea of a Nature Tourism Park is very good. Moreover, it is still under BKSDA supervision. However, it will be dangerous for turtles who come to lay their eggs on Popaya Island. He agrees that the island is designated for special tourism on Raja Island.
By Caucasians, he meant of course white people who came from Europe, America, and Australia. The length of their stay varies. Generally, a week to a month. In recent years, foreign tourists have often made Popaya and Raja Islands their favorite places for solitude, away from the noise of the city.
Towards dusk, I headed for Papaya Island using a fisherman’s Ketinting boat. The boat breaks through the waves. Partly cloudy sky. The white sand of Popaya Island seems to be calling. This is the favorite place for turtles to lay their eggs. Of the seven species of turtles that exist, four species make the three islands, especially Popaya, their egg-laying habitat, namely the hawksbill turtle ( Eretmochelys imbricate ), leatherback turtle ( Dermochelys cardiac), loggerhead turtle ( Caretta caretta ), and green turtle ( Chelonia). Midas).
The existence of turtles on Popaya Island is relatively well maintained. The captivity has now been made. All of this cannot be separated from Ismail Kulupani’s touch. However, he only made efforts to save turtle habitat around the nature reserve in the early 2000s. Armed with a book, he taught himself to make his hatchery, care for the hatchlings or baby turtles, and feed them until the hatchlings are five to six months old, then released.
Unfortunately, the wave season hit Popaya Island. When my feet set foot on the white sand, plastic trash was scattered. This beautiful island bears the burden of the behavior and lifestyle of land people littering. Pieces of wood are also scattered along the coast.
I built a tent and gathered firewood for the fire. To the west, the sky looks less orange. The sun sank behind the horizon. Night slowly, peeking. The seagulls rushed home and landed on the fir tree. The sound of night animals began to be heard. The sea waves continued to shout.
In front of me, the shadow of King’s Island stretches. The distance is not that far from Popaya Island. The silence of the night island created a symphony. This kind of atmosphere is the target of tourists, especially from abroad, who want to be alone.
The watch shows 08.00 WITA at night. A boat sound is heard. The flashlight flashed in the dark. A man got down and walked over to the tent and bonfire I had built. Her name is Anis Kulupani, she is 39 years old. He is the nephew of Ismail Kulupani. Later when the ranger retires, Anis has been prepared as his successor.
On a patrol conducted on 12 February 2017, Anis managed to get 116 turtle eggs. He took him to captivity in the village. If not, then he loses quickly to predators such as monitor lizards, or humans who like to hunt turtle eggs and meat.
We walked along the beach sand and around the island in the dark. Anis occasionally stopped and noticed something. Then continue the journey again. A small flashlight is attached to his head. Occasionally, the machete in his right hand slashed at the branches of an old, fallen tree. We patrolled twice until 10.00 at night, and no turtles and their eggs were found. Anis suspected, the wave was high
The next morning, it was drizzling. I tried snorkeling. Colorful coral fish decorate the reef. I was hoping to see turtles, but none showed up. Traces of fishing bombing left coral dead. In addition, there were several plastic bags stuck.
Towards evening, I packed up to leave Popaya Island. Anis invited using a Ketinting boat. Slowly, the three islands disappeared from my sight, lost in their silence.