Location : Kota Balikpapan, Kalimantan Timur, Indonesia.
Balikpapan the ‘Oil City’ of Indonesian is more famous for its oil, gas and coal rather than tourism although tourism is slowly gaining ground. This city with a population of about 700,000 is located on the east coast facing the Makassar Strait.
As we did not have the time to survey Balikpapan when we flew in, we decided to spend the night before flying off the next day. Guntur volunteered to drive us to Balikpapan and to give us a city tour too. He made sure we had another round of the best tofu in the world by making a stop at the Tahu Sumedang outlet at the half way point to Balikpapan. 2 Tahu Sumedang outlets face each other from both sides of the road, business must be good.
Upon arriving at Balikpapan, Guntur immediately dropped us off at the Pasar Inpres Kebun Sayur. We did more shopping here than in Samarinda because of better choices. Despite its name, which means Vegetable garden, Kebun Sayur is, in fact, the center for gems, handicrafts and colourful clothings. Here you will find shops selling diamonds, jades, gold, silver and others precious and semi precious stones and metals. Gems are said to be cheaper here than elsewhere in Indonesia. You can also find special Dayak handicrafts sold here as souvenirs. Check out the unique beadworks here.
Next stop was lunch at the waterfront. Awesome view of the sea from the cafe.
After the city tour we considered Balikpapan one of the nicest and more orderly compared to the other densely populated cities of Indonesia. Traffic was ok. Later in the afternoon we managed a 2hr stroll to catch more of Balikpapan.
For dinner we took a taxi to a wonderful restaurant by the sea, a must try Ocean’s Curry House.
Not a huge airport but interesting. We didn’t mind passing 2 hours there sampling local food. Prices of taxis, like any modern airports, are predetermined by destinations. So no worries about being ripped off.
11 days of unbelievable tour of Kalimantan Timur all thanks to our host Guntur’s recommendations. We came and fulfilled a decade long dream, a dream to see first hand of the Dayak culture in Kalimantan Timur – the authentic living museum. We pray that industrialisation may not destroy all this and that the Indonesian government put in more efforts to preserve it. Terima kasih.
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