Location : Kota Tarakan, Kalimantan Utara, Indonesia.
Tarakan is an island and the largest city of the Indonesian province of North Kalimantan. The island city is located in northern Borneo, just across the border from Sabah, Malaysia.
This particular visit to Tarakan was our third over several years. We had the whole morning free before the delegates were to be picked up from the hotel for the lunch gathering as well as a briefing of what to expect for the next 3 days. So we randomly picked Mulawarman Road to stroll along in order to discover more of Tarakan city on foot.
Along the way, we passed by the Grapari Telkomsel office and just as well we dropped in to top up our Simpati phone card credit in anticipation of lots of photos and videos to be uploaded to our social media channels.
After that was done with, we continued our walk until we reached a point where we saw more greens than concrete we decided to turn back. We hailed an ‘Angkot’ van which happened to be passing by just to try this most popular taxi service in Indonesia. It maybe the cheapest form of land transport for locals but not necessary for tourist looking passengers like us. We could have got it cheaper using Grab. Anyway, just for the fun of it.
So we were picked up on time from the hotel as promised by organiser Ricky and driven to the Malabar Café at Martadinata Road. Perfect choice for lunch, ice-breaking and briefing.
Unique interior decors especially the antique door panels lining the ceiling and a lush Javanese garden to match.
There were delegates from Singapore, Sabah, Jakarta, Sarawak and Nunukan. After the food and briefing conducted by tour leader Mr Ricky we headed straight to the pier for the 3hr boat ride to Derawan where we would stay over for 2 nights and short visits to Kakaban, Maratua and Sangalaki islands.
One little but very memorable incident while nearing Derawan island was when the boat’s bottom hit some rocks and getting stuck there for about an hour as we waited for the tide to rise. We tried off loading passengers, pushing, pulling and spinning but it just would not budge.
The buoyancy finally came and lifted us out of the disaster before shooting to the delayed welcoming ceremony.
The sunlight was quickly failing and we walked for 20 minutes to the Syagi Café for dinner. I was amazed by the big change here compared to 2015 when I first visited. It was so crowded and touristic looking in 2019. Well, good for the local Bajaus.
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Also please check out our posts on our Fam Trip Journey: