A Visit to Balikpapan

I was leaving Jakarta reluctantly. I was not really excited about this business trip because I thought things would be very hard and I had no idea at all about the construction culture in Balikpapan. However, it’s gonna be my very first time visiting the land of Borneo (Kalimantan), and I was with my college best friend slash backpacker partner slash working partner. I might be nervous, but I didn’t lose the excitement.

The worry of “what if things go wrong and I am in charge for this?” lingered in my mind no matter how hard I tried to get rid of it. But with my best friend with me, I got the best of support.

Sepinggan Int’l Airport

We arrived at around 10 in the morning in Sepinggan International Airport, Balikpapan, East Kalimantan. I heard that this city was lovely and when the airport taxi (Rp 45,000,- one drop) drove us to the city…I finally could tell: yes, this city was lovely. It’s a metropolitant city, but it’s clean, neat, friendly in many ways, cheap meals, good public transport system, the people were nice, more Indonesian atmosphere than local atmosphere –means residents were mostly not from Balikapapan nor Borneo Island but from more various origins, and the sea is pretty close to the street. Balikpapan City sits on a hilly coastal area.

We stayed 5 days 4 nights here, unfortunately for work. The hotel we stayed at was Zurich Hotel, on Jalan Jendral Sudirman, just across the street from Balikpapan Super Block, a brand new shopping block in the city.

It was my favorite pedestrian path, around the angkot (local public transport) terminal. Don’t you see it was very comfortable, clean and protected from the sun? I wish Jakarta had more of this pedestrian-friendly trotoir!

This area is on the city center where they had government offices, public parks and a football yard. I love this street that I wished Jakarta had such a friendly street. The street had car lines and also bike line, good pedestrian path, sewers, and some trees for shading…this is what a city street should be.

You cannot cross the street anywhere you like in here. Use the proper street crossing area, please…otherwise you’ll get fined.

Even angkot had a good conscience for cleanliness 🙂

Balikpapan is known for its oil mining. You can see many local and foreign workers around here. It even had a street named Jalan Minyak (Oil Street) where you can see the oil storage, mining offices (Pertamina and Total EP) and their housing complex were also located here.

You may not see it in the picture above. But going down this road, you can see through the beautiful sea down there… This city pretty much reminded me of Hobart in Tasmania Island. It’s small, but lovely.

Whenever you come visiting Balikpapan, don’t forget to visit this market, Pasar Kebun Sayur. It’s a good place to buy souvenirs which are mostly craft works. I bought some accessories like natural stone bracelets and brooches, and also sarongs for my father and brother. They were sold for very affordable prices. And if you’re hungry, just go straight to the back of the street and then you’ll find a little restaurant with many smokes and customers. You can eat good taste with good price seafood there. You’ll find a gigantic delicious prawn here, not lobster…it’s a prawn but as big as twice your fist.

Balikpapan is worth visiting: good city, good citizens, good foods…you will just have a very good time here, as I did.


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