East Borneo; Take Me Back There!



The only reason why I only start to write about this trip now is because.... I miss Derawan and Maratua so much. *banging head in the Newsroom*

My friends and I went to East Borneo at the end of March this year. It was a big trip, well at least for us, because we decided to stay for 10 days, and without joining any travel agents/open trips/etc.

At first we only planned for Derawan and Maratua, but my trip partner this time asked me to visit and spend more time at Balikpapan. A friend of his lives there for work. I always wanted to visit Derawan and Maratua, but Balikpapan? I agreed to expand the itinerary to Balikpapan for 6 days but I expected nothing that time.

But now, after all that has happened, I get to say that I like Balikpapan. It's like life is much simpler there. The city quietly grows, it has its own rhythm. Well, beautiful things don't ask for attention, they say.

During our time at Balikpapan, we took some road trips. The first one was to Samarinda, 3 hours driving to the north. We visited Pampang Village, the famous Kampung Dayak.

While driving back to Balikpapan, we decided to stop for sunset near Mahakam River.

Another roadtrip we took was to Bangkirai Hill. At first, I thought it would be a simple trip. With Google Maps on the phone, we were so ready to go.

Turned out, we got lost. In the middle of the hill, coal mine around us, without cell reception, and an almost empty fuel tank.

But with help from the local people, we eventually got our way.

The third roadtrip was supposedly ended up at mangrove forest. But yeah, we got lost, again. *standing ovation*

This time we didn't get the chance to visit the forest (because we took total 80km for nothing; almost reached Kutai Kartanegara!). At the end of the day, we visited Beach House, a local cafe near our place, to enjoy the sunset (which turned out the cafe was not a sunset spot, hahahaha). We had a lot of fun tho, taking pictures and talking about how excited we were because in two days, we would fly to Berau and... Derawan.

The sixth day; the morning rush! Lack of sleep, but extremely excited for Derawan. The flight was nice. We safely landed on Kalimarau Airport, got picked up by our driver, took 3 hours roadtrip to Tanjung Batu, then 1,5 hours crossing the sea (got bonus: greeted by the friendly dolphins), and finally.... Maratua. Our first stop.

The next morning we went snorkeling and free-diving near Maratua and then moved to Kakaban to greet the cutest and most friendly jellyfish.

East Borneo; Take Me Back There!-Derawan-Adventure-Beach-Diving and Snorkeling-lulalen

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After that, we headed to near Sangalaki and met the majestic Manta Ray.

And of course, Derawan.

The eighth day was about snorkeling near the Derawan Dive Resort jetty and visited the Gusung Island. I was so happy to be there.

And our third sunset at Derawan was so beautiful, so perfect.

Post-vacation blues, you ask? Of course. It even didn't have to end yet I was already trying so hard not to cry. The days were blissful and all the things in Jakarta felt so unreal. Like, I had my life there I didn't want to go back!

But here I am, typing the story from my bed in, of course, Jakarta. Five months have passed. Sometimes I forget about the trip, but universe has its funny ways to remind me about Derawan, Balikpapan, and everything around them. I miss it so bad. I miss the beaches, sands, blue skies, and surely the majestic sunsets. I miss East Borneo.

Or is it because the song I was listening while writing the story? Mat Kearney - All I Need after midnight is never a good idea. I should know that.

But who cares it's real or not,.. I know that I have to go back there one day. Meanwhile, all I can do is just replaying our video over and over again.

Sorry for the shaky footage and cropped texts, a newbie here (who edited it in the almost-dawn-middle-of-the-night at a random mart somewhere near Blok M). But despite all of it, I hope you would enjoy it, like I enjoyed every second passed in East Borneo.

I'm not a backpacker, nor a traveler. I just like to visit places, I like to travel while I still can, because every place I visit has its unique way to teach, to humbling me.


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