Beyond Bali


    Explore Balikpapan

      5-2-2018
     

    Explore Balikpapan

    Explore Balikpapan

    The restroom at The Sultan Aji Muhammad Sulaiman International Airport is designed with island vibe.

    Explore Balikpapan

    Explore Balikpapan

    Balikpapan has the second largest Pertamina site, an oil and gasmining company managed by Indonesian government.

    Explore Balikpapan

    Local light bites: grilled bananas with cheese

    Explore Balikpapan

    Steamed and fried mantao
    Explore Balikpapan

    Explore Balikpapan
    The restroom at The Sultan Aji Muhammad Sulaiman International Airport is designed with island vibe.

    Explore Balikpapan

    Explore Balikpapan
    Balikpapan has the second largest Pertamina site, an oil and gasmining company managed by Indonesian government.

    Explore Balikpapan
    Local light bites: grilled bananas with cheese

    Explore Balikpapan
    Steamed and fried mantao

    Join our contributor Taufan Wijaya discovering Balikpapan in East Borneo as a new travel destination...

    Balikpapan in East Borneo may not be a popular destination in Indonesia, yet it offers a charming experience to discover, including delectable traditional cuisine. To get there, visitors can take a flight from several cities in Indonesia and land in the modern Sultan Aji Muhammad Sulaiman International Airport which was so well maintained that the Airport Council International claimed it as the best airport with the best service in Southeast Asia. Of all the facilities at the new airport, it’s the design of the restrooms that have gone viral in social media as it depicts a view of the beach and the ocean, representing the vibe of East Kalimantan.

    Local Experience
    Arriving in Balikpapan, I was instantly reminded of Batam, a city island in Sumatra. These two cities are thoughtfully designed with excellent infrastructure and smooth traffic. As recommended by some local people, I headed to the RM Haur-Gading for my first lunch in the city. The unpretentious dining place is situated behind the Pasar Inpres Kebun Sayur (the Kebun Sayur traditional market). The famous dish here is pepes patin, a fish dish where fish meat is marinated with spices, then wrapped in a banana leaf, grilled and served with sambal. Imansyah, the owner of the food joint, stated that he sells about 100 portion of pepes patin each day. Open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., this place also offers other seafood delights, like prawns, squids, snapper, and more.

    After lunch, I decided to take a walk around the market. The traditional market is pretty interesting with many Dayak souvenirs on offer, from tenun fabrics to accessories and traditional carvings. Here, visitors can also find fish crackers called ‘kuku macan’ (tiger’s nails) – but don’t worry, this light bite is only shaped like the nails of a tiger, and not literally a tiger’s nails. Obviously, this market is a one-stop shopping destination for visitors who are looking for some souvenirs to bring home.

    Afterwards, I hopped onto an angkot (angkutan kota or public transportation) to explore the city. There were only two passengers including myself, and I thought the driver would make several stops to get more passengers but he didn’t. I quietly enjoyed the city view and the breezy wind from the windows. The angkot is pretty reliable and seems to cover the city fairly well. And whenever I felt a bit confused, I had nothing to worry about because the locals were happy to give me information on which route to take. And although the living cost in this mining city is considered high, the angkot rate is really reasonable.

    As the sun started to come down, I headed down to Malawai Beach where young people hang out and families spend their afternoon together. A number of food stalls were lining on the side of the street, offering a variety of local snacks with reasonable prices, from grilled corn to ‘pisang gapit’, a grilled banana dish drizzled with generous caramel and grated cheese – all of them were perfect companions for an easy afternoon by the beach.

    The Mining City
    Balikpapan is known as a mining city with Pertamina (an oil and gas mining company managed by the Indonesian government) operates two mining facilities that produce 60,000 barrels of oil/day in one place and 200,000 barrels/day in another. The processing facility stretches next to a beach where they produce selections of gas, like premium, Pertalite, Pertamax, Solar, LPG and more – the gas production here covers 26 percent of the country’s oil supply.

    This site is the second largest of Pertamina’s after the one in Cilacap in Central Java. The view of this mining facility boasts human technology where pipes are connected to each other with enormous chimneys releasing exhausts. The history of mining in Balikpapan goes way back to colonial time when the Dutch drilled into oil mines on February 10, 1897. The first well was named Mathilda as a collaboration of J.H. Menten and Adams from Samuel & Co, and that was the start of mining industry in Balikpapan. As a memoriam to this history, an ‘oil monument’ is built on Jalan Yos Sudarso, in the Pertamina area.

    A Melting Pot
    A city full of immigrants from Java and Celebes, Balikpapan is a melting pot of a number of ethnicities as many of the newcomers choose to stay and settle down. That’s why the traditions and food are quite diverse – the city is also rich with Chinese-influenced cuisine, which I discovered on my second day.

    I went back to Pasar Inpres Kebun Sayur and found myself at a local coffee shop named Depot Nam Min. The ice coffee paired with assorted baked goods is the perfect companion on a hot day. For dinner, the Depot Simpang Restaurant which is just a stone’s throw away from the coffee shop is famous for its mantou (Chinese buns) and black pepper beef. The mantou is offered in two options; fried or steamed. The texture of the bun is so soft with the right combination of the savory and sweet, and it blends perfectly with the black pepper beef and the gravy. What a delightful meal to end my last night in Balikpapan.

    Perhaps Balikpapan is not a popular travel destination yet, but every person that I encountered during my short visit has spoken lovingly and proudly of their city, regardless whether they were born here or not. This fact alone makes Balikpapan such a special place, not only for them but also for visitors. And yes, I shall come back.


     


     
    Taufan Wijaya

       Contributor : Taufan Wijaya


      Magazine issue > Beyond Bali
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