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Derawan advice & summary; To the coal-mining town

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large_5550_14691545348115.jpgView of Berau.

Derawan Advice & Summary

The diving is awesome but come with a friend to share the cost of the boat to the best dive sites. One friend is adequate ‘cos with more people, you need a bigger boat and the price so it doesn’t really get cheaper.

It is more of a local getaway and on weekends there might be noisy reunions, team-buildings, church retreats etc. On week days it is very quiet. Also, it is carless but there are some motorbikes even though it takes only 30 minutes to walk around.

While the village “streets” are nicely kept, there is a fair of litter in the waters of Derawan [Derawan-travel-guide-1335019]. Overwater cottages do drain their sewage into the sea the old-fashioned way.large_5550_14691545612929.jpgView of Berau.

Be prepared for monotonous food like fried noodles, fried rice, fried chicken lalapan or grilled fish. This isn’t a well-off community. What you’re buying from them would be a treat for some locals.

Accept that you are going to a place relatively untouristed by foreigners, unlike Bali. You can’t expect a first world experience.


Moving on to the Coal-Mining town

Today I move on from the island of Derawan to the coal-mining town of Tanjung Redeb, but more commonly just referred to as Berau (which is the name of the greater area). I need to overnight there because the flight to Tarakan [Tarakan-travel-guide-870969] leaves in the morning and the boat and car combo to get to the airport doesn’t quite work so early in the morning.large_5550_14691545114617.jpgStalls on the waterfront.

The weather appeared to have turned with the first signs wind and choppiness since I arrived. It was still drizzling at breakfast after the strong dawn downpour. Around 0900 it had dried and calmed sufficiently so I rang for a ojek to take me from my accommodation to the public pier. He was at the clinic and I had to wait for a while till he rang from outside. I went to the office drop off my key and check-out. A young lady staff popped her head out the backroom as I was leaving and asked me to wait as there was a small refund for me. I had sent money from New Zealand and it was easier to send a an approximate amount than an exact IDR amount. She brought out about IDR30K after a short wait while she prepared the paperwork.

At the pier, I managed to get on a boat by myself for IDR100K which is the usual “per person” price (well, perhaps for foreigners), because the captain was from the mainland and wanted to get back. As for the car to Berau, the driver said it was IDR100K per person but after a short wait, he said I could go for IDR150K immediately. As I had no urgency, I said I would wait. It turned out he had a pressing engagement and said we could go immediately for IDR100K with just me. Deja vu!

The two hours went quickly with lots of dangdut and some more wholesome songs. We had a brief stop on the outskirts of Berau for him to look at a car before he dropped me off at the very lovely Palmy Hotel.

It was a short wait for the room so I had lunch in the restaurant. I relaxed briefly before heading down to the gym; it was surprisingly OK for a hotel gym. I managed to get some of remedial exercise programme, which was a nice change from the walking and swimming. The scales suggest that I was now 71kg after lunch and with clothes; whereas recently I was 72kg in the morning without clothes (having lost about 2kg from my South America trip). Strange considering I’ve been on a high carb, high palm oil and fried chicken diet!

I wandered out in the evening. It's a tiny but tidy town. The river had a few big ships and some tugboats pulling barges laden with coal. The riverfront was pleasant with lots of carts/kiosks selling juice/shakes and simple meals. I had an avocado shake (first one this time in Indonesia) and nasi maut (death rice, a fried mix of rice and noodles).

After I ate my meal, I noticed the man brought up river water, presumably to do the dishes. (Fortunately I didn’t get sick). Strangely for the first time on my Kalimantan trip, I had trouble falling asleep till around midnight.


Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Indonesia

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