I need to admit that this is quite a hard-core vacation, not because i planned it that way. But because Em family’s kindness. They really want us to see Bontang and its surrounding in many ways. Beach and island, Checked! Forth day was the time for the tropical rain forest.
We went to Kutai National Park, hoping that we will see wild orangutans. This is not Orangutan conservation, but a pure rainforest. I did hiking a lot when i was a student, so its like turning back that time. I miss this activity very much. If i am not mistaken, this is a 4-5 km track with uphill and downhill path. Along the journey there are a few rivers. The only way to across these rivers is using wooden-rope bridge. I felt a bit tense when i walked across the bridge. If i miss the stepping wood, i may end up in the hole between two wooden step and fell down to the river. With my less-skilled swimming, blurry eyes, and the current of the river, falling down didn’t seem like a good idea at all. Very fortunate, i was able to cross those bridge without any hassle. And it was fun, too!
In the middle of the hiking, one of the participant was down due to low blood pressure (its not me!). Therefore, we need to walked back. It was a great experience and i wish i can do it again. Of course, with my glasses or contacts on. In the group, there was six of us. There was four mid 20s and two mid 50s. It might sounds cliche, but all the 20s was beaten by the 50s. Their ‘sport’ was running into woods, literally. They usually did 10 km in each run. And one of them is Em’s father. And for your information, Em is belong to the 20s group, but she did this with her high heels flip flop. Shocking? Me, too.
Even though all of us was tired, we still went out at night. It was to Em family’s favourite juice stall. We also plan to meet one of the “dududers.” Just a simple introduction, when i moved to Jakarta, i was introduced to my best friend’s college friends, and they call themselves as “dududers.” There are seven of them. I met six of them in different occasions in Jakarta. This night i met the 7th person and also his future wife. Lots of story shared, including how all of them met. This was started from 7 years ago. Maybe one day, i will them in my story. Who knows? :’)
Fifth day was 31st December 2014. New Year Eve was coming. We followed Em family’s tradition to go to Samarinda where most of Em’s mother relative live. We woke up a bit late on 10 AM and straightly had breakfast. Not a light one, but a full typical Indonesian breakfast with rice and its toppings. After that, we didn’t waste any time and took off to Samarinda. After one hour drive from Bontang, we stopped over in a rest area. In my heart, i was surprised, what? another meal? Indeed, it was lunch time. But my stomach was full with breakfast and i couldn’t take more food in. After convinced the family, i only ate boiled sweetcorn and hot tea. Okay, another two hour to go. Em, her boyfriend, and I went to sleep in the car, or at least half sleep. But, apparently, in the middle of the journey, we stopped again. Guess what? This time was for durians. Durian is a spikey fruit that popular in Indonesia and Thailand. There is only two choices, love it or hate it. This stop was great because most of us love it. Still, i need to find extra empty compartment in my stomach. Believe me, it wasn’t easy. :’)
We arrived in Samarinda in the evening. The member of the family straightly went to the barbecue preparation. There were plenty of food all night. The family also started a new tradition this year, Gift Exchange. I bought a set of Monopoly and i got a set of pillowcase (I think..) Unfortunately, i accidentally left it in Samarinda. But, Em’s sister promise that she will send it to Jakarta. Thank you!
The night was ended with New Year firework, lots of it. We lighten up ours and we went to the street to enjoy other’s firework.
Sixth day was New Year in 2015. The initial plan was to spend this day in Samarinda. Whether just circling the city, tasting its culinary, or even going to some movies. Plan is always a plan. When it came to the execution, we packed our bags to Balikpapan. We arrived there in the evening and had a good dinner.
Seventh day was the day we need to go back to Jakarta. In the morning, we went to a breakfast place that served various Balikpapan’s local breakfast, like vegetable rice cake, yellow rice, Soto Banjar, etc. I ordered a vegetable rice cake or “Lontong Sayur”. Its a traditional dish of Indonesia that you can find easily. However, usually each province has its own style and taste. And i was curious about the Balikpapan version of it. The taste is good, but still my home town’s version is the best for me. We also went to snack store to buy “tiger claws” or “kuku macan” in Indonesian. The name shows the shape of the snack, like a claw of the tiger. In the afternoon, we went to the airport. Only three of us went to Jakarta, but there was two full cars of thirteen people that accompanied us to the airport. Oh!
It was great seven days holiday. Not only because it was cheap (i literally only pay for the plane ticket), but because of the adventures and the people. I met lots of Em’s family. If i count it, we travelled with more than 25 people in total for all the destinations. I had no idea on how this holiday will be before i departed. I even almost forgot about the date. But it turned out GREAT. It was a complete getaway. The beach, rainforest, fireworks, culinary experience, and the chance for being local were perfect. If i need to sum it up into three words, it was refreshing, wild, and fun.
Last but not least, i would like to say thank you to Em and her family. Thank you for welcoming us, thank you for the place, the food, the water, and the family-ness! I am looking forward to meet you in next opportunity. :’)