Cycling Trip from Balikpapan to Penajam: 7 bikes and a boat!

One of the best things about living in Balikpapan is the stupendous, completely original, I-can’t-believe-I-get-to-do-this-on-a-regular-basis! cycling here. One recent experience was a group ride from Balikpapan’s Kampung Baru (also known as “Water Village”) to Penajam, a village across the Balikpapan Bay, where back roads lead through idyllic little plantations of tapioca, water farms filled with fish,…

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Hash House Harriers in Balikpapan: HASH Mash

For the uninitiated, The Hash House Harriers (A/K/A “Hash”) is an international running group dating back to the late 1930’s when some rowdy British expats in Malaysia decided they needed a way to sweat off their hangovers. Despite these beginnings (or perhaps, because of them), hashes are now going strong around the world, with over…

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Thirty Meters High at Bukit Bangkirai (Balikpapan’s Canopy Bridge)

About a two hour’s drive north of Balikpapan city central lies one of East Kalimantan’s tourist draws: the canopy bridge walk at Bukit Bangkirai. Bukit Bangkirai is actually a park within the rain forest, featuring log cottages for overnight stays, a small restaurant, restrooms, several [overgrown] jungle treks, a questionably maintained swimming pool and, for…

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Skiing in China

When our tour bus pulls into the Panshan Ski Resort at 8:30 in the morning, I peer out the frosty windows, unsure of what to expect. Our “guide” walks down the isle, collects a 300 RMB deposit from each of us — (a surprise because we’ve already paid our admission fee) — then disappears for…

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A Flying Pigeon in the Hand is Worth Two in the Factory

*This article on my experience locating and purchasing a genuine Flying Pigeon bicycle in Tianjin, China was published in JIN Magazine’s January issue, and re-posted on the government’s tourism site, exploringtianjin (dot) com.* Due to word-count limit however, I wasn’t able to provide as much history on Tianjin’s famous Flying Pigeon bicycle as I would have…

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Xi’an, China: Ten Things to See and Do

Xi’an China is probably best known for being the base from which to see China’s famous Terracotta Warriors.  What isn’t as well known is that Xi’an (formerly known as Chang’an) ranks right along with the likes of Rome and Constantinople as one of the 10 Ancient Capitals of the World … and, and … the…

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The Great Wall of China (Badaling Section)

So, we finally did it, the Grand Poobah of many What-To-See-In-China lists: The Great Wall! That serpentine wonder whose image graces practically every Chinese restaurant.  That misty, sprawling feat of human endeavor recognized as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.  That singular, man-made structure that is so magnificent in size and scope…

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Bicycling in Tianjin

Tianjin may have a population of 13.5 million … MILLION! … but it hasn’t lost it’s old-school charm.  I have been told that, prior to 2000, only the very wealthy or very politically connected drove cars.  In a little over ten years’ time, this city has gone from a pedestrian-and-bicycling population to a massively automobile-congested metropolis….

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