Snorkeling Bunaken Island

Bunaken Island, just one hour by boat off the coast of Indonesia’s North Sulawesi city of Manado, is touted as one of the world’s top-ten dive spots. I also discovered while researching our weekend getaway destination, that, with some exceptions, most “resorts” on Bunaken cater solely to divers (as opposed to land-lubbers or even snorkelers) and as…

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Cycling the Appian Way

My earlier post about the holy month where we currently live got me thinking of my own favorite time of year: Christmas! And though I am not Catholic, I especially love the way Catholics celebrate Christmas until Epiphany, January 6. Because otherwise, it’s kind of a bummer, right? There’s all this to-do leading up to…

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Seven Ways to Embarrass Yourself in Bahasa Indonesia

After living in a foreign place for a while, perhaps one tends to forget how many painful exchanges have been inflicted upon the ever-patient native speaker, all for the sake of acquiring whole wheat flour or topping up one’s mobile phone credit. And for whatever reason, no matter what language you are trying to speak in…

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Ramadan, Balikpapan-style

Balikpapan, the city in Indonesian Borneo, where Sam and I currently live, lies just 88 miles south of the equator. And today, June 21, marks the Winter Solstice for us and the Summer Solstice for those living north of the equator. It also happens to be a few days into the Muslim holy month of Ramadan…

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A day at Manggar Beach, Kalimantan Indonesia (East Borneo)

Manggar Beach lies about 21 kilometers east of downtown Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, and though it isn’t even close to the white sand and crystal blue waters of one’s dreams, it’s got something else to offer that’s completely unique. Try visiting on a Sunday afternoon when bizarro homemade, self-propelled paragliders weave treacherously between picnicking families, girls…

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Kuala Lumpur on a budget: tips, side trips and street food

Kuala Lumpur (“KL” to most) is Malaysia’s shiny, cosmopolitan capital, probably most known for the Petronas Towers (the world’s tallest twin towers) that shoot 451 meters into the sky. This town has about everything a visitor could want: history, activities, universities, museums, a bustling economy, a vibrant nightlife, good public transportation, tons of hospitals (should you…

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Pasar Klandasan, Balikpapan’s Awesome Fresh Market

This post is dedicated to Pasar Klandasan, a fresh market here in Balikpapan that I frequent about once a week. Balikpapan is flush with large fresh markets (called “pasar” in Bahasa Indonesian), especially in the old town area of Kampung Baru and Kebun Sayur, where Blue Sky Hotel stands prominent, or along the ocean-front drive…

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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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