Samarinda Travel Blog› entry 35 of 56 › view all entries
Samarinda is not a popular place for tourists. Nor is it considered as being significant in the Indonesian psyche. However, this city is quite large and populated. It is the capital of East Kalimantan Province on Borneo. And it is a huge cash cow for Indonesia due to its timber industry. I took a 2-hour bus ride between Balikpapan and Samarinda, and upon arrival, I knew that the difference between the cities was night and day. Whereas Balikpapan was tidy and business-centric, Samarinda had parts of its central area that had dirt roads (which was quite muddy, actually). The Mahakam River, which runs through the city, is the busiest river in Borneo with all of the boat traffic from logging operations upriver and from residents coming in to town. However, Samarinda is not a poor city. The bridge crossing the river is incredibly tall. And I recall being in awe at the size of the city's mosque, to which I was told was going to look small compared to the newer mosque being built. It was huge! And even shopping in town, while walking along the muddy roads past local industry, I noticed a modern, multi-story shopping plaza with KFC and all. I didn't expect it from a city that could easily pass as a riverside market town in the jungle. One claim to fame Samarinda has, however, is their batik cloth-making industries. Check it out.