Balikpapan Travel Blog› entry 34 of 56 › view all entries
Balikpapan is billed as a city with many expatriates living here. Well, I only saw one foreigner the entire time I was here. So maybe they just don't come into town very often? What I did notice is that Balikpapan, like most cities in Borneo, is much cleaner than cities in Java or Sumatra. Balikpapan marked the first time I had been to Borneo, and it is probably the worst example of what a tourist might expect to find when coming to this huge jungle island. The mainstay of the city's economy comes from oil refineries. And Indonesia's Pertamina oil refinery complex's presence is easily seen when you stand near the waterfront of the city. The ocean water is a very sick shade of mustard. I can understand how lakes or rivers can quickly change color with industrial pollutants...but this was the open ocean! Yikes! Swimming was out of the question. But if you have to rely on the city itself for your entertainment, you might not stay too long either. As a major air hub in Borneo, Balikpapan makes a great place to arrive on the island and make plans to head up to Samarinda, down to Banjarmasin, or somewhere upriver.