Dazzling Derawan (1): The Cruise Begins

Almost every long weekend, whether it’s in “mainstream” vacation place like Bandung, Puncak, Bali, or to the far east, there’s a 99% chance you’d meet one or more Jakartans wherever you go, swarming tourist attractions and polluting other sides of Indonesia with their “lo-gue” conversations and their tacky mall-fashion clothes.

In mid October, it was no exception. When my plane stopped at Balikpapan from Jakarta for a transit before heading for Tarakan, there was a horde of “lo-gue” passengers filled up the plane’s seats. Later, I discovered that the passengers from Balikpapan were mostly working-class Jakartans who stationed there. Oh God, they’re everywhere! (including me, of course).

At Juwata airport, Tarakan, an Indonesian Air Force bus picked me up along with other groups. According to my guide, there’s almost no travel bus in Tarakan, so when it’s a peak season, he must rent buses from any government’s institution or military which has plenty of them to pick up guests. From the airport, the bus took me with other noisy Jakartans to Tengkayu port to catch a boat to Derawan island.

The trip from Tengkayu to Derawan wasn’t for those with weak stomach. It was a long bumpy ride on the ocean in a semi-open speedboat. I was lucky because I sat on the back, the only stable part of the boat. I was enjoying the ocean’s view while the other passengers on the front seats holding their breath on every bump. After 3.5 hours cruise, the boat was finally reached Derawan island, the sun began to creep down. It was a calm late afternoon.

My guide took me to Mirroliz Pelangi, one of the cottages over the water in Derawan Island. With two other friends, I was placed in a nice air-conditioned room. When I was opening the back door, apparently the room had a balcony overlooking the sea. It was beyond my expectation and I really loved it. I put down my bag and walked to the pier near the cottage, enjoying the calm afternoon until the sun disappeared into the horizon.

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