Tarakan Things to Do
To be frank, I never thought that a short trip to Tarakan, Indonesia, would be a enjoyable one. Tarakan, only a 40 minute flight from Tawau, Sabah.
I'm not sure if you guys already heard about MASwings' air services has expanded to three international destinations, Kuching-Pontianak, Kota Kinabalu-Brunei and Tawau-Tarakan but I was assigned by my boss to do coverage for the inaugural MASwings flight from Tawau to Tarakan on 15 February.
It was 3D/2N trip together with our deputy minister of transport Datuk Abdul Rahman Bakri, Sabah assistant minister of tourism, culture and environment Datuk Bolkiah, Sabah Tourism Board chairman Datuk Seri Tengku Zainal Adlin Tengku Mahmood, MASwings CEO Datuk Captain Mohd Nawawi Awang and about 50 delegates from Malaysia.
A few days before the trip, I have 'googled' about Tarakan but I did not managed to find anything interesting. It has been etched in my mind that Tarakan is a place for Indonesians who are working in Malaysia to renew their passport before returning back to our country... yada yada yada.
That was my impressions, but as everyone says first impressions are not always right. We are so lucky with the warm welcome and hospitality by the government of Tarakan.
Its own mayor, Bapak Haji Udin Hianggio has arranged a city tour, and I have to admit, I had great fun while at it.
Tarakan is a warm and friendly place, but do not forget at least three people have been killed in the clashes between indigenous Dayak ethnic group and Bugis migrants in September 2010. But don't worry, the two groups involved in the clashes made a peace agreement. It is just a dark history of the city and now they are committed to move on. I FELT VERY SAFE IN TARAKAN.
Since my trip is more to working purpose (standby for any press conference by the ministers), I have to follow their schedule. However, I managed to escape a few hours from the 'formal' arrangement and took the local public transport, very old mini bus (its everywhere) they called 'taxi' and paid 5,000 Rupiah (less than RM2) to look around the city.
I did a bit of shopping, put my things in my room and went for a Bakso (super delicious Indonesian food) and Es Teler (mixed fruits with ice cubes) with my friend, Avila (NST reporter) who also covering the same event.
Next day, our group visited Orchid Gardens Park, Pantai Amal, The Borneo Tarakan University or Universitas Borneo Tarakan, Islamic Centre Baitul Izzah, Pusat Batik Tarakan, had lunch at Restoran Ladang Indah, continue to Mangrove and Bekantan Conservation Area and after that another shopping at Gusher Plaza, about 4 kilometers from our hotel, Swiss Bell Hotel.
We did not managed to go to 'Tugu Perabuan Jepang' that built in 1933. This monument is square equipped with article Kanji and is place of obsequies the dying Japanese corpse.
I consider myself as Indonesian food lover. It is not complete without trying Indonesian food. My recent trip to Tarakan, I really fall in love with the Bakso and Es Teler from Warung Makan Pak Udin, a street food stall located about 10 minutes walk from our hotel, Swiss Bel Hotel.
TARAKAN ORCHID GARDEN
Tarakan Orchid Garden, a place or location of breeding and cultivation of orchids in the city. There are more than 12,000 species of orchids available in the park, which 15 species are the original plant while more than 30 species are hybrid. Most of the flowers are exported to Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and Brunei.
It was very quite and peaceful at the beach, just a perfect way to relax and stay away from a hectic life. According to history, According to history, Pantai Amal have ever become location of venomous encounter at Second World War between Japan armies and Australian army.
MANGROVE AND BEKANTAN CONSERVATION AREA
Mangrove and Bekantan Conservation Area, believed to be the only mangrove forest located in a city center in Indonesia, if not the world. It is situated on Gajah Mada Road, adjacent to downtown Gusher Plaza.
It is home to 45 rare proboscis monkeys (they called Bekantan), 11 species of mangrove, hundreds of black and gray monkeys, otters, rare Bondol eagles and a vast range of other flora and fauna. The location is bigger than what we have in Kota Kinabalu Wetland Centre.
Its location in the heart of the city expedites the learning and research process. The entrance fee to the park is only 5,000 Rupiah for an adult and 3,000 Rupiah for a child. Earnings from ticket sales are set aside for environmental causes.
You can shop for traditional as well as modern items. One of the city's most popular shopper's stop is Gusher Plaza (pronounced guesser plaza), which are selling ready made clothes. I bought something also la... and the other shopping mall that I visited was Grand Tarakan Mall.
Grand Tarakan Mall the biggest one shopping center in Tarakan, nothing special... it is like KK Plaza, but need more improvement. I was expecting for textile shops inside the mall like in Mangga Dua or Tanah Abang in Jakarta, but I did not found any. I prefer Gusher Plaza.
PEOPLE OF TARAKAN
The people of Tarakan are extremely friendly. The public transportation drivers are also very kind. I have randomly asked their fare and everyone of them has offered the same price to go to certain destination. None of them trying to increase their price or cheat.
Not many people in Tarakan can speak English, unless if you ask staffs from hotel. However, most of them are able to read. Just write down in a piece of paper where you wanna go, I am sure they will be more than happy to assist you. Not to forget, mini-vans are everywhere!
After the short trip, I would consider to come back here, but not only in Tarakan but to explore the nearby city or islands. Next trip would be a diving discovery to Sangkalaki, Derawan and Maratua Islands etc... to experience diving with over 50 manta rays as well as hundreds of jelly fish in a fresh water lake. Jelly fish in a fresh water is only two in the world, one in Philippines and the other one in Derawan Island, about three hours boat ride from Tarakan. Interesting, huh?Related to:
- Study Abroad
- Jungle and Rain Forest
- Business Travel