Indonesia, Balikpapan…somewhere in the middle

Did I mention in previous post that I miss China. Now I miss it more. Long story short, we left Kuala lumpur and after 3h flight landed in…Balikpapan. Yes, you read it right. I’ve never hear about this place before, although to get to Bali, its happened to be cheapest thru this small city and after that one more on our way to Bali- Surabaya. We thought that its even good and we can see more of Indonesia. Beaten paths are not always so excited and we avoided flight thru Jakarta due to flood happened there two weeks before. Anyway we are here in Balikpapan and after obtaining our visas on arrival-25$ each or 250000 idr. Ok, we have slightly problem with converting this currency to Chinese RMB, finally figured it out 1$ equal to 10000idr which means 1550 idr. We thought we got it but, couldn’t be more wrong, we still have in mind, 7000idr for water? Do they cheat on us?
Currency here is crazy but anyway, after paying for visa, we spent around 1h to immigration. Immigration officer nicely pasted visa into my passport and we went thru luggage check up. On the airplane flight attendant inform s that we don’t have to fill out declaration form if we don’t have anything to declare. She was wrong. We had to and because we didn’t have it and also maybe because we were last ones they decided to check our luggage. I’ve got scared a little, not like I carry drugs or something but I read those stupid stories, how old British woman is in ten jail coz somebody ask her to carry marihuana. Anyway after check all and everything in our bags they let us go. I like china though. They don’t do that, sometimes after immigrations they will check your luggage, especially when you are flying form Moscow;) but they don’t go inside your luggage. But anyway Asia is ok if it comes to airport immigration. They don’t ask you to take off your shoes, you don’t need to take out your liquids. There is not so much people in the line. In China they don’t ask you why you are here, where you are staying etc. simple, easy.
We are here in Balikpapan. We wanted to take some bus to city center but could find any and had no choice. Taxis are cheap. Trip to the city center, don’t get scared-45000 idr- 5$. Very nice.
Taxi driver dropped us off next to the shopping mall, and guess what? This small city has even Starbucks. Ok, but we need to find hotel. Here it is, beautiful big, 4 stars hotel. Price 500000idr, it took a while to calculate but yes price is nice. Lets take it. After paying we needed to take lift for employees as for guest was broken. It’s ok but when we get to the floor, no it cannot be true, carpet, doors disaster, maybe room will be good. Nope, smell like cigarettes, old furnitures, disgusting. We went down stairs , R throw the key on the counter and said that we are not staying and want our money back, how they get those 4 stars anyways?
Surprising but they’ve give our money back. Lesson learnt, never ever trust to the hotels stars in Asia. Here hotels can have 5 starts but standard is usually really bad. Go with franchisers, in which you can trust. Those are usually cheaper than in Europe and standard is the same like in Europe.
After living our stuff we went to the city. The thing surprised us, drive thru ATM. Ok, I used them in States, but never ever seen them in Poland or even in China and here we go another shock in Balikpapan.
Street stalls. Yeap, we needed to try local food. The problem was, nobody can speak English, we try to show, point explain. Nothing worked out. Finally we left. Situation repeat from china. People stare, people don’t speak English. I think it’s normal for small cities. People stare coz its not common for small cities to have foreigners, people don’t speak English, because they don’t need it. Different in Kuala Lumpur, everybody could speak English, but 60km away, at airport for cheap airlines, people don’t speak English! We had problem even in ordering food. China is not so different in this point.
Ok, but lets try to have some local food. We saw that nice restaurant in the corner. It was simple dining with local food. Waitress couldn’t speak English as well but they had at least menu in English so we just pointed what we want. Food what amazing. Served really nice, like in nice restaurant and taste- awesome. And at the end, we paid, 50000idr- 5 $. Even in China in the cheapest stall on the street you wouldn’t find food so cheap and most important, so good!
Indonesia I love you!

What to say I love you Indonesia.

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Chinatown in Malaysia

It’s 2 in the morning and we are landing at the Malaysian airport. This Spring Festival we decided to spend in Malaysia and Indonesia. I would love to be by that time in China but it was chance for us to go and travel.
So here we are in Malaysia, its night it’s warm and its busy. I’ve never seen airport full of people as I saw now. Restaurants open, people are sleeping everywhere or waiting till the morning to take a bus to hotel or take a flight early morning. We also, decide to wait at the airport before we will go to the hotel and do check in. We stayed there for 3h and afterwards took air asia bus to the city. We were lucky and they didn’t ask us to pay. Our hotel, located in china town, didn’t have any problems for early check in. Uffff. Actually for almost 6h we were sleeping. Then we went to see what city has to offer. There is free bus which goes to different part of city also from china town.
It’s called “go kl”. This way we went do butik bintang- the commercial center of kl.
Malaysia is Muslim country so you will feel the difference between China and Malaysia. In china Muslim Chinese don’t dress clothes like for example women here. In Malaysia the women cover all the body including face or only face is uncover. In china usually Muslim Chinese women cover body but by wearing regular clothes and of course covers the head.
Also in Malaysia you will find trains divided by coaches only for women and coeducational one.
We’ve tried to find some Malaysia restaurant but its so difficult and Malaysia food is actually Indian food or Chinese food or even mix of both those kinds. There is a lot of indians and Chinese in this country, so actually I don’t know how Malaysians look like.
As I said we are staying in china town, yes we came from chin to stay in china town in Malaysia. They say that Kuala Lumpur and china town here never sleeps. Well actually stalls after 11 pm are closed and dinings the same. But china town is interesting on its own. It looks like china but smaller. There is a lot of fakes and you can do nice shopping here for cheap clothes and accessories.
In comparing to china, Malaysia is expensive. The hotels are more expensive, food is more expensive and actually everything is more expensive. But for western people, ok I’m from Europe but live in China for a while already that I can say China is cheaper but Thailand the cheapest.
Today we went to see batu caves. It takes around 30 minutes from china town and only 1 myr.
Batu caves is really nice spot to go out of the city. You need to climb 250 steps to get there and it would be nicer view to see if its cleaner but monkeys just make big trash dump with this place. One monkey actually attacked our backpack and took out can of red bull. When we’ve done we decide to taste South Indian food which is vegetarian and really tasty.

Its one day left here in Kuala Lumpur but so far I like mix of the culture here, and I always have sympathy to the Muslim countries which I adore. But Malaysia is not only Muslim country, its country full of indians, Chinese, whites, and many other who live here, travel here or just stay for sometime. Everybody can speak English here, totally different than in China. Maybe because its mo touristic place. In china you won’t find so many tourist and you won’t find people speak English. People don’t look at you or stare at you because sure here they see a lot of tourists.
Also compare. To China people here are so nice, helpful and smile at you when they are helping you. The most positive people I’ve ever seen so far.
But be honest I miss a little my China.