Hotel Gading Kencana
Good sleeping...even with shared bath (clean), and luckily the room had a small window, Bon's preference - becoming a requirement! We saw no good places to eat last night for breakfast - only the KFC - so we headed to the airport. The check in desk guy did the same drill as immigration "Do you have onward flight? Where are you going?". etc. It's almost on the verge of interrogation, no smiles and very insistent! I remain silent, of course, since these things get to me easily since I can't seem to step out of my preoccupation with a police state mentality. I know if I react negatively which seems to be a predisposition of mine in these circumstances, I will only provoke them more as has happened in the past! "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." JJ
Flew to Balikpapan...then...
Bus to Samarinda where we got ripped off by the taxi driver to the hotel. The LP recommended a place called Hotel Gelora, turned out to be a dive...not at all clean and very run down. We walked from there 3-4 blocks to Hotel Fading Kencana also in LP, but the restaurant described in LP is closed - no food here. Checked in anyway...when they say breakfast included it's toast, jam, and tea!
Once again I'm amazed that smoking is permitted everywhere including on buses! This country is full of smokers! I've even seen guys speeding down the street on their motor bikes smoking!! By the way, motor bikes are just as numerous here as in Bangkok, and just as crazy, maybe more so since I saw kids who couldn't be more than 14 driving them!
After a lot of investigation, checking on transport out of Samarinda up the Sungai Mahakam river by boat and/or bus, Bon & I found that the only way to do it independent from an expensive tour, was to dedicate at least 3-4 days to arrive at Tanjung Isuy. The issues are cost, accommodations, and food...all unknowns. At this point, a river trip which doesn't hold much but 'tourist' presentations for entertaining visitors does not seem to be worth the cost in days spent and the real possibility of spending lots more $$ than we're willing to spend for such an experience. We were told that to do just a 2 hour day trip up the river we'd need to catch an early boat (up at 5am). It would also mean returning via boat and/or bus in a day. It would also mean another night in Hotel Gading Kencana, which at $30 US+, the value just didn't seem worth even a day trip.
We had our toast and tea in our room, caught an angkot (name for small van taxis on designated routes - helpful desk guy gave us the info) to the bus terminal, and headed back to Balikpapan.
In Balikpapan we took a taxi to Gelora Equatorial Travel (can't remember if it was mentioned in LP or we just saw it earlier) where they very nicely assisted us in purchasing air tickets to Bali (Denpasar). Bon said she'd checked prices a week ago and these folks saved us +/- $30 US from what tickets were on Lion Air at that time! We took an angkot to LP suggested Hotel Aida for a nice room and then checked out the Plaza Mall hoping to find an internet - found none!
Bon believes it's similar to the US in that most well off Indonesians now have a tablet/laptop or a smartphone - the reason for all the Wifi spots! Whatever the reason, internet for public consumption is scarce here so far! I miss my tablet even more as I get further behind in updating entries in MTJ.
(Note aside now 5/18/13: I'm just now in Missoula, getting my hand written entries into my tablet!!)
Also very irritating is the amount of smoking allowed on buses, in taxis, etc.! This is the only country we've visited which allows it so universally - nearly all males smoke! What does the Koran say about this? I suppose Mohammed smoked too like Mao!!