Next Stop BORNEO!

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Exciting news here- we’re getting started with our holiday travel early with a weekend trip to Balikpapan, Kalimantan on Borneo Island!  Joel wanted a little time away since he missed out on Singapore so we started looking up cheap direct flights for a Friday to Sunday lazy beach weekend.  Balikpapan checked all the boxes, not to mention Joel has always dreamed of going to Borneo.

Balikpapan is on the eastern coast so miles away from the forest fires that made headlines this fall.  It’s an oil city on the coast that is said to have still have a nice beach area.  Being a short trip we probably won’t make it to the crocodile farm or orangutan sanctuary but we’re still excited to finally make it to the exotic and enchanting island of Borneo!

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It’s Singapore time!

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Hello friends!  I’ve been a little MIA for a bit and unfortunately it’s because I was sick yet again.  Long story short- more bacteria in my system, another hospital visit and now finally feeling healthy and peppy again.  My sickness forced me to push my scheduled trip back a week but I made it out of the country on Monday just before my visa expired !

I stayed in Chinatown because it was central to all my visa errands which I got done first thing on my first day- go me!   Chinatown was perfect for the solo traveler- block after block of hole in the wall food stalls and tiny restaurants and bars.  Not having much time for sightseeing, I kept my Chinatown antics to just eating and sleeping, but I did swing by the colossal Sri Mariamman Temple, apparently the city’s oldest Hindu temple.  But being on the hunt for coffee and breakfast meant I couldn’t stay for service, only stopped long enough to snap a couple photos.

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Second on my agenda was Christmas shopping!  I had a long socks and underwear list so I looked for the closest Uniqlo.  I found one in Bugis Mall which is a five story mall that is connected by sky bridge to another giant mall- perfect!  Joel had recommended Arab Street to me for some more boutiquey, hip shopping so I dropped my mall bags and headed that way for browsing and dinner.

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The Arab Street area was indeed brimming with shops and restaurants. The stores ranged from trendy vintage spots to custom perfumes bottlers to persian rug joints to clothing stores selling traditional Muslim dresses and hijabs to stark, modern boutiques with trendy accessories.

There were so many Mediterranean restaurants I was sad that I had to choose just one place to eat!  You never know how much you’ll miss hummus until there’s no hummus.  I ended up at a Turkish place eating juicy, roasted chicken over rice while enjoying a pretty grandiose view of Sultan Mosque. 

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On Wednesday I flew out at 1:40 (direct flight- thanks Air Asia!) so I had the morning to take a stroll down Clark Quay Waterfront.  The colorful shutters and buildings along the waterfront were so dang cute!   Clark-Quay-color-shutters

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It was too early for any of the touristy spots to be open which made for a nice, quiet morning stroll.  The trees along the walkways were done up with Christmas lights and the office buildings had towering fake trees with ornaments.  There’s still a disconnect in my brain with this weather and the holiday season.  I can’t wrap my head around a 90 degree Christmas, but nonetheless the lights and trees were a good, festive push in the holiday direction.

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Sadly I didn’t make it to the Marina Bay Sands complex.  Photos from the SkyPark on top is definitely on my to do list for my next Singapore trip.  Being here only Monday night through Wednesday afternoon was just too short to see it all!  Living in the third world country like Indonesia means that you travel to places like Singapore for your higher end goods and services so trips are most often filled with errands, doctors and shopping lists.  Joel and I want to carve out some time next year to get here for some relaxation but with so many exotic places to travel our dance cards are looking pretty full.

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The excitement from my trip must have been contagious because by the time I got home Wednesday night Joel and I were already planning our next getaway!

Weekend Getaway at Balemong Resort

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Tropical resorts are not what comes to my mind for Halloween weekend, but costumes and trick-or-treating aren’t really a thing in Indonesia.  Halloween is Joel’s favorite holiday so I thought a little getaway might cheer him up and Balemong Resort really delivered.

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The structures and decor at Balemong are traditional Javanese- intricately caved wood and joglo roofs.  We found the resort just browsing through Google maps and there were not a ton of photos or info online.  I’ll definitely be reviewing them online and adding some more photos to their page on Trip Advisor because they deserve it.

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The resort is located only about 20 minutes south of where we live in a town called Ungaran.  Because we’ve been getting around via taxi, we haven’t ventured outside the city so this was my first up close and personal view of Indonesian rice paddies.  They look so peaceful, but the moisture of the paddies means mosquitos, tons and tons of mosquitos!  Something about my body chemistry just beckons mosquito bites.  They don’t seem to bother Joel as much which is really unfair.  I feel like they should split their time evenly between both of us.  But you can’t reason with mosquitos so I just suck it up and wear lots of repellent.

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All of the walkways have different mosaic patterns.  We took lots of walks around the grounds just exploring the different buildings and checking out the vegetation.  Good sidewalks and walking paths are something that I really miss about life in the US so I tried to spend as much time as I could walking around and enjoying the cleanliness and serenity of the resort.  Of course we’d break up our walks by heading back to our villa to enjoy some quality time with our air conditioner.

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