Life Story

The Traveler’s Diary : Derawan Island, Borneo

So, 2014 has been a year of travelling for me. I went to Surabaya, Derawan Island (Borneo), Belitung Island, Bangka Island (Sumatra), Bali (again) and Makassar (Sulawesi). Yes, I went all over the main islands in Indonesia, except Papua (soon baby, soon). Each and every island has its own beauty and ofcourse, wonderful beaches! I love beach, though being in a tropical country means the sunburn effect would be worse than ever.

Lets start the story of 4 days/3 nights at Derawan Island, Borneo.

1-4 May 2014

Day 1

We departed from Soekarno-Hatta International Airports in the morning around 9 am. It’s best to depart as early as possible, since we have to catch the ferry boat before 1 pm. Our flight went for a 45 minutes transit in Balikpapan, then we continue the flight to Tarakan airport.

Derawan can be reached by 2 routes :

1. Road Route : means you have to go to Berau, instead of Tarakan, and continue the trip to Derawan using offroad vehicle. We didin’t choose this, since it will take around 2 hours trip on BUMPY road.

2. Sea Route : means you have to go to Tarakan Island, go straight to the harbour and continue the trip to Derawan using speedboat for 3 hours. We chose this option since it’s the ocean that we’re after, no? However, as we go against the tide, the trip was REALLY bumpy. I knocked by head hear and there. But hey, that’s part of the fun!

derawan at boat

Around 4 pm, we arrived at Mirroliz pelangi cottage. It’s a floating cottage, on the water. No, we didn’t go to the harbour since they actually have no official harbour. Almost every cottage here has their own ‘harbour’. The cottage wasn’t really good. I am a hygiene freak so personally I wouldn’t recommend this if you are somewhat similar to me. But this place is okay, some of the rooms are provided with Air-con, and trust me, you really need Air-con if you don’t want to get soaked at your sleep. There is no wind AT ALL during the night.

Mirroliz Pelangi

We didn’t start our activity today since we need to gather our energy for the second day. There were some warung /restaurants there, but I wouldn’t recommend this since they will cost you a very expensive price (especially if you’re foreigners). Our travel agent arranged all-u-can-eat meal from breakfast to dinner, so we just enjoyed what they have prepared for us.

I am a foodie, and I wasn’t impressed at all with the seafood and food from Derawan. Most of them were tasteless and chewy. The villagers are somewhat living a modern lifestyle so they don’t really have their authenticity anymore. Avoid instant noodle (Indomie) there, we paid IDR 15,000 for an instant noodle there. The price was 3 times more expensive that the one in Jakarta. However, have as many coconut water as you can! The coconut was gigantic and cost for only IDR 10,000!!! We had like 4-5 coconuts per day (much better than having a pocari sweat that costs IDR 10,000 per bottle).

the village derawan


This day was when the actual fun begin! Our trip today consists of Maratua Island and Kakaban Island. My advice for the day : leave your non-waterproof items back in the cottage, bring your underwater camera / go pro / waterproof photography thing, bottles of water, tubes of sunblocks.


Maratua Island is located in the Derawan Archipelago off the north coast of East Kalimantan. It is a large tropical island partially encircling a massive lagoon on one end and fringed with sheer rocky walls and coral reefs along the other end. This island is belong to Indonesian, HOWEVER, due to this corrupted government, there are rumors that this island has been sold to the Malaysian. God knows the truth, but the fact is the only resort here is managed by Malaysian and you have to pay an entrance ticket if you want to visit the island through their resort.

Our speedboat was anchored near the beach there and we jumped on to the water with our snorkeling gear attached. The only word came out from my mouth was : WOW!

I can’t stop to say over and over again about how beautiful is this. The scenery is closer to the image of the famous Maldives.

maratua 1


All around us was white smooth sands brushing our feet and our eyes were spoiled with the crystal clear turquoise water. Trust me, when you land your feet here, there was nothing you want to do except jump into the water as stay there as long as possible.

We stayed here for around 2 hours since the grey clouds were coming and we need to catch the weather to explore Kakaban Island, the Jellyfish island.


It took around only 15 minutes to go from Maratua to Kakaban. The most distinctive feature of this island is the huge brackish water lake in the middle of the island, in the local dialect Kakaban means “hug” as the island hugs the lake from the surrounding seawater. In the middle of this island is a mangrove-fringed lake, slightly above sea level, where thousands of non-stinging jellyfish live making it interesting for diving. The lake is at most 17 metres (56 ft) deep with poor visibility and is 10 minutes walk from the beach. Kakaban was probably uplifted during the Holocene and sea water was trapped turning the area and formed a landlocked marine lake. The water is now a mixture of salt water and sweet water from the rain.

To reach the lake, we have to go over hundreds of stairs, through the jungle. Don’t worry, they built wooden stairs so it’s easy to follow and believe me, the lake view and jellyfishes you’re about to meet, is worth to go for. Remember, there is no restaurant or warung here, since nobody is living here, so bring enough of water bottle to keep you hydrated.

This is how the lake looks like.. All you have to do is wear your snorkel gear and jump from that platform.


kakaban 001

kakaban 002

kakaban 2 001

kakaban 2

It’s VERY difficult to take pictures in the water, so I could only managed to ‘catch’ one jellyfish and took it with me for a picture taking. In reality, there are thousands of jellyfish there as you swim around. Don’t worry, they are sting-less. And cute!


We spent 2 hours here and our travel agent had prepared our lunchbox here, so we climbed back the stiars and took a place nearby the welcome gate to have our lunch with beautiful sea view of Kakaban Island. During this time, the sea water level would be very low so the boat cannot pick us up to the beach. So we have to reach the boat by walking through the sea corals which are very sharp. I slipped when I was about to climb the boat ladder so I had my knee terribly injured and bleeding. Add it with the salty sea water, and yes, perfect.

Next destination was to snorkel around the steep wall of Kakaban Island where thousands of  various kind of colorful fishes, nemo, barracuda, etc. I didn’t manage to get pictures here since my underwater camera broke down (note to self, not to bring a cheap camera for a priceless journey). At this point, I was mesmerized by the beauty of this islands, everything was beyond my imagination. I have never seen nature could be this wonderful. Not to spend more time inside the boat, I climbed to the top of the boat and decided to spend the rest of my journey by sitting on the top of the boat. What did I get?  a 360 degree scenery!

Yes it’s scary with the bumpy boat across the tides.



The sunburn was pretty bad!


We spent around 2 more hours snorkeling and went straight back to our cottage immediately. We were extremely exhausted, yet VERY HAPPY!

Due to circumstances, we were moved to another cottage named “PENGINAPAN REZA”. It was actually a good thing since we got a brand new water cottage with air-con and our cottage was located at the very front of the area. During the night, we sat down on the balcony and when we looked up, thousands of sparkling stars were shining. A night scenery that I never got to see when I was in the city.It was priceless, how the dark night could be very peaceful. I would recommend this for you who look for a good budget water cottage.

This is the kind of view we had from our new cottage.


From our balcony


Sunset day 2

sunset day 1


The last fun day of our journey, with destinations : Sangalaki Island and Pulau Gusung.

What did we do here? Right, nothing but snorkeling and taking hundreds of pictures!

Again, as my camera broke down, I didn’t get the underwater pictures. But believe me, the underwater scenery in Sangalaki Island was incredibly awesome!!! We also went to look down for Manta Ray, but unfortunately we could only see its shadow.  There is a turtle reservation in Sangalaki Island, as we all know that turtles are now endangered species. People love to hunt them down for food or decoration.



turtle reservation

My sister with a baby turtle


Pulau Gusung 

Approximately 10 mins from Derawan, you can explore Gusung Island during low tide. This dune is one of the best spot to see the crystal clear sea water and the whitest sands over the islands.

pulau gusung



I didn’t use any filter on any of this pictures. The real scenery were really beautiful with no editing required.

We spent 2 hours here before we head back to Derawan Island. This was considered our last day in Derawan Island since tomorrow early in the morning we have to catch a flight from Tarakan to Jakarta.

The sunset

sunset day 2

the gang 2

The sunrise on Day 4, taken from our cottage balcony

sunrise day 1

sunrise day 2

Note for travelers :

  1. Bring enough cash, there is no ATM there. I brought IDR 2 mio only for street snacks and watersports. All meals, cottage, boat, snorkel gear, flight tickets are included in the tour package I took.
  2. You can contact this person for Derawan Arrangement (boat, snorkel, dive, land arrangement, airport pick up, meals), they are very reliable and I would recommend him : Jeme – 0852 9155 5555 or Pieter 08125516 5555
  3. Bring your own underwater camera. This is a must-have item to record all your journey. Buy a good one.
  4. Do not buy souvenirs from the locals there, they have marked up the price. Do not eat any seafood or lobster or crabs there, they have increased the price at least 3 times higher.
  5. Try the squid satay sold by the street warung there.
  6. Try to have 1 or 2 nights stay at Maratua Paradise Resort
  7. If your flight was depart from Jakarta, avoid Lion Air, they are sucks. Choose Sriwijaya Air, instead.

So, that’s all my journey from Derawan Island. I will definitely go back to this Island and spend more time there. Contact me anytime for questions, I’d be glad to help.



Life Story

Thank You

The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called “truth.” ~Dan Rather

No, we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving day in Indonesia today, but we celebrate teacher’s day. I had never been care enough about teachers’ dedication before, until I finally capable to stand with my own feet and completely understand EVERY single thing my teachers used to say–about reality, attitude and most importantly…life. So, at this very moment, I am giving my deepest thanks to all my former teachers.

I thank you for setting such a high target on my academic record without my approval,
and grounded me when I scored below the targets.
Thank you for teaching me to give my very best, breaking through my limit.

I thank you for accepting me in the mechatronic class, although I was the only girl there
and taught me to create those LED circuits, adapters, etc
Thank you for seeing my quality beyond my gender.

I thank you for excitedly telling me the stories about Mayan, Aztec, World War;
and assigned me to draw the Pithecanthropus guy.
Thank you for keeping me remembered ‘There is no present without history’

I thank you for persuading me to get into Journalistic Club,
and kept me there with the deadly deadlines
Thank you for revealing my talent in literature, so I can write like I am doing now

Thank you for patiently teaching Bahasa Indonesia,
although I was always ended up with Uno cards or fall asleep
Thank you for not letting me forget the importance of my native language, so i can teach Bahasa to my foreigner friends.

I thank you for keeping me busy with all the presentation projects,
and stuffing my memory with mitochondria, fungi , DNA/RNA, etc
Thank you for letting me to get used with presentation and public speaking.

I thank you for explaining the algebra, probability, and limit over and over again,
and for being such a father in school although I was so stubborn back then.
Thank you for sharing your advice about lifebites and lovehurts (and guys also).

I thank you for forcing me to memorize the chemistry periodic table,
and proving that chemistry isn’t horrible (tho it’s still horrible with engineering combined in it)
Thank you for ‘trapping’ me to fall in love with Chemistry, so I am now officially a Chemical Engineer

I thank you for shedding my tears when I failed my comprehensive exam,
and insisted me to get up once again
Thank you for always telling me that I am a strong girl and I can never give up.

I thank you for every wise advice beyond your funny jokes,
and for being such a great mentor during the transition of my unstable teenager phase.
Thank you for always remind me, the 3B inside of me — Brain, Beauty, Behavior .

After all…
I thank you all, teachers,
for the patience, caring, support
Your encouragement and sharing.
I found Guidance, Friendship, Discipline and Love
in you, teachers.

Thank you for being teachers, so I can be who I am now 🙂

All the gratitude goes to you, my dearest teachers. Happy teacher’s day!

p.s :
This post is dedicated to Ms.Chendra, Mr. Heri, Mr. Parlin, Mr. Alex, Mr. Darto, Mr. Matulessy, Mr. Jack, Mr. Gromer, Mrs. Ima, Mr. Widodo.



Life Story

The pursuit of self-tranquility – Day 3

Wednesday, Nov 3 2010

Dear readers,

Last day of my alienation journey. I woke up at 6 am, and it added another record to my sleep-time history 😀
Again, when I opened my eyes in the morning, the sun smiled shyly to me. A little burst of the sparkling golden lights coloured the white clouds around it. I took a seat on the balcony porch for a while and let the sunlight poured on me. As I closed my eyes, I could felt the sun hugged me closely, the warmth possessed into the depth of me. It felt so nice…

How many of us still spare some time to enjoy the warmth of the morning sun? During my daily’s, I don’t even barely notice the existence of the sun. Trust me, take some time to get out from our routines and blend with the nature for some days. You will be hypnotized by the magic of nature ! 🙂

The tranquility moment had to be ended because mom told me to get ready and had breakfast. My parents will drive me back to Bandung today (how kind they are! :D)

My breakfast menu today : omelette, meatballs with barbecue sauce, fried breaded-chicken, a plate of watermelon and melon, and of course a glass of guava juice 🙂
The weather was spectacular today… Under the vivid blue sky, high up on the treetops and the mountains seemed to stood calmly. The sunlight seemed to dance beautifully with white clouds lingered around. It was warm because of the sunlight, but also at the same time the breeze of mountain wind caressed my skin.

I took a walk around with my parents. I wandered along the shadowy paths, enjoying the peaceful surroundings before I left. With the songs of birds, I felt completely lost from the crowd and restless mind as I walked over the deep carpet of grass. Colorful wildflowers were blooming in a patchwork of bright yellow, azure blue, deep rose, and dazzling orange smiled happily to me.

It was finally time for me to go, to be back in the real world. Having 3-days alone with nature was amazingly refreshed my mind and soul. It never came into my mind before, that nature has such a magical healing power. When shopping centers, bars, night life, are just not enough to fill my emptiness, I chose to bet on the last thing on my mind, NATURE. Yet it seemed that it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

The earth that we live in, is the greatest gift ever given from up above. All of the beautiful things that I saw, are just a little part of His amazing artworks. If Our creator has been kindly taking care of the wildflowers, pine trees, swayed leaves, butterflies…I’m sure that we could imagine how He’s willing to take care of us, His masterpiece. From every little things I saw for 3 days, I could feel how beautiful the life is.

While my Dad was preparing the car, I took the last moment to receive the nature’s hugs. I wish I could stay for a few days more in this place. But I have to get back to the rushing life and accomplish my responsibilities.
As the car started to move, I sweep my gaze around…

Patches of sunshine shine brightly, promising that the rest of the days would be pleasant…
Swayed trees wave goodbye, telling me that although the wind blows harshly, I could always be strong as long as I stand on a solid platform…
The chilly mists were also there, they kiss me softly, and whispering, “everything is going to be just fine, Ness…”

I could never be more thankful for everything that My Creator has done for me. My few days with nature’s companion taught me a lot. We can fake laugh, we can cry a river alone when no one knows, we can strive the storm, we can do everything to prove that we’re problems-proof. After all, we are just a human being. We are not created for perishable stuff, so that in the end, those are just can’t fulfill our starving soul.

Never ever run away to dismiss life. Life is harsh, it is prolly true. When you feel like you are living a life of dullness, take a step back… back to where you belong and find your inner-self..
God never promised a beautiful life that problems-free, but He promised that He will provided us with problems that will make life… beautiful. 🙂

Best of luck to you, readers!


Life Story

The pursuit of self-tranquility – Day 2

Tuesday, Nov 2 2010

Dear readers,

I can’t believe that I woke up at 5.30 am today! (Usually at 5.30 am, you can find me still sleep or not sleep at all). 😛
Honestly, I didn’t set up my alarm. I woke up because the birds were chirping and by the time I opened my eyes, oh gosh… I practically saw the sun rose slowly and smoothly.. The sky was filled with the golden light of the sun as it rose higher. And then the clouds, it’s like soft white cottons and there was one that looked like a whale! 😀
How could I stayed in bed when those beautiful things were THERE?

I grabbed my cam and went out to start my second day with….. un petit déjeuner! 😛
From various meals that served there, I chose a plate of omelette, breaded fried shrimp, boiled sweet corn, and guava juice. C’est parfait! 😉

Later on, I found me in a swimming pool and I had 40-laps (and the water was so damn cold!) 😀 Around 10 meters from the pool, there’s a jacuzzi with a view of the mountains surrounding it. How could a person resist to jump into a warm water jacuzzi and enjoyed such an incredible view? I can’t resist, so there I was for the next 2 hours before I moved my feet to sauna and got ready for my journey today.

Today’s theme was less-energetic, the aim was to relax. The weather was also not as bright as yesterday. Around 11 pm, the fog came down and it’s getting chill. The sun finally gave a way to the fog and hide beyond the clouds. The sky still looked bright. No gray clouds, but also no yellow-ish sun light. It’s just white and blue-ish scenery all around. Yet, it still looked amazing.

At the moment, I remembered the dialog in Eat Pray Love, “Stop trying! Surrender.”
My dad always reminds me that a person is allowed to aim high and set a target, but there will be a point when a person has to stop the hard-work, and let it be. We can set our sights high, but believe it or not, the result is not up to us. Like it or not, there is a bigger power out there and it’s beyond our power.

It’s one of the hardest thing to do, other than forgiving, for me.
Surrender is identical to give up, in my life dictionary. However, the reason why I’m having this alienation was because I’m at the point of no return, and it’s beyond my power.
I can’t controlled it!

When I saw how the sun gave a way to the fog for a day, it showed something to me.
The mighty sun let the unimportant fog to fill the day… It wasn’t a sign of defeat…
“It called humble, Ness,” whispered the chilly wind to me.

So, well yeah, maybe I have to learn how to let it be.. not to let it out of control.. but just to let it happen as the way things should be..

I’m hiding under the blanket right now. The night is cooler than yesterday.
There’s no sparkling stars tonight and I even can’t see the moon.
One thing for sure, they are somewhere out there, because I still can see the beauty of earth. This night, they are humble enough to let the starry sky goes so dark.

Beyond my darkest moments, even though I can’t see any sparkling lights yet, I know for sure that it stills out there, because I still can see the beauty of life.

Goodnight dark sky… goodnight chilly fog…


p.s : je suis fatigué et somnolente.. je vais te dire mon 3eme journee demain 🙂

Life Story

The pursuit of self-tranquility – day 1

Monday, Nov 1 2010

Dear readers,

Today is the first day of my self-alienation. After 3 hours of traffic jam, I finally arrived in my sanctuary-soon-to-be for 3 days. The porter took me to my room and as I stepped into my room balcony, wow… I stopped breathing for a while. It’s so indescribable!
In front of me, green mountains with fogs on top of it and thousand of clouds smiled to me as if they welcomed me.

I can’t wait to step my feet around. With my cam, I walked down the road, and there it was, an amazing scenery caught my gaze. I walked down by the side of rice field, and I met some chameleons, salamanders, and little frogs. (I didn’t get their pics, they’re too fast!)

I continued to enjoy every single beautiful things that surrounded me. I really can smell the pines’ scent, heard the water falls, felt the touch of the mild wind… Suddenly, I heard my stomach was grawling, and so I went to the hotel restaurant, chose a seat with mountains view. My choice fell onto Nasi Bali, for my lunch. (don’t ask how was it, c’est délicieux!)

After lunch, my feet asked me to visit the children playground. My inner childhood soul can’t resist to jump in there. Swings, slides, climbing bridge, I jumped in there! And oh my… I felt like a little kid and… I laughed! 😀

Spending few hours outside made me a little tired, so I decided to take a shower in my room. Had the warm water ran on my skin was such a pleasure. With PJs on me, I am now sitting on the balcony porch, enjoying the cool wind kisses me softly. I can see the dimmed lights far away over the mountains. It has been 2 hours now, the rain falls down, singing me a nature’s song.

Just for a while, my mind stops running. It’s just the scent of wet soil, the sound of rain drops, the touch of the night wind…
It feels like the nature is telling me,“Ness, just be still… You’re with us now.”

Who knows that silence can bring a tranquility and calmness to a restless mind?
Sometimes, little things can brighten a cloudy day…

Goodnight mountains, goodnight rain, goodnight starry night…