I wonder if I write about living in Balikpapan frequent enough to assure you that I love this city. I always tell everyone that Balikpapan, despite its very strong sunshine and pretty unstable water and electricity, is a livable city (compared to Jakarta and its supporting suburbs). Here, there’s barely traffic jam, you can go jogging on the beach before leaving for office, you can meet your friends or relatives in their house and do potluck instead of shopping malls simply because you have enough time and even the airport is not far from the downtown.
The first time I stepped my feet in Balikpapan was in January 2011. I came as a student with a couple of friends for On-Job-Training program from the company I’m working for now.
I remembered that we were there when the first Mc Donald’s in Balikpapan was finally opened. People got crazy and queued. Actually there were already some KFC’s and a Starbucks so it wasn’t that bad, but still as kiddos that grew up in and around Jakarta, we found the enthusiasm funny. I mean, c’mon, it was only McDonalds. Yes, blame me for growing up in the cities where the citizens take shopping (or window shopping, maybe) as a kind of entertainment but that time I couldn’t help to underestimate Balikpapan and its society.
It didn’t take long to prove myself wrong.
6 months later, I came back to Balikpapan; this time for work. It was almost the end of the year when I got introduced to Mbak Merzy who founded Borneons Donate, a charity based community. I joined an activity and met quite a lot of cool people from Balikpapan. Not only cool but people here have particular local accent which I found original, reminding me of Bandung and Sundanese dialect. Slowly but sure, I got to know some youth communities in Balikpapan. In case you wonder, in Balikpapan we do have local ‘indie’ events like poetry reading night, acoustic gigs, gathering for doodling and drawing and crafting. There’s a nice hidden gem called ‘Lamin Pohon‘: homy library and cafe providing hot chocolate and nice classes. There are young entrepreneurs for stationery, clothing, cute cupcakes and even healthy organic Pinterest-like smoothies.
Thanks to Instagram that now it’s easier to find more and more interesting people and communities here. Well, I know it’s not comparable to the ‘nowadays creativepreneur and Instagram-able Jakarta or Bandung or Ubud youngsters who work in coworking space with a cup of photogenic latte and kinfolk magazine on the table’ kind of people, but Balikpapan has its own foodies community and increasing number of pretty decent coffee shops. There is also a nice place with a bunch of cafe & restaurant with both indoor and outdoor setting for hanging out in the evening called Pasar Segar which has been getting more and more popular in these past two years (or so?).
Well, starting last year, Balikpapan also got its own Pop Up Market. As a result of the ‘booming’ of online business and the trend that follows, the young entrepreneur and creative souls in Balikpapan realized their needs to catch up with the other cities: temporary bazaar with artsy and Instagram-worthy decoration calling for young people to come, spend their money for new food, and mark their existence in social media. Same thing might happen in other cities but I’m kinda proud that it looked pretty nice in Balikpapan.
Here are some glimpses of the 3rd Pop Up Market held last weekend at Mal Balikpapan Baru. There were cakes, cupcakes, ice cream, sushi, ramen, kue cubit, silky pudding, food truck, etc. There were also tenants for local indie clothing and accessories.
And these were what I bought there:
So yeah, keep catching up, Balikpapan! You can afford it and you deserve it! ;D