Meet one of the most beautiful and rare Canopy Bridge, 2nd in Asia, 8th in the world: Bukit Bangkirai, Balikpapan, East Kalimantan District, Indonesia.
I’ve been living for more than 3 years in Balikpapan and the guilt of “not really knowing” the town is starting to sicken me. So when my little sister came for holiday and asked me to take her to see Balikpapan especially this famous (not yet?) canopy bridge, without any doubt I say agree.
Well that’s before we settle some issues that almost got in our way.
Bukit Bangkirai is located in Kilo 38, so I guess it is 38 kilometers from Balikpapan?
We rent a car and departed at 6 a.m. Guess what. We arrived there at 7:30. The first visitor on Sunday morning. Yay.
If anybody asked me whether it is save to go there, I would say, yeah…it is, as long as you use a proper car. I did not use a 4 wheels car, and so far it was OK. You will feel more comfortable if the AC in your car works properly, since you are in a most tropical area in Indonesia. Humidity is high and you will sweat easily.
The road is not a toll quality, but it is basically OK. Some parts are damaged, but I think it will not stop you from the ride.
Oh, better to get there during a sunny day. Balikpapan is naturally shaped as peak and valley so you want to watch your road there.
Another thing: no cellular phone signal.
You know what to do (just inform someone you knew where you are going…OK, just in case).
So, we arrived at the reception area. There are several little cottages there that you can actually rent, and I would love to if we have more time. But we have a plane to catch in the afternoon so we did not rent it.
You only need to pay IDR20,000/person for the ticket.
At that time, it seemed that the tour guide was still asleep, so we just went by ourselves.
Of course not (who do you think we are? Malls we dare, woods we scare)!
Fortunately that our driver has visited Bukit Bangkirai for more than 5 times. He was so kind & agreed to take us there. We need around 500m tracking (that is walking through the forest, up and away folks!) to get to the canopy bridge, and we need to cross 1 little canopy bridge in the first 5 meters.
It was a new experience for me so I felt excited. I was sweating a lot because the humidity level is like million degrees (or any measurement tool it should be), but the huge and surprisingly clean forest has just blown me away.
It was beautiful.
You can see huge and tall trees and it was so tight between them you start to wonder what’s inside (maksudnya tuh pepohonannya rapet bener). I saw two birds walking (yes, I meant walking, as using feet to make steps) down the steep land of forest.
It took us perhaps around 20-30 minutes, until we got to the Canopy Bridge gate. The road is not yet over, because we need to climb a 30 meters ladder attached to the trees used to tie the bridges. I was out of breath immediately after 10 steps (and regretted why I stopped exercising since…oh well…5 years ago I think), but I kept going until finally we arrived at the top of the ladder.
The view was breath taking. I can tell you.
And to take a step onto the bridge was…scary.
The thought of falling down was rushing through my brain. The article I read says that this bridge was built to last around 15-20 years of time. And it’s has been what, 14 years after the first time they attached it to the trees? And what if the man’s calculation is wrong? Does the government take care the maintenance for safety? Did they do a good job so the case of Tenggarong Bridge falling down will not happen to this one? Have I paid all of my debts? Before I die?
I took a step on the first bridge. Then another step. The wind was blowing slowly. The canopy bridge was waving and shrieking. I don’t fear heights. That’s an advantage. But I weighted almost a ton. 90 Kg to be exact (there, I said it). With a 5 kg handbag on my left shoulder (why should I brought it?).
It only took less than 5 minutes to cross the bridge. I was successfully crossed it.
Not so fast.
There were 3 long bridges to be crossed.
And the 2nd is the longest.
You see, the 1st and the 3rd bridges were connected. So I can start from 3rd bridge then ended on the 1st, vice versa. Each tree was being attached by ladders. But the 2nd bridge, I don’t have any idea why, WHY the founder decided not to put a ladder on the tree for the 2nd bridge. It does not have any ladder to go down. So you will need to cross the 2nd bridge 2 times, back and forth.
For about 1 full minute I’m thinking not to cross it because it looks so long, no ladder to go down, and it was windy.
My hands are sweating and it was not because of the weather.
I thought, Dear Allah SWT, I would like to cross this bridge because it is the longest one and seems I can learn a lot from this experience. Please save me because of it.
I crossed the bridge.
I WANNA GET OUT OF HERE AS FAST AS I CAN!
I screamed fearfully when I was crossing it.
Only in my mind.
My fingers clamped the ropes so tightly it turned all white.
It was the helpless feeling you have when you were on a plane. The difference is on the plane you sit on a comfortable chair, get a meal (for some) and can decide to sleep so you don’t need to think about heights. While on a canopy bridge, you are walking, taking it step by step in order to cross it. If you don’t do it, nobody is going to do it for you.
It was then I understood, again, we human, is nothing to our Creator. But we can be so arrogant because of only small things. Like money. Position. Good looking face. Good body. High education degree. The royal blood (we think) in us (they are all red for God’s sake). Winning an election. Living abroad. Not living abroad. Able to work and earn a living by yourselves. Has a talent to write. Or in sport or music.
Finally I was able to cross all the canopy bridges and went back to the reception area (another 500m tracking).
The three of us (me, my little sister, the driver aka “temporary guide) felt hungry so we decided to order hot noodles (yummy).
It felt good.
Able to understand that ALLAH SWT IS THE MOST INCREDIBLE, ALL MIGHTY.
By only looking to His creation.
The forest. The wind. The trees.
The canopy bridge is built by an American, but who creates man?
I recommend to all of you, if you have time and spirit to learn, go to Bukit Bangkirai.
It’s worth it.