A twenty-four-kilometre spread of low hills just off the coast northeast of Tanjung Selor, Pulau Tarakan floats above extensive oil reserves: offshore rigs dot the horizon, while the west-coast town of Tarakan is surrounded by smaller-scale “nodding donkey” pumps. An island still physically scarred by the World War II battles between the Japanese and Australian forces, this is a convenient hopping-off point for Sabah in Malaysian Borneo, just a stone’s throw from Pulau Nunukan and the open border with Malaysia.

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