Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Travel Asia 2012: Take 4 in Batam, Indonesia

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda


I admit I was in Batam, Indonesia  just so I can have another stamp on my passport while in Singapore after my dream trip to New Zealand  and checked Indonesia off my list of countries to visit (at least for a while). To date it is my bravest stint as a solo traveler since it was my first time to be in an unknown place alone, with no family or friends to meet at the very least!
Batam is an industrial hub and one of the 18,000 plus islands of Indonesia and the largest of the 3,000 islands of Riau Archipelago. It is only 50 minutes south of Singapore and easily and cheaply accessible by ferries (SGD 47 /Php 1,550.00 Round Trip) from the Harbour Front Centre (Vivo City) in Singapore to any of the five ferry terminals in the island: Harbourbay, Nongsapura Ferry Terminal, Sekupang, Waterfront City and Batam Centre International Ferry Terminal which I chose.
In terms of visitors arrival, Batam is busy because of its strategic location as the gateway to other islands of Indonesia and its neighboring countries like Singapore and Malaysia. Those who choose to stay in Batam for a day or so are lured by its  naughty nightlife or some golfing stints, but there are a few travelers (like me!) who are neither a golfer or a party animal and yet found ourselves in this tropical island because of that bucket lists (ahem!). 
So to make the most of my 2 Days 1 night stay (June 10, 2012 @ 12:30pm - June 11,2012 @ 4:30pm) in BATAM (which is an hour behind Singapore time wise), here's my TAKE 4 in addition to getting that arrival/departure stamps on my passport...
Taxi is your best bet to see more of Batam so it would be good to hire one for the whole duration of your stay as soon as you arrive at the Batam Centre International Ferry Terminal. Taxis are non-metered and no particular color scheme, but you can identify them since it has the word "TAXI" and with yellow plate number. There is also no standard rate for taxis so use your haggling skills and your gut feel to choose a good driver and strike a pretty good deal. 
I paid 500,000.00 Indonesian Rupiah (or SGD 70 / Php 2,300.00) from ferry terminal to hotel and back plus tour around the island during the first and second day following my list of places to visit as suggested in Cheap Travel For Women blog. Actually the driver offered SGD 60 but I bargained to pay 500 Thousand Rupiah thinking it would save me a couple of bucks. To my chagrin, I learned that 500 Thousand Rupiah is SGD 70 haha. I told the driver about that but since he is nice I still paid him the full amount. Anyway, he has been my driver slash photographer slash tour guide!
Accommodation is cheap in Batam, compared of course to Singapore. For SGD 27 (Php 900.00 ) I got a deluxe room at Grand Palace Hotel in Nagoya, the capital city of Batam. This is still much cheaper than the SGD 32 female - only dorm for 8-pax at Beary Best! by Beary Good Hostel, one of the cheapest accommodation in Chinatown, Singapore. The room is air-conditioned, with hot and cold shower, cable tv, wifi access, 2-bottled water and 2 towels. The rate is also inclusive of breakfast with a choice of toasted bread (roti bakar), nasi goreng (fried rice) and mie goreng (fried noodles).  The only problem with my room is that it has no windows. But I'm still grateful for this accommodation because it is one of the few hotels that allow booking online without a deposit by credit card and the rate is on a per room basis! 
Kayaking Batam style! I rented this duck boat for 20,000 Indonesian Rupiah (Php 90.00) for an hour to go a little further on the ocean for some dipping in the water and taking sunset photography while at the Marina, Waterfront City
The boat is easy to maneauver and I can easily jump off and on to cool down in the water or just relax, letting the time slip me by, reminiscing good times or clicking my camera shutter for the gorgeous sunset photos!
Eat with your hands in Batam. I rejoiced because this is my eating style at home!! I followed my driver's suggestion on where to dine for the authentic Indonesian food which Batam is known for. All restaurants have a kettle-on-basin (I created this word haha) at every table for washing hands if you decide to go with the flow and shun away the chopsticks and cutlery! I love the kari, sambal, nasi goreng, nasi lemak. I wanted the prawns so bad but my driver couldn't understand me and would always order something else. 
For street food, I particularly love the mixed fruits (turnip, macopa, green mango, pears, papaya, pineapple, etc.) topped with sauce made from mixing muscovado sugar, peanut, salt, chili and water. Really delicious!
four must - visit places in BATAM
1 - BaRelang Bridge  is Indonesia's bridge system that connects the three islands of Batam, Rempang and Galang  where the bridge name was coined from.  It is a chain of six (6) various types of bridges, the most popular of which is the cable-styled bridge that connects BATAM and Tonton Island and locally called as Tengku Fissabilillah. Many tourists and street vendors come together on the bridge for a nice photo session while tasting BATAM's street food!
2. Hutan Wisata Mata Kucing (IDR 10,000 /Php 45.00) is a 200 hectare forest reserve in Sekupang, Batam which housed a swimming pool, fish pond, mini-zoo, jungle track, waterfalls and caves.  I particularly like fish pond with huge arwana, tiger catfish, aligator, lele jumbo, nila jumbo, gabus, red paku and guppy.  The Marina Waterfont City is nearby so that was a good place to visit after Mata Kucing.
3. Ocarina Park ( IDR 15,000.00 / Php 70.00) is a family - oriented park near the beach, which is similar in concept but less amenities than Manila Ocean Park and our Star City combinedBut its biggest crowd-drawer is its location because people can sunbathe, play beach volleyball, go jetskiing, canoeing and snorkeling. The 'Welcome to Batam' sign can easily be seen from the Park. 
There is a Kiddie Land with huge numbers from 1 to 10 for children to engage in educational games, ferries wheel,  water park, 3D movie theater, and other carnival fun rides. It was pretty empty, however, when we visited (coz it was Monday morning) and the rides and restaurants opened at 2pm onwards.
4. Temples - Buddhist, Muslim & Catholic - although relatively new buildings, they are worth visiting for its architectural appeal more than its historical value. Since these religious buildings are located on the way heading to the Ferry Terminal, a visit to them can easily be included in your list.
Tua Pek Kong Chinese Temple is located in Nagoya. Within the temple compound are Tahu Budi, Bersyukur & Berterima Kasih and Balas Budi. There are also several colorful buddhas around the compound including a female buddha.

Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya is another Buddhist temple which is said to be the biggest in South Asia.
St. Peter Cathedral
Masjid Mosque (Muslim) in waterfront Batam Centre is another beautiful place of worship, which I found a bit different compared to the mosques I see in Brunei, another predominantly Muslim country.
But the most important TAKE home from BATAM are the new friends I met like Ady and Haposan of Starbucks in Megamall and those other friendly Indonesians who made me feel right at home!

13 comments:

  1. thanks po dito. punta kme dito with friends around November:)

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    Replies
    1. you're welcome and thanks for checking the post. if there's anything you want to know just send me comment. thanks

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  2. wow... really I like ur blog ...

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    1. thank you very much for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. glad to know that you like it!

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  3. wow! cool post! natuwa naman ako sa 500,000 rupiah anecdote mo. hehe.

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    1. hahaha. now I know i am good at haggling but not good in Math! (that's why I took up law eh!!!lol).thanks for dropping by!

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  4. hi madam! very informative blog...we're planning to go to batam this november with friends...just want to clarify the ferry ticket price..we are planning to ride batamfast ferry, the $47.00 you mentioned, is this the breakdown:

    $34.00 - to/fro sg and batam ticket fare
    $6.00 - sg terminal fee
    $7.00 - batam terminal fee
    ------
    $47.00

    we are doing our list of expenses, i hope you can help us with this..

    thank you so, so much!

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    1. i believe that is the breakdown but really no need to worry about it coz when you buy your tickets at the SG counter, everything is taken cared of and you won't be paying anything afterwards. You just have to get your returned ticket confirmed when u arrived in Batam. let me know if you have other query. thanks

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    2. hi madam! thank you very much for the info! we really appreciate it! will also ask info regarding your trips abroad...very informative and we love the pics with every travel that you made..keep it coming! its really helpful for first time travelers like us...keep it up! more power and God bless!

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    3. thanks for dropping by and leaving comments. i'm glad my blog is of help somehow. feel free to contact me for any of your questions.

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  5. Great information, we are going to Batam in January 2013 but staying for 6 days, guess we will have plenty of time to see all you describe. Information regarding the use of a taxi is very helpful.

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  6. Thanks for dropping by my blog Michael and Janet and glad the information on Batam had been helpful. WOw! 6 days! Yea that's quite long, but at least you will be able to go to other islands nearby. There's one I really like quite pristine but I didn't end up going because it is far (after the barelang bridge). Have fun and be safe!

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  7. Hi ate Anne. Nice description btw haha. I'm a half-filipino who s live in Batam for 3 years to study contact me maybe if you going to visit Batam again :)) good to reads ur blog!

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