Monday, May 4, 2015

Batam, Indonesia

With all the travel-rush, and travel withdrawal symptoms I decided that I’d take a short week away to travel around the neighbouring countries starting with Batam. (It's not exactly a country, more like an island... but it's a small start)

I had the honour of hosting a good friend of mine from Vietnam, Bell, as well as meet up with my Japanese friend, Koki who was in Singapore at the time. The three of us headed over to Batam for an impromptu trip to visit my Sing-donesian friend, Hendy there for a day trip. I say Sing-donesian because he speaks pretty fluent Chinese, and has relatives in Singapore, whilst I’m the reverse.

Bell and I took the 9am ferry to Batam and Koki had already left on the earlier one. It took us slightly under an hour to reach Batam, and it was a really smooth ride. Obviously, I slept because the day before, we had a late night out, and Bell drove me nuts with his shopping habits. Note: I'm the girl. 

Hendy introduced us to a friend, Bea, and we all walked around together which was pretty fun. Batam’s a relatively common getaway for Singaporeans. Ironically, I’ve never been there, and I’m half Indonesian. 

We stopped by this empty lot to take a picture with the “Welcome to batam” sign. It was pretty cloudy, but it didn’t rain the whole day though which was a good turnaround.

Most of the time we travelled around by car. Visited the buddhist temple, and took more pictures with our own animal signs.

Rooster. Duh.

We headed off for the world’s cheapest breakfast (for now) at a nearby roadside restaurant. We ordered so much food, and the total only came up to about $12-$14? I died.

I was not kidding when I said a whole entire table (two tables combined), of food. Portion sizes were really reasonable, and enough for all of us to share and grow fat and full on.

This was not all of it, more came after that, lol.~

We took a long drive after our rather fulfilling meal to the Barelang bridge. The view went on for miles, and the wind almost blew my phone out of my hands. Yes, my phone.

Breathtaking isn’t it? We were swarmed by photographers asking if we wanted our photographs taken for a fee, and we’re just like bij please. /proceeds to take a selfie

It was a relatively short stay at Barelang Bridge. After which, we made a move on to the Vietnamese Refugee Camp, because Koki had to leave for Singapore to meet up with a couple of his classmates.

It was located quite a distance away, and in a very secluded part of town, where we passed a graveyard and a partially demolished old church. It was so quiet there, not a soul in sight. (no pun intended)

We passed by an actual deer farm, and next to it was two life-sized models of boats.
It was modeled after the actual boats that carried Vietnam refugees out of the island, and was deliberately sunk by protestors. The boats were then carried out of sea and actually rebuilt to be showcased to the public.

We visited the nearby Vietnamese museum, and we were all thankful to have Bell to translate most of the exhibits for us. Everything inside is in Vietnamese; all the photographs taken of the refugees to old artifacts of books and even olden day Vietnamese games.

Believe it or not, that is a board game that they used to play in the olden days. It’s similar to game of life actually~ It’s played together with this wheel looking thing. All of us thought that it was like a war map or something along those lines. Like I said, I was thankful to have a personal translator walking around with us. 

We made a final stop down by the dilapidated church. All that was left of it was a few walls and a roof. Standing solemnly alone amidst the overgrown grass.

After that weird pitstop, we made our way for lunch at the mall across the ferry terminal. We had my favourite Indonesian dish – bakso! Yes, I’m addicted to the hearty meal of simple glass noodles in broth, with meatballs. It’s so simple, yet so fulfilling. Give me bakso over fast food anyday!

I prefer the one I had during my Surabaya trip though. Yes, not all bakso dishes are the same even though they come from the same country. Similar to how our chicken rice is not consistent all over Singapore.

Sent Koki off to the ferry terminal, and we made our way to another mall to get our shopping on! I was determined to bring back a huge carton of Indomee, just because. Everyone should get a chance to let their hairfall occur from excessive preservative consumption once in awhile.

Batam is the best place to shop at only because everything is amazingly cheap. One huge packet of sweets, like Fruit plus for example only cost a few cents! Bell emptied the shelves of sweets, not kidding.
We went abit mad and Bea and Hendy judged us. Typical tourist things we do.

They do seal up your Indomee into cartons if you request them to! I don’t think anyone wants to run around with bags of stuff, so if you’re intending to shop till you drop, make sure you bring a portable trolley or ask them to help you out with the packing!

We made our way up to the peak for dinner with a view. It was our last stop for the day before Bell and I had to head back to Singapore.

We had to speed back to the ferry terminal lest we miss our last ferry. We ran all the way to the boat, and we were the last ones on. It is not easy running with a carton and having to carry our passports and stuff.

I told you we shopped till we dropped back there.

It was a good short r&r destination for us. Maybe the next time, we’ll include a beach visit, some seafood and a massage. I’m in need of some good therapeutic massaging.

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