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Monday, 14 May 2012

Batam, Indonesia

My sister and I were supposed to go to Bintan, Indonesia but we chose to go to Batam because it is not that expensive. As mentioned previously, we had to maximize our money so we can visit Indonesia and watch Wicked:) 

Since we do not know anyone who can take us around, Charmaine and I signed up for a tour for only S$69. Not bad actually, you'd be getting a basic tour of the town, you'd get to have free lunch and transportation costs are already shouldered. And really, you couldn't go to another country for only Php 2,336 so I'd consider it as a steal.

Most people wouldn't be interested in this tour because it's more of a cultural thing. Like I said before, you'd only get to truly appreciate a country if you experience it's culture and tradition, so off we went. Lena, our tour guide is a very informative person because she fills us in with all the details about the places we're going. We didn't take too much pictures because we wanted to enjoy the place.

Small details first:
  • Batam is an hour behind Singapore. Indonesia rests on 3 different time zones, according to Lena.
  • It belongs to a group of islands calles Kepulauan Riau.
  • Majority of the population here do not speak English. Bonus points for you if you know Bahasa Melayu, since they have the same words.
First stop is the Keropok shop where we bought some prawn keropok, for Rp15,000. It's somewhat similar with our kropek but only with less oil.

Next stop is the Ralph Lauren Outlet Store. If our goal is to shop, my sister and I would've bought something there because everything is so cheap. Imagine, you'd buy a Ralph Lauren shirt here in the Philippines for say, Php18,000. But if you'd buy the same design and same style there, it's cost only Php5,000. But again, since we were on a tight budget, we didn't buy anything.

Next stop is the Starmoon bakeshop wherein we bought kueh lapis (layer cake). We ate some samples together with free tea, and boy, was it good! 

After that, we went to the Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya Buddhist Temple, which is one of the largest temples in Southeast Asia. According to Lena, it was moved from Singapore to Batam during the 50's. Trust us when they say it's the largest. It really is because it has lots of rooms which are very spacious.

I also appreciate the solemnity of their prayers and I admire the diligence of the people to pray as if it is in their nature to do so. 

After a few photos, we then set off to eat lunch at Golden Prawn 933 Restaurant. Here is what we saw during the next few minutes.

You see, Batam is a simple town that is free from frivolities so if you're looking for peace and quiet, this is a place to visit. Anyway, let's get tot he most important part of this trip: the FOOD. Experiencing the country's culture is achieved through eating. Lol. We really enjoyed our 7 course meal.


After eating, we went to Batam City Square to buy pasalubong. We opted to buy at the supermarket because it's cheaper and you have lots of choices there. We bought lots of instant Kopi Luwak. Though it is not the actual thing, it's yummy so I like it. So the dilemma that my sister and I had is: HOW COULD WE TROLL OUR FAVORITE PEOPLE IF THERE IS NO WIFI?

The answer is simple: go to Zing Do and Breeks Cafe. They have free password protected WiFi. Haha. Even though we spent S$6.00 for this, it is our "Totally Worth It" Moment.

Since we opted not to get a massage, we decided to head back to Singapore earlier than expected. By this time, we have already conversed with Lena about so many things about ourselves and our countries. And what's nice about this is that we found out that Lena is pregnant with her first child. Such a hardworking person! 

We headed to Batam Center in order to catch the 4PM  ferry. I must say that having a travel agency makes your travel in an unfamiliar territory, more comfortable as we were just breezing past through the queue.

I'd definitely go back to Batam, this time for it's beaches. :)

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