Saturday, July 11, 2015

Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya Monastery (天恩弥勒佛院) @ Batam Island [Indonesia]

Batam is no stranger to me and my family but the problem with the day tour package that we usually signed up for would stop short of bringing us to other places of worship after the popular Tua Pek Kong.

In my recent free and easy trip, the tiger mum specifically requested for a Buddhist monastery that was renowned among the Buddhist fraternity in Singapore; put it this way, even my normally quiet dad is aware of its existence!

Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya Monastery - as the name suggests, it pays homage to Maitreya who is prophesied to be the next Buddha in the future. That's honestly a lot of pressure for a Bodhisattva!

Portrayed as the Laughing Buddha in the Chinese community, its religious status has been elevated in recent times and i guess it makes total sense to depict the Bodhisattva in a modern way; like holding on to a microphone. Guess it would not be long before we see Maitreya wearing an Apple watch.

There were loads of photo opportunities; my favourite section was definitely the row of baby Maitreya(s), each holding on to a Chinese zodiac animal!

Adore the pig one but i must remain faithful to my zodiac; the mischievous monkey! As a hybrid of monkey and ox (since i belong to the Taurus horoscope), it's funny to know that i do bear many of their behavioral traits!

Minor renovation seemed to be ongoing - the lack of safety gear disturbed me. One wrong move; the toe might be sawn off, the metal piece would fly at bullet speed to hit a kid nearby and /or the spark might just blind the unprotected eye.

The monastery was completed in 1999 although it barely showed its age! The place was also spotlessly clean and i bet the marble lookalike flooring would be cooling to sleep on.

Mahavira Hall (大雄寶殿) is the main centerpiece of a monastery, as always. In this case however, this was the only hall, with maybe a smaller one by the side. 

Three statues of Buddha - they may look identical like triples yet they are three different Buddhas. Center one would likely be Shakyamuni Buddha (who found Buddhism) while the other two are Amitabha Buddha and Bhaisajyaguru Buddha

Army of volunteers / staff who were responsible for the upkeep of the indoor premise! p.s. i need that rectangular mop for my house!!! 

Religious robe wore by one of the founders, i think.

Complimentary copies of religious books for you to keep; i like to browse through them as some could be really interesting and talk more about moral values rather than religion in comic format!

Most monasteries have a separate hall with the four heavenly gods in front of Mahavira Hall even though down here, their presence can be seen on the window frames. 

Incense sticks - Buddhism in its pure form doesn't require us to pray to anyone; it is merely a way of life that teaches people to perform meritorious deeds to help people.  

Wah! Don't tell me the monastery would change this everyday?!?!? In most temples / monasteries, the cake of hardened powder would only be changed once a year, usually on the first day of lunar new year. 

Jovyn hugging a stone baby Maitreya that was just about her height! 

Took another one with Jerald and the mummy. 

As you can probably see, they went ballistic with the many statues spread out in the monastery; i didn't manage to take many photos of them as they were too fast for their 35-year old uncle. 

Early morning frenzy to get our boarding passes meant i didn't even manage to grab a cup of coffee to perk me up; hence, my eyes lit up at this stall that sells organic coffee known as fortunate.

Ordered a cup and watched in anticipation as the brewing began.

Verdict - too light a flavour and the lack of sugar and milk made it hard for me to gulp it down. Eventually, i passed it to my mum who doesn't have a sweet tooth like me. Unfortunately (pun intended), she didn't like it too! 

Prices for your reference.

Those who didn't have breakfast would be pleased to know that there was a vegetarian restaurant in the monastery! Not only that, additional food booths were stationed right outside the restaurant! 

My favourite deep fried vegetarian fare - the deep fried vegetarian cracker cost 2,000 Indonesian rupiah, about 20 Singapore cents! 

Those aiming for something more substantial can get the buns! No meat of course but kids would love the tortoise shaped ones; each was priced at 5,000 Indonesia Rupiah (about 50 Singapore cents).

Layout within the restaurant - more kopitiam than restaurant if you ask me. 

You may help yourself to the vegetarian dishes and pay just like the vegetables rice stall in Singapore! I would have gladly ordered a plate if not for the fact that we were supposed to be meeting up with the driver very soon to take us to our next destination.

More food stalls were located within but dad was keen in only one stall; the one selling buns! I am unsure if they belong to the same stall right outside the restaurant since each bun was also priced at 5,000 Indonesian Rupiah.

It's rare to find my dad so passionate about food as he purchased one full box of cold buns to be stored in the fridge for the next vegetarian-only day (usually 1st and 15th of the lunar month).

Upon entering the restaurant was a convenience stall where you can find all sorts of vegetarian products, including a wide variety of vegetarian instant noodles and frozen mock meat! 

I was most interested in the veggie jerky and mock squid slice! I shall allocate a longer period at the monastery the next time i visit to slowly browse through what is available! 

Spotted when we were about to leave; a pavilion that housed ancestral tablet and also the altars of Datuk and Earth gods, both of which rightfully belong to the Taoist realm. 

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Location
Jl. Laksmana Bintan, Batam, 
Kepulauan Riau, Indonesia

Map
As above [red box]


For more information on my free and easy day trip to Batam Island via a rented car with a private chauffeur, click here.

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