Thursday, October 17, 2019

3 Days, 2 Nights in Batam - An Itinerary Including 1 Day with a Driver #batam3days2nights #batamisland

My last trip to Batam was in 2015 and it was a day trip. Taking advantage of the national day and hari raya haji long weekend in August this year, my family (sans the younger sister) decided to revisit Batam with a 2-night stay! Let's start with the summary first:

Stay

Food

Shop
Hypermarkets (listed below)

Temples

Day 1 (09 August 2019)
All set to take the ferry (c) from Harbourfront Centre. Even though i could do free and easy for this trip; i am actually incredibly busy with my full time work and we decided to buy a package from weekendgowhere.com.

Personally, i didn't find the deal worth-the-money but i realized a bit too late. For one, we were given late ferry timing at 3.40 pm. To be fair, long weekends are always bad for travelling. Anyway, see if you can catch the Singapore skyline from the above photo!

Batam in sight after about 30 minutes into the ferry ride.

No complaint about Majestic Fast Ferry; air-conditioning was strong, show on the television was digital clear and toilets were clean. The vessel we were on had no upper decks but there's still the back of the ferry where you can exit to take a smoking break.

Patrol vessels, i think. I remember reading a news report somewhere that the Indonesia coast guard would not hesitate to sink your ship if it is found in their waters doing illicit activities (most commonly, illegal fishing).

Jovyn being her usual, goofy self.
Please don't grow up that fast.

Arrival at Sekupang Ferry Terminal; there are currently five ferry terminals in Batam and Sekupang isn't exactly the most convenient. Most Singaporeans are more acquainted with the Batam Centre Point International Ferry Terminal, which is connected to the well-equipped Batam Megamall.

Strong wind is so therapeutic!

As part of the weekendgowhere.com package, ferry-hotel transfer was provided and it's necessary since Sekupang Ferry Terminal isn't near the hotel that we would be staying at; i.e. about 30 minutes by car and that's a direct route.

Taking a photo of the bus for record purpose; obviously given the size, we had other travellers in the same coach which means it's not likely to be a direct route to our hotel. As it turned out, we were the last to drop off.

Showing the sticker that we pasted on our clothes while clearing the Indonesian custom; a necessary move so that the local tour agent would be able to identify and direct us to the tour bus.

Happy family! Sometimes, it's good for the family to get out of the country as bonding overseas is different from going out in Singapore, where we continued to be bogged down by irritating household chores and stressful work.

The super old-school steering wheel with indicators that belonged to a technology a few decades ago! I am not mocking here as motor vehicles then were much more reliable and powerful.

A guide was on hand to explain to us the check in procedures, including the time for us to get ready to take the bus transfer to the ferry terminal on our departure day. I was still hoping to get a massage on the last day but the time of 11.15 am (Batam time) kind of derailed everything.

On the road to the various hotels; can't imagine that in just four years, there were just so many developments in Batam with high-rise buildings being built. p.s. the above looked abandoned though.

Having data roaming was essential as i found out from the app that the first stopover for the bus, Swiss-Belhotel Harbour Bay hotel, was super close to my planned dinner venue later.

Same goes for Zest Hotel. Those who have travelled with me would know i am a sucker for convenience and prefer to stay somewhere near amenities so that i can have "something" to do at night.

Therefore, i don't get it why Travelodge Batam (Formerly Novotel Batam) was chosen as our accommodation! Oh, i think i remember; most hotels we wanted to book were already full due to Singapore's long weekend. For my review on the hotel, click here.

Walking over to our dinner venue which is over a kilometer away from Travelodge Batam. Just my dad, elder sister and i as the rest of the family took Grab instead. You know how much is the fare for the rest? 13,000 rupiah; about S$1.30!

Dinner at one of the seafood restaurants along the above stretch.

Wey Wey Live Seafood; immensely popular with a queue outside when the rest of the restaurants were conspicuously missing one, i am honestly not THAT impressed with what we had that evening. Check out my review here.

I love exploring supermarkets when i am overseas and the first one i stepped into in this recent trip is Gogo Supermarket at Harbour Bay Batam. Remember to compare prices as they could be literally a fraction of what you pay for back in Singapore!

Unravelling my purchases back in the hotel; Toothbrushes were 2 for S$1.28, 3-in-1 coffee was a dollar for 10 twenty-gram pack and a box of Serbat Wangi ginger drink (20-pack) was about S$2.80. I think we got an amazing deal!

Day 2 (10 August 2019)
After our buffet breakfast at Travelodge Batam (Formerly Novotel Batam), it's time for us to board the car that we had arranged to bring us around Batam the entire day! I actually wanted to engage Mr Buldan, whom we engaged in 2015, but his car couldn't accommodate seven of us! Hence, he helped us to secure Mr Bang Shap Fuso instead.

On the road to our first destination and chanced upon a pickup truck with live cattle! I am guessing they would be sacrificed for Hari Raya Haji which was on 10 August although generally in Singapore, the animal sacrifice usually involves goats or sheep.

Arrival at the famous Tua Pek Kong Temple (also known as Vihara Budhi Bhakti Temple) where i checked out the the Buddhist Hall and the relatively new Great Wall! It's a great place to visit and for those who are not Taoist / Buddhist, you can have breakfast / indulge in snacks at a stretch of food stalls within the temple's compound.

Convenience of having a person to drive us around; it's own-time, own-target!

The Jabal Arafah Mosque - said to be a contemporary mosque with a cafe, library and garden, you can even climb up the tower for a better view of the Nagoya district.

Having a massage or signing up for spa treatment is a must for any visitor to Batam and since we didn't have any particular outlet, we took up the recommendation by Mr Buldan; Kneipp Home Spa.

Price list as appended above although you can read more from their website (http://www.kneipphomespa.com/). I went for Body Massage and while it was not bad; my preference is always for Thai rather than Indonesian massage.

Driving past Tua Pek Kong Temple again as Kneipp Home Spa is located just 400 meters away. The problem with going for massages is that we can't leave the kids alone! Well, we have to thank technology (iPad, smartphones) to keep them occupied.

Another key activity in Batam is to stock up on the delicious Indonesian keropok (crackers) and from my research; it appeared that many people would pay a visit to Pasar Penuin Wet Market area to make their purchase!

Didn't regret our decision to visit Pasar Penuin Wet Market as there were quite a number of shops and you know what they said about competition; wider variety, cheaper pricing and better service! Click here for more photos!

There were other shops in the area and one of the biggest is this Gallery Tas Batam where you can get school bags, stationery, toys and even not-yet-inflated helium balloons! 

A must visit for those with children even though seasoned Taobao shoppers would not find much fascinating stuff there.

Got a box of goreng pisang (fried bananas) at only S$1.50 for 11 pieces in one of the nearby local coffeeshops! That's a steal considering i would need to pay more than that for just one piece of pisang rajah from Lim Kee in Singapore! p.s. the rajah species from Lim Kee is a lot expensive, by the way.

Sights along the way to our lunch venue.

Heavy traffic which was bad given that it's almost 3.00 pm Singapore time and we had yet to have lunch! Oh well, going hungry once in a while isn't that bad a thing.

As we ventured further south of Batam, buildings disappeared and we saw a lot more greenery. I had checked out the location beforehand and hence, wasn't surprised.

A sumptuous seafood lunch at Love Seafood restaurant! Do note that there are other similar sounding restaurants in Batam and the one you should look out for is the one at Tanjung Piayu Laut! For location of love seafood seafood and more photos, click here!

101% satisfaction!

That's the Barelang Bridges; a chain of 6 bridges connecting the main island to smaller islands south of Batam, we went in 2015 and you may visit the post here for more information.

Back to the city centre! Considering i have been visiting Batam since the start of its industrial beginnings, i must say that the developments appeared to spike in the past few years!

It was four years since my visit to Batam but Mr Buldan remained in contact with me via Facebook and WhatsApp. In recent months (before i even planned for this trip), he had been talking about this kueh lapis that i should check out; Dapur Abdi Homemade Kueh Lapis. Using only butter, i finally did and thought it was less oily than the ones i always buy from Batam Layer Cakes. For my view, click here.

Revisit to Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya Monastery (天恩弥勒佛院) where we relived the memories in 2015 and noted the growth of the kids between 2015 and 2019.

Last stop; shopping at the local favourite BCS Mall. Frankly, i don't generally enjoy shopping in malls. Even in Bangkok, it's the night markets and chatuchak weekend market that really appeal to me.

The numbers on the pull-up banner forced me to wipe my glasses and take a closer look; a plate of chicken spaghetti for just Singapore 90 cents?! Even at its original price of S$3.00, it's unheard of in Singapore, even in price-sensitive hawker centres!

In my first few trips to Batam / Bintan, the one dish i always ordered was their local Indomie Goreng and i thought to satisfy my craving at Waroeng Kota in BCS Mall. Verdict: disappointing.

What's the best thing to do in a mall? Aside from dining, it's definitely worth going through their local supermarket /hypermarket! The one at BCS Mall is JC Supermarket and here are some prices for your comparison; Pocky was 77 Singapore cents, Yan Yan was 55 Singapore cents, Magnum ice cream was just S$1.50!

I didn't know that Three Legs Cooling Water (prices ranged from 44-56 Singapore cents) came in so many different flavours and packaging! As i am prone to ulcers, maybe i should buy the cooling beverage to try out the next time i am in Batam.

Luwak White Koffie; i am unsure if it really contained the coffee beans harvested from the poo of the civet cats but the pricing of S$2.60 for 20 packs of 20-gram was too irresistible! Taste wise, i still prefer Old Town White Coffee.

My haul for the night; totalling S$20.
.
Drove past a durian stall and you can see my mom and i looking at the durians longingly.... no, no, no, we had eaten far too much over the past few hours.....

The kids with Mr Bang Shap Fuso; everything was good with him although he speaks mainly in Bahasa Indonesia. Despite that, we didn't face much issue as i had already planned out our itinerary and most of the times, i just passed him my phone and showed him the location on google map.

Day 3 (11 August 2019)
The parents, as usual, woke up early and since i can't sleep in with the lights and television switched on, Joyce and i accompanied our parents to explore a local market near Travelodge Batam.  p.s. we only walked past the above building.

Pasar Pagi Tos 3000 - indeed an eye opener for those who have never stayed in a village and too well accustomed to the urban life! There were stores (makeshift and permanent) offering fruits and vegetables and at another section; it's a secondhand goods galore! 

Click here for more photographs! 

Flower boards with congratulatory messages; it's the norm in Indonesia and i first chanced about it (and blogged about it) when i was in Bandung

Accidental find at Swees Kopi Tiam; the delicious puffs that came with curry, sardines or yam filling! My favourite was curry puffs and each piece cost less than Singapore 30 cents! That's unbelievable! For location, visit here

On our way back to Travelodge and again, walked past the above building. Although hoarded up, i can still see some human movement. Even on google map, it's simply indicated as "abandoned building with beautiful architecture".

Collecting my cakes ,from Dapur Abdi Homemade Kueh Lapis, at the hotel's reception! 

After checking out from Travelodge, we boarded the shuttle (as part of our package with weekendgowhere.com) back to the ferry terminal at 11.15am. And you know what time is our ferry? 6.30pm. 

A good view of Batam, although hardly representative of its development over the years. 

Well, the bus had to pick up other guests and we got to Batam Centre Point International Ferry Terminal about half an hour later. Yes, our departure terminal was different from the arrival one.

Queuing up to check in at the counters of Majestic Fast Ferry.

With more than six hours to spend; Batam Centre Point provided the advantage of being in close proximity to one of Batam's most popular shopping centre. 

Batam Megamall!!! Truth is the megamall is not THAT mega by Singapore's standards but it's better than doing nothing for the next few hours....

And before A&W returned to Singapore, many people would take the opportunity to dine at the A&W outlet in Batam Megamall. I bet it's cheaper in Indonesia too; you may refer to the last picture for comparison.

You can deposit your luggage (for free) at the customer service in Batam Megamall but due to Singapore's long weekend, the spots were fully taken up; which means we had to haul our luggage all over the place for the next 6 hours! 

Thanks god for the hypermarket in Batam Megamall although my bags were already filled to brim with the goodies, snacks and food bought over the past few days! 

Shopping malls don't appeal to the kids, especially when there's no playground. They improvise though; Jovyn just grabbed a chair and sat in front of the televisions at the home electronics section. 

Inconsiderate Singaporeans (i confirm, plus double guarantee chop) hogging up the shopping trolley and misusing it by putting their luggage and bags! Total disgrace! 

Jovyn being the supportive and accommodating model for my photos.

Arcade for the kids! At this point, i was already exhausted as it's no fun having to guard the luggage and it's crowded everywhere! Mental note for future references; never travel out of Singapore for short trips over long weekends.

Didn't help when most restaurants weren't well stocked to meet the demand and many dishes were already sold out. Early dinner (bakmi goreng ayam at 39,000 rupiah and nasi goreng special at 40,000 rupiah; before taxes) at Warung Tekko Batam wasn't to our expectations.

A pop-up store with samples and i think it's good enough for me to get one box of Bika Ambon (Honey Comb Cake) from Khadijah! Regretted not buying more... 

It's 4.30 pm; time to proceed to Batam Centre Point International Ferry Terminal. Being typical Singaporeans; our philosophy is to be early to beat the queue. Honestly, we were too early.

Situation within the departure lounge was chaotic and warm with too many travellers and insufficient seats. Many were either standing or just sitting on the floor and there's nothing to do except to wait! 

Time to board.

Sunset! As the time difference is an hour for Singapore, it's technically over 7.00 pm in the little red dot whereas the Indonesian time was only about 6-ish. 

Plenty of seats to choose from as we were among the first few batches to board.

Departing for home and cruising past Coastarina which is like an amusement park. Reviews online were not good though and i struck it out from my list despite putting it in initially.

Home and for just one person; i think i have bought too many things.... hm... i was thinking it could be another few more years before i were to revisit Batam....

My purchases from Batam; i am eating my words from the above paragraph as i have planned for another trip to the Indonesian island this Saturday! Yipppeeeee! More kueh lapis, more bika ambon and more belinjo chilli kerepok! 

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