I just came back from a weekend trip to Batam. It was my first time there and this is considered 'late' for someone who has been living in Singapore for more than a decade. After all, Batam is one of the few popular destinations (other than JB and Bintan) for a short getaway. I was not very excited for the trip because the only 'interesting' thing that people told me about Batam was: shopping and eating seafood. I am a fan of neither. Thus I was going more for an experience to know what Batam is like. I went with my colleagues and they settled everything so I only followed mindlessly. I did not expect too much because I did not want to be disappointed like when I went to Bintan last year.
Having no expectations clearly helped. Batam is actually quite well developed and much more developed than Bintan. The ferry terminal is top notch and it is surrounded by hotels and nice looking houses. First impression counts! Haha.. Our first destination was to eat seafood as it was almost dinner time. The notion about shopping was obvious from the number of shopping malls I saw on the way. Opposite the ferry terminal is already one of them! On the journey from the ferry terminal, there is a huge "WELCOME TO BATAM" signage atop a mountain which gave me the feel that it was inspired by the iconic Hollywood sign. I did not manage to snap a photo as I had not turned on my phone. Darn!
I am not familiar with geography of Batam but I felt happy and amazed to see mountains (perhaps hills??), foresty areas, and a large body of water (no idea if it is a lake, sea, or bay). It made me realise that I am quite a nature person as I get the excitement and peace that I don't get when I went to Europe. Signs of (uneven) development are apparent as well. Gorgeous mosques, government buildings, universities stand out against housing development projects which seem to be somehow abandoned with only large boards with names of the housing estates surrounded by empty plots of land.
We ate at a seafood restaurant at Barelang. From the restaurant, the view of Barelang Bridge is amazing. I did not take a solo picture as my camera phone would not be good enough for a low light condition. The seafood dinner was kinda amazing. We spent a total of Rp 1.150.000,- for 8 people. I never spent or paid anything that much for a meal! Haha.. Only the crab was expensive at about Rp 495.000,-. The other dishes were very reasonable considering the portion sizes. Even fruit juices only cost Rp 15.000,-! The crab was tempting but I managed to avoid it because it was butter crab. A colleague did not eat clam so I ate her share while she ate my share of crab.
The next destination was Nagoya Hill Shopping Centre which is the biggest shopping mall at Batam. I have to admit that the design of the building is impressive. Unfortunately, the interior still feels like a shopping centre, rather than a mall. In case you are wondering, shopping centres are usually more cramped as they want to maximise the floor space for shops to the maximum. No wonder how cool they are from the outside, the feeling inside will never beat shopping malls. Shopping malls tend to have a "hollow" central area which makes them feel more spacious. The people from higher levels can see the ground level and vice versa. That is what I mean by "hollow" central area. In addition, shopping malls tend to have higher ceiling to add the spacious feel. My only shopping goal at Batam was fulfilled here: my diet cereal. Haha.. Initially I was upset that the price was more expensive than what I got from Jakarta. But at cashier, I got 25% discount. Ooops. So in the end I got it cheaper haha.. It cost me Rp 800.000,- ++ which is my most expensive grocery shopping ever!
We spent the night at BCC Hotel and Residence. As there were a lot of us, we chose service apartment instead of hotel rooms. The service apartment is really huge and great. The room service, however, was terribly slow. There were no hair dryers and by the time they sent the hair dryer, the girls' hair was dry already. We also asked for a bottle opener and by the time they came, we managed to open the bottles using our own improvised technique with various items like spoon, table, etc. The breakfast was not fantastic too. Although in my honest opinion, the breakfast was rather bad.
I tried Somersby Apple Cider for the first time. I am not a fan of alcoholic drinks but I am curious to try. The taste is pretty good because the alcohol does not feel that strong/drying. I hate the fact that it is carbonated, though. I only drank less than 1/3 of a bottle and I already started burping. We also gambled a bit -with real money! There is a reason why I don't gamble or I don't like to try my luck with 4Ds, Toto, etc. Haha.. My luck is bad. I only had 4 $1 coins, 1 50 cents, a few 20 cents, and 1 5 cents coins. I told myself that I would stop once I lost 1 $1 coin. Haha.. My luck sort of improved by the time I had the 50cents as a wager. Haha.. I only managed to break even.
After breakfast in the morning, I skipped the massage and the trip to wet market. I don't like the thought of strangers touching my body and wet market is something normal for me. Haha.. I wanted to sleep a bit more. Our last destination was Batam City Square Mall and the girls went for manicure pedicure. I went to Gramedia and I randomly bought comics. Haha.. I bought a 4-volume soccer comic and a one-shot comic about snow jumping or something like that. I have yet to read them but I am a sucker of sports stories. The cashier told me that it was a buy 3 get 1 free promotion. What!! Haha.. I don't have any other title to buy so never mind lo...
I am very pleased and satisfied with this trip. Haha.. I don't mind coming again to replenish my diet cereal. The best part is that the total cost for the transport (including ferry return trip) and accomodation is only $91. That is very cheap as compared to my trip to Bintan!!
I helped my colleagues with money in Batam. I guess there is an advantage of being an Indonesian who is used to see so many zeros in our currency. My colleagues have trouble differentiating the thousands (1000, 2000, 5000) and the ten of thousands (10000, 20000, 50000) notes. Hearing hundreds of thousands and even millions made them unable to count the zeros anymore. Haha... I guess if I can handle millions, I will have no problem travelling to other countries. Japan or Thailand usually have hundreds to thousands and even Korea has thousands to tens of thousands. They are all less than hundreds of thousands or millions!
This is random but I am glad that I don't snore when I sleep. Haha.. I actually asked my roommate if I snored last night.