1st FEBRUARY: When Suhaizie showed interest in my proposal of visiting Batam island, I was quite positive about it and I was happy when he finally successfully got hold of his international passport. Finally my dream of going to Batam, one of the nearest islands of Indonesia, would finally come into reality.
When you go to Indonesia, you would always become a millionaire that would not last that long. The exchange rate it something like Rp1 million = RM350. It is always very confusing to use the Indonesian currency as you would be dealing with money with the value of hundreds of thousand all the time. For example, if you want to get a bottle of mineral water, it will cost you 5000 rupiah, which is actually about RM1.75 here in Malaysia.
We took the ferry from The Zon Stulang Laut which cost RM120 for return tickets plus RM10 of the harbour tax. If you just get a one way ticket, it is more expensive i.e. RM69.
The ferry was a small one and the theme for its deco was Chinese New Year. The ferry attendant was very smartly dressed in uniform, we first thought he was an Indonesian immigration officer with an attire of an army officer with his chest adorned with a gold wing. Then only we realized that he was like an air steward when he started selling instant noodles in cups to passengers on board.
The journey took about 1 1/2 hours and the ferry stopped at Batam Central Ferry Terminal. I was lucky because I have a friend, Man, who has been working at the school canteen for many many years and he was there to take Suhaizie and I for a tour around the island for the day.
After checking in at the hotel, we rented a car and were chauffeured to a few places of interest.
The first stop was the Barelang Bridge - the biggest and most beautiful bridges that link Batam island with the other six islands. People just sat here and enjoyed the scenery but too bad the weather on that day was not that good. The scenery would have looked much better if there was sunshine.
Our next visit was a bit historical when we went to a Vietnamese village. This is the place where the Vietnamese refugee settled down and set a refugee camp in the late 70's. What we could see here was a leftover of the settlers which was actually a huge area and looked more organized and systematic that the local villages.
We stopped for Asar prayer at one small village. Looking at the condition of the houses, I was really thankful to be living in Malaysia. But if you look closely at the pictures of the houses, you can see that these houses are equipped with satellite and parabola dishes so entertainment does play a major role in there people's lives, I supposed.
Another place that we stopped for a short while was the Melayu Beach. There was nobody around and it was low tide. With the gloomy weather, not much can be seen here. It would sure look better in good condition with a sun, a blue sky at high tide.
Then we went to Masjid Raya, where there will be a separate posting for this later, and eventually went to a park which displayed the variety miniature houses of Indonesia which will also be elaborated later in another posting. If I am mistaken the park is located in a place called Bengkong. It was definitely a very long journey in half a day but so far, we had seen some of the things Batam had to offer.
We simply went to a big shopping complex just across the street where the hotel was located before calling it a day. We just hoped to get to see a bit more of Batam and do some shopping before going back home the next day.