Last October 4, 2008 me together with my mother-in-law, sisters-in-law and niece went to Batam, Indonesia for a day tour. Since my in-laws want to visit other place aside from Singapore so I suggest we go to Batam. It’s my first trip that I didn’t have my husband with me. Because hubby choose to stay at home with the kids than to be stressed-out with the day’s travel. We got the service of a travel agency in China Town here in Singapore since this is our first time and it’s better to get a tour package. The package includes a seafood lunch, a tour in an authentic baker’s centre, a visit to Vihara Duta Maitreya Temple, it’s the biggest temple in Southeast Asia or Thua Pek Kong Temple is the oldest and historical temple, Polo Shop Factory, Local Produce Shop, Kuda Lumping Magic Show and Batam Shopping Mall.
Batam is an island in Indonesia near Singapore; it's just a 45minute ferry from Harbourfront. It’s the largest island in Riau Island Province of Indonesia. Batam is the only island in Indonesia which is tax-free. Cars and other products is cheaper compare to Jakarta.
In our itinerary we have to be at Harbourfront and checked-in by 7:10AM since the ferry will depart by 8:40AM but to my dismay the ferry is delayed by one hour. We reached Batam Centre at around 11:00AM and meet the local tour guide. It’s only then that I learned that Singapore is an hour ahead of Batam. So for them it’s just 10AM. First stop is at the local store where you can buy Indonesian produced foods like fish balls, green mango preserves, chili prawn crackers, wooden displays and etc. Then had a taste of Kek Lapis and freshly brewed coffee/tea at the Authentic Baker’s Centre (ABC). During the trip the tour guide explains that Indonesia has three different time zones. The Sumatra, Java and West & Central Kalimantan are 7 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+7) – one hour late of Singapore and Manila. While, Bali, Nusa Tenggara, South & East Kalimantan and Sulawesi are 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+8) – same time with Singapore and Manila. And the Irian Jaya and Maluku are 9 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+9) - one hour ahead of Singapore and Manila. And it is only then that I know the currency of Indonesia. They are speaking of thousands, example 1 Singapore Dollar is equal to 6,689.68 Indonesian Rupiah, as of this writing. And what amazes me is that Philippine Peso has a value, this is the only place so far that I have been to that Philippine Pesos has a value and so your 1 Philippine Peso is equivalent to 206.596 Indonesian Rupiah, as of this writing…nice!
We had our lunch at the Golden Prawn; it’s a big restaurant that can hold a thousand of guests. The food is okay but not that I expect it to be. Then the tour guide asks who wants to have the traditional Indonesian massage and so I grabbed the opportunity since massage in Singapore is so expensive. Thou the massage are not part of the package. You need to pay S$20 for a 90minutes massage. My in-laws didn’t have the massage since there are a lot in the Philippines. The tour guide brings us to this IndoThai Massage. I gave two-thumbs up rate in that massage centre. After that they bring us to a local shopping mall where I meet my in-laws. They say they have been to the Polo Shop factory and after that 1 hour shopping we are supposed to be go at a temple but we don’t have enough time. We need to be at the Batam Centre by 5:30pm to catch the 6:30pm ferry back to Singapore.
Our Batam day trip was an experience to cherish, it’s only then that I appreciate more of my own country the Philippines. Most of the sales clerk doesn’t know how to speak in English. Unlike in the Philippines sales clerks know how to speak better or I should say good English. What I like in the trip was the massage. Awesome!
Time is a companion that goes with us on a journey. It reminds us to cherish each moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we have lived.
~ Jean Luc Picard ~