Last Sunday, which was also Easter Sunday, my sister and I had a chance to visit Batam, Indonesia for a day tour. Prior to this, I purchased a deal from Groupon for the said day trip. The deal already included the 2-way ferry, land transfers, day tour, lunch, one flying fox ride and 60 min massage. I was actually looking forward to the massage. Anyway, since my sister came from a long vacation from NZ and she decided to stay here for a short time before going back home, we were planning for a nice quick getaway. I suggested Bintan first, but we don’t have time for an overnight trip so we just went for a one day trip to Batam. The idea was sold to her the moment I said that we could get to Batam in only 1 hour via ferry (she liked the idea of visiting another country and having a new stamp in her passport). So anyway, after all the booking and confirmation, we were good to go.
Sunday morning, we went to Harbourfront Centre near Sentosa where we boarded a ferry which took us to Sekupang Ferry Terminal in Batam. The ferry ride is around 1 hour. From there, we met the tour guide and we were directed to the van to take us to the first stop, the Polo Ralph Lauren. While on the way there, we were informed by our tour guide some trivia about Batam and Indonesia as a whole. I learned that Indonesia has the 3rd largest population in the world with China and India on the first two slot, and that Batam is bigger if compared with Singapore in size, but SG’s population is definitely larger than Batam population. Also, if PH has 7k plus islands, Batam has 17k plus islands. Another thing is that never to keep the money from ID (rupiah) because it expires after the government changes it’s leaders. So basically, it becomes useless if you keep it, unless you plan to return in less than a year. So arriving at the polo shop, we just went around and have a look. The prices are still a little expensive, and we were converting to peso all the while. After the shop, we were taken to Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya Buddhist Temple for our second stop.
Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya Buddhist Temple is one of the biggest Buddhist temples in South East Asia and is a major attraction in Batam. The temple is located near to the Batam Center ferry terminal (http://www.batam-island-info.com). The day we went here, there were a lot of visitors and students paying a visit the buddha and praying. This temple is one example of modern day monuments, opened in 1999 and still undergoing some developments.
After the temple, we were taken to our 3rd stop which is the dry market (Bengkong Market) which sells local delicacies such as crackers of different kinds (including dried worm seasoned with something and sold as snack )
Fourth stop was the Miniature Park of Indonesia. The park is a miniature collection of Indonesian architecture as it showcases the different types of traditional houses built across the 33 provinces in Indonesia. The different types of houses shows the cultural diversities within Indonesia.
After the park, we were taken to Golden City (5th stop), wherein we got the chance to ride the Flying Fox. It’s basically zip-lining downward to the other side of a river (or lake). When all had taken their chance to ride we proceeded to Kueh Lapis Factory (6th stop). Kueh Lapis is a traditional multi-layered cake painstakingly made by hand, stacking thin layers of cake on top of one another and slow-baking separately until it solidifies. It actually tastes quite nice and you take home one box for 29sgd.
A short walk from the kueh lapis factory was a mini theatre wherein we watched a cultural show, where a man opened a coconut through his teeth, ate burning coal, another man ate broken glass pieces and jumped through a burning hoop. In short, it’s like one magic show. Afterwards they collect donations from the visitors who watched them perform. Next stop was Golden Prawn 555 where they served us lunch.
After the sumptuous meal, we were taken to our 7th stop , Batik Outlet Factory where my sister bought a unique batik blanket. Opposite the store is the First Factory Outlet with usual polo and other branded clothes which does not differ more or less to its original price.
8th stop would be the Tua Pek Kong Temple, also known as the Vihara Buddhi Bhakti Temple. A quick pit stop for the believers to offer prayers and for the rest to take a look at the courtyard statues and mythical-influenced paintings. This was the original temple that was located in Kusu Island, Singapore before the 1980′s.
Next was free-and-easy time at BCS Mall Chinatown which was pretty boring as we were left here for 2.5 hours. Afterwards we were taken to a hotel for our long awaited 60 min massage. After the massage, we headed back to the terminal for our ferry ride back to SG.
Actually, I was hoping for a more culturally inclined city tour, but most of the stops in the itinerary was in either a market or factory outlet. But still, it was a nice bonding experience for the both of us. 🙂