The last time I took the ferry was a few years back, to Tanjong Pinang. To sum it up, I had a nightmare which lasted for almost a day! Had nausea and sea sickness throughout the ride, and vomitted several times. I swear I saw the ferry bouncing off the waters! The horrible feeling lingered for almost half a day. By the time I was feeling almost normal, it was time to take the ferry back home again. Wah piang! Such agony. Total misery. I told myself never to take the ferry to anywhere anymore, not even if someone bribed me with one million dollars…or Pandora.
(Actually I might have reconsidered if it was Pandora. Did they already have Pandora back then?)
That said, you cannot exactly blame me for being super anxious for our Batam trip.
Yes, the whole lot of us (except for Ili and Shafiq) went to Batam for a 2D/1N trip over the weekend.
Before I proceed even further, if you are looking for recommendations for your upcoming trip to Batam, sorry to disappoint but this blog post is not exactly for you. I mean, I will recommend the good stuff if they are really good. But do not expect to see too much of them here. So yeah. You can continue reading on if you need to find out the places you need to avoid going to.
And if you are reading for entertainment purposes, by all means read! Let’s go back in time for a bit here; my parents and Nurul had been bugging me to go Batam because I kept saying no for all the times they asked me. Frankly speaking, I did not want to go because I had the impression that it was just a place for dirty old men to seek pleasure. I also thought that it was something like JB – just dirt cheap shopping. But then I kept seeing pictures of online acquaintances going to Batam for the JCo donut and the A&W. Some friends keep coming back to Batam monthly for the spa. Some say the seafood there is really cheap and good!
WAHHHH! THAT GOOD, HUH?
So I figured that I had to just put aside my ego and just give Batam a chance, right? There were voices in my head telling me to just goooooooooooo and enjoyyyyyyyyyy myself at Batam. After all, how bad could it be, right?
SO OKAY, GO BATAM LOH!
But before that, a selfie with the husband.
And a photo of the ‘rombongan’ (read: tour group) to Batam. LOL.
If you follow me in FB, you would have read my ramblings and preparations for the Batam trip. I was behaving like a maniac, asking everyone for tips on how best to not suffer from nausea or sea sickness during the ferry ride.
IT WAS NO LAUGHING MATTER. I WAS MAD SERIOUS.
And I have to really thank all my super awesome Facebook followers for their wonderful tips and help! If you are planning to take the ferry anytime soon, then you might want to refer to the following!
I read every single suggestion and tip given by my FB followers and prepared the stuff for the ferry ride!
Tatek thought I was mad. Nurul assured me that the ferry ride would be okay, just as long as I did not think too much. On the day of the trip, I was pretty cool about everything. Not so anxious. I somehow felt confident that I would be not vomit or feel sick. I set the alarm just to remind myself to take the Novomin pill half an hour before the ferry ride, though.
“Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”
Our ferry ride was at 10.20 am. We arrived at Singapore Cruise Centre at 9 am to do the necessary – checking in, collection of boarding passes and whatnots. I then instructed all the kids to suck on the Kid Travel lollipops twenty minutes before the ferry ride too. Since the lollipop was red and looked really tempting.
Sharleez: “Mummy, it is not that nice actually la.”
Me: “It is not meant to be nice. It is meant to not give you a headache during the ferry ride.”
Myreen: “Must we finish the lollipop?”
Sharleez: “Yes, remember what Mummy told us? It is not supposed to be nice.”
Mysha: “But it is nice, what!”
Apparently everything edible is nice to Mysha. :/
The moment we boarded the ferry, all eyes were practically on me. Nurul was like studying my expression throughout, just to check whether I was feeling okay.
She was like, “If you still vomit despite your ridiculous preparations, I will announce in Instagram sia!”
The pressure was on me, needless to say.
I asked Aton for my orange right away. Peeled it and started sniffing the orange skin like an addict. The ferry started to move.
Eh, nothing at all lah. No nausea. No sea sickness. No motion sickness. No headache. No nothing.
I could take another selfie even! LOL.
I felt really normal, and I was able to look out to enjoy the view, just like a normal person.
But minutes later, I started to feel a bit sleepy. And then I slept all the way till we reached Batam forty-five minutes later!
And since my preparations did pay off, I can mention the following quote proudly. “Organize, don’t agonize.”
Some people just love to make so much noise without even making the effort to try to find a solution, or organizing everything beforehand. And then when things go wrong, they play the blaming game – blame everyone except themselves.
By the way, the Novomin pills can be purchased from any leading pharmacy like Guardian and Unity! They do have it in syrup form too so you can get that and share it with your little ones.
Alternatively, you can get the Kid Travel lollipops from Kiddy Palace!
The moment we reached Batam, I saw the weekend crowd there and I was like telling that same voice in my head,
“PLEASE MAKE IT WORTH THE TRIP. PLEASE”
So we took the cab to the hotel. Three cabs in call. My brother Sofian, was in charge of everything related to money. He is just so good and efficient when it comes to bargaining and getting the best deals for everything without being too demanding or annoying. And he will somehow always succeed in getting the best deal for us. So if you need to go on a vacation, you might want to bring Sofian along. LOL. You know how some people can bargain until the seller has to just give in to them without making much profit? Cannot like that lah, must be fair to the sellers too. They too are trying to earn a living. So yeah, Sofian was the one who settled the cab rides, hotel bookings, ferry bookings and basically everything else related to money. The Nadyas were already pretty sleepy and tired the moment we got into the taxi. They were so quiet throughout the cab ride.
They must be pretty anxious about what to expect in Batam too. They kept looking at their surroundings, hoping to see something nice and exciting like Disneyland, maybe. They fell asleep shortly after. Reached the hotel in about ten minutes. Where at?
BCC HOTEL & RESIDENCES!
Jalan Bunga Mawar, Riau Islands Province 29444 Indonesia We panicked for a bit because my parents’ cab was nowhere to be found when we reached the hotel. We waited for more than thirty minutes for them. We really thought they had lost their way. Finally their cab made its appearance. Mak excitedly showed us this.
She went shopping for her turtle eggs. And to think that we were so worried for her and Daddy. LOL. Just what is so nice about turtle eggs? It’s like you are sucking your own phlegm, no?
Anyway, back to the hotel.
The moment I got hold of the free wifi, I put up the following post. Of course must be a bit proud la since I did not vomit and all. BIG ACHIEVEMENT, OKAY.
We booked the 3 bedroom executive suite apartment, and got a free upgrade to the 3 + 1 bedroom suite apartment! The apartment was really clean and super spacious when we checked in! There are four rooms in all, two bathrooms, a living room, dining area, and a kitchen even! Perfect choice if you are traveling in a big group.
Want to know how much we paid?
SGD285 per night.
So we kept our bags at the hotel before proceeding to lunch at the nearby mall, Batam City Square (‘BCS’), which is right next to the hotel.
We were initially told that there was A&W at BCS. I really could not wait to get to A&W because I had been dreaming of the Root Beer Float for so many nights prior to the trip. But once we were at Batam City Square, there was no sign of A&W. We double checked and true enough, there is no A&W at BCS. And since we were all already so hungry, we decided to have lunch at one of the restaurants there. At this point, I have to apologize for not taking note of the name of the restaurant. But then again, why bother? Read on to find out why. Tatek and I ordered Nasi Ayam Penyet because I wanted to see if it would taste better than the ones in Singapore. The moment our orders came, my eyes felt like they were about to pop out of my head.
Tatek and I were like complaining to each other like we had not eaten for a month!
“Are these chicken, chicks or birds?”
“Aiyoh why so tiny the chicken?”
“This chicken will be gone the moment it goes inside my mouth.”
No kidding. Really so small the chicken.
THANK GOD THE TASTE WAS QUITE OKAY. BUT I STILL PREFER NASI AYAM PENYET RIA IN SINGAPORE LOR.
We then ordered three bottles of The Sosro, or Teh Botol, as they call it.
Eh no. Let me count again.
We ordered six bottles in total. Why the bottle so small one? Just one sip, and the bottle was empty! Beggars cannot choose, they say. I dare not try the plain water or anything with ice over Batam because I was told that the tap water is not exactly that safe to drink. Hence, I decided to order anything chilled without any ice throughout my stay in Batam. But one thing for sure, food in Batam is really cheap. Like really really REALLY cheap. We paid SGD1.50 for one set of Nasi Ayam Penyet, mind you. After lunch, we went window shopping for a bit at BCS mall. Apparently, there was really nothing for the us or the kids, except for a lot of imitation goods. Want to cover your food with an ‘LV’? :S
I spotted someone sitting down and staring into space. He must be so bored.
His sister on the hand, was standing at one corner, and entertaining herself silly.
And since the kids were too bored, they even made a new friend. But the new friend just would not smile. (You do know that the friend is actually a mannequin, right?)
Forget about shopping! Really cannot make it.
Sofian booked the spa session for us instead at First Choice Spa , Massage and Reflexology. It was about five minutes walk from our hotel.
The kids went back to the hotel with my parents and the helpers to take their shower and rest for a bit while waiting for us. They were really so tired from all the walking and traveling. Now, let me tell you something about myself. I have never enjoyed massages or spas because I just do not like the idea of strangers touching me and exerting pressure on my body. Nurul however, convinced me to try it because according to her, it is just so relaxing and she will often fall asleep during the spa session.
Wah, must be that good, I thought to myself.
SO OKAY LOR, WE GO SPA LOH!
My god, they didn’t forewarn me that a really big sized masseuse would be stepping on me. Like really stand on top of my back and walk on my back while I lay flat on the mattress. Her entire body weight was on me. I felt it. My god, at that point of time, I really felt like the world was going to end. Tatek who was having his massage next to me, looked at me in disbelief. Save me lah, at the very least. LOL. The masseuse commented that my bones are not that strong because they kept making the “Krak Kruk” sound. I almost wanted to reply to her, “Ya and you almost broke them into pieces, woman.” So okay, other than that, the spa session was quite alright. I am not saying that I truly enjoyed it, but it was okay. I think I am just not that used to the whole idea of people performing karate chops on me and marinating me like BBQ chicken wings before walking on me like I am some kind of a London bridge. Right after the spa session was over, I told Nurul and Sofian about my experience and they were like, “But our masseuses were not big sized at all. It’s just your fat luck!” Nurul did fall asleep yet again. Nice. The Aromatherapy session lasted for about 1.5 hours, and we paid SGD19 per pax for that.
First Choice Spa , Massage and Reflexology
Komplek Ruko Penuin Centre Blok OA No. 12 – 12A Batam Island – Indonesia +62 778 700 2012 +62 778 431 506 Right after spa, we went back to the hotel to fetch the folks and the kids.
AND WHILE WE WERE GONE, THE GIRLS CAME UP WITH THESE BEAUTIFUL DRAWINGS.
THEY MUST BE THAT BORED, HUH?
Luckily I told them to bring their drawing materials and their Lego too to Batam.
We called for the cab and proceeded to Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall for dinner at A&W and some shopping. Apparently, Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall is a must visit if you visit Batam.
SO OKAY, WE VISIT LOH.
Saw A&W and we practically squealed in excitement. I quickly forced Sharleez to take a picture with the The Great Root Bear.
She was like, “Who is this, Mummy?”
But the first disappointment came when I saw the menu and I did not see any signs of Coney Dog or any other kinds of (hot)dogs. So okay, I ordered the chicken with the curly fries and the root beer float of course.
YUM YUM. LOOKS GOOD RIGHT?
The moment of truth everyone because looks can deceive. (Didn’t your mummy tell you that?) I could not even begin to describe how utterly disappointed I was with everything that I ordered. The root beer float tasted weird, like it was preserved in a PVC pipe or something! The curly fries were not curly enough. The chicken tasted like it was coated with curry powder or something. The chili sauce was just too sour.
WHAT IN THE WORLD DID I EAT?
How come some Singaporeans can just keep coming back to Batam for that? I am sorry to say this to all the people and lovers of Batam, but the A&W in Batam really sucks big time! The whole lot of us could not even finish our drinks and food. Everything was barely touched.
Dinner was a major disappointment, simply put.
After dinner was done (or barely done), we walked around the entire shopping mall. Nagoya Hill really reminded me of Platinum Fashion Mall in BKK, except that Platinum Fashion Mall has more trendy clothes for everyone. Nagoya Hill has clothes with lots of blink blink, though.
OKAY ANYWAY, WHAT IS UP WITH THE AIRCON IN BATAM? WE WERE PERSPIRING IN ALL THE SHOPPING MALLS WE WENT TO BECAUSE WE COULD BARELY FEEL THE AIRCON. AND OH, YOU ARE EVEN ALLOWED TO SMOKE IN THE SHOPPING MALL LIKE NOBODY’S BUSINESS.
Where are the safety measures, people? While we were window shopping, the entire shopping mall blacked out for about ten seconds. But lucky it was only for ten seconds. I did not even have the chance to open my mouth to scream. LOL. I could not find anything to shop for myself, so I ended up getting distracted by the names of the stores instead.
TELL ME IF YOU FIND THE NAMES FAMILIAR.
Funny how they use almost the same fonts and colours as well! We then went to this souvenir shop called ‘Put Name’ (what else could they possibly name their shop, right?) where you can personalize key chains because Sharleez wanted to get a little souvenir for her classmate. The girls ended up getting personalized keychains for themselves too.
Cost of keychain: SGD 1.50 each
The expression on the girls’ faces: Priceless
We saw JCo Donuts, and decided to take away some donuts for breakfast the following morning.
Again I was told that the donuts there are much nicer and cheaper than the ones in Singapore. There must be some truth in what I heard, judging from the long queue.
SORRY BUT I STILL PREFER THE DONUTS IN SINGAPORE.
Anyway, let me talk to you about the straw issues I had in Batam.
Nurul and I decided to buy drinks at JCo Donuts, but we were not given straws for our drinks. We could not find any straw either. When we asked the donut guy for straws, he had to leave the counter and take the straws out from some locked drawer.
WAH. THAT SECRETIVE AH?
Earlier on at the restaurant, I asked for three straws for my drinks. And I had to keep asking for about five times from five different waiters before I finally got hold of the straws.
When we were at the supermarket and shopping for packet drinks for the kids, I noticed that all the packet drinks did not come with straws. I asked Aton and she explained that the straws would only be given to me once I pay for the packet drinks at the cashier.
SO OKAY, I CONCLUDED THAT IT IS A PRIVILEGE TO OWN A STRAW IN BATAM. HOLD ON TIGHT TO YOUR STRAWS, PEOPLE. NEVER LET THEM GO.
Lesson learnt. Bring your own straws the next time you come to Batam.
I AM NOT KIDDING, OKAY.
By then, it was already close to 10 pm. You would have thought that we would call it a night and make our way back to the hotel right? We did not. Instead, we decided to take the cab to Golden Prawn Restaurant for supper.
Again, I was told that Golden Prawn Restaurant is a must visit if you are a seafood lover.
SO OKAY, WE GO EAT THERE LOH.
The moment we reached Golden Prawn, I was actually looking for…a golden prawn. Sorry but I was just intrigued by the name. Found none, so we decided to find a table for all of us instead. Golden Prawn Restaurant is really huge, and surrounded by a pond. While waiting for the food to arrive, we were entertained (not!) by some random people with screeching voices karaoke-ing at the stage. They must be the appetizers, I thought. We ordered quite a number of dishes since the food there is so cheap anyway.
Are you ready for our verdict?
The coconut drink arrived first, but we were disappointed by how sour it tasted. The coconut must be really old.
The first dish to arrive was the scallops with pineapple sauce. The first thing I saw on the shells were the pineapple cubes. I had to dig and dig before I could finally find three scallops.
Now, I actually wanted to take pictures of all the dishes that we ordered, but after tasting the scallop pineapple cubes with pineapple sauce, I decided to not take pictures of the rest of the dishes. I thought the taste was really mediocre. True enough, we were only further disappointed when the rest of the dishes arrived. Everything was pretty much tasteless and lacked the kick. Nothing to be wow about. Not even close to being tasty enough. We left the restaurant swearing and cursing like grumpy old uncles and aunties. LOL. If you were to ask my dad about his experience at Golden Prawn Restaurant, he would gladly give it 2 stars out of 10 stars. To quote him,
“This is the worst seafood I have ever tasted in my entire life.”
LOL. Don’t play play ok, this dad of mine takes his food seriously. So okay, it was back to the hotel right after the disappointing supper. We had our shower and we spent the rest of the night whatsapping each other at our family group chat, and laughing like hyenas. The best thing was, we were all at the living room! Why talk when we can whatsapp? Why waste our breath when we can save it for karaoke? Dang. We did not get to go for karaoke though. (I was really saving my voice for karaoke.) The next morning, it was breakfast at the hotel itself. Frankly speaking, I was not expecting much for the breakfast, after the series of disappointing food the day before.
True enough, the food at the hotel was just as bad.
The mee rebus tasted like playdoh. The sausages tasted like rubber. The mee goreng tasted like I don’t know what. And my god, even the honey stars cereal tasted totally different!
HOW TO EAT?
Luckily the chicken porridge was not that bad. That was the only consolation for the lack of good food, I guess. Check out their bored faces.
SUPER BORED KIDS ALERT!
Right after breakfast, it was hair spa time! I thought I just needed a good hair massage and at the same time, pamper my hair a bit. Hair spa is basically hair care treatment that provides moisture to dry and damaged hair. It protects your hair from split ends, dryness and dullness and also improves the texture, apparently. :/
I enjoyed the hair spa a lot. It was truly a relaxing experience for me. So I do not mind coming back to Batam during the fasting month (so that I do not have to eat) just for a hair spa session. LOL. We paid SGD 12 per pax for an hour of hair spa at Hair Perfect Salon.
Hair Perfect Salon
Batam City Square (BCS) Mall (Jalan Bunga Raya, Baloi) Batam, Kepulauan Riau 29432
Look at us, right after our hair spa session! How? Do I look like an Indon tai tai? LOL.
Once hair spa was done, we went back to the hotel to check out, and then proceeded to Nagoya Business to buy some chips. Mak insisted on going to Nagoya Business. There are basically a lot of roadside stands at Nagoya business selling homemade chips. local fruits and preserved fruits.
This fruit below is my number one enemy. It always makes me cough each time I eat it.
In my mind, I was thinking, “What is the biggie about them chips? Singapore also have, what.”
BUT OMG THE CHIPS ARE REALLY REALLY GOOD!
SGD3 for half a kilo, and they were very generous with the testers too. The guy selling the chips gave me this big bag of chips, FOC!
And he kept asking me whether I wanted more. Of course I did not ask him for more. Cannot be so greedy. May Allah bless his kind heart, and may his chips business prosper even more. To Batam Centre we went thereafter for our ferry ride back to Singapore.
I couldn’t have been more happier to go home, despite the long queue of people that I had to endure and tolerate. There is really no queueing up system over there, so that pretty much explains the reason why the place is forever overcrowded with people. Tatek had a picture taken with our very nice cab driver, Mister Nur Cahaya!
What’s a ferry ride without a picture overlooking the sea, right?
And there you have it.
I have just blogged about our Batam trip.
And here is a little note for my fellow friends and acquaintances who are big lovers of Batam.
I am sorry that my family and I did not enjoy Batam as much as we wanted or tried to. I am sorry that I failed to see the reason(s) why we should make a return to Batam. I am sorry that I did not go to the better restaurants or spas. I am sorry I did not quite appreciate what Batam has to offer. But that should not stop you from continuing to enjoy or frequent Batam. To each, his own (merriment).
The purpose of this post is not to grumble or whine. It was never my intention to sound so ungrateful or rotten either.
But if there was one thing that I appreciated, then it was the opportunity to see the different side of the world where life is pretty much simpler (though more chaotic). The Batam trip was an eye opener for me and it made me realize how fortunate I really am to be living in Singapore. (And I hope my girls realized that too.) The living conditions/situations such as the ones we see in Singapore do pale in comparison to what most of the people in Batam live with every single day.
But they make do with what they have.
Thank goodness that I had good company in the form of my family throughout the trip. No matter the place, as long as there is good company, it will result in good time spent together, somehow. <3