Exploring Batam

Batam Travel Blog

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Kwan Imm statue

I seldom get to travel with my family due to a variety of reasons (lack of time, commitments etc) so the best option is to go on short day tours to nearby locations over the holiday period. And luckily for us in Singapore, we have many places in nearby Malaysia, Indonesia or Thailand to escape to. Having never been to Batam (which is a common island for Singaporeans to holiday in, do watersports and visit spas), I decided to book a day tour for myself, the sister and the mother.

At this point I would like to add that I do not like travelling with a tour group unless I have to. I dislike going with groups of people together on huge buses and being shepherded around by a guide screaming, "We don't have much time!".

Overlooking the ocean at Tanjung Pinggir
I like to control my own itinerary, thank you very much. There's a big difference between 'travellers' and 'tourists'.

This time round however it made more sense to sign up with a travel agency for their guided tours as it was way cheaper than if we were to book our own cabs. And also Batam is not that safe for foreigners to go wandering about on their own. As we were an all girl group, my mother was pretty paranoid and insisted that it was better to go with the guided tour. And so we did.

After a ferry ride, we landed on Batam early in the morning, ready to begin our city tour. Our tour group consisted of about 40 pax, from various nationalities - mostly Asian. Our guide for the day was a pretty cool Indonesian, who asked us to call him Harry Potter since his real name was pretty close to that! A great tour guide makes all the difference!

Our first stop was to the large statue of Guan Yin (Goddess of Mercy).

'Harry Potter' praying
It stands at about a massive 20 ++ metres and devotees can make their prayers and offerings. I spotted Harry Potter praying (perhaps praying to get more tips from us that day? =p).  The statue is near Tanjung Pinggir beach and overlooks the ocean.

Next up, the tour attempted us to get our bodies moving by bringing us to the flying fox and Go-Kart circuit. Nobody on our tour was keen to try the flying fox (there were not many young people in our group). Me and my sister were determined to Go-Kart though, even if nobody wanted to. And so for SGD$15 per pax, we got our adrenaline rush and raced around the track. I tried to be a speed demon but my skills reflected my driving abilities in real life - I'm a road hazard! By the time we were done, the whole bus was waiting for us, having completed their walk-through of the Indonesia-Batam Miniature Park.

Locals hanging around

After a less than satisfactory seafood lunch at Golden Prawn 555 Seafood Restaurant, we watched the kuda lumping cultural dance performed by the locals. Actually the highlight was mostly a man touching fire and eating glass. Although very much a tourist gimmick, I donated some money as I don't think it must be easy for the performers to earn a living here. In fact throughout the whole tour, as expected we were brought to all the touristy shops such as the Polo shops, selling Polo Ralph Lauren items and the bags factory outlet selling imitation branded bags (which I must say were pretty good quality). Although I'm a shopaholic, none of these things interested me. I was really turned off by the end of it all as we were brought to 3 Polo shops! I never want to see another Polo shop again!

We managed to visit the Thoa Pek Kong chinese temple, which is the oldest in Batam.

My attempt at go-kart
It was moved from Singapore's Kusu Island in the 1980's. I often wonder how entire structures are moved to different places! Must be tough to take everything down piece by piece! Anyway the temple didn't interest me much, except for some statues in the garden. I wandered off to the stalls where I observed the locals making some onde-onde. I tasted some and it was so fresh, with the palm sugar just oozing out! My mother was happy as she loves these things too and she bought a lot of local produce in the shops we visited along the way. She bought bags and bags of these stuff, singlehandedly propping up the local economy!

We ended the day with a relaxing aroma massage at a spa followed by shopping at Batam City Square mall in Nagoya town.

The sisters before go-karting
We ferried back at 6pm, with all our shopping bags in tow. I thought it was actually a pretty decent tour minus all the tourist traps we were brought to. Harry Potter was an entertaining guide and he was able to provide us with much information about Batam and the local system. Most importantly, I got to spend time with the family, which is all that matters really.

Anislaila says:
My trip was with friends and we checked into a beach resort Batam. We enjoyed the 3 days just indulging ourselves with go-carting, shopping, eating and generally walking around.
Posted on: Jun 21, 2010
invizee says:
no water sports available there unfortunately! but there are lots of other places in batam for that. :)
Posted on: Jan 29, 2010
ganheplovely says:
Tanjung Pinggir looks nice..Could we swim or dive there? ^^
Posted on: Jan 29, 2010
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Kwan Imm statue
Kwan Imm statue
Overlooking the ocean at Tanjung P…
Overlooking the ocean at Tanjung …
Harry Potter praying
'Harry Potter' praying
Locals hanging around
Locals hanging around
My attempt at go-kart
My attempt at go-kart
The sisters before go-karting
The sisters before go-karting
Glass eating man
Glass eating man
Cultural performer eating fire
Cultural performer eating fire
Laughing Buddha
Laughing Buddha
Making ondeh-ondeh
Making ondeh-ondeh
Freshly made ondeh-ondeh
Freshly made ondeh-ondeh
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photo by: planisphere