This would be his first time setting foot on Batam, and he had been looking forward to this trip booked with Far East Travels. He thought this would be a good break after having endured some difficult weeks. And this turned out to be one extra-eventful weekend getaway.
Note: Time stated are all in GMT +08:00, Singapore time. Batam time is GMT +07:00, an hour behind.
Day 1 - 10 Sep 2011
Ferry ticketing issues (~8.30am)
Arrived at the Wave Master counter at Singapore Cruise Centre at about 8.20am and met up with the rest of the group. When they tried to get the boarding passes, they were the only 2 out of the group of 14 to be rejected. Why? The Wave Master counter personnel told them that their records did not exist at all, despite them producing the confirmation slips and vouchers. With no boarding passes, he could only fume and see the group off. He was advised to contact Far East Travels, which apparently were not open on weekends, thanks to Android and mobile data services.
He tried calling Far East Travels between ~8.30am and ~10am to no avail, duh. With that in mind, he decided to buy 2 ferry ticks for 1pm departure to salvage his trip. The Wave Master counter was unable to verify if the return leg of the ferry service had been booked, and that helped him decide to buy return tickets for $48/pax over one-way tickets of $42/pax. Just in case Far East Travels' actions left him stranded for the second time.
Bought at 10.52am, 10 September 2011.
Omission from tour group name list
Shortly after he bought the tickets for an uncalled-for-damage of $96, one of his mates called him from Batam. The local tour guide did not have both their names on the tour! Double whammy. It felt like he spent money to make himself miserable. Told himself to calm down, to update Far East Travels at email@example.com of the situation, and to wait for his friends to verify the hotel booking.
EXIF 12:29pm, 10 September 2011
Waiting to board at the holding area... 12.29pm as shown on the clock.
EXIF 12:35pm, 10 September 2011
The cable cars in the background are proof that this was taken at Singapore Cruise Centre.
Finally boarded the 1pm Wave Master 3 and got ready to depart for their trip, half the day would have been wasted. He found an available seat between 2 old men, who would keep talking throughout the ride, keeping him awake. It had also started to rain very heavily...
Arrival at Harbour Bay Batam (~2pm)
The snaking queues at immigrations were quickly dispatched by just 3 officers. Hungry after being left high and dry, (well, maybe with a few splashes of the rain), they headed to Harbour Bay Mall to look for lunch. Called his friend to check on status but was diverted to the machine several times, so he dropped the friend a text message instead.
EXIF 2:13pm, 10 September 2011
Cute slippers at some shop after clearing immigrations at Harbour Bay Terminal, Batam.
EXIF 2:20pm, 10 September 2011
On the overhead bridge that links Harbour Bay Terminal and Harbour Bay Mall. Note the buildings and construction works.
Change of luck?
The hungry people were in Godiva Bistro, almost placing their orders when he received an incoming call. The tour bus was in the vicinity, and the tour guide (Rocky) had agreed to allow them onboard, despite their names not being on his list. That would deprive the tour guide of his seats though.
EXIF 2:45pm, 10 September 2011
A picture of the BFC restaurant facade from inside Godiva Bistro.
EXIF 2:48pm, 10 September 2011
Waited around Harbour Bay Mall's plaza for the re-group. Random picture of the ceiling deco that also captured Liebe Luxury's signage.
EXIF 2:52pm, 10 September 2011
Not able to have their late lunch, so they decided to get some donuts from J Co to eat on the go.
In a while, they would re-group with the rest, and it was a relieve to hear that the hotel booking was valid. Rocky also confirmed that there were no return leg ferry tickets for them, really lucky that he had bought return tickets at Wave Master, Singapore Cruise Centre. Far East Travels... grrr!
By this time, they had already missed out on their seafood feast and massage. The next destinations would be visits to the Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya temple, factory outlets and Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall.
EXIF 1:16pm, 10 September 2011
One of his friends enjoying her massage while he was enduring the nauseous ferry ride through rainy weather and choppy seas. Proof that he had missed out on the massage services.
EXIF 2:07pm, 10 September 2011
Friends having the seafood lunch. He was probably still queuing to clear immigrations while they were happily eating. Proof that he had missed the seafood event.
EXIF 2:08pm, 10 September 2011
Although blurry, she looks like she's mocking him for all the good luck he was enjoying. That's the same lady in the massage picture.
At the temple, he paid his respects to the various Buddhas and Lord Guan, for peace, health and of course, better luck.
Stand in awe of the God of War
Then they went to the local produce shop for food tasting and shopping. The preserved fruits tasted really good, and so were the crackers. She had a good time scooting around the shop and picking at the samples. They ended up getting drawn first blood here for some crackers.
The third destination was Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall and he had his A&W there at ~5pm. It was unlike what he had in his childhood, what's root beer float without the glass mug? No Coney Dog so he got the 2-piece chicken meal. Chicken parts were disappointingly small...spent slightly more than 100,000rp over here for both of them. Imagine if they had accepted the "replacement" massage, they would have gone hungry for the whole day.
Root beer float in paper cup, sigh
Mozza burger for her
Waffle sundae for her too
Stocked up on mineral water, snacks and beer from the supermarket before heading for the next destination - Kampung Ole Ole and factory outlet. Souvenirs at the former and discounted branded stuff at the latter. Bought nothing there though...
It was almost dusk (doesn't look like it) when they reached the hotel. Check-in at the hotel was a speedy affair. Got up to room 716, took a hot shower to freshen up before lazing in bed while waiting to meet up for dinner.
Stairway to the hotel entrance
~12,500rp for this set. Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside. And the nice and fiery chilli accompaniment completed the dinner at ~9pm.
Day 2 - 11 Sep 2011
Breakfast at hotel
Woke up at around 8am to wash up and went for breakfast at around 8.40am.
Mie Ayam - noticed a few flies hovering around the accompaniments. You could choose the ingredients before pouring in the soup.
Omelette and the fruit juices
Fried rice with fish and chicken. Fish meat was very succulent, but a bit too salty.
Ayam bubur (chicken porridge), probably everyone's comfort food because the pot got empty before breakfast had ended.
Fried bihun with fish and chicken
French toast, omelette and chicken franks
Batam City Square
(Can't remember the name of the restaurant)
Bihun Siram 27,000rp
My Kitty Cafe....some theme cafe that seemed to serve kids' food
Fried mushrooms from pushcart stall in the mall for 10,000rp.
Not forgetting that he had several cups of delicious chocolate avocado smoothie for between 7,000rp and 10,000rp. Too bad he had forgotten to take any pictures of the drinks. They call it alpukat over there.
Banquet Harbourfront Centre
Back in Singapore around 7pm and 11 hungry stomachs agreed to settle dinner together. Some of them recommended the western food stall.
He had a generous serving of chicken cutlet, $6.20.
Beef steak with mushroom sauce for her, $8.
And topped it off with some donuts.
In progress with Far East Travels