Last Friday, we suddenly decided to book a trip to Batam, Indonesia for the Chinese New Year since Monday and Tuesday were holidays and we had a long weekend. Tatsie found this website and made an inquiry. We wanted to go on the 14th and 15th but the agent advised that those dates were already booked but would we like to consider the dates 13 and 14 instead? We said yes. This is the package we got:
2D1N TOUR Package: (SGD98 x 3 Adts)
SG PDF and Fuel S/charge: SGD20 x 3 Adts
2 ways ferry tickets (SIN-BTH-SIN)/ Ferry depart @ 0800hr from Harbourfront Ferry Terminal
1 night stay with breakfast at Golden View Hotel Batam in Superior Room (1 unit + 1 extra bed)
1 Day Batam City Tour with seafood lunch
1 Dinner for all on first day
Complimentary 90 Mins traditional massage or 10 mins Go Kart Ride for adults only
Land transfer and local guide assist
All above package is based on FIXED DEPARTURE BASIC as following:
By Tour Package is 0800am
Pick-up from hotel to Ferry Terminal is all fixed at 1200pm check-out hotel, pick-up 1230pm.
Require for early or late departure will be imposed additional surcharge for land transfer is S$5/pax/trip for 8am to 6pm and S$10/pax/trip for 6pm to 9pm and midnight charge for after 9pm is S$20/pax/trip
Batam Terminal Fee of SGD7/pax
Local Guide & Driver Tipping of SGD2/pax/day
Personal Insurance, Room Service and all expenses of purely personal nature
The next morning at 8am, we were riding a ferry out of Singapore. When we got to Batam about an hour later, out tour guide told us that we would have to wait for a few other people’s ferries to arrive, so we had breakfast while waiting – kaya toast with butter, soft boiled eggs in a bowl, and kopi.
Then we boarded the bus and after one more hour of waiting, we were off to our first tour stop, a shop of local goodies. Our tour guide introduced himself as Joko. When Cate said Diaz, he acknowledged it. Apparently he has had enough Filipino tourists who gave him that crap. Joko Diaz, by the way, is a famous Filipino actor.
After that, it was time for lunch at a place called Golden Prawn 555. We shared a table with three Filipinas and an Indian couple. There was so much food – rice, chili crab, cereal shrimp, seashells, kangkong with bagoong, calamares, pineapple and watermelon slices with huge fresh coconuts for our drinks.
We asked the waitress to take our picture and to our surprise, she took it from three different angles. We wondered for a moment if she would climb the lattices on the ceiling and take a shot from the top view as well.
After stuffing our tummies, we walked to this hut-like stage and watched a cultural presentation. It started out with two men dancing in colorful costumes. Then they wore a dragon mascot and danced around in it. Then one of the guys took a brown coconut and stripped it of its husk using his teeth.
After he had done that, he sat on the ground where a feast was lain before him – glowing coals ablaze with fire. He picked them up with his fingers and popped them into his mouth, fire and all. Each time he swallowed a flaming coal, wisps of smoke billowed out of his mouth.
After he was done, another guy came out and dined on glass. He put the glass into his mouth and munched on it. Then someone went around handing pieces to the audience, Tatsie being one of them. When he came around, she fed the shard of glass she held into his mouth.
Then a couple of guys raised a flaming tire in the air and the glass-eating guy jumped through it. Reminds me of that video game Circus. @.@
We boarded our trusty bus 58 and headed to the go kart range. Since we had opted to get free massages, we had to pay for our go kart – S$15 for 10 minutes. We strapped on our helmets and roared off under the blazing sun. I had overcome my fear of driving thanks to my first go kart experience in Subic, so I kept my foot on the accelerator, barely slowing down or braking.
After finishing our rounds, we ran to the garden of miniature houses to take a picture with one house then ran outside to take another quick shot with a background of a carnival-like place before the bus roared to life and picked us up.
We visited a couple of shops for shopping – a Polo outlet which sells at less than half the price in Singapore, and a shop that sells imitation LV, Bonia, etc bags and products. We didn’t buy anything. Outside the Polo shop, there were lots of peddlers calling to us in Filipino: “Ate, mura lang, apat limang daan.” Wow they learned our tongue just to sell to our people. Hahaha.
We had another quick stop at the Chinese temple. We had to rush or we wouldn’t make it to our massage booking. The three of us run around the place and managed to take a lot of pictures in 10 minutes.
Finally it was off to Hotel 89 for an hour and a half traditional massage. They had cots on the floor instead of massage tables with holes for your head. I got a stiff neck from lying with my head twisted to one side.
The first few minutes were kinda painful, with the girl stepping all over my back while hanging from a pole on the ceiling. Then with the exception of some first few minutes when she pressed too hard and I asked her to go slow, the rest of the massage was so relaxing that I fell asleep. I sure miss my 250-peso massages back in Makati. They cost 60sgd in Singapore.
Our tour guide picked us up when we were done and delivered us to our hotel, Golden View. It was a lovely four star hotel. We rode the elevator to our room, unpacked, freshened up a bit, and headed to Rajawali Beer Garden and Restaurant at the second floor for our free dinner.
I wonder if it’s only in the Philippines that the words “beer garden” can have such unpleasant connotations, like the words “guest relations officer.”
Our meal reminded us of the meals we have in Aston’s back in Singapore. It was good. I had a problem with the ketchup, though. It was saltier than usual. And the accompanying juice tasted like a drop of Ritchie’s concentrated juice stirred into a glass of water… if you know what I mean.
After dinner, we walked around the hotel to take some pictures, and ended up buying some passport holders. We had dessert in Murai Lobby Bar where I had a mousse cake with a pink heart which I eventually stuck on my forehead for a hearts day pic.
There was an Indonesian band singing live for entertainment, and when they found out that we were Filipinos, they sang Jolina Magdangal’s “Laging Tapat, Laging Totoo” for us.
We retired early for the night. The next day, we had a buffet breakfast. They had some Indonesian cuisine aside from the usual omelette, cereals, salads and fruits that are typically part of most breakfast buffets.
We sat at a table with a view of the swimming pool outside. After eating, we went back to our room for a while and I gave the girls my valentine’s gift for them – paper roses which I had bought back in Singapore.
Then we headed to that pool for a quick dip and some lounging around.
We checked out at noon and waited for our tour guide to pick us up and bring us to the ferry port. It was a fun vacation indeed, but one that wouldn’t have been if we hadn’t booked a tour. So if you plan on going there, do book one as well or you’d have nothing to do or have problems with transportation.