School is reopening in less than a month’s time. Unlike previous years, I didn’t go to anywhere far for vacation but I actually went overseas twice. Like, literally crossing international waters twice. Both weren’t as enjoyable as my other trips but what set them apart from my other travels was the presence of my family. Believe it or not, this is actually our first proper overseas trip (not counting the cruise vacation) together in more than a decade! And I really treasure the time we spend together as a family 🙂
Anyway, those with eidetic memory will recall how much I hated travelling to Batam in my first Batam post. The aversion never left me but my Mom was dying to escape to another nearby country (except Malaysia) thus she dismissed my refusal to go -_- Dad used to work in Batam for a few years and he said he could bring us around. Feeling super excited, my Mom started searching for cheap Batam package deals and eventually bought this from deal.com.sg.
Each coupon cost $40 with a one-hour massage and $30 without (not inclusive of S$20 fuel surchage and Batam terminal fee of Rp65,000 per person). Both came with a tour package. Boyfriend tagged along this time (finally got his passport renewed) so we utilised five coupons in total.
I’m totally against buying travel packages through deal sites but I didn’t want to go through the hassle of booking the hotel and looking for cheap massage parlour myself. Furthermore we only decided on our trip TWO days before our departure so I didn’t have the time to plan the itinerary (indecisiveness is in our blood apparently). I succumbed to my laziness in the end and got the merchant (Royal Prince Travel) to do everything for us. Apart from the small hiccup with the hotel booking (agency got our names wrong – but that was settled in a jiffy), the redemption process went really smooth. So kudos to Royal Prince Travel for their flexibility and efficiency!
Both our arrival and departure venues in Batam was at Sekupang Ferry Terminal. Our ferries (Pacific Ferry) were very clean and equipped with a reasonably large plasma TV with zero screen disruption. Everything looked sparkling new so I guess it must be a new company haha.
We were picked up by someone at the arrival hall but were told to stay put because he was still waiting for the next 2 ferries to arrive -_- So we spent our time idling in the cafe at the ferry terminal until a 7-seater van came for us.
Our accommodation was at the newly built Hotel 01 which claims to be the only themed hotel in Batam.
However looks can be really deceiving – Hotel 01 did give that Egyptian vibes on the outside but it was nowhere near the theme when we stepped into our room.
Boyfriend and I requested for a room change twice. The first was because we were given a queen-sized bed (*cough*parents’ paranoia*cough*) and the second was due to an unbearable sewage stench from the room’s toilet. We eventually took back our original room because there were no other rooms available. We then did a swap with my parents who were occupying a twin room with an extra bed for my sister. It was also a huge mistake, as there was zilch Wi-Fi reception in that room (in fact all rooms with number 30X along that row have no WiFi reception. Only rooms 313, 314 and those near them have the strongest Wi-Fi connection) and we even encountered a cockroach on our first and only night there! Holy crap, that’s a first for me.
One of the bath towels and comforters were also stained with shoe prints. Oh gosh, please let me pull through this one agonising night, please.
But I must say, the lady at the hotel reception was really nice and obliging. I was half-expecting her to be annoyed at our demands but she never did.
I also had to call the concierge to loan a hairdryer because it was not provided in the room. Other toilet essentials like toothbrush, toothpaste (no shaver and comb) and soap were provided though. TV reception was sucky.. No channel (not sure about their own broadcast stations coz we only watched movie channels) gave a clear image.
The first day was free-and-easy for us so we did a little shopping at Nagoya Hills Shopping Mall. Got our A&W craving satisfied and bought 6 big packets of sanitary pads HAHAHA Seriously, the sanitary pads (suitable for extremely heavy flow – 35cm in length – lol I’m so specific) were SO CHEEEEEAAAP like what, S$1.30 for a packet of 16?! If I could clear the shelf, I totally would!
We had dinner at Golden Prawn 933. Dad was probably in a severe state of seafood deprivation that he ordered mini prawns, Mantis Prawns and FOUR crabs (cooked in both black pepper and chilli). I only wanted my Gong Gongs.
Total bill came up to Rp1,472,000 (approximately S$160) WHAAATTT okay I kinda expected that anyway. For the amount of seafood we ordered, S$35 per person is actually quite cheap. If we were in Singapore, our bill could easily amount up to S$200 odd. BUT my heart still ached for that amount of money… 😥
Breakfast, although with very limited selection, was pretty pleasant. Apart from bread, they served noodles and rice along with 2 other side dishes. I actually ate a second helping of the noodles. Thus if you’re like me, who eats better with lesser variety, this hotel breakfast should work fine for you.
Our tour guide was scheduled to arrive between 9am to 10am Batam Time so we checked out of our rooms at around 9.30am. However his arrival was delayed (due to some problems with the Burmese tourists’ passports) so our tour started a tad later as well. The tour guide was sincerely apologetic.
Our first stop was at a chocolate factory. Don’t expect too much of it as it’s just another outlet to fleece tourists lol. What they have there, we have it here at our supermarkets as well at a much cheaper price.
We also went to a local product shop which sold equally expensive snacks, a Batik outlet, a temple which only my father went while the rest of us stayed in the bus, and one of their very popular Polo Ralph Lauren outlets. Polo Ralph Lauren had a sale section and I almost bought a female slim fit top for S$35 but I kept telling myself that those were all replicas (how true is this, I’m not sure) and resisted my temptation to splurge!
Visting a Kueh Lapis factory (Best Layers Kueh Lapis – it has small makeshift stalls at certain Batam shopping malls) was also part of the itinerary. My parents bought a truckload of cakes impossible to finish in a week and boyfriend got himself a honey cake and 10 pieces of Tau Sar Piah for me! Yay ❤
Then we were brought to a place to watch a culture show and to shoot glass bottles with pellet guns.
We had our Indo buffet lunch at Restaurant Sari Bumbu. Due to the fasting season for Muslims, everywhere on the streets was quiet. We were the only patrons of the restaurant but actually the food was not bad! I love their soup especially!
Before we headed for our massage, we visited First Factory Outlet. I believe most of the stuff there are imitations because the prices are too good to be true. But sigh, I still couldn’t resist a bargain. Got myself a Barcelona FC jersey for S$25.
Full-body massage at First Choice was mediocre as I didn’t get a satisfactory amount of “bone cracking”. Boyfriend’s experience was worse as he didn’t get any cracks and he left feeling uncomfortable all over. My Mom on the other hand was silently enduring all the pain – not the masseuse’s fault though because my shy Mom chose to keep mum -_- Having said that, my Dad enjoyed his massage so there you go, mixed responses about the massage parlour. I guess if you don’t go for massage sessions regularly, you’ll have lower expectations and this place should be okay for you.
We ended our Batam getaway with another shopping trip to Batam City Square Mall. Boyfriend and I didn’t shop much and we tried to spend our last few Rupiahs at the arcade because according to my tour guide, the Rupiah notes expire every few years (But Wikipedia and other credible sites tell me something else, that only the 1998-1999 notes are no longer legal tender, so it’s up to your discretion). To play we had to buy some game credits at Rp100,000 (approx. S$11) and on average each game station requires Rp2800 (approx. S$0.30). We spent most of our credits on their claw vending machines (as always) and bagged 2 plush toys home. Hehe!
All in all, this Batam trip was not that bad despite the unpleasant experience in our hotel room, probably because it was a shorter stay this time. My Mom doesn’t mind a second trip to Batam (oh snap) so yeah…. I can’t promise that I won’t be back there again.
Thanks for reading anyways. Have a great week everyone! 😉
Short Batam Trip (2013)