Here we go again….I hit the groupon market yet again and booked a trip to Batam for my mom and I. I definitely recommend something like this if you are looking for a quick getaway and not necessarily looking to stay in a 5-star hotel. For $90 a piece we got a 2D 1N stay at Harmoni Suite Batam, breakfast, a Guided city and shopping tour with an Indonesian lunch, a 60-minute massage, the ferry ride to and from Batam, passenger departure fee, fuel surcharges, and the Batam terminal fee already paid for under our package. It was nice because everything was already taken care of and the only thing we had to worry about was buying a visa upon entering. Transportation and everything else was already taken care of.
So, Batam is right off of Singapore’s coastline, it’s is the largest city in the Riau Islands of Indonesia, and is quite simple to get to from Singapore. All you have to go is get to Vivo City and Hop a ferry from there, and you’ll be there in no time. Keep in mind there is an hour time change..this messed me up a little when we first got there 😛
Upon arrival in Batam, we were greeted right away by our tour guide who was very professional and spoke English very well. He actually spoke three languages, so everyone in our group knew what was going on at all times. (Can you believe he learned most of his English by watching tv?! I wish I had the ability to pick up a language like that!) So it was off the ferry and onto the 1/2 day tour. This is something you should prepare for if you plan on doing the groupon because you take all your luggage with you, so I suggest traveling light. As soon as you jump off the ferry, you are ushered onto a van (seats about 12 people and has A/C) to begin your tour around the Island. The tour takes you are taken to the Laughing Budha Temple or the Toa Kong Temple where you can rub Buddha’s belly for good luck. Remember to stick your hands in your pocket after for some extra wealth to come your way! You are given about 15-20 minutes at each stop to look around and shop if you’d like. So the stops are pretty quick, and they expect you to buy a few things of course but don’t feel as though you have to. The next stop on the tour was the Local product Shop, which a great place to try some of the local snacks. I recommend getting some of the toasted corn! It’s basically corn on steroids, and we had a big problem trying to keep it in the house when guests came over. Needless to say its gone and we have orders for next Christmas lol. Next, we hit the Polo Ralph Lauren Factory. Items are very reasonably priced here because they are so-called “rejects” but you would never tell the difference. After that, it was the Batik Factory, which is what Indonesia is known for, and you can buy all sorts of fabrics, bags, and clothing items. Yes, they are all about the shopping here, but that’s basically what people from Singapore come to do in Batam because things are much more reasonably priced. However, my mom and I were yet again not the norm and didn’t go too crazy at most of the stores.
After the Batik factory, we were split up into two groups. Group 1 (our group) was dropped off at a local massage parlor where we received a 1hr. Indonesian massage and Group 2 was taken to the mall next door to shopping for an hour if they did not wish to get a massage. The massage was fantastic, and it’s funny because I’ve actually never gotten a massage in the states because they are a little costly but in places like Indonesia they are wicked cheap. The girls are all trained and if you’ve never had an Indonesian massage let me be the first to tell you if it can crack it will haha they are surprisingly very relaxing, though. I prefer an Indonesian massage to a Thai where they like to bend you all sort of weird ways 😛
After our Massages, we hit yet another venue but this time we got to fill our bellies 🙂 Indonesia is known for their Lapis cake or layer cake. Here you can try original, mocha, chocolate, prune, cinnamon, cheese and pandan. My favorite is the cinnamon, but mocha and pandan are also quite yummy. For those of you have not tried this traditional cake it’s not what you are thinking. It’s not loaded with sugar and frosting it’s more like a slice of bread with a hint of flavor, and like eating a sponge cake.
Here is what it looks like:
Cinnamon Flavor (link to image)
*For those of you who don’t know the durian fruit is native to Southeast Asia and is known for its very distinctive flavor and smell. You either love it or hate it. In Singapore, it’s not allowed in public transportation because it is so potent. I’ve tried durian flavored ice cream, and I’ve gotta say it’s not bad, but I don’t know if I could do the fruit. Guess I’ll have to find out and give it a go :)*Okay, back to the tour….After the Lapis house, we hit the Chocolate factory and tried some good ole Indonesian chocolate. They had all different flavors for us to try. My personal favorite is the Mocha of course, but if your feeling adventurous I say try the durian 😛 Oh, quick side note for you here: You know that amazing looking “Jelly” (not Jell-o lol) that all the dessert places sell in Singapore?! Yeah, it’s not so amazing. It’s quite gross actually 😛 My mom, and I thought we would be adventurous and give it a go for dessert one night. Thinking we were all fun and fancy trying to show some guests a little bit of Singapore during their visit we bought some. However, lucky for us we tried some before deciding NOT to serve it to our guests. Looks like Jello..tastes like ummm…well, not Jell-O. Haha, lets just say we weren’t fans. It isn’t exactly like American Jell-O its actually a little harder and certainly doesn’t taste the same.
Right after the Chocolate house, we were brought to Kuda Lupming, or a traditional Javanese dance native to Java, Indonesian. During the showed the dancers (two men) “ride” horses made from woven bamboo and elaborately decorated. The dancers then display unusual abilities that they have been so-called “possessed” to do after getting into their “trance.” These skills include eating glass, ripping a coconut open with their bare teeth, consuming hot coals and jumping through fire. If you can believe it, they actually did all of these without any hesitation! My mom even got to feed one of them a glass to prove he was actually eating it!
After the show, we were taken to a very nice restaurant on the water where we were served a traditional Indonesian lunch consisting of fried seafood, Shrimp, Sweat and sour fish, rice, some vegetables, and soup. The meal was absolutely delicious and was a perfect way to recharge for the next event…more shopping (thought it was gonna be something new and exciting didn’t you 😛 )
This time we were dropped off at the local Mall and given one hour to walk around before meeting and bringing us to our local Hotel. The mall, however, was crazy packed with stores left and right. This time my mom and I didn’t know where to start, and we may have lost track of time a little bit 😛 Yes, we were the last ones on the van but not with the most bags that’s for sure!
Realizing we had most of the evening left and nothing planned, and me not being able to sit still of course :P, we decided to go on our own little adventure after checking in and settling down at the hotel. So, off to the mall, we went and it was a movie at night of course because who doesn’t love a good action packed movie..my favorite! Plus movies are wicked cheap in Malaysia, and when I mean wicked cheap I mean like 2 bucks! So, of course, we couldn’t resist as we settled on the seeing the Kings Men, and I highly recommend it! Nothing better then some good ole British secret service drama to top off an excellent day of shopping (if that’s what you can call it lol).
After the movie, it was time to try our luck at the local cuisine, and we were definitely not disappointed that’s for sure! Can’t really tell you what I had, but it sure was delicious. Some kinda noodle thing with lots of veggies and chicken 🙂
With our stomachs now full and our day complete, we headed back to the hotel for the night. The next morning we grabbed a quick bite at the complimentary breakfast buffet. (If you travel anywhere in South East Asia you probably know that all the breakfast buffets look about the same everywhere you go). It was toast, eggs, fruit, and some coffee for my mom and I and with a little time to spare before our tour guide was to pick us up again and bring us back to the ferry terminal we decided to hit the mall one last time. Mostly to just get a good walk in and see the area, but we did a little store browsing too. We didn’t really plan because we had never been to Batam before, but if you plan on going there to shop for just a day, it’s a very good idea to hit the supermarket there. There are all kinds of products and at much more reasonable prices then Singapore. I use to think people were crazy to spend a days trip going to the island just to shop, but now I understand why. It was kind of funny though because although our guide told us, she would be there at 11 am to get us, he was there at 10 waiting..oops 😛 So we quickly grabbed our bags hoped the van and headed to pick up the other returning guests, who stayed at a different hotel. Our ferry didn’t board until 2, so we were with more than enough time to spare. It was nice to have a little time to walk around and grab a coffee to go though before hand.
We got back to Singapore at 2 pm (it’s an hour ahead of Indonesia), hopped a cab at Vivo city, and headed home. It was a fun little trip and definitely one to keep in mind if you ever feel like going on a shopping spree and not going broke from it. 😛 Not really a place to vacation with the family though because other than shop there really isn’t too much to do and it’s not the most beautiful island. As always though I’m glad I went and still feel very blessed that I have the ability to travel to all these unique places and share my experiences with you. Thanks for reading as always ❤