The Rustic Charm of Batam: 12 – 14 March 2016

I have been to Batam Island many times and this was my first with my family (parents, sister and her two kids).  Explored much more this time and loved the rustic parts of Batam that I had not explored before.

Ferry – Sindo Ferry
Sindo Ferry goes directly to Waterfront Terminal with a stopover at Sekupang Ferry Terminal.  Ferry ride was about 40mins.  We were supposed to depart at 1130hrs from Harbourfront Centre but there was a slight delay.  It was a very busy Saturday morning and start of the one week March school holidays (go figure!).

Total cost of ferry ticket: SGD278 (5 adults, 1 child inclusive of taxes)

Tip: If you are returning from Sekupang Ferry Terminal, best to check at the counter that the ferry is not from Waterfront Ferry Terminal as the ferry will already be crowded and quite tricky for you to look for seats.  Batam Fast do have return ferry that goes directly to/from Sekupang.

Love the design and rustic feel of the terminal
Love the design and rustic feel of the terminal

Accommodation – Harris Resort Waterfront Batam
Unlike Harris Batam Centre which is located next to the Batam Centre Ferry Terminal, Harris Waterfront Batam is located almost at the end (and I can say remote part) of the island.  The hotel provides a complimentary 12-seater shuttle service from the ferry terminal to the hotel.  Will have to be patient as there is no queuing system and there was only one van at a time (loop service).

The hotel have two wings and our rooms were at the Trendy Wing (quite a distance from the reception/main lobby – no complaints).  As all the family suites are fully booked, I requested for a twin bed connecting room.  The rooms were very clean and spacious enough for an extra bed (shared a room with my sister and her two kids).  We had a spectacular view of the swimming pool from our balcony.  The pool is very clean and it is cleaned every morning (saw they clean it while having breakfast two days in a row).

Always loved staying at Harris because of the simple design, decor and also the vibrant colours.  The rooms were comfortable and the bed plus pillows were so comfortable.  The breakfast spread was great and they even catered to various tour groups – Chinese, Korean, Indians, etc.  The mini grocery store selling snacks, drinks, toiletries, etc were not over priced like most hotels do (and you can find Magnum flavours that costs only about SGD3 that are not available in Singapore)

The overall experience staying there was great.  Which was a huge relief for me as the correspondences I had when making the room reservations and the one day car rental for the six of us were very frustrating.  Almost had wanted to give up and change to Holiday Inn but following my gut instincts (which have yet to fail, so far) decided not to.

The resort is definitely suitable for families including families with small children.  There are activities that can keep everyone occupied (minus the gadgets).

Love the location of the resort.  The fact that it is located far away from the city centre (about 30-45 mins drive away) and located near the beach, it was just a perfect place to getaway from the hustle and bustle of a city.

Total cost: IDR4,400,000 (about SGD440 – two rooms inclusive of breakfast and an extra bed inclusive of breakfast).

Harris Waterfront - Low Tide
Harris Waterfront – Low Tide

Transport
It is advisable to book a car for the day if you are travelling in a group.  The hotel do provide scheduled shuttle service to Nagoya Hill shopping centre.  Reservations need to be made and it is on first come first served basis.  The hotel do have a fleet to taxis available if you missed the shuttle service and also able to provide a quote if you want to go to other shopping centres/places of interests.  We did not book any car upon arrival as the plan was just to go to Nagoya Hill for late lunch and walk around the area.  We had to take two taxis as they do not have any available MPVs.  Booked a MPV through the hotel for the next day and had a great driver.  The lady at the counter told me that he is the best driver from their company (could be because of a service recovery after the frustrating correspondences that I had with them).

Important to note that traffic at the city centre is horrendous.  And drivers will try their luck promoting their contacts for Kek Lapis (layer cake).

Total cost: IDR500,000 (about SGD50 ~ two return taxis hotel-Nagoya Hill-hotel). IDR700,000 (about SGD70 for 8hrs MPV rental from 1100hrs – 1800hrs).

Food
Everyone that has been to Batam will agree that you will be spoiled for choice.  The food is good, cheap and fresh especially the seafood.

Shopping
Just like food, Batam is a shopping haven for shoppers (not me).  Not everything is cheap though.  Nagoya Hill is huge (first time there) and you can find practically everything.  The foodcourt is huge and you can find both local and international restaurants.

Went to DC Mall for the first time.  The first floor is catered towards Muslim/traditional wear.  The second floor consists of a mix of factory outlets and small boutique.  The driver also brought us to the Polo factory outlet and a boutique that sells clothes, bags and souvenirs that are made from Batik.

At the end of the day, I find all shopping centres are the same.  I always prefer to go to the local market.  Our driver brought us to the local market, which I think is near the Nagoya area.  As soon as we alight from the car, we were surrounded and followed by beggars and a lady who were holding a file that I saw was a document requesting for donations.  We just walked past them and went straight to a shop to purchase local snacks and preserved fruits.  They waited outside the shop and followed us back to the car.  Our driver was with us throughout and keep a lookout for us.

Always be aware of surroundings especially when shopping.  Personally, it is a good practice to separate the cash into several places just in case the inevitable happens.

The Rustic Charm
Born in a city, I always prefer to explore the suburbs and places that locals go to.  Driving along a route that is not busy, accompanied by stretch of trees that are not groomed, gorgeous blue and cloudy sky, it was so serene and natural.  The drive through the Barelang bridge was my favourite.  Despite the scorching weather, it was nature at its best playing with the different shades of blue on the sky and the sea.  The drive through the suburbs (which was a shortcut and to avoid the city centre traffic) on our way back to the hotel was another favourite.  And like I had mentioned above, the hotel area is just awesome, felt as if I am staying at a kampong.  There is just a rustic charm on this part of Batam that I had fell in love with.

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