I want to blog about my experience to Batam since while i was goggling the map for more information, there was very little i could find from local bloggers.
I went to Batam on a Saturday. Prior to that, i first had to decide which ferry terminal i wanted to alight at. Based on pure speculation, we picked Batam Centre to stop. We took Batam Fast's ferry. I called (tel: 6270 2228) their Harbourfront office on Friday to book the tickets. You have to get ready names, passport nos, dates of expiry and dates of birthday for reservation. Please check Batam Fast's website for the ferry schedule. The whole journey from departure to stepping foot in Batam took about 1hour and 15 mins.
On departure day, you are supposed to pick up the tickets at the counter 1 hour before the ferry departs. Being the kiasu Singaporean i am, i went earlier. We were supposed to catch the 10.50am ferry. I was at Habourfront to collect the tickets at 9.30am while imagining there was going to be a long queue of people. But i was wrong. There were only 2 people in the queue. I was given the tickets (aka boarding pass) and the arrival and departure forms all filled up! Very impressive! The total cost per pax for both ways including both terminal fees is S$47. You can pay by cash, nets or credit card. You will be given the boarding pass and an open ticket for the ride back. You have to book your ferry timing at the Batam ferry terminal with your open ticket. I suggest you book the timing upon arrival so as to guarantee a seat back at the time you want. Departure gate closes 15 minutes before departure time. Go earlier to avoid any unexpected delays from the crowd.
As my dad rightly pointed out, the exchange rate is slightly better in Batam. Upon arrival at the Batam Centre Ferry Terminal and exiting the customs area, turn right and there are 2 money exchange counters. The counter staffs practically waved at us in hope that we would go to their counters. Quite an amusing sight. Initially they quoted me 720,000 rupiah for S$100 which was the same as when i asked in Singapore. In the end i asked for more after telling her we were changing S$200. She gave us 730,000 rupiah for S$100.
Since we were going Isabella (based on Lady Iron Chef's review) for massage, there was free transport provided to and from the massage place. The driver was already waiting for us with a paper stating my name. He spoke almost no English at all. But it was ok. Pointing helps! Please email Isabella @ firstname.lastname@example.org for their massage price list. Their response is quite fast. I picked the foot, hand and shoulder reflexology package while my friend picked the Aroma Therapy massage. It was 2 hours each and cost 200k rupiah. About S$30. The ride to Isabella is 15-20 minutes. The length of the journey is not long but the vehicle was travelling rather slowly. Safety first i guess. Isabella is right behind Nagoya Hill Shopping Centre. When we arrived at the centre, we told them we wanted to have lunch first and delayed our appointment time by 30 minutes. The staff were friendly and eager to serve. They gave us welcome drinks.
Lunch was A&W at Nagoya Hill Shopping Centre. After hearing my friends rave about A&W, i wanted to eat it too. But i was sorely disappointed by the poor quality of the food served. Do not think the chicken is big and juicy just like they were in Singapore. No! The chicken was small and dry. The curly fries was of a very small serving. And rootbeer float, is unfortunately about the same everywhere. There was not much shopping to be done at Nagoya unless you want to buy fake branded bags. There were tons. There was a hypermart at the basement. There was also a stretch of food stalls in the mall. A Ba Kut Teh shop caught our eyes but were were too full from the unsatisfying A&W. Maybe next time.
The massage experience was so-so only. Then again, massage is matter of preference. After our massage, there were a lot of people coming in but were disappointed as the place was fully booked. So its best to book before hand to avoid disappointment. We left for Batam Centre shortly after drinking free ginger tea at Isabella. I heard they are able to send you anywhere in the town area for free. Maybe next time we will ask them to send us to a seafood place.
Batam Centre is connected to Mega Mall (i think) via a overhead bridge. Mega Mall looks bigger and newer than Nagoya Hill Shopping Centre. We zoomed to the hypermart after restraining ourselves for the whole day. My friend bought a whole range of indo mee. Apparently their instant noodles are of superb quality. I bought 6 different types. Maybe i will blog about it when i've tried them. My unexpected gain from the hypermart was the 6 varieties of keropoks! I went crazy. I have never seen such keropoks before! I bought a bit of each and went home to fry. Check out the picture. I think the pinkish normal looking keropok (at the top right corner) tasted the best. Its supposed to be fish flavour. The rest tasted similiar, with exception of the rice one.
I conclude, massages and things at the hypermart are cheaper than Singapore's. But whether is it worth spending $47 just for an average massage and to get to a cheap supermarket, maybe not. I think i'll rather go Johor Bahru. Nevertheless, it was good to do something different for a change. The trip was rather relaxing after all the anxiety of planning for it.
For those who want to stay overnight, we spotted Harris Hotel (new and upgraded) right next to the Batam Centre Ferry Terminal. My friend says next time we go Batam, we'll go have Ba Kut Teh, go massage, check in at the hotel, buy loads of beer at the hypermarket, buy dinner and go back to the hotel for a pig out session. The next morning we can tan at the pool until check out, followed by seafood dinner before heading back to Singapore. Sounds like a good plan.