Batam Island was the first location to pop up in our research into Indonesian islands near Singapore. The island is home to Batam, the largest city in the Riau Islands and a booming industrial city. We were interested to see how the island contrasted to the rural villages of nearby Bintan Island.
To get to Batam we took a local ferry from Tanjun Pinang on Bintan Isand to Telaga Punggur on Batam Island. I had been stressing about this part of our trip for weeks, as the ferry was local and there was no information about times or ticket prices. Thankfully our Airbnb hosts reassured us the ferries ran every half an hour and people would walk up to you selling tickets to Batam. This turned out to be true – no sooner had our driver pulled up the car were we sold tickets to Batam island and directed onto an awaiting ferry!
Our hotel in Batam was far nicer than expected, and felt quite luxurious after our stay in Bintan (i.e. had hot water and a flushing toilet).
Admittedly, the main selling point of Batam to tourists is the cheap shopping. It seems to be a popular weekend destination for Singaporeans, boasting giant shopping centres (such as Nagoya Hill, above) where one can purchase cheap clothes, cameras and shoes. We had a quick look around, but neither of us are bigger shoppers. We settled for a refreshing bubble tea instead to battle the humidity.
That evening we chanced upon a brewery which sold green beer – I think it contained spirulina? We had an early night and a wonderful sleep in our airconditioned room (I know, small luxuries!)
The next morning we had a few hours to kill before we had to catch a taxi to our next destination, so we decided to stretch our legs and wander the streets. Vihra Budhi Bhakti, a large Buddhist temple, was just up the road from our hotel.
It had a wonderful garden, complete with statues, fish and turtles.
As always, we were overpowered by the small of incense!
We continued exploring side streets, taking in the different sights and sounds – including a bustling wet market.
Uploading these photos has made me realise how bad photos from my iphone are compared to my camera. Once again I am berating myself for forgetting my camera charger!
Our walk took us past more shopping centres, mosques, a Catholic church, and run down shacks. Batam also turned out to be rather hilly, so between the beating sun and the inclines, we were ruined by the time we returned to the hotel!
Our stay in Batam may have been short, but it was enough time to have a quick look around the city. It was definitely the low point of the trip, but it worked well as a stop over on our way to another island paradise – stay tuned!