All About Singapore (and Batam)

This story is a tribute to my wonderful best friend, Vinaa Raachma Maartina…a story about a trip that teach us about a true friendship…my dear vinaa…I love you and I will always do…*note: we’re not lesbian tough :)*

This is our first trip together after a one and half-year friendship..we planned to visit Singapore and Batam (why batam? because it’s cheaper to go to Batam first instead direct flight to Jakarta from Singapore). The route plan is Pekanbaru – Batam (flight) – Singapore (ferry) – Batam (ferry) – Jakarta (flight). From Pekanbaru, it took 45 minutes to reach Hang Nadim airport in Batam, and there’s a funny story. I usually bring a tripod every time I  go traveling,  the weight of that stuff is about 1.5 kg and when landed in Batam, I tried to take my bag in luggage case above my seat and I forgot the tripod was next to the bag…So…the bag was successfully falling down and hit a man’s thigh..and he screamed…oh my god, I couldn’t imagine furthermore..Thanks God, he was just kidding!…At the airport, we bought a ferry ticket (vice versa) from an operator, Penguin Ferry (the most recommended operator based on our research from internet). We went to harbour using taxi (70K IDR for 40 mins), actually we arrived like 5 minutes before the schedule. Vinaa insisted to catch that schedule..(my dear, this is Indonesia-Singapore ferry, no delay I guess 🙂 beside we have to check in, pay fiscal tax…)..So we took the next schedule on 3 PM. The ferry is very recommended (compare the one that cross Dumai – Malaka). Clean, neat, life vest everywhere.. And I feel more safe when crossing the sea, it’s a busy traffic…a lot of tankers as Singapore is like a transit harbor which connect the world with south-east Asian countries. When processing our passport, an immigration officer has suspicion on Vinaa’s since there is a Brunei’s working visa on her passport (she plan to be transferred to Brunei in the next two months), the officer raise up the woman’s trafficking issue when explaining to us about his suspicion. Because if something happened with Vinaa in Singapore, he got the responsible because his name is on that stamp. Arrived at Harbor Front, we took MRT to Dhoby Ghaut to reach the hotel. Well, from the map, the hotel can reached by foot for 10 minutes walk, but as we both carrying 10 kg in the back, so…taxi please!. We checked in at Hotel 81 – Bencoleen Street. Our destination in this first day is Suntec city to see Fountain of Wealth (the website told us that this fountain is the largest in Asia..let me tell you the truth, compared to Fountain of Hotel Indonesia in Jakarta, it’s nothing..). We grabbed the dinner at Turkish Restaurant, as I am not a risk taker for food, I ordered a pizza which makes me don’t want to eat pizza for the next few months..(you got my point? I don’t have to explain the details).. After dinner, we walked to Singapore Flyer, a giant “windmill” that can give us a Singapore’s view from all directions. From the flyer, our route is Esplanade (an art venue like wing beetles) – Merlion Park (to take a night picture of the Merlion) – Fullerton Hotel (a legendary hotel that has excellent night view) – Clarke Quay. It’s quite amazing route actually, because I myself and Vinaa are two people who have a lot of healthy issues :).. Vinaa tried a G-Max bungee at clarke, me? just sitting in the park, encouraging my beloved friend to try the bungee..go vinaa go!. It’s almost 1 AM in the morning when we went back to hotel, and guess what we found 5 h*****s in front of the hotel. We just starring each other..are we choose the right hotel? this is Bencoleen Street..We’re wondering how about the hotel in Geylang district??

In the next day, we plan to do a duck tour and go to Sentosa Island. Duck tour is a city tour using an amphibian car, yes..the car can be used in the street and the river as well. We bought a ticket to Sentosa Island in Vivo City Mall.

We were facing a problem in looking for prayer place (mosque/musholla). We realized, Singapore is not a moslem country like Indonesia, where you can find easily a place to pray. One of our friends told us there is a mosque closed to the mall. And it was hard to find it..If you have ever heard the word Jihad…this is the real Jihad..the battle against ourselves, against our own temptation for not take the pray even it’s our obligation to do it. Vinaa and I try to do this Jihad and feel the bless afterward. Vin, I bet u still remember those blesses, aren’t you?..let me refresh your memory:

1. We only have to queue 5 minutes to take the cable car to Sentosa Island. If you remember how long the queue is…

2. We never take queue every time we want to take the game

3. Do you remember the long queue when we want to see Song of the sea? and it’s a bless when we can get a front seat!

4. The next is about when queuing the monorail after the show..we got the seat!!

5. We saw “Michael Vartan” in the monorail…remember? that charming married man…it’s a bless right?

6. Remember when you eat that potato chip in the monorail, you are so damn lucky not fined…it’s 500 SGD right?

7. When we arrived at harbor front, and we were unable to walk anymore and see the massage center..and we are the last two clients before they closed!..and I couldn’t imagine how to reach the hotel if we didn’t get that massage!

The message is: No matter what belief you have, just do the best you can..you will get a blessing in disguise..trust me!

The next day is shopping day, not the real shopping, just buy some souvenirs, a window shopping in orchard..The first destination is Bugis junction, to buy souvenirs. The next is to Lucky Plaza. Actually, Singapore offer a benefit when spending your money. You will get cash back 7% when spend more than 300 SGD (the GST rule). The last “pit stop” is the Indonesian restaurant in Takashimaya..It’s like in heaven when see the restaurant..and the food..I love my country!. In the afternoon, we go to harbor front to get a ferry to go back to Batam (special thanks to Ipeh for being an excellent guide). In Batam, we stayed overnight at Novotel. We spent our night with dinner at seafood restaurant and take a sleep earlier..quite exhausted!

Since our beloved budget airlines was delaying their schedule from 10 AM to 3 PM..we decided to explore Batam by visiting Galang Island, a Vietnam refugees camp. They build their own community in this island, houses, school, hospital. We started the trip at 8 AM thru Barelang Bridge..a futuristic bridge, a legacy from Bapak Habibie. The Galang island tour started at Vihara (temple) and ended in a dirty white sand beach 😦 .. The culinary info for Batam: you should try Sup Ikan (fish soup)..it’s extremely delicious!

– More stories are illustrated in my web album “An Illustrated Journey” –

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