This post is basically a placeholder — as I only had the chance to visit Batam Island, a short boat ride from Singapore. While it was a fun daytrip — I still need to get to Indonesia and explore everything it has to offer!
A few years back I was in Singapore and decided to take a ferry to Batam — the capital of the Riau Islands — to get a sense for what Indonesia was like. It was a short (45 minute) ride from Singapore and after getting a visa (on arrival) and clearing customs, I was in Indonesia.
Batam had a relaxed pace and a small-town feeling — worlds apart from the atmosphere in Singapore. I understand it’s a popular spot for diving and other water sports, as a result of its clear water.
As motorbikes are everywhere, I took a moto taxi around town — a cheap, convenient, and ubiquitous method of transportation. I admired the numerous flower-laden signs and advertisements around town:
Batam is filled with great seafood restaurants — ranging from sit-down establishments to small tents. The prices are great and it often comes fried (but not always). I was also impressed by the range of fresh fruits and juices available everywhere in town.
Some key sights include the Buddhist Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya Monastery in the center of town, several churches such as the St. Peter Catholic Church, a waterfront amusement center, a jungle tour / zoo, and several resorts / beaches scattered throughout the island. On the western side of the city center, the area of Tanjung Uma has several traditional stilt houses on top the water. Finally, I’ve heard good things about Nongsa Beach, but didn’t have the chance to go there myself.
Something for Next Time: Basically all of Indonesia! As top priorities, I’d like to get to Bali, as well as the interior jungles of Borneo on the Kalimantan island, the rich landscapes of Ubud, and the Komodo National Park.