Sunday, March 31, 2013

Memories of Halcyon Days

When summer comes we tend to go to the beach,
but for people who don't like the heat and the sand,
they'd prefer to visit typical swimming pool
or just hang out at any refreshing area like eco park.
Memories of halcyon days from the past several years...

Another beach adventure begins this April...

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Rising Sun in Batam

Rising Sun in Batam, view from my hotel room
If you are living in Singapore for quite some time, you will probably get bored after visiting all the malls or you will probably get tired after working for long hours. You will probably reach to a point where you will like to go somewhere different… either to a fancier place or even to a lousier one. So one gloomy Saturday, we boarded on the ferry to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. In spite of the fatigue from the long work week in the office, I was a little jumpy while we were sailing the Singapore coast.  It always excites me to go on an adventure in a place I’m visiting for the first time.  And it was my first trip to Indonesia! We were heading to Batam which is located less than 20km from Singapore. It took us an hour before we finally reached our destination. After we pass through Immigration clearance, we hurried to collect our luggage and hopped on the tour bus.

We opted for the package tour since we didn’t have enough time for the free and easy one. Most of our companions were Chinese Singaporean; luckily, our tour guide, who is an Indonesian with Chinese descent, spoke both in English and Mandarin fluently.  Our city tour was rather too rushed. I felt like we were just given a time to take a glance and not really experience the town.  We first visited the Thua Pek Khong Temple which is said to be the oldest historical temple in Batam. I didn’t even have the chance to get in and we only managed to take a snapshot outside the temple. Then we passed by the Nagoya China Town and headed to the very popular Polo Shop. According to our tour guide, the shop sells authentic Polo by Ralph Lauren at a cheaper price. I wasn’t a fan so I didn’t buy one; rather we went to see the sidewalk shops where we met one Filipino vendor (kababayan from Mindanao) who sells woodcarvings and other home decors.

It was almost twelve noon when we finished the shopping tour. And I was beginning to feel uncomfortable and was a little starving too, but we had one more stop before lunch. A few minutes later, we finally arrived at The Batam Folk Culture Villages Miniature (Taman Mini Indonesia). It’s an open space park where you can find dozens of miniatures of local houses in Indonesia. There are several trees in the park but they aren’t fully grown yet. Thus, going around the miniature houses during the day when the sun is up wasn’t really enjoying. It was very hot and extremely humid. But in fairness, the houses were cute and lovely.

We had our seafood lunch at the seaside restaurant called Golden Prawn. Being a fan of seafood, I found the food very nice and delicious. The fish, prawns, clams, crabs, squids... what else… It was the best part of our tour. My tummy was extremely happy.
We were dropped off at our respective hotels after the sumptuous lunch. We relaxed at our room while waiting for our scheduled aromatherapy full body massage at a nearby spa. The hotel we stayed in was rated 4-star in Batam but if compared to Singapore standard, I’d think it’s below 3-star. Smoking in the reception area and even on the second floor lobby, is allowed. The hotel has only two restaurants and one bar. The breakfast menu was quite ok, mostly local food. There’s a small yet clean swimming pool and a gym too.

Batam is seemingly ordinary place to visit. It’s like a typical town in the Philippines where anyone can cross anywhere on the street or jaywalk. It’s a place where people don’t mind tossing trash left and right. But if you’re just tired of waking up day in and day out in a very stressful and workaholic type of environment and you just want to have a quick break then taking a short trip to this idyllic place is a good option.

What I love most about my Batam experience was its rising sun. The hotel room I stayed in has an unblocked view of the sea. And waking up in the morning with stunning panoramic sunrise view was priceless. It was a beautiful thing. It reminded me that every day is a new gift.  It’s a new chance to experience and appreciate both the good and the not so good in life, no matter what we’re going through, no matter where we are and no matter who are we with. The rising sun in Batam is just a simple reassurance of God’s abundant love to everyone.