Okay, so what can one actually do in Batam?
Go Malling! When you convert the cost of goods found in Batam and compare this to Singapore, everything is really cheap, cheap and CHEAP! So why not go shopping? Of course, Paul and I just had to do our grocery here.
Batam has a very provincial feel similar to when we would go to Pampanga for the weekend. It's very relaxed and extremely laid back. However, if you're a true blue city girl or an adventure seeker, this might not be the place for you. We basically just stayed most of the time in the hotel, at the mall and of course, we went food tripping in a couple of restaurants too.
Speaking of shopping, here are two malls which you can check out in Batam:
My personal favorite between the two malls that we visited during the trip. It's said to be the biggest mall in Batam with a number of restaurants, lots of retail shops, a department store (Matahari), ACE Hardware and a big supermarket called Hypermart.
We spent a good amount of time here during our 2nd day in Batam and I have to say, it was fun shopping and checking the shops out.
Not at all similar to the one we have in Manila. This is adjacent via a short elevated bridge to the Batam Centre Ferry Terminal so it was very convenient to just hang out here while waiting for your time to head to the terminal. It has just about the same kind of restaurants and retail outlets found in Nagoya Hill. However, the lone Starbucks Coffee branch in Batam can be found here. There's also a big Timezone arcade at the top level.
Going around Batam
Paul and I are the kind of travelers who love trying the public transport. However, for Batam, we took the cab the entire time as there's no train, bus or even trike. The only challenge here is that all cabs do not have the meter on so expect to haggle once in a while. Some malls and hotels have partner taxi services though and the prices from one point to another is fix depending on the distance so while that will surely be a tad more expensive, you're assured of being safely brought to your destination of choice.
We tried to haggle on our first night and had the unfortunate experience of being driven by a nasty cabbie. He was cursing us and shouting at us the entire ride because we haggled the initial IDR70,000 fare down to IDR 60,000 which the operator agreed on anyway. He was saying things like if we don't want the amount we should have just left and that we're not good at all. I ended up praying the entire way hoping that he won't just go crazy and drop us off somewhere given it was already 9 in the evening. It was such a stressful ride making us dislike Batam on our first night and wishing we could go back to Singapore soon.
Luckily, the other cabbies whom we've encountered next were really nice and friendly making us change our minds about Batam after. Wish those nasty cabbies can just disappear from the face of the earth as they surely give Batam as bad bad bad name.
That's Batam 101 for you. Up next, let me talk about our hotel and the restaurants that we were able to visit during this trip.