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Monday, July 20, 2009

I believe i was in Batam.

So upon the woman's recommendation, we took up the package for 2D1N Batam. We thought it was a really good deal. $95 each with a night's stay at a 4 star hotel, ferry return, land transfers, breakfast & dinner & a 90 MINUTE MASSAGE. The massage was really the deal breaker.

However, when it comes to making payment, we're already a little disgruntled because we had to pay an additional $20 per person for some tax. Although she stressed that tax doesn't go to her company but to the governement. But as the consumer, we only focused on it being $115 for the package!

When we asked her how much it was for a return ferry ticket on its own, she said it costs $45, so we thought ok, for an extra $50 we get massage, hotel & meals it's not a bad deal. We usually pay $50 for a one hour massage in Singapore anyway.

Guess what was the price of the ferry tickets when we reached Harbourfront on Sat morning? It was $34.
Upon arrival at Batam, we had to pay ANOTHER $7 per person for Batam's tax.By this time, we were really unhappy about all the "hidden" charges and felt we're "cheated" of the notion of a cheap weekend getaway. Although frankly we weren't reeeeeally cheated, its just all these frill costs that made the trip not THAT worthwhile anymore! Seeing that whatever we have to pay times two= quite a large sum to spend for one weekend. We could have just stayed in Singapore and saved the money.

But ok, enough griping. Once it's spent, it's spent. So ok, the hotel lobby was rather impressive.and i thought i would have a posh place to stay in. I thought 4 stars is only 1 star away from 5 stars so it shouldn't be far off from the Intercontinental that i stayed in Bali right? It pales in comparision. The room was dingy, the carpet was stained, the lamp shades were yellow.

Buuuuuut..........its ok. I got over my disappointment rather quickly after entering. Afterall, it's not like i'm a princess who's used to living in posh hotels. The nicest spot of the hotel, our free dinner atop a roof top. The hotel has free shuttle to Nongoya Hills, the largest shopping mall in Batam (to avoid disappointment,don't compare it with Singapore's malls) so we milled around the mall and walked the streets of Batam for some hours.
Then we took the scheduled shuttle back to the hotel and spent time in the gym and the professional table tennis player taught me some ping pong tricks. Me with my complete collection of watermelon pouches.
Holidays are always spent eating and sleeping. With nothing to do, we had our feed hourly. I was estatic to see the defunct A&W. Alas, they don't have the hotdogs (halal country). But they do have the curly fries (1SGD) and waffle with ice-cream (3SGD)!
The Ayam Penyet that we always have in Singapore costs $7 while here it costs (same brand, same outlet) $2. But before you go "cheap cheap" like a Singaporean, the serving size here is 3 times smaller. Measely tiny peice of chicken that you can barely call meat with no kangkong. But it's good for me! Like this i can stomach more variety and keep things bite sized. A man will get grumpy though..because he didn't eat enough. So we had to have Pizza Hut next (SGD 5 for 6 slices). His photography skills depends on his mood. I guess for that day, he preferred taking my back. We didn't see any of Batam's afamed sleaze too though.
Indonesia is full of slums. Sometimes i wonder how amazing life is. You may be born a Japanese, you may be born an American, you may be born a Chinese, what made you the way you are today? What gave you life? We are really fortunate to be born in Singapore, i am very blessed to be born with four limbs and in a happy family. Should you be born any less fortunate, do you give up on life or stay angry with the world? Do you take revenge by bombing locations that the rich hang out?
Maybe i can say it that way because i am not born any less fortunate. Maybe i will feel differently if i was.
And so just because we are more fortunate, we should make a difference in the lives of those who have less means.
From the agent's recommendation, we were expecting a spa with candle light and romantic atmosphere. So we were disappointed yet again to enter a no-frills massage center (although its within the hotel). But the massage was SO GOOD, it didn't matter.
I gave the masseurs a 100,000 rupiah tip for giving us both such great massages. I admit i wasn't all that willing to because i kept thinking i have already paid for their service and i owe them no tip(besides, that's my 1 week's lunch). But i remembered how elated i was to receive tips when i waitressing (even though i wasn't that poor to need the tip that desperately). For all i know, maybe their families are living in povety.
It's a blessing to be able to give.
P.S the Batam promotion deal ends 31 Jul. So if you're interested, get it from Golden Mile, the agent directly facing a convinience shop. If you have the extra cash and want to be away for one weekend, it is a trip worth considering.
What you can do in Batam: ATV bike ride, cable skiing, massage, food and SHOPPING (alot of fake goods if that's what you're into. Bags cost around $45 (after bargaining), pouches and key chains costs around $10, wallets costs around $20. I didn't buy any, no design appealed.)
Food is relatively cheap, although i can't quite figure out how i spent $100 in the 2 days after paying upfront for hotel & ferry etc AND having bought NOTHING material.

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