We (I) finally decided to go on a walkabout on Monday – I wanted some pictures of the trip other than those of our games and of the food. Plus Batam does have its own scenic charm, especially when all the shops are closed. It’s the sort of charm you’d find in Singapore a good 20 years back when everything was sorta run-down and rustic.
Here’s a picture of the Morning Bakery, which is peppered all over the island. They sell buns and cakes and coffee, and lots of the locals seem to come here for breakfast. We never once made it here, due to the extensive breakfasts that were served at the hotel.
This is an ingeniously rigged up motor that has a piece of black cloth tied to it. When switched on, the motor spins, warding off flies. They also hang bags of water around the food since those reflect light and (somehow?) keep flies away as well, in the same manner you would decorate your front yard with CDs to keep the deer off.
You can see the wide variety of toppings you can add to your rice; most of the dishes here seem spicier than typical Singaporean vegetable rice meals. This is what many locals eat for lunch.
Here is an abandoned multistorey carpark attached to our hotel. People have started using the carpark for storage, although I’m not sure what they are building next. This is ok because there is an abundance of lots around the hotel – all the roads surrounding it are basically part of a giant carpark that surrounds the ferry terminal, so hardly anyone uses the multistorey carpark. Not to mention the hotel is literally 5 minutes from the ferry terminal, so there is no need for cars. It was really tiring/annoying warding off the taxi drivers who kept asking us if we wanted a taxi. There’s no way they could drive us to the hotel and make any money, the ride would take all of 5 seconds before they reached.
The colors of the pillars and the stucco walls are painted a garish red, almost like a toy village. The types of industries here also seem like toy industries in a board game; their schools, not real schools, and their businesses, not real businesses.
Everything caters to tourists, and I think the town would live and die with the tourism industry.
This is where we had our seafood feast on the first night. Its next to a little inlet where the water is extremely dirty and reeks a little of trash. In the day, everything is closed (there’s no finding any food) and it’s as if the night life we saw was merely part of our imaginations. Everything does come alive in the evening though: the neon lights are powered on, the outdoor performers take their positions on the stage, and the satay man fires up his charcoal grill and starts BBQing his kebabs.
Empty chairs and empty tables. The seafood dining stretch has its own understated elegance, like Coney Island in the winter.
There’s nothing to see, and also, nothing to take. Still they cover their tables and valuables with brightly colored bedsheets. I would be lying if I said they were well off materially. But I suspect many of them are a lot more content than most Singaporeans will find it in their hearts to be.