Travels with V

Indonesia & Singapore

Across the sea to Sumatra

Batam - Padang

(If you want to begin this journey from where it actually started – in fabulous Singapore, click here).

Indonesia might seem an odd place for a four-week journey, but of course it’s a huge country with tens of thousands of islands and and all kinds of environments. Most tourists go to Bali and Lombok, but then they miss the charm of the everyday Indonesia, like the fantastic food of Sumatra, the friendly people and the lush green of the great and mystic Flores.

Top 5 in Indonesia:

 

  1. The people. Most people we met were extremely friendly and helpful. Tourism is not so developed in most places and people are curious about you.  Often they ask you join them for a selfie with a westerner.
  2. The food. Yes, you sometimes get fed up with Nasi goreng (chicken with rice) och Bami goreng (with noodles) but everywhere there’s also served lots of fantastic food. Spicey but not necessarily hot.
  3. The crowds. Indonesia is densely populated and youth are a big part of it. It’s a great thing to just sip on a cup of fine Indonesian coffee and watch life pass you by.
  4. The nature. Sadly ijn many parts of the country the jungle forest is being cut down to give space to sterile oil palm plantations. But there are protected spaces on Sumatra with rich forest life, and on islands like Flores nature is still largely unspoiled.
  5. Flores. Yes, again, it’s magic and beautiful. A favourite!!

The ferry from Singapore to Indonesia is found in a terminal inside a gigantic shopping mall in the harbour. The ferry ticket is really cheap, around 20 Euro, and the journey takes about  one hour.

Of the disembarkation port, Batam, we didn’t see a lot, but obviously there has been attempts at creating a sort of “mini-Singapore” here, with Shopping malls and a fun fair. But it doesn’t appear to have been all that successful. Not surprising.

We grabbed a taxi to get to the airport in Batam, but getting there was a shock. A chaotic, overcrowded check-in hall where passengers with mountains of baggage constantly tried to push themselves to the front of the que.

Queing was something of a cross between a ski lift and a wrestling game. We had to constantly fight for our place inch by inch.

The big boxes on everybody’s cart were probably imported goods from Singapore now transported to other parts of Indonesia for reselling. Clothes, shoes, toys, things like that. But eventually we were at the counter, got our boarding cards, and went for somewhere to just sit down and breathe.

WHAT’S BEHIND THIS TARPAULIN?

When the breathing was normal again we went for a bite to eat. But all we saw was tarpaulins everywhere, as if everything was under repair. But suddenly we understood. We had arrived during Ramadan, the month of fasting, and many restaurants were closed. But behind the tarpaulins there were open places, so as not to upset the faithful. We found this to be rather practical strategy, and ordered something to eat.

HOCUS POCUS, A NONEXISTENT RESTAURANT!

We had a relatively short flight from Batam to Padang on the other side of Sumatra, by the ocean. And that was truly a different story, there we were welcomed by a ding-dong band playing among the conveyer belts at the baggage delivery.

Now we head out to the Indonesian archipelago of more than 13 000 islands. Come with us!

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