Saturday, 5 June 2010

Singapore to Indonesia

Yesterday I took the trip to Indonesia, I'm going to stay here a couple of nights. I bought the ferry ticket to Batam the day before from Penguin at the Harbour Front, costs SG$40 return, and yesterday I cycled down there (through the rain, which is refreshing and not unpleasant in the warmth). Packed my bike in its bag, and checked it in. Caught the ferry (a high speed medium sized boat), and it raced through the waters, round Sentosa and down to the island, dodging between the huge number of commercial carriers anchored around SG. (Wonder if Southampton was like that at one time?). We arrived, I paid for my expensive Foreign Exchange visa, £19 paid in sterling, and got a 10000 IR back). I've already got a hotel booked, and I know it can't be too far away, but not been able to find a map anywhere (even Google maps is blank). Picked up the bike, and the guys at the luggage pickup said "oh, you the one with the bike", how did they know? Its in its black bag, turned out Customs were interested. Had to pay SG$2 to have bag carried from the boat to customs. Having decided it was just a nutty foreigner they let me take it away without any problems. Assembled my bike outside the ferry hall, much to the amusement of the locals (and no doubt the chagrin of the taxi drivers). So I rode out in the belief I'd be able to work out where the town centre was. Trouble was I could'nt see signs for the city, Batam centre actually means the ferry port. I asked a few people, but difficult to get an idea of where it is. Rode out down a dual carriageway, passed large commercial buildings set in acres of woodland, hmmm feels like a city, sort of. Local buses trolling past in both directions. Past the Politeknic (sic), commercial shopping centres, busy roads with lots of traffic, both 4 and 2 wheel (though mostly motorised). After about 20km I really had to decide the signs of city were getting fewer and further apart. I had a great lunch in a food centre, about 70p. Stopped at a petrol station looking for a road map. Eventually got talking to a couple on a moped who gave me extensive directions, (easy to follow as I recognised many places as I'd passed them earlier :-). Took the dual carriageway journey back, passing, and passed by, a few cyclists, look like Singaporeans tho, they have all the gear. But then I'm back at Batam Centre, and still don't know where the city is, anyway got a better steer as everyone knows Nagoya (Centre) (and now I know why as its the big commercial shopping centre in Batam), and I got to my hotel in about an hour (its probably about 20 minutes by bike but I went on a few tangents :-). The hotel is a running down Spa hotel, but very convenient, its down a mostly unpaved track. I thought it was cheap but the spiel I got on arrival made me realise I'd probably paid more than I should (about £25 a night B&B), on my Internet booking. Not bad, reasonable room size (ya need that to keep the bike), massive walk in shower (hmmm, better clean the bike tonight!). About 3 star I'd guess. No room Internet, but free wifi in the foyer so that is OK. Chatted with home on Skype. Walked round the Nagoya Centre (a block away). Chinese style street lighting, which I kinda prefer really, but a little difficult to thread between the mopeds. At least mostly they have lights. Clearly you can get a lift on these if you don't want to pay for a taxi. Food in Nagoya Centre not fantastic, had a tiger beer and fried noodle in a 'better' restaurant ('cos that was all that was open at nearly 2400) cost about £2, and not much better than I could make. Usually the more expensive the place the worse the food! I paid $128 in SG for dinner with my two colleagues, and it wasn't as good as the $6.50 I paid in the Harbour Front food court.

Writing this at breakfast, good range of Indonesian food, but lousy coffee and juice. Preparing for a long day, cycle round the city and along the coast is my intention, see what I can see! Think in this map less city (even the malls don't have maps), I think the compass is going to be my friend. Probably GPS too. Well this is the nice thing about cycling, you have to be self sufficient, and you really get to see a place!

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