Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Hunting for Cheap Goods in Batam

Story by. Ahmad Yani Hasti (Editor: Christopher K. Shon)

At noon on Saturday, May 30th, 2015, I was landing on Batam Island for the first time in my life. It's a sunny day with no cloud in the sky. When I came out of the airport, it was hot. I could feel the sun burning my skin and it made me sweat, but I was sure it’s not the end of the world.

I went there with some of my friends. They were Madam Ipa Mahmud, Eka Darmayanti, Yacobus, Siti Syamsufiah, and her husband, Mr. Marsus. I would like to thank them, because, due to their company, it would be a nice tour in Batam Island. Andi Pratiwi Bachtiar, our friend in Batam, also joined us in the tour. In order to meet us at the airport, she came with her car. She drove by herself and took us from the airport to the other places. Pratiwi picked us up with full of warmth. It’s an Indonesian way of friendship. People here seem to be friendlier just like her.
Photo by. Ahmad Yani Hasti ---  My friends and I had some chat while ordering dinner at a food stall in Harbour Bay, Batam, on Saturday (May 30th, 2015).
Batam provides many opportunities for the tourists. So forget the heat of the island and enjoy the various opportunities for the visitors. Batam Island is a part of Riau Islands, Indonesia, located about 20 km south from Singapore. There are many industries growing at Batam. That's why many people come to the island and, thus, the population growth is faster than the other areas of the country. There are now more than a million people living there. Batam is a small Island but has become the busiest entering point to Indonesia besides Jakarta and Bali.

There are many things that you can do in Batam. Some favorite things for the visitors are playing golf, shopping, dining, getting massage and spa. Many tourists like to hunt cheap goods here. A lot of stores here will fulfilled your shopping need. You may fulfill your shopping appetite with various electronic devices, gadgets, and other goods that will fit your style. You will stop by many malls and department stores here. It would be a promising shopping place for women.
Photo by. Andi Pratiwi Bachtiar ---  On Sunday (May 31st 2015), My friends and I were shopping at a handbag store in Nagoya, Batam, and looking for some stuff for us.
If you would like to find some original items, I will not recommend this place. You may find the genuine items in Singapore with cheaper price than here. Imitated brand items like clothing, dress, leather bag, eyeglasses, wristwatch, belt, etc., are the goods that you can buy with extremely cheaper prices than their originals. Each item has different price tag depending on the level of imitation quality. It, of course, also depends on your negotiation skills. In this situation, prices never lie. Prices will be determined by its imitation quality. Materials of this imitation branded items would never ever too excellent than their originals. It’s only a win-win solution for the customers who want to use branded items with a low budget.

All I Know are Only Cuisines and Shopping

Besides shopping, Batam promises another kind of pleasure to the tourists. The one that attracted me was doing a culinary travel in Batam. That afternoon, after getting some rest at the hotel owned by Pratiwi, she took us to Harbour Bay. We found some restaurants and food stalls lined up to the streets and the seafront.

We came round to the one of them. I found many kinds of seafood and I can say that it's worth to try. All items were served with good taste and low prices, too. There was a traditional food called Otak-Otak Sotong with sweet and sour taste and slightly chewy in our mouth. Otak-Otak is a traditional fish cake that is widely known in Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia. But, Otak-Otak Sotong is not made by fish, but by cuttlefish.

Besides that, there was a kind of food which made me very curious. It was a typical food in Batam called Siput Gonggong (Dog Conch). People here have a traditional way on how to cook dog conches. After cleaning, they simply process them by steaming. That was my first time to try that food. It tasted like a clams or calamari. It was chewy and it would be tastier if you dab it into Sambal, a spicy condiment in Indonesia. To most Indonesians, spicier is more taste to eat. I can't descript into many words but I will miss its taste.
Photos by. Ahmad Yani Hasti  ---  We ordered some food such as Otak-Otak Sotong (1) and Siput Gonggong/Dog Conch (2) for our dinner at Harbor Bay on Saturday (May 30th, 2015).
To remove the meat of dog conch from its shell, you have to use toothpick. You need to pay attention to the tip part which is colored dark brown or blackish. That part is quite solid and unfriendly to your mouth. This part is not to be chewed. In addition to the dog conch, there are more appetizing seafood such as Cumi Krispi Telur Asin (Crispy Squid with Salted Egg) and other dishes with snapper, shrimp, and crabs.

Watching the dusk in the sky of Batam while the food on the dishes were snatched into the mouth, we completely forgot about the time. I could no longer count how much time we spent with the small talks over the fine cuisine. We left for home rather late. But we stopped at one of the malls nearby before we finally returned to the hotel to get rest.

The next day, Sunday, May 31st, 2015, Pratiwi took us to Nagoya for lunch. She came with her husband, Irwan Sahala Tambunan. He was a nice person too, just like his wife. We ordered a variety of foods such as Ayam Goreng Cabe Hijau (Fried chicken with Green Chillies) and Mie Lendir (Slime Noodle). Mie Lendir, with slime sauce, was not so ugly looking, but when it came to your tongue, it tasted pretty good. With peanut sauce, the noodle tasted like Gado-Gado (another kind of Indonesian Food).
Photos by. Ahmad Yani Hasti  ---  We got some fine cuisines such Ayam Goreng Cabe Hijau/ Fried chicken with Green Chillies (1) and Mie Lendir/ Slime Noodle (2) for lunch, and Sup Campur/Mixed Soup (3) for dinner at different places but still in Nagoya areas, Batam, on Sunday (May 31st, 2015).
After having lunch, we went to shopping. It’s a time for the ladies. We came around to Nagoya and found a handbag shop there. I found myself with the ladies spending hours in the shop. It did not make me bored anyway. It’s fun to see them making negotiations with the shop attendants.

After shopping, we went to have dinner. Still in Nagoya area, we found a Chinese restaurant. The company wanted to try fish soup. But I was interested in the mixed one with fish, calamari, and shrimp. This mixed soup was not only so tasty but also really fresh that I can’t stop eating it until the bowl is empty. It was a good chance for me trying many kind of foods here in Batam. They became one of my favorites.
Photo by. Yacobus  ---  Dinner with friends at a food stall in Harbour Bay, Batam, on Saturday (May 30th, 2015).
On Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015, we left from Batam. We spent several days in Batam for shopping and other pleasure in cuisine and sightseeing. I could tell that we were very intense for shopping. The female friends got many leather bags, perfumes, t-shirts, and chocolates in their bags. All men, including me, did the same. It’s a little bit crazy but it’s a new kind of experience for me. I never found all these women were really excited about shopping until that day when I spent long hours with them at the malls. For a while, one of Shania Twain’s popular song “Man! I feel like a woman” sounded on my head. Could not stop thinking about this tour until found myself really tired at last, but a few days in Batam were another great time for me. I really enjoyed it.

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