Getting to Batam Island

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OVERVIEW
Batam Island is located in Indonesia. Batam is part of Riau Province. Batam Island, located just 20 Kilometers southeast of Singapore, is a mere 4560 minute, air conditioned, ferry ride from the island of Singapore, that is if you arrive at Batu Amper. Roughly two thirds the size of Singapore, Batam’s 415 square kilometers make it one of the largest islands in Indonesia’s Riau Archipelago. There are a few options for nightlife, including discos, a massage parlor, and a brothel (see NIGHTLIFE, below).

Preliminary Requirements: The first thing to note in going to Batam is that you need the minimum of the following for a 2 day/1 night stint: A valid passport with 6mths on it. About SD$200, more than enough. World Trade Center/Batu Ampar tickets (about $26 max)

Nightlife and Action: Nagoya is the town you want to be in. That’s where most of the action is taken place.

The Girls: Batam has tens of thousands of factory girls. All are far from home; their salaries are small and it is hard for them to meet men, except if they go to a disco. They don’t consider themselves to be prostitutes.
Choose your bookings of the girls in the afternoon, for delivery to hotel later that night. There is a much better choice of girls in the afternoon and it is better to choose when you are still sober!

Girls come in two categories: freelancers, which you can find in pubs and discos and “booking girls”, available from dozens of karaoke joints and massage parlours. While it is tempting to pick up a freelancer, the booking girls are a much safer bet, in terms of not getting robbed and VD. (You should ALWAYS use a rubber, anyway.) Find Jansen, who works at Lucy’s Oar house, and talk him into driving you around to check out the various booking establishments.

Indonesian girls have looks closely resembling a combination of Filipina’s and Malaysians. Their faces ranged from pure Polynesian to Polynesian with some Asian characteristics. They tended to be short (under five feet) and brownskinned. There were a few tall girls (up to six feet on platform shoes) and a few light skin and a few very dark skin girls.

WHEN TO GO
The best time to visit is during the dry season (April to September).

VISAS
Two month’s entry visa free for tourists from major markets. All visitors must have passports valid for at least six months and proof of onward passage (a return ticket).

CUSTOMS
Each adult is permitted to bring, on entry, a maximum of two liters of alcoholic beverages, 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 100 grams of tobacco and a reasonable quantity of perfume. Photographic equipment and typewriters must be declared and are admitted, provided they are taken out on departure.

Prohibited from entry are the following items: narcotics, arms and ammunition, TV sets, radio and radio cassette recorders, pornography, fresh fruit, printed matters in Chinese characters and Chinese medicine. All movie films and video cassettes will have to be deposited for review by the Film Censor Board. There is no restriction on import and export of foreign currencies and travelers cheques; however, import or export of Indonesia currency exceeding 50,000 rupiah (Rp) (US $5.30) is prohibited.

GETTING THERE
To get to Batam Island you take a ferry from the island of Singapore. The ferry terminal to Batam is at the World Trade Center, where you can purchase your tickets on the second floor of the World Trade Center. We suggest that you book your tickets at least one day in advance. Book the ferry to Batu Ampar, not Sekupang. You have to check in 30 minutes prior to departure. All ticketing and checkin systems are computerized. The trip itself lasts about 60 minutes.

Tickets are valid for six months. Return tickets cost less than oneway tickets, so it is better to buy such a ticket, unless you intend to stay in Batam for more than six months.

WEATHER
BATAM
Air Temperature
Batam Island include the island around constitutes a low tropical region and is of hot climate, with average lowest temperature of 25.3°C and the highest averaging 34.4°C.
Air Humidity
Relative humidity ranges between 73% to 96%.
Rainfall
The region around Batam Island has a rainfall sufficient high every year, that is about 2600 mm a year. Rainfall can occur at any time of the year but is higher in the mountainous areas where there is very little distinction between the wet and dry seasons
Wet Season: November April
Dry Season: May October
Best time to visit: April to September, as rainfall is much lighter although this is the busiest time for visitors.
Best time to visit: During the Dry Season when rainfall is lower.

CLOTHING
Dress is generally informal in Indonesia. Light fabrics are recommended due to the warm, humid climate. For men, a jacket and tie is considered appropriate when making officials calls or non formal occasions. Or, follow local custom by wearing a longsleeve batik shirt. It is recommended to bring a sweater or light jacket for travel to mountain areas. Shorts and beachwear are not considered appropriate except at sports facilities and on the beaches, and never appropriate for visits to temples, mosques and other places of worship.

CUSTOMS
Each adult is permitted to bring, on entry, a maximum of two liters of alcoholic beverages, 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 100 grams of tobacco and a reasonable quantity of perfume. Photographic equipment and typewriters must be declared and are admitted provided they are taken out on departure. Prohibited from entry are the following items: narcotics, arms and ammunition, TV sets, radio and radio cassette recorders, pornography, fresh fruit, printed matters in Chinese characters and Chinese medicine. All movie films and video cassettes will have to be deposited for review by the Film Censor Board. There is no restriction on import and export of foreign currencies and travelers cheques; however, import or export Indonesia currency exceeding Rp 50,000, is prohibited.

PASSPORT AND VISA
Visitors must arrive in Indonesia with passports valid for at least six months after arrival and with onward or return tickets. Visas are not required for nationals of: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States of America and West Germany.
A nonextendable tourist pass for citizens of these is issued for a maximum of 60 days with entry and departure through:
Airports: Medan, Batam, Pekanbaru, Padang, Jakarta, Bali, Manado, Ambon, Biak, Ku pang, Pontianak, Balikpapan and Surabaya;
Seaports: Medan, Batam, Jakarta, Surabaya, Semarang, Riau, Bali, Manado, and Ambon.
Through other ports, a visa is required. Nationals of countries not listed above can obtain 30day tourist visas from any Indonesian embassy or consulate abroad.

GETTING TO BATAM
To get to Batam Island you take a ferry from the island of Singapore. The ferry terminal to Batam is at the World Trade Center, where you can purchase your tickets right off the counters. You can also buy hotel vouchers at the travel agencies right next to the ferry boat ticket counter on the second floor of the World Trade Center in Singapore. Book the ferry to Batu Ampar, not Sekupang…much closer to Nagoya where the action is. You have to check in 1/2 hour before the ferry leaves. All ticketing and checkin systems are computerized, so you cannot appeal for the ticketing agent to relax the timing. Generally, tickets are valid for a period of six months. Return tickets cost less than oneway tickets, so it is better to book your tickets twoways instead of one, unless you intend to stay in Batam for more than six months.
We suggest that you book your tickets one day in advance over at the World Trade Center.

FERRY’S
There are four ferry operators that goes to Batam. Their rates and schedules varies.
Dino Shipping: Also known as Batam Fast ferries. Each return ticket costs S$28. This is the most expensive of the four operators, but it is also the fastest and has the newest fleet.
Auto Batam: Owned by Sembawang Corporation, this is one of the most popular ferries for travelers to Batam. Return tickets cost S$24 each. They have slightly more departure frequencies than Dino Shipping.
Widi: It has the cheapest rate, but their fleet of ferries is not as new as the other operators. Return tickets cost S$20 each. They frequently cancel their departures, so it is better to confirm the next departure time before checking in. Especially, if you are taking the last ferry back from Batam, it is wise to call up the ferry operator at least one hour before the previous ferry leaves. Even so, you have to keep your fingers crossed or you may land up staying another night in Batam. This ferry is very popular amongst the Indonesians. Hence, quite often you get to take the same ferry with some pretty Indonesian girls (Especially Indonesian Chinese). And if you are bold enough, you can chatup with one during your ferry trip. Most of them are very friendly.
Penguin Boat Services: They run every hour, they are fast and clean.

NOTE: If you have booked your tickets the day before you can be at the WTC complex 30mins before time otherwise give yourself an hour.

ARRIVING ON BATAM
First, when you arrive at the ferry terminal at Sekupang or Batu Ampar, you will need to go through customs. During holidays could take longer than usual. After you finish customs go to the small arrival lobby where you can either get a taxi through the taxi counter, or you can get one outside the arrival hall. There will be tons of taxi drivers waiting for you. Either way, the charges are the same. If you use the taxi drivers outside the arrival hall you’d better agree on a price before boarding. First time visitors we suggest you use the taxis from the hotels, especially if you are staying at the better class hotel. The vehicles are bigger and cleaner and the drivers more trustworthy.
Taxis from the ferry terminals are more expensive, and so are those from the hotels. Generally, they charge Rp20,000 or S$5 per trip from Batu Ampar to Nagoya and Rp50,000 or S$10 per trip from Sekupang to Nagoya.
Immigration Stuff: You have to fill out a white Indonesian immigration card, usually given out by the ticket sales in Singapore.

GETTING AROUND
Taxis: There are lots of taxis to take you to any place in Batam. A tour around town in a taxi will cost around Rp10,000 per trip.($23) Any trip within Nagoya (short trips) should cost you only 5000Rp max. Always ask and negotiate, Some of the taxis are in pretty bad shape and the price of the ride may be bargained down to Rp7,000.
The Ojak is the most convenient form of transportation in Batam especially if you are in a hurry. Although it could be the most dangerous and for the difference you’d be paying for a car, it would be stupid to take the chance. Don’t be “fuelish” while vacationing. Ojak charges Rp5,000 per trip.
The Ojak or Ojek motorcyclists will give you lifts from heretothere. What they do is come near you and beep their horn at you, wanting to know if you’d like a lift.

EXPLORING THE TOWN
The best way to check out the scene is to get a taxi to bring you around all the clubs in Batam. Most clubs open at 12noon Batam time. Some opens earlier at 11am. If you are new to the place, ask the driver to recommend you some clubs or massage parlors. Of course, they will try to bring you to those that pay them higher commission, regardless of the type of girls they have there. Always remember that you are not obligated to take any girls from any clubs if you do not see anything that you like. Get the driver to take you to another club to select your pick. Sometimes the mommy or pappy will try very hard to hold you and coax you to take one of her girls. Well, you will have to learn to resist them, in a polite way.

HOLIDAYS
January 1………. New Year
Feb 20, 21…….. Idul Fitri Festival
March 21……….Seclusion Day / Saba New Year
April 5……………Good Friday
April 28…………Idul Adha Great Day
May 16…………..Ascention day of Christ
May 19……………Hijriah New Year
June 2…………..Waisak Day
July 28…………..Maulid of Prophet Mumammad
August 17…….National Independence Day
Dec 8………….. Isra Miraj of Prophet Muhammad
December 25……..Christmas Day

MONEY ISSUES
The local currency is the Rupiah. Foreign currencies, either banknotes or travelers cheques, are easily exchanged at banks and money changers in major tourist destinations. Credit cards are accepted at most hotels and restaurants in main cities. It is advisable to carry sufficient amounts of Rupiah when traveling to smaller towns or outer provinces.

Tipping
Major hotels add a 10% service charge to bills. Where it is not included a tip of between 5% to 10% of the bill would be appropriate if service is satisfactory. Airport poterage is Rp 500, for a small bag and Rp 1,000, if weighing more than 20 kg. Tipping taxi and hirecar drivers is not mandatory, but Rp 500,would be sufficient for a taxi driver, but more for a hirecar driver.

MONEY EXCHANGE
We suggest changing only $50 in Singapore and the rest over on Batam. The exchange rate on Batam is about 200Rp more than what you can get over in Singapore and there is a money changer right at the Batu Ampar Ferry Complex. It is still safe to convert there, as there are no touts yet to get you. Incidentally, SD$1 approx. 5,000Rp for quick conversion. Notes are usually in 100K, 50K, 20K, 10K, 2K, 1K, 500, 200 and 100 Rp. Change into 50K, 20K and 5K stuff.
The lesson here on money in Batam is to bring cash, both US dollars (new condition for the slightly higher rate at banks) and Singapore dollars.

TAXI TIPS
There are 2 types of taxis you should be aware of: 1. Parked 2. Cruising.
Avoid taxis which are parked.. The drivers of parked taxis are much more likely to be scam artists.
Never do a deal with a cabbie who is not sitting his car with the engine running.

Taxi Scams: In Sekupang, there are two main classes. The one who can speak English and scam the foreigners arriving at the International terminal. And Indonesian only speakers who scam Indonesians arriving at the domestic terminal.

Standard Fares: Taxi fares in Batam are negotiable. It is not impossible to “charter” a taxi from Sekupang to Nagoya for as little as Rp15,000.
The drivers of the parked taxis, awaiting their latest victim, have plenty of time on their hands to discourage outsider taxis from picking up fares. If they can, they will “squeeze” an outside taxi for part of the fare.

NEGOTIATION TACTICS
Sometimes, the driver may counteroffer “Dua pulu ribu”(20,000), just ignore him and keep walking towards the exit gate. Usually he will relent and agree. If a cabbie doesn’t accept your price, WALK AWAY. Never get into negotiations or arguments with the lower classes; find another cab.
OTHER TIPS
Never get into a taxi if there are other people in the car.
Never let the driver pick up other people. If he does, just say “Nagoya, CHARTER”. If other people get in the car, GET OUT. Charter means exclusive use of the car and every taxi driver in Indonesia knows it.
Never get into conversations with the driver; if they try to ask you a question, answer by repeating the name of your destination. If they really want to talk, just say” “No English”.
It is better if you get a sense of the driver’s character within those first five seconds of negotiation.
Sometimes, I don’t have a good “feeling” about something and look for another cab.

HOTELS
Depending on your budget and tastes one suggestion is to stay in one of the 4 star hotels. The going rate is about SD$65 to SD$85 per night. One way to save some money is to buy hotel vouchers at the travel agencies right next to the ferry boat ticket counter on the second floor of the World Trade Center in Singapore.

4 Star Hotels
Melia Panorama
One traveler describes the Melia as a place where English is understood, and the air con would really work well, where the water and food was safe to drink, where the environment was clean, where the air was breathable, where there was security, and where there was peace and quiet.
The rooms at the Melia on the fifth of seventeen floors had a very huge bed, easily sleeping four adults, twice as big as a double bed. (Thoughts of wild orgies immediately filled my mind.) There was an in room safe, desk, sitting chair with table, wardrobe, TV, remote control for all lights in the room and the TV, plush towels in the bathroom, mini bar, bottle opener, clothesline, fully western bathroom with a nice shower/bath, good water pressure, hot water, etc. There was a leather bound directory listing the hotels services and room service menu. Quite nice.

Puri_Garden Hotel
Novotel Located at Jl. Raden Patah Komplek Sumber Jaya Blok A. Tel. 459800-459091
Harmoni Hotel
Mandarin Regency Situated right in the heart of the commercial and banking area of Nagoya.

Budget Hotels
Hotel 81: Is located next to the rear of the Mandarin Regency. A hotel clerk said, the posted rates were as published. The rates for a standard room were S$24 on the weekdays and S$26 on the weekends and for a standard A room were S$28 and S$30 respectively. The hotel clerk said, the weekday rate would apply for a long stay and the hotel would accept 120,000 rupiah for S$24. The hotel looked clean due to its tile floor. The rooms were about twice the size of its queen-sized bed and had an overhead air conditioner, television, and a shower area that was not separated from the toilet. The lock of the room door can be opened with a semi-rigid plastic, but the space between the door jamb and door was tight. The hotel clerk said, no window for a standard room unlike a standard A room, no cable TV, and no in-room safe or counter security box for individuals, but one office safe for everyone’s valuables. It appeared to be an excellent value for the price, but be careful with your valuables there and bring your own metal brace to lock the door when you sleep there.


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