Saturday, December 29, 2012

Bemusing Batam Island

Nagoya Hill Shopping Centre
What can I tell you about the first three days of this Winter Sojourn? (keep in mind I live in Japan for now!) Well, they were spent on Batam Island, in a town called Nagoya. They were not full of site-seeing or anything, rather I had a long massage on the second day and went to the cinema to see The Hobbit - which was awesome but someone might have warned me they were splitting it into three parts!

It's Christmas in Indonesia
 I saw the movie at the very swish Nagoya Hills Mall, where they were very aware it was Christmas despite Indonesia being a Muslim country. Decorations abounded although not quite to the extent of Japan. To be honest, the hotels looked cheap and I thought Batam would be a good place to unwind for a couple of days,. There are no real touristy things to do in Batam. The supermarket was huge though and had a lot of things you can't get in Japan, and the prices on groceries were pretty cheap. Electronics though were more in line with Singapore. Batam is supposed to be some sort of special economic zone, attempting to rival Singapore. However, I think it has a long way to go yet!
 The mosque, built in the 1990s, is quite splendid with a minaret out the front. There are several mosques in Nagoya itself but the others are more hidden. The morning prayer call can be heard as can the others through Nagoya town. It's been a while since I heard it to be honest. There are some new areas that look very impressive and yet some places that reminded me of the poorer parts of the third world. It's a bit of a paradox. And the open sewers lead to an unpleasant smell, especially after any rain.
 I wandered the streets of Nagoya on the last day trying to get a handle on this place. Not so easy, I felt very detached. I didn't see any of the darker side of Nagoya though that was supposed to accompany the town. And then, as easily as we arrived, we left. Another boat out from Batam Centre, also boasting a mall and hotels, but 20 minutes taxi from Nagoya.
Nagoya street, bustling, moving.
 What can you make of a place over 2.2 days? Not much really. Can I recommend the place? Not really. As a stepping point to the rest of Indonesia? Maybe. It's a very busy place, so so many people in Nagoya especially. Indonesia is a very populous country though, it was to be expected. 20km across the waters from Singapore, Batam is a strange sort of enigma. We can travel for many reasons, one is always to discover new places.
Santa in Nagoya Shopping Mall.

1 comment:

Cameron Clayton said...

Very interesting. Nice to find out about these places.