Even though we literally just moved to across the world like a few days ago, we were getting major cabin fever staring at the walls of our little temporary hotel room so we decided to get out of the country for the weekend!
For only ~$40 Singapore Dollars SGD (about $30 US Dollars USD) you can get a roundtrip ticket from Singapore to the city of Batam (pronounced bah-TOM), Indonesia (or as my kids call it indoor-nesia). So it's like... in the middle of the country... not the BATAM. heh. get it? *badum tssss* Anywho, it’s about a 45-minute ferry ride. Which is perfect for a quick holiday weekend.
the ferry was super quick! the key to not getting sea sick is to look out the window and focus on the horizon rather than the movement of the boat -- super helpful for when my kids/hubs started to feel sick.
Day 1: Arrival, Food, and Taxi Gangs
We took a taxi ride to our AirBnB. It was only supposed to be 24,000 Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) but the cab driver scammed us we paid about 80,000 IDR. But it’s cool because 80,000 IDR is only $6 USD. Batam doesn’t care about car safety at all so we were piled high in the back of the taxi. The kids were both very excited to be out of car seats and very scared. LOL!
a toddler being carried on the back of a bike, def. made me nervous because the baby wasn't even in a carrier!
The majority of the population of Batam is Muslim so we saw lots of beautiful temples and heard the call to prayer multiple times a day. Isaac (3 years old) asked me “are the girls cold? Its hot outside… all the girls are wearing scarves on their heads”.
Dragging your kids all over the world is a big pain in the butt but when you get little teachable moments like that it kind of makes it worth the jetlag. It was cool talking to the kids about other religions, actually seeing other people pray and hearing the call to prayer.
I forgot what this was called but a few years ago this is where they held the national Indonesian Islamic Festival. It was gorgeous from the car!
We stayed at Aston Hotel and Residences. We stayed in the residence part of the property. It was a two bedroom two bathroom flat. For about $50 USD/night.
Hey, I'm Luke and even though I drive my parents crazy running around all over the place... the hotel staff was very patient and they even played with me!
awesome pool area. There was a pool for kids, one for wading, and one for actual laps.
it was interesting to see the different types of swim attire at the pool! Some were covered from head to toe while there were people in swim suit with veeeeeeeerry little cloth. LOL
The kids LOVED the glass banisters. Me? Not so much.
We took a Grab (which is like Uber or Lyft here in Asia) for ~27,000 IDR ($1.70 USD) and went to Sei Enam Seafood Restaurant. Batam is well known for their delicious seafood.
their logo is literally a crab and we totally didn't get crab at this restaurant. that's okay though, we made up for it later!
some tofu dish that was good... but OMG the bottom dish is SALTED EGG PRAWNS and it was literally the best thing I've ever eaten and it's so good and I'm still thinking about this like a week later. SO GOOD. like, let me bathe in this sauce.
salt and pepper squid and kailan... this is probably the last vegetable I ate in a few weeks 😅
full bellies all around with only one box of take away! side note: they call "to-go" take away here!
We ate lots of yummy seafood. THE KIDS ATE IT TOO! Whaaaaat. We had about six entrees and the bill was ~755,000 IDR (~$54 USD).
After dinner we took a $2 Grab to the Wet Market but eventually ended up at the actual grocery store because the wet market was closing up.
a group of people doing Tai Chi outside the wet market
times like this i'm grateful that pictures online aren't scratch n' sniff. pictured here is durian - a fruit that smells like a diaper and feet dipped in gasoline and a very sweaty man.
these are LARGE BOWLS full of varieties of dried shrimp and little fish.....mm. pungent.
While we were at the mall (the grocery store is in the mall) we were trying to request for a Grab but the driver kept cancelling on us. We kept walking further to try to get a Grab to accept the job. A few taxi drivers started to follow us telling us that we can’t get Grab’s in this part of town. LOL okay, dude. Yeah right. We started to get nervous because it was getting dark, we had bags of stuff, and the kids with us. My mom and I ducked inside a hotel lobby with the kids while three taxi drivers hounded Jay telling him "No Grabs" were allowed to pick up only drop off. The taxi driver pulled up an article to explain why. Scary, right!? Anyway, The taxi driver tried to swindle us for a 100k IDR ride back to our AirBnB but we got the legit rate of 50,000 IDR ride instead (~$4 USD)... because Jay pulled up Grab prices.
We ended the night with 90 minute massages from the hotel which cost 347,000 IDR ($25 USD). We got a Javanese massage (which is an Indonesian massage from Java – my ignorant self thought they misspelled Japanese). Javanese massage is DOPE. They use like heavy knuckles to get really deep in the muscle and they put a lot of focus on the legs which was ah-mazing.
Day 2: Temples and Eye Tricks
We took a Grab for 13k IDR (> $1 USD) and visited the Vihara Budhi Bhakti which is a Buddhist Temple. The grounds are beautiful and the temple is massive. The kids were super respectful and very quiet.
Jay closed all the rings on his Apple watch climbing these stairs while carrying Luke. way to go babe!
inside of the temple
There was a wedding going on and Caleb, being incredibly inquisitive and invasive, probably got into the personal space of a man who was praying.
*Chandler Bing voice* "could I be any closer to you while you're praying??"
He was one of the groomsmen of the wedding party and graciously showed Caleb what he was doing. He told all of us to grab three or five joss sticks (like big incense sticks), light them, make a wish, and stick it into the giant gold vase.
Caleb lighting his joss sticks.
I asked Isaac what he wished for, he said "PJ Masks stuff"... Um, I don't think he understood the directions.
Chinese New Year is the first weekend of February so all the temples we visited were VERY active! It was so cool to see.
My six year old took this picture. Prodigy, I tell you.
This man was burning all these papers with writing on them and it smelled like incense after he burned them. I thought this was so cool. I thought it was like symbolic, ya know like burning stuff watching the smoke rise in the air and what not... I hope he's not just getting rid of old prayer cards or something... that would be so anticlimactic. If you know what he was actually doing, please don't tell me and kill my excitement.
The offerings were bottles of juice, fruit, candy, food, money, and like other types of drinks.
After walking around the grounds we took a 24k IDR ($1.70 USD) Grab to the Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya Monastery. It’s another huge Buddhist temple with three different halls and a vegetarian restaurant in the back!
"look at all the buddhas sitting criss cross apple sauce!"
"Mommy, I already know how to do this. Except I want 5 joust sticks instead of 3, okay?"
The kids love Laughing Buddha because he has "ears like Mommy" and a "belly like Lukey"...cool.
"Mommy can you take a picture of me with a lot of Lukey's?"
We took about a 30 min Grab ride to Golden City which is like a cute little “neighborhood” so to speak. There was some shopping, cute restaurants, and AN ILLUSION MUSEUM! That was super cool!
The employees pose you and help you take pictures!
The kids thought this was "the best thing ever!"
"Mommay! Look at my pet dinosaur!!!"
I'm really trying to embrace my natural waves, guys.
Then we got hungry and walked to The Golden Prawn. It was a restaurant over the water. There were massive tubs full of sea creatures and you got to like… pick your own seafood. I wish I got a picture of this because it was crazy!
It was totally barbaric.... and totally delicious. 😋
We ate our weight in food spending about $50 USD on six entrees.
butterySHRAMPS. They leave the shell on and everything and you just eat the whole thing. Jay and Caleb ate the heads.
Chilli Crab. OMG. YESSSS.
I don't know what this is but it was good. Not as good as the seafood but SO GOOD.
Not pictured is the lobster we totally destroyed .. 🤤
We saw Bird's Nests for sale. Like... actual birds nests.. tweet tweet. They're actual nests not noodles. Why this is a thing I don't know, but we're gonna try it eventually. Stay tuned.
We took a Grab back to our AirBnB, repacked our bags, and got ready to leave back to Singapore.
We left in the early afternoon on Day 3, so we hung out by the breakfast buffet for a long time and watched Indonesian cartoons.
This trip was legit and totally perfect for a quick weekend away! We didn't even scrape the surface of Indonesia, so we’ll probably be visiting often!
For a family of six, we spent about $488 USD for three days and two nights. The majority of our money went to food, of course. I'm sure if we ate street food, we wouldn't have spent so much.
That’s about $162USD a day which is about $27USD per person per day.
For all food, transportation, AND accommodations? NOT BAD!
Some packing notes:
We took one carry-on and all six of us packed our things in there.
We each packed three shirts, two shorts, one pair of shoes, and a swim suit.
We brought our toiletries (tooth brushes, soap, shampoo/conditioner, hair stuff, minimal make up, & toothpaste), diapers, and wipes!
We brushed our teeth with bottled water because the kids are still small and I didn't want to risk them accidentally swallowing tap water.
Follow along on Instagram for every day life and more travels!