Has it ever been busy around here lately! One brother decided to come surprise the other brother, so we had some fun times with brothers (still trying to convince them to write a blog post). Then once all the company left, we took a trip to Malacca and Kuala Lumpur, and as soon as we got back from that I started a training for 1v4 online classes that had a ridiculous amount of homework. So I’ve only been trying to write this post for about a month and a half. So on top of things over here!
For spring break, we decided to go to Batam, a small island in Indonesia that’s about an hour ferry ride away from Singapore. Apparently Singaporeans like to visit Batam for seafood, shopping, and a special kind of cake called Kueh Lapis that’s a lot cheaper in Batam.
However, we are not Singaporean, so we didn’t eat any seafood and we didn’t do any shopping, although we did go to a giant shopping mall because Jared and Abel wanted to see a movie (Q is pretty averse to being quiet and still so he went to the kid’s playplace instead). We DID try the special cake and it was actually quite good. Abel thought it was almost one of the best things he’d eaten in Singapore, the best, of course, being a chocolate peanut butter sandwich (for some reason fish balls just didn’t do it for him).
Our apartment building, which was close to the middle of the city but also kind of in the middle of nowhere and next to a slum, had a great view from the top–at least from the one window we could see out of.
I think it was part of a development that ran out of money: big fancy buildings that were now weatherstained and nearly empty except for a few token businesses, and, as I mentioned, sitting right next to a large slum. Call me a privileged American, but it was kind of shocking to see an actual slum and realise that yes, people do live in buildings made out of rusty corrugated iron and leave trash sitting around everywhere (trash not depicted as I wasn’t able to get a good picture of the entire slum).
And that slum was sitting right next to buildings that looked like this:
They’re a little waterstained and what not, but still. Only a few stores inhabited them, one of which was this cute coffee shop (I think it was owned by the same people who owned our hotel). It was stuffed with all kinds of toys and memorabilia and JQ took great delight in attempting to play with everything.
The highlight of the trip, by far, was the day we hired a car (and a driver) and traveled over the whole chain of islands around Batam.
We saw some more slums,
little shops by the roadside selling fruit or snacks and drinks,
more sad-looking dwellings,
some abandoned houses that a reservoir had been built over (we surmised)
and the bridge that all the tourist websites said was a must-see: Barelang Bridge.
We stopped here and stretched our legs and drank some coconut juice, which JQ “very liked.”
Then we admired the bridge some more
and Abel tried to learn some Indonesian from our driver, whose English was pretty poor.
Then we kept driving on to Vietnam village, an old refugee camp for those displaced by the Vietnam war (empty now). We all agreed that if we were refugees a camp in the middle of the jungle would not be the nicest place to be (can you say mosquitoes!).
The main attraction of the camp now seems to be the monkeys.
So many monkeys, and they looked like they were used to handouts.
Also, Abel endured his five minutes of fame for being one of the only white people around when he sped ahead of Jared and me on one of the walking trails and a nun and her friends pressed him into taking a picture with them. Jared and I laid low and took pictures from a distance while sniggering silently.
Of course, on the very next bend of the trail (which, by the way, was full of scenes from the crucifixion–so this was taken in front of the empty tomb), we were all accosted by an even larger group of people–I assume they were Indonesian–and pressed into taking a picture with them.
Much picture-taking and rearrangement of people ensued: they practically wanted a picture of everyone individually!
Once all our celebrity photos were taken (and now we have about a million photos of us on some random strangers’ phones!), we headed back to the car before I could get eaten alive by the mosquitoes.
Then we headed back home. It gets tiring to get your picture taken all day! I’m sure these deer had the same feeling.
Before we left Indonesia, we had to try some of the food (even though it’s really pretty similar to Singaporean food). I don’t remember what this was called, but it was some kind of curry and was actually much more delicious than it looks.
And we came back to Singapore feeling grateful not to live in Indonesia!