Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Going back to Singapore via Batam (2)

(continued from the previous post)

Left picture: Mega Mall, Batam Centre, just opposite the ferry terminal

After reaching the Batam Centre ferry terminal, we immediately went to the Wavemaster counter to get our boarding passes. Since we already had return tickets, we didn't need to purchase tickets anymore. We just needed to pay the seaport tax, which is S$3 per person, total $12 for the 4 of us. The staff will also provide us with a duly completed immigration card. For Singapore residents, you will only need the Indonesian immigration card, but for non-Singapore residents, you will need both the Indonesian and Singapore immigration cards.

I also checked and confirmed that what my friend said here is true. If we buy the tickets in Batam, it will only cost $15 for a return trip. So, it's only half the price of the return tickets if we buy them in Singapore. So, next time if we go to Batam again, we plan to buy one-way tickets from Singapore, and buy the return tickets in Batam. Much cheaper. Just need to take note that the validity of the ticket is only 1 year.

After we got our boarding passes, we proceeded to the fiskal counter, to process our free fiscal tax request. Indonesians need to pay fiscal tax every time they leave the country. The tax is a hefty 1,000,000 rupiahs for air travel and 500,000 rupiahs for sea travel. However, those Indonesians living overseas (including us) can get 4 (four) free fiscal-tax a year. You just need to submit your passport, boarding pass and a copy of your passport to request for the free fiscal tax.

After it's done, we proceeded to check-in our luggage to the porter counter. It's free for the first 10 kg of luggage, but luggage above 10 kg is chargeable, depends on the number and the weight of the luggage. We paid 20,000 rupiahs for 3 luggages.

After checking-in our luggage, we then went to the second floor, to have our lunch at the Singgalang restaurant, a nice "real" Nasi Padang restaurant in the vicinity of the ferry terminal (see right picture). As usual, Inka and Irza ordered their favourite fried chicken. I ordered the orange juice, which is really nice, different from the "usual" orange juices we find in Singapore.

After finishing our lunch, we proceeded to the departure longue. We had our bags scanned, then we cleared immigration before we boarded the Wavemaster 6 ferry to Singapore. The ferry departed on-time at 3:30pm Batam time, and we reached the Harbourfront ferry terminal in Singapore at 5:30pm Singapore time. As usual, we needed to take the luggage out of the ferry ourselves even though we checked them in while boarding the ferry.

Reaching the immigration counter, we chose the "All Passport" lane since the "Singapore Passport" lane's queue is longer. However, it turned out to be that the "Singapore Passport" is much faster to clear. Take note that even though you're not a Singaporean, you can take the "Singapore Passport" lane if you're a permanent resident or employment pass, dependant's pass or work permit holder.

After we cleared immigration, we were greeted by Aunty Shinta who was waiting patiently for us at the ferry terminal. After which, we walked to the taxi stand in front of the Harbourfront Centre and took a cab back home.

You can find the photos in Batam Center, including those taken at Singgalang restaurant and inside the ferry, by clicking here.

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Going back to Singapore via Batam (1)

After a week of "refreshing" in our home town and spending some time with our family, it's now time for us to come back to Singapore. On Sunday morning, 19 March 2006, we went to the Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta airport. We left our home in Cinere at 8:30am, and reached the airport at around 9:30am, so the journey took only 1 hour, a rare experience we can get in Jakarta, which is famous for its bad traffic.

Once we reached the Terminal 1A building, we immediately checked-in at the Indonesia AirAsia counter, which is on the most left side. We checked in our luggage and got our boarding pass, after we paid the airport tax, which is 30,000 Indonesian rupiahs per person for domestic flight. Total, we paid 120,000 rupiahs for 4 of us. We then took the escalator to go to the departure longue on the second floor. You can see the photos here.

The QZ 7552 flight to Batam departed at 11:35am, about 20-minute delayed from its original schedule at 11:15am. As usual, the AirAsia flight is comfortable. They are using a new Boing 737-300 with seats which are comfortable, at least for a budget airline. The kids also could sleep well during the whole flight journey. The plane touched down at Batam's Hang Nadim airport at 1:05pm. You can see the photos here.

After claiming our luggage, we immediately took the cab to Batam Center ferry terminal. We actually intended to go to the Batam Center Mega Mall first, which is located just opposite the ferry terminal, but my wife changed her mind since she's already a bit tired. The taxi fare is 70,000 rupiahs according to the official price list at the airport. Not too sure why it's 10,000 rupiahs more expensive than the other way around.

(Continued to the next post)

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Djoko Chicken Porridge

One of our family's favourite eating place in Cinere, South Jakarta, is "Djoko" Chicken Porridge stall. It's actually a makeshift stall on top of a Suzuki Carry pick-up parked at the Block A Cinere carpark complex, just opposite the Cinere Mall. The stall only opens on Saturdays and Sundays morning, and its chicken porridge is really nice. Not too sure what kind of spices used when they cook the porridge, but the result is really a nice chicken porridge.

The price is also reasonable, ranging from 6,000 to 8,000 rupiahs (just above S$1). During the one week period while we were in Jakarta, we went there twice. :) The photos can be found here.

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Going to Jakarta via Batam (2)

After lunch (see previous post), we immediately took a taxi to Hang Nadim airport. The taxi journey took about 20 minutes, and the price is fixed at 60,000 rupiah. You can see the list of the taxi fare to almost all destinations in Batam at the taxi counter, just to the left after you clear immigration. We reached the airport at around 12:35pm, and immediately went to the Indonesia AirAsia counter to check-in for the QZ 7553 flight to Jakarta. Indonesia AirAsia is a subsidiary of Malaysia's AirAsia, the leading budget airline in the region. It's similar to Thai AirAsia, which is the subsidiary of AirAsia in Thailand.

I like using AirAsia compared to other budget airlines because the service is good and efficient, and the price is quite cheap. A return ticket from Batam to Jakarta to Batam (including tax) for 4 people is only around 1.7 million rupiahs (or less than S$300). So, it's only around S$70 per person, and that already includes tax. With the $30 ferry ticket per person, the total cost per person is only around $100, excluding taxi fares etc. Very cheap! You can compare with Lion Air or Adam Air, which flies directly from Singapore's Changi airport to Jakarta. At least you will have to fork out about $200 (including tax) per person, and that's only if you're lucky to get such fare. Usually, the fare is even higher, especially during peak season.

I also like AirAsia's ticketing system. We can buy tickets online on the Internet, and pay using our credit card. Since it's a domestic Indonesian flight, the fare is in Indonesian rupiahs. It's a ticketless system, so we just need to print out the ticket and then submit the print-out together with our passport/IC during check-in. Very efficient!

After check-in, we paid the airport tax, which is 13,000 rupiahs (slightly more than S$2) per head, total 52,000 rupiahs. We then entered the departure longue. Hang Nadim airport is quite a modern airport, it's comparable (if not better) than Johor Bahru's Senai airport, and it's much better than other Indonesian airports, such as Yogyakarta, Lombok or Bandung, which I visited last year. More pictures of us at Batam's Hang Nadim airport can be found here.

The flight was on-time. Even there are aerobridges in the airport, but it wasn't used by AirAsia to save cost. So we needed to walk on the tarmac to reach the airplane, which was alright to us, we could even took some pictures of the plane from the tarmac. :) The service is also much much better than Lion Air or Adam Air, which I once used before. The plane is also quite new. I was initially afraid that we would use those old planes belong to Awair, but that was not the case.

The flight took around one and a half hour, and we reached at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta airport at around 3pm. We arrived at the terminal 1A of the airport, and were greeted by Aki and Ene, Aunty Via with Alif and Kayla, and Uncle Firman. From there, we went to Ayam Hayam Wuruk restaurant in Kebayoran Baru, and met Aunty Ria there. We had another lunch (well, we can say that a late lunch, if not early dinner) there, before heading back to my parent's house in Cinere, south Jakarta.

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Going to Jakarta via Batam (1)

On Saturday, 11 March 2006, we went to Jakarta via Batam. We left home at around 10am Singapore time, and we took a cab to the Harbourfront Centre ferry terminal (previously known as World Trade Centre). We have bought the ticket and got the boarding pass one day before, so after reaching Harbourfront Centre at around 10:30am, we immediately went to the Departure Longue on the second floor to check-in our luggage and clear immigration. No issue while clearing Singapore immigration, and the ferry also departed on time (11:05am).

We took the Wavemaster (Berlian) ferry, just want to try it since usually we always use the Penguin ferry if we go to Batam. We found out that the Wavemaster ferry is newer and more comfortable compared to Penguin ferry. Not too sure why people like to use Penguin (I can see that the queue in front of Penguin ticket counter is always longer than Berlian's), since I think Berlian ferry is better and the price is the same, which is $30 for adult and $27 for child. According to my friend, return tickets are cheaper if we buy it in Batam compared to if we buy it in Singapore.

More pictures during the ferry journey can be found here. The journey to Batam Centre took about one hour plus, a bit longer than the journey to Sekupang. This is because Batam Centre is located further to the east compared to Sekupang, but in return, the land journey from the ferry terminal to the airport or to the city centre (Nagoya, Baloi, Penuin) is much shorter.

Batam Centre is a new, modern and efficient ferry terminal, which was built recently to replace the aging Batu Ampar ferry terminal. It's linked to a mega mall across the street with a covered pedestrian bridge. We reached Batam Centre at around 11:10am Batam time (note that Batam time is one hour behind Singapore time). Even though we checked-in our luggage upon embarking at Singapore, take note that we still have to carry our own luggage while disembarking the ferry.

The queue at the immigration is quite long, perhaps because it was Saturday, quite a lot of people from Singapore visited Batam, eiter only for a day, the weekend, or as a stepping stone to Jakarta (like what we were doing). Nevertheless, there was no issue clearing the immigration. The kids already started to felt hungry since they didn't have so much for their breakfast, so we went to the second floor and had our lunch at Singgalang restaurant, a "true" Padang restaurant, which is different than the usual nasi Padang in Singapore.

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Saturday, March 11, 2006


Swensens is one of our family's favourite restaurants. The food is halal, and there's quite a lot of variety, starting from the appetizer, main course and of course, the dessert. :) The price is above average, so we try not to go there too often. :) In any case, you will get 10% discount as long as you use HSBC credit cards.

Last Saturday (4/3), after spending some time window shopping at Ngee Ann City, we went to the Swensens restaurant at Crown Prince Hotel, diagonally opposite Ngee Ann City, just next to Paragon. We had our lunch already so we went there only to have ice creams as our desserts during tea time.

My wife ordered her favourite banana split (see bottom left picture), while Inka liked her waffle ice cream (see top left picture). As for Irza? He still prefers his favourite volcano (see above right picture).

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Indo Panggang

Mesmerized by the discussion at the indo-sing mailing list, we went to Indo Panggang, a new Indonesian stall at the S11 Food Court in Cuppage Terrace, just behind the Centrepoint Shopping Centre, along Orchard Road. You can reach there easily by taking the MRT to Somerset, or if you drive, you can park your car at quite a lot of carparks nearby, such as the Centrepoint, Orchard Point or Starhub Centre carparks.

The stall location is facing outside the food court itself, while the rest are actually inside the food court complex, so we were having difficulties in finding the correct stall initially. So we needed to ask around before finding the correct stall. :)

The stall's specialties are grilled kampong (or normal) chicken, and also pempek Palembang (Palembang's specialty fish cake). The chicken is charcoal-grilled on the spot, while the fishcake is also deep-fried on the spot, so we waited for quite some time (15-20 minutes) before we can have the food.

The grilled chicken is very nice, and comparable to the famous Indonesian Riverside stall at Plaza Singapura's Kopitiam food court. The good thing is that Indo Panggang dishes is cooked by a Muslim so it's halal (even though the halal certification is still in process), while Riverside is not.

I tried the $5.50 grilled kampong chicken, while my wife tried the $3.80 grilled (normal) chicken, but we find almost no difference, even the size of the chicken is almost the same. :)

But the Palembang fishcake is spectacular, just like the original. We tried the $2.80 set of 3 fish cake balls, quite economical.

Overall, it's nice. Glad to see more and more Indonesian restaurants and stalls offering us with more variety, after Kantin Aneka, Ayam Penyet and Es Teler 77. :)

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Monday, March 06, 2006

Dinner at Plaza Singapura

Still on the same day, Sunday (5/3) evening, Irza and his father went to Plaza Singapura since we have dinner appointment with cc Rachel and kakak Nadia. Kakak Nadia is going to Singapore for a short holiday, together with his relative, Ronald, who is based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We had dinner at the Kopitiam food court on the sixth floor of Plaza Singapura (left picture).

Irza was a bit shy initially, especially since it's his first time meeting kakak Nadia, and his second time meeting cc Rachel. But eventually, he could mingle and even didn't hesitate to ask Bang Ronald to carry him (right picture).

More pictures of us at Plaza Singapura can be found here.

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Adam and Hanan's Birthday Party at West Coast Park

Yesterday, Sunday 5 March 2006, we went to West Coast Park to take part in celebrating the 4th birthday of Adam, lovely son of Teh Mela, and Hanan, lovely daughter of Mbak Hany. As usual, Inka needs to attend her ICR lesson first in the morning, so we went to the birthday party after Inka finished her lesson at 10:30am, and we reached West Coast Park at around 11am.

There were quite a lot of people when we reached there. Inka, as usual, immediately approached Mbak Hany to "help" in grilling her famous satay (well, knowledge transfer is indeed important for regeneration). :) Inka and Irza also later joined some of their friends, such as Iffah, Hanan and Haifa to play sand at the nearby playground.

There were also Q1 and Q2, Aily and Algorizmi, Akram, Noe, and also Zidan and Syifa, although Inka and Irza didn't manage to spend quite some time with them, yet. Well, they only met for only one, or at most, two times, so they haven't really known each other. So, I guess, we'll need to have more of this kind of gathering, so they will meet more often and know each other better, and can play together. :)

Some more pictures during the event can be found here.

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Kent Ridge Park

Last Saturday (4/3), I took Irza to Kent Ridge Park for cycling and a bit "exercising". The park is close to our previous home at Normanton Park, and also close to my office in Science Park I.

There are several access roads to this park. If you're taking a cab or driving your own car, your best bet would be the main access road on Vigilante Drive, off South Buona Vista Road. By taking this road, you can go straight to the carpark B, which is at the centre of the park on top of a hill. You can also enter the park from Pepys Road, off Pasir Panjang Road, from which you can directly enter the canopy walk in front of the Reflections at Bukit Chandu museum. Other alternative ways are from the end of the Science Park Drive, or from the back gate of Normanton Park (only for Normanton Park residents).

Since our purpose going there is for cycling, we went straight to the carpark B on top of the park's hill. Just next to the carpark is the World War II Plaque, with a tank exhibit which appeals to the kids (see left picture). From the top of the hill, we can have great view of the sea south of Singapore, and the small islands nearby.

From there, Irza cycled to the canopy walk. It takes about 5-10 minutes bicycle ride to reach the western end of the canopy walk. The notice tells us that we are not allowed to ride the bicycle along the canopy walk, you'll need to push the bicycle. The boardwalk is passing through the rainforest on the foot of the hill, so we can enjoy the view of the rainforest from the top (see right picture). Well, we can say it's the smaller version of the Treetop Walk at the MacRitchie Reservoir Park.

The boardwalk will lead you to the end of Pepys Road, just in front of the Reflections at Bukit Chandu museum (see left picture). This World War II Interpretative Centre museum is built to commemorate the gallantry and sacrifice of men of the 1st and 2nd Battalion Malay Regiment who defended the western section of Singapore from Japanese's invasion in February 1942.

From there, we retraced our steps through the canopy walk, and back to the carpark B. We went to the lookout point, which is the highest point on Kent Ridge Park hill, and took some pictures from there (see right picture as one of the examples), before we went back to the carpark and headed home. You can see other pictures of Irza at the Kent Ridge Park by clicking here.

Before heading home, we went to Queensway Shopping Centre nearby to have breakfast at McDonalds there. As usual, Irza ordered his favourite big breakfast even though he also had some of my hotcakes. More pictures of Irza at the McDonalds Queensway Shopping centre can be found here.

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Saturday, March 04, 2006

IMM Building

IMM Building, a shopping mall in Jurong East, is the mall we often visit frequently. Not only because it's only a mere 15 minutes drive from home, the mall also houses Giant Hypermarket, our favourite supermarket where we usually buy all our groceries and needs. It's not difficult to find halal chicken or beef here, and the price is somewhat cheaper than other supermarkets such as NTUC Fairprice or Shop N Save, especially the vegetables, fruits etc.

Other than Giant, another magnet of this shopping mall is the two children playgrounds. Yes, you didn't read it wrongly, there are two children playground inside this shopping mall. One playground is on level 2, just in front of Best Denki, for more older children, while the other one on level 3, near Kids Mall, is more for younger toddler. Inka and Irza's favourite playground is the one on level 2. However, the playground is uncomfortably packed during weekends, and some older children like to run around the playground dangerously, so be careful if you have a young toddler, ensure that he/she's under your supervision at all times. You might want to consider using the other playground on the 3rd floor, which is more suitable for your toddler. Alternatively, go there during weekdays, when the playgrounds are not as packed as on weekends. Other than the playgrounds, there are quite a lot of kiddie rides scattered around the mall, which might be suitable for younger toddler and infants.

Fast food chains like Burger King, McDonalds and Long John Silvers are on the first floor. It also houses the 3-in-1 KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell restaurant on the same floor, next to our favourite restaurant, Secret Recipe. The third level houses Bagus, a halal food court by Banquet, which is located opposite the Daiso store (see left picture), which sells imported Japan goods at a fixed price of $2 per item. Kopitiam food court is on the second floor, while there are some small snack outlets such as Polar, Old Chang Kee, Andersen's Ice Cream etc on the first floor, next to Burger King. Kids Mall is also there, located on the third floor, also the store is not as big as Kiddy Palace in Jurong Point or Causeway Point.

IMM Building is unique because it houses retail shops, offices and warehouses under one roof. It is located along Toh Guan Road, about 15 minutes walk from Jurong East MRT station. There are free shuttle bus services from Jurong East, Clementi and Boon Lay MRT stations.

Some photos of Inka and Irza in IMM Building can be found here.

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Coming back home after a joyful event at the Snow City, for some reason, the kids still were not looked like tired. As such, we made use of the evening to swim at the swimming pool inside our apartment complex. Irza also went to the nearby playground, before joining his sister and grandmother in the swimming pool.

More pictures of Inka and Irza at the swimming pool, as well as in the playground, can be found here.

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Snow City

Last Sunday (26/2), we went to Snow City, Jurong East. Since Inka needs to attend the ICR session in the morning, we went there at around noon. We aimed for the 12:45pm session, so we left home at around 12pm and reached Snow City at around 12:15pm. The admission fee is $12 per person (applicable to both adult and child), but since we are using HSBC credit cards, we got $4 discount per person, so we only need to pay $8 per person. It's a saving of $20, since there are 5 of us! Tips: before you head to Snow City, you might want to check the list of promotions they offer.

Be prepared to bring warm clothings and socks from home. They provide boots and jackets for free, while gloves are being rented at $1.50 per piece. Before you enter the snow chamber, you will need to pass through an airlock chamber, for your body to adapt to the colder temperature. Note that the temperature in the airlock chamber is 10 degree Celcius, while the temperature inside the snow chamber itself is minus 5 degree Celcius. You can compare with Singapore's average day-time temperature of 30-33 degree Celcius, surely your body needs to be acclimatised.

After getting some short briefing from the staff inside the airlock chamber, we then went into the snow chamber. It's really cold, and the snow surface is very slippery, so need to be careful while walking. Irza was a bit afraid initially, but once he adapted to the situation, he enjoyed running and playing in the snow chamber. There's a small playground with slides, and also a big snowman. Both Inka and Irza enjoyed their time playing around the snowman, create and throw snowballs.

More pictures of us at the Snow City can be found here. Apologise for the bad quality of the pictures, I was using my handphone to take the pictures since I didn't dare to bring my video camera into the snow chamber.

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Searching for Inka's shoes

Last Saturday (25/2), we went to Parco Bugis Junction. Our destination is Seiyu, since we still had unused Seiyu voucher which we wanted to use to buy new white shoes for Inka. She once had shoes we bought from Queensway Shopping Centre, and now it's already in a bad shape, 2 months after we bought it. Well, what can you expect from a $9 shoes? :) As usual, a visit to Bugis for the children will mean a visit to the Whimsy amusement centre at the 3rd floor of Seiyu (see left picture).

Unfortunately, there was not much variety of shoes at Seiyu, we couldn't find one suitable for Inka. So we went off to Suntec City and searched for one at the "Why Pay More" shop on the 2nd floor, without success. We had lunch at the KFC on basement floor, and I brought Irza to the children's playground on the 3rd floor (see right picture), before finally we managed to got the shoes for Inka from Bata. It turns out to be that shoes made in Indonesia are still the most suitable ones for Inka. :)

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Dinner at Al-Azhar, Bukit Timah

Last Thursday (23/2), I took my mother and my family to have dinner at Al-Azhar coffee shop, opposite Beauty World Centre. Al-Azhar and Al-Ameen are two of our family's coffee shops. Both coffee shops are located along Cheong Chin Nam Road, a small one-way road which runs parallel with Upper Bukit Timah Road, just opposite Bukit Timah Shopping Centre and Beauty World Centre. Both open 24 hours and are halal.

I tried the Al-Azhar' special fried rice, while the rest had roti prata. My wife likes the durian prata, while Irza likes the tissue prata. The kids also never forget to order their favourite drink, milo dinosaurs.

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