The main reason for flying to Singapore was not actually to see the Star Wars starfighters or to dine out in the hawker centres but to take the boat to Batam in Indonesia to visit my sister and her family. Prior to their trip to Tokyo in April, they stayed with my in-laws in Hiroshima and from that moment my mother-in-law wanted to one day visit them on their industrial island. As it was, I intended to visit again at the end of November with my wife in tow (it was just me last October) and so a plan was hatched for the three of us to go over there for a short break combined with some time in Singapore.
Following a day in Singapore we headed out early to Vivo City in Harbourfront hoping to get the 9:30am BatamFast boat. That was already full though and the next one soon sold out too so we were left with the 11:35am one which certainly gave us time to get some food and go to Starbucks. On arrival at Batam Centre one hour later (but at the same time as we left due to the time difference!) we then had to endure a long, long wait in line at immigration.
We all stopped briefly for a group photo under the Hollywood-style ‘Welcome to Batam’ sign and then went for lunch at Montego Resort in Nongsa where a golf buggy cart transported us from the car park/reception area to a lovely restaurant overlooking the bay. Nasi loreng of course for me and though I tried to resist I finally decided to have some Pepsi Blue which was my first soda for well over 100 days. I managed to resist alcohol during the trip though as I was determined to break my previous record of 113 days off the stuff!
Even though it’s a different house to last time the layout is exactly the same and I really didn’t notice anything any different! The Japanese contingent were given a tour of the house and taken on individual vespa rides around the estate and thankfully they had a bit of time to just chill and relax before taking the ferry back that night whilst I stayed put.
By chance Leicester were playing Manchester United that night and so my brother-in-law (a fan of the Red Devils) and I watched that at 12:30am which made for a long night but a good one as Jamie Vardy opened the scoring to break the Premier League record of scoring in competitive games. What a moment! Just a shame that it ended in a 1-1 draw.
Amazingly I was actually left alone to sleep for a bit in the morning as I was expecting an early wake up call from my nephew whose bedroom floor I was sleeping on. Once in the land of the living, I dished out a few more presents to the kids and the activities soon followed with hide and seek which they consider me to be the worst at. I’m proud of that!
The eldest two kids had one of their thrice-weekly taekwondo lessons nearby which I got to observe and was very nice to see. They didn’t engage in physical battles of any kind so it seemed more like a 60 minute exercise lesson with hints of martial arts movements here and there.
Football followed directly on from the martial arts and some of the kids and me played for a bit on the astroturf outside. It was far too hot to really play though and a swim in the community pool sounded a far better proposition. Sadly the Sunrise cafe and pool that I went in last year has been bulldozed but there is a similar one in a different location and we had lunch there after a swim.
Things get pretty busy in Batam at the weekends with many Singaporeans coming over to get cheap goods. Along with some political demonstrations the roads were fairly chaotic as we headed out for a final donut and drink before I had to catch the ferry back to Singapore.
That’s four times in 14 months that we have met up now, and given that it’s been in three different countries, I think we’ve done quite well. We probably didn’t even see each other this much when we were both in the UK many, many years ago!