My off days are fixed on Sunday/Mondays until May but I happened to get a Tuesday off because a shift swap with my colleague. So.. I decided to make an impromptu trip to Batam to visit Santi & Welly!
Both of them are working there now. Welly is shuttling between Batam and Singapore for work but we don't have the time to meet up cos his schedule is super packed and my work schedule is weird (night shift). Santi doesn't have the weekends off so I can't go in together with Le bf cos he is off on weekends. Yes, it's a nightmare trying to coordinate everyone's schedules.. that's why it's easier to retain friendships and have frequent meetups when you are in school cos everyone is having the same schedule.
Anyways, I woke up in the morning and bought the ferry tickets online. I took the Sentosa Monorail to RWS just to buy Garrett's Popcorn for both of them cos it's their favourite! Yes, I am such a wonderful friend.. ^_^ Then I went to Cold Storage to tabao Yusheng, followed by Bee Chiang Hiang to buy Bak Kwa. It's a rush rush rush buying trip because the shops are located all around the place and I only had less than 1.5hrs to buy everything before the final call of my ferry departure! But I made it in the end with time to spare.. thank God for long legs! Haha!
Santi booked the room for me and both of them were to meet me in my room cos they only finished work at 6pm but I will arrive before 5pm. I bravely took the taxi myself from the ferry terminal to the hotel. Well, it's quite impressive ok! Cos throughout the ride the taxi driver kept trying to chat with me in Bahasa Indonesia and I was cracking my brain on how to reply him -- which I managed lah, with the lousy 8 lessons I took.
I don't know why but I really like Bahasa Indonesia a lot! I like the way they speak and I like the way the words and intonations sound. When I have the chance, I will move to Batam for 1 month to just stay there and pick up the language. Like seriously. It won't be a big problem since there's lots of Chinese living there and their dialect are predominantly Teochew! Welly is Cantonese and he said he's a minority there cos most Chinese are Teochew. Haha! Santi is Teochew too and she has the same surname as me! Which makes me wonder.. are most people with the surname Tay, Teochew too?
I arrived at the hotel, Harmoni Suites and checked in. Arranged all the presents I bought for them nicely on the table.. including gifts we bought from our US trip and their Xmas present.
I am impressed with the extra bed! It's not those dodgy lousy type, but a proper mattress! There's a flat screen TV, a full size cupboard, a functional kitchen with microwave, kettle, stove, pots, pans and utensils, and a spacious toilet with a bathtub. Very nice! Well, it's not as new as the iHotel but it's big and there's a kitchen (which we didn't use) and it's cheaper.
Santi arrived first! I gave her their Christmas present which Le bf and I bought for her and Welly and she's so happy! Haha! We never meet since October 2012!! So it's like forever lah! :(
Ding dong! I went to the door and saw Welly standing outside holding this sign! I laughed so hard I nearly fainted! Made him pose for me again when he's in the room! Haha! He wanted to go to the ferry terminal to pick me up and asked his colleague to print this sign but unfortunately he couldn't leave work early to surprise me.. His colleague asked him who is Jasmine Tay because they did not have a scheduled meet & greet for this customer but Welly just told him not to ask so much and print cos I am a very VVIP. Super kua kua kua lah!
Welly is a super big American Express fan! Whenever I have AMEX branded merchandise from work, I will give it to him. Stuff like pen, luggage tag, cardholder, etc.. And it comes in useful for him at work cos he said his clients and suppliers treat him nicer when he flash them the AMEX logo on his cardholder when he hands over his namecard! What the..... LOL! Like, when they first meet, they will be kinda sian sian but after he "flash" them, they will widen their eyes and be friendlier. Apparently if you have an AMEX card in Indonesia, it's a super big deal cos only affluent and rich people can sign up for the card.
LO HEI TIME!
There's no Yusheng in Batam, though there's a lot of Chinese there.. So it's their first and only Lo Hei during this CNY and we did it on the 9th day of the Lunar New Year! :)
There's no Yusheng in China too, if you don't know.. cos Yusheng is a Malaysian dish. Well, people claimed it originated from Singapore but I really don't want to get into that silly argument of who invented what.. It's a Teochew style dish, so most probably the "inventor" is a Teochew.
Group picture before I dig into my crabs!
Super nice dinner but the total amount was doubled than what we normally pay for the same quantity! We got a bill shock but the boss explained cos it's CNY and there's a premium on prices.. well, tell us earlier before we order lah! But it's still nice anyway.. Just that the 7 crabs + 1 plate of Tofu costs around SGD90 which is super expensive in Batam's standard cos their average salary is around 2 million ruppiah, equivalent to SGD260.
Tabaoed my favourite MARTABAK MANIS!! AAAHH!
Yum yum yum yum!!!
I love the cheese flavour! OMG! I want this now!!
Welly and his Towkay pose
We chatted in the room till about 3am while munching on popcorn, bak kwa and martabak manis (super shiok!) before falling asleep.. Welly had to wake up at 7am to take the ferry to Singapore for work but Santi is off on Tuesdays so she can accompany me the whole day! I planned my visit to Santi's off day cos Welly doesn't have an off day. Yes, fuck his life. There's like literally minimal or no employee benefits in Batam (or in most parts of Indonesia). They don't get annual leave in their first year of service. They don't get off days until they are confirmed after 3 months probation.
Compared to both of them, my work life is really wonderful and I thank God for it. I get 2 days off per week, 21days annual leave and other benefits. My one month salary is their one year's basic salary! But of course our expenses are different, though when you just compare pay to pay it really sucks for them. But thankfully have sales commissions and allowances which is equal or more than their basic, so at least that's not too bad.. But looking at the prices in Batam, even as a Singaporean with my salary standard, I find it not very cheap... imagine for them with their salary standard? The prices in Batam keep going up due to Singaporeans tourists and the locals are suffering cos their salary cannot rise fast enough to match inflation..
I really wished with all my heart that they can work in Singapore, but due to government's restrictions on foreigners that wish is literally impossible now cos they already had difficulty securing a work permit before the new stricter regulations. But at least they are working in the same city now instead of being apart cos they are not from the same hometown, and they are happy together now. :) Hope they will get married soon and fulfill their wish to buy a house and do business together in Batam!
I always thought it's cute until Welly told me solemnly that the reason why everything is so mini sized is not because the locals like to go on holidays so they prefer "travel size" toiletries. It's because they are poor and cannot afford bigger bottles so they can only buy in small quantity. For example the shampoo, there's mini satchels for one time use cos they cannot afford the whole bottle. Super sad right? :( Even the rice.. they don't buy in prepacked quantities like in Singapore.. they sell them by the gram. So if you only have a little money, you can come in and buy one cup at a time for that day's dinner. I don't know how I can live like that.. that's why I love to travel out of Singapore to visit the world because I gain new perspective like that. Well, not all countries are worse off than us, many other countries are richer and more affluent than us but it's poorer countries like these that gives me a reality check that my life is good and I should be thankful for it.
Lunch is Ayam Penyet at Nagoya Hill Shopping centre!
With Santi guniang~
Love this too! Bread with cheese, butter & condensed milk!
I love their cheese-foods! Murtabak, bread.. they call cheese "Keju" in Bahasa Indonesia . I love anything that's Keju! Hahahahaha! It's just shredded Kraft block cheese.. but it's nice lah.
So that concludes my very short Batam trip! Hope I can go back real soon and visit! Miss them already!!