Here Margaret and I sit at the Tanah Merah Ferry terminal in Singapore with just over an hour before our ferry departure which will mark the official beginning of our 2017 Indonesian adventure to Bintan & Batam (Kepulauan Riau Province) and Medan & Bukit Lawang (North Sumatra province). On the horizon looking toward Indonesia at the moment are low clouds & misty rain which contrasts to the warm sunny weather that greeted us on our arrival into Singapore yesterday when although feeling very weary’ we were also delighted to have finally arrived on this trip which was booked 12 months ago!
We spent yesterday afternoon experiencing Singapore’s public transport. We caught various buses and trains as well as a taxi. We began by making our way to the hotel from the airport by bus, following the directions given by the hotel on Agoda. The instructions were spot on and the only issue we faced was lugging our enormous suitcases (fpul of ) through the narrow passenger aisles. Its also a nuisance that Singapore bus drivers don’t carry change. The fares ranged from $2.20 to $1.70 which assume you arrive in the country with small change!
Our stop over was at one of the Fragrance hotels and although I’d read somewhere that it was located in a seedy area, we were both pleasantly surprised. The hotel itself was clean and well presented, the staff were very friendly and helpful and our room was small but well presented. Once organised, we headed out straight away to the ferry terminal to get some information about our trip to Bintan the following day. We’d read that you needed to be at the terminal 1.5 hours before sailing, and we also wanted to make a decision about which ferry we would take. There are 3 ferry operators and 3 different ferry terminal options on Bintan! As I’d forgotten to ask the driver I’d booked to meet us in Bintan which terminal he preferred, we hoped a trip to the ferry terminal would help us with this decision. Of the 3 ferry operator businesses, all were closed yet in one, a girl was sitting and she happily answered our questions. Consequently we decided that we would take the ferry to Tanjung Pinang where hopefully I can get a phone SIM card and then ring our driver with our location! The 9:30am trip was booked out (not our first choice thankfully) yet there were still heaps of seats still available on the 11:30am ferry (a far more civilised option).
By this time, it was after 6pm and we were so tired that the idea of backtracking by bus/train/bus was not appealing, so we grabbed a taxi and enjoyed being able to relax while someone else did all the navigating!
He was a delightful cabbie – 67 years old with 2 children in their 30’s, both of whom refuse to get married and supply him with grandchildren!! He dropped us off at our hotel and we walked down the street to a corner food court. Here were about 4 food stalls and one drink stall with many small tables and chairs spread about for customers. All I felt like was rice porridge (congee) which luckily was available. I ordered it with green vegetables and the kuah (liquid) from a chicken curry dish. It was absolutely delicious and hit the spot. Washed it down with a cold sprite!
After a good nights sleep, we headed back to the food court where I hoped I could order another bowl of congee however it was not yet available and the nasi lemak on offer was not very appealing. Instead we retraced our steps back to a shop selling nasi bungkis (rice wrapped in banana leaves) and otah (beautiful minced mackeral spice slices). Absolutely yummy.
Our ferry is about to board, so I will finish up and join the throng with my ticket ready for the scanner.
Here we come Indonesia! 🇮🇩