Travels

The View from the walkway adjacent to the beach

Holiday Where-to: Batam Island

I had previously travelled to Batam City for Business. However, it seemed that the island had so much potential for a holiday that I just had to try! Well I tried it recently and the holiday was pretty awesome!  Here are some things about Batam City, for those who want to travel there!

 How do I get there?

Location:

Batam City or Batam Island is in the Riau Islands, in Indonesia. It is part of a few Islands that are “tax free” 0% tax on all goods and services offered in the Island. There are two ways to get to Batam, Flight or Ferry.

Visa:

Citizens from the following countries do not require a visa, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, Malaysia, Morocco, Peru, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore.

For more information on Visas for Indonesia visit: imigrasi.go.id

How do I get around?

Batam City has multiple taxi operators and “private” taxis that are un-licensed. A good car rental and private passenger carrier that I have personally tried is http://www.batamrental.com. I would recommend a private operator as the comfort and driver familiarity of the roads are often better. The local taxis are usually dirty and uncomfortable; a pretty terrible ride.

What is on the island really?

Resorts, Hotels, Shopping Malls, Temples and many other attractions and sites to see!

Resorts

The Resort that I stayed at Turi Beach Resort (Agoda Link: Agoda.com) in Nongsa was pretty awesome. Good service, Attentive Staff, Large rooms and most of all, a private beach and pier.

Other Facilities provided by Turi Beach resort:

Island Bar, Spa, Outdoor swimming pool with pool bar, Tennis courts, Rock wall climbing, Water sports, Yacht Club, Conference rooms, ballroom, business center

Some pictures from my stay there:

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Shopping

You can choose from various shopping Malls in Batam City Center, including Nagoya Hill Mall, MegaMall and other malls in the area. Sadly, I have no photos of the malls. Might take some when i’m back there again.

Other Attractions

Batam is also home to the largest temple in South East Asia, the Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya Buddhist Temple, (Trip Advisor Link: Tripadvisor.com)

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Midori

Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya Buddhist Temple

All in All Batam is a great experience to relax, unwind and is not as crowded as other tourist destinations such as Bali, Indonesia or Phuket, Thailand.

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3 Things about Business in Africa

2013 has been a kind year to me and I had the opportunity to do business in East Africa; miles away from home. Well it has opened up my eyes and changed my perception of things quite a little, here’s 3 things about conducting a business in africa

3) Time is important but not of the essence

The problem

Timeliness is often the no. 1 factor of businesses in Asia; Japan, Korea, Singapore and other Asian nations.Time in Africa though, is a whole different affair altogether. Meetings are often delayed anywhere from 1 – 3 hours if you’re lucky; they might be delayed or put off by weeks at a time.

The Solution

Send reminders about meetings a day before and on the day itself to try to avoid the situation. Patience as well in this case is important as often attendees will try to wriggle their way out of meetings with the worlds worst excuses. Logically, it also makes sense to try to adapt to their culture and work around it, i.e planning for buffer periods in your lead time and timeline. Risk cutting deadlines close at your own peril, especially if you are performing government tenders and projects, the incidence of blame will always fall upon YOU. 

2) Relationships are more important than delivery

The Problem

Business often cannot be separated from relationships. You have to take the time and make the effort when you are looking to develop a business. In Africa, this is amplified and often nothing is given to the best bidder or service provider, this is true no matter how professionally apt you think your firm is. Priority is always given to someone with a relationship to the decision maker and of course there is also the factor of reputation of an individual/entity, which is key, losing it means never coming back.

The Solution

Outlay some costs on business development, and by costs it means you have to spend both time and money. Either one on its on will not yield very much returns. Often, before doing business you have to do the whole wine & dine affair, often spending hours chatting and getting to know each other. Lunches and dinners over there can span over 3 – 5 hours per time. Do also get someone with good public relations and business acumen to handle your meetings, as people there often take offence of certain views or statements.

1) Don’t mean what you say, Don’t say what you mean

The Problem

In Africa, you can be promised one thing and given something else entirely during a business transaction; this is commonplace in quite a few economies, including Central Asia. People are cautious with the conducting of business and often, you will find that you face problems if you are completely honest about the business that you are conducting over there. This can be attributed to a host of differing subjective reasons; lack of potential, lack of funding, etc.

The Solution

Answer questions intelligently. When someone asks questions, do not listen to reply, listen to understand what their underlying queries are. Try to preempt these as much as possible by planning and giving specific responses that are secure in nature. Do not always mean what you say, and do not always say what you mean; even where they are potential clients or potential vendors, it does not matter. Framing your pitch or discussion is of utmost importance as once you lose your credibility over there, it is almost impossible to come back to the business scene.

A Photo Diary of My Time in Africa Part 1

A photo gallery of the time I spent in Africa, with captions. Part 1. If you like any of the photos in the gallery, feel free to use them, however, please credit with a link back to my site! Thanks!

Johor Bahru Malaysia & Singapore Customs Jam Time!

Image

Photo taken: 11/05/2013 18:29

Been looking around the web for a list of bad timings to enter Malaysia from the Singapore Customs. Can’t find any, so I guess I will compile a list of timings for jam periods and their intensity, because as we all know Singaporeans and Malaysians working in Singapore often enter Malaysia for their great prices for (2.20 RM per liter for 97 and 1.90 RM per liter for 95) petrol as well as food! 😀

These are the bad timings for going in:

Monday  to Thursday 4:45 – 7:30 p.m Squeeze
Monday  to Thursday 9:30 – 10:30 p.m Slow
Friday 3:45 – 8:00 p.m Squeeze
Saturday 7:30 – 12:00 p.m Slow
Saturday 5:00 – 8:30 p.m Squeeze
Sunday 7:30 – 12:00 p.m Slow
Sunday 5:00 – 8:30 p.m Squeeze

This will be updated and soon it will include the timings for coming back as well! =d stay tuned.

Motorcycle Advertisements.

Recently, I saw the Harley Davidson 2011 Advertisement and I was really enchanted by the long open stretches of road that they featured, the music was also great!

Harley Davidson 2011 Commercial

So I went up and searched other advertisements and I found that unlike Harley Davidson, whose commercial featured only about 30% of the time on close-ups of the bike, most of the other companies are very machine-centered, such as the Kawasaki ZX-10R commercial below.

Kawasaki ZX-10R 2011 Commercial

On looking at it, the commercials are both good and equal representations of the motorcycles that they are trying to promote respectively. The Harley Davidson advertisement, true to its riders and vision, is about creating a lifestyle where riding is its center and the act of riding, hanging out with your bike buds is the main focus.

The Kawasaki on the other hand was designed for speed, precision, handling and the aesthetics, Oh what a looker she is! Therefore it is only logical that its advert would be created somewhat more bike-centered, where the video takes close up shots of the bike on the streets, its curves, sleek body and angled edges.

Searching some more, I found third-party ads, or Ads that were not originally created by the manufacturer of the motorcycle, and look what I found, below, Honda CBR1000RR ad that was created by a radio station.

Honda CBR1000RR Commercial that is produced by a Radio Station.

Tell me now, after viewing this ad, would you buy a Honda CBR1000RR?

Well there is much more that can be said about motorcycle advertisements, but perhaps, motorcycle companies should consider outsourcing their advertisements as it seems that a third part better interprets the product in terms of form and feeling. heh.

An Analysis of Driving Behaviours in Singapore.

The Singaporean mindset, “kiasu” as they call it, meaning, “fear of losing” in Hokkien Dialect. This fear dictates not only that they should not lose, it also dictates that others must lose, for you to win. Flawed mindset?

This attitude tends to manifest itself in almost all aspects of our lives, including, driving and riding.

This may not only be restricted to Singaporeans, but have you ever had someone overtake for the sake of overtaking, or someone driving/riding in a manner that would “scare” you. In essence I am referring to aggressive driving. Imagine you are riding on a nice cloudy day, the surroundings are surreal and suddenly, some wanker shows up from behind and takes you dangerously. I believe most of these riders/drivers lack introspect. They also have an illusion of grandeur, and an inflated self-image.

Valentino Rossi Vs Casey Stoner

What they think they look like

Their daftness impresses no one, except themselves. With their half faced helmets, slippers, T-Shirt and shorts, they do not realize that they look like meat bags ready to be thrown onto the road and sprinkled as garnish all over it.

Mat Rempit

How They Actually Looked.

monkeys

Oh What a Looker!

Do they really have to do the stupid things they do? No. Though, they seem to enjoy the pain of others. Perhaps some may call it youthful indiscretions, yet, even some of the elder drivers/riders would do these things. People may act in this manner due to many different reasons, though no reason is good enough to substantiate being a wanker. What makes matters worse, is the victim usually pursues the matter and tries to “fight back”. This is essentially stooping down to the level of their aggressors.

Bus and Truck Drivers are another case entirely. Again this is not across the board and there are those that will be careful on the roads. I guess this problem does not only occur in Singapore. ” This is what a bus company in Jinhua, China does to avoid high compensation due to expensive car crash — it teaches its drivers to recognize luxury car logos.”(Stomp, 2012, http://singaporeseen.stomp.com.sg/stomp/sgseen/this_urban_jungle/1020464/bus_drivers_in_china_trained_to_identify_luxury_car_logos.html)

Stupidest idea I have ever heard. Stupidest. Hands down. The Chinese have been known to do queer things. This, this is an entirely new level they have attained. I guess having 1 Billion people in China has made them complacent of the value of human lives, “Chinese Girl, 2, Run Over by Van, Ignored by atleast 18 passers-by” (FoxNews, 2011, http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/10/18/chinese-girl-2-run-over-by-van-ignored-by-at-least-18-bystanders/). In essence the driving companies teaching the bus drivers to avoid luxury cars, are implying that it is not as bad to have an accident with say, a Hyundai, because the people and the car are not worth as much as someone whom is in a Lamborghini.

With the large influx of Chinese drivers taking up the positions in the Singapore public transport system, namely driving SBS Transit buses and SMRT Buses, I am pretty worried about the state of the Singapore roads. There have been an increase in the number of fatal accidents involving buses and trucks, and the general trend is that of increase as the statistics in 2011 is 18 as stated by the Singapore Police Force. (Singapore Police Force, 2011, http://driving-in-singapore.spf.gov.sg/services/driving_in_singapore/information_traffic_statistics.htm)

Road User Groups 2009 2010 DIFF % DIFF
Motorcyclists & Pillion Riders 92 89 -3 -3.3%
Motorcar Drivers and Passengers 12 16 +4 +33.3%
Pedestrians 45 55 +10 +22.2%
Pedal Cyclists 17 16 -1 -5.9%
Others (including Bus Passengers/Drivers, Heavy and Light Goods Vehicles Drivers and Passengers, etc) 17 19 +2 +11.8%
TOTAL 183 195 +12 +6.6%

(Singapore Police Force, http://www.spf.gov.sg/stats/traf2010_concern.htm)

So, riding a motorcycle has just become more dangerous as you are either more likely to get hit by an Ah Tiong (PRC Person) or some foreign worker driving a construction truck. Even driving a car will probably not safe your skin as you get crushed by an 11 Ton Bus slowly, but surely.