city

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.

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!

Words: Churches and Money Issues

The temasek times article: http://temasektimes.wordpress.com/2012/06/27/an-analysis-into-the-wealth-of-city-harvest-church/

The trend of supersized / mega churches recently has been growing. Growing to the point it resembles a cancer, a horrible tumour that is eating into society, a parasite. In Singapore recently, a few of the top echelons of church leaders have been arrested regarding misappropriation of funds. One of the top leaders, from city harvest church was picked up from his home to assist police in investigations. These transgressions if proven to be true, could incarcerate these religious leaders.

I can only imagine the anguish of some of the church members at city harvest right now. No not at their leader for being a cheat and liar; but for the government suspecting that he is a cheat and liar. To them, he is the perfect emblem, no stains, even if there were; it is immediately absolved, as “we are only human”. To be that trusting and placing that much faith in someone is absolutely dangerous and does not represent logical or rational thinking, do not ever put so much faith in a single theory, person or ideal, to a point that you become blind to other points of view; if there is even a shred of doubt, consider that the alternative might be true.

However, I am sure that these arrests are a wakeup call for some of the Christians in Singapore.  Those whom are not as sucked into the ploy might be able to step out and take a look at what really was going on and not just what they perceive their little perfect church world to be.

Somehow, it is pretty much clear how these things would play out, the leader might be found guilty as sin, though, the church followers, which include some pretty high profile people and members, would petition and pull their strings and contacts, “for it is gods will” The leader will be punished with a fine and maybe, maybe, and this is already stretching things out quite far, some jail time, maybe a month or three months. Either that, or the investigations will continue and the leader will somehow escape conviction in the first place.

Sadly, the world usually favours people whom tell you that there is a life after death, and that god, being all loving and kind would love for you to donate your hard earned money to him, and because the ‘church leader’ is a holy man, he is an embodiment of god, he would never do wrong, he will not misappropriate the funds. IT IS NOT POSSIBLE.

Think about it for a moment, this ‘church leader’ is a human being, as dumb, clueless and frivolous as the rest of us, what makes him any better to be a “man who walks with god?” I am not one to judge, but I’d say that at the very least, presidents, prime ministers even though how horrible they may be, have the credentials to stand there and say I am a worthy of leading a nation. Though sometimes practically they prove themselves to be pretty useless at their job, this usually results in unhappiness and a re-election of a newer leader, a process of natural selection, if things were purely democratic.

Though, what does a church leader have? Good grades in Sunday school? A life of piousness? A stringent regime? No. All it takes is someone who is able to talk other people into believing their god is right. Then it sort of turns into a game of “my god has a bigger dick”. Then comes the HARVESTING, the name “City Harvest” In itself is kind of ominous, when I first heard the name a long time ago I imagined some one harvesting the city for all its worth, looting and plundering innocent souls. Who would have thought the devil would be wearing an angels disguise?