East

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: Muslim Patrol?

Muslims today seem to have forgotten why Syariah Law exists, for it has been convoluted and sometimes practiced or enforced as actual “laws”. Religious laws often are more morals than laws, they are aspired behaviours and not prescribed behaviours.

For starters, simply, the Muslim patrol is a group of vigilantes patrolling the streets of East London and basically harassing individuals whom are perceived to be not abiding by Islamic law. You can view the stream article here.

Why this is fucked up

The Muslim Patrol has one clear objective, to create “Muslim Zones” in different areas. What does this achieve really? Lets take it to the extreme. If it is successful, it creates areas within a country where certain behaviours will be punished/deterred; i.e. Behaviours that are not “Islamic” in nature.

Notwithstanding, Islam is a religion, and Syariah Law or Islamic Law is a law that arose from the religion. It is uncalled for to basically hold free individuals to such law, whether or not they are of Islamic faith. Even if they are Muslims, no such individual should be held up to the law of the religion.

Why should individuals not be held to the law of religion?

Secular laws are passed after going through many rounds of checking and refining, through parliament or other channels that do represent the basic or lowest level of ethical behaviour, basically, fall below that expected line and you’re punished. It may not be 100% democratic and put to vote, but it still more or less represents the moderates.

Religious law/Syariah Law are laws that are taken and re-adapted from a book that is well, basically put it this way, centuries old. Laws need to be updated from time to time. Further more, religious laws represent a standard of behaviour that is to be aspired, not prescribed. Again, religious laws often are more morals than laws, they are often very dutiful in nature and they are basically set as a moral benchmark; for one to aspire to be a better human being.

I hope that in the coming days, Muslims that have been tarnishing the image and name of Islam would realize the err in their ways and help to instead create and flourish a community that is beautiful and supportive.

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Singapore: East Coast Park McDonald’s Closing

McDonalds

With tears in our eyes.

The Mcdonald’s outlet at East Coast Park is closing. This outlet has been around for a long time! Even before I was born. For as long as I remembered, I had lunches there during while I was in Junior College and sometimes even studied there. Apparently it is going to be converted into a parking lot. Well but that is the Singaporean way no? To break and to build, to break and to build. Something new always springs up, as no one really remembers the past after awhile.

A news report regarding the matter, though it is in mandarin.