Travel

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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Johor Bahru Malaysia & Singapore Customs Jam Time!

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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.

Review: CBR400RR Honda (1996 model) The Good The Bad And the Ugly

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Firstly, I’ve rode this bike for about a year. I believe that in the UK and other markets, this bike is a grey import. In Singapore, it is also an import bike. Well to say, it is old, 1996 model, and there were models that were even older than this one, therefore, faults with the bikes systems were common.

A fast few facts about this quick little machine,

  • Produced by Honda from 1983 – 1999
  • Single Showa rear shock
  • 400cc engine producing roughly (55HP)
  • Twin Spar Frame

I’ve ridden this bike both in Malaysia and Singapore and the thing that impresses me most about this bike is the handling of the machine. It is a charm that seemingly was exclusive only to older sports bikes that the modern day sports machines do not posses. In contrast to the cold calculated machines of today, It felt so inclusive as you were riding along, as though, you were part of the machine and when going low in the corners, the smaller size and lower engine power is extremely forgiving and provides a good learning platform for riders whom are still learning. Yet, if you crack the throttle with experience, catching up to the larger capacity motorcycles in the corners is not impossible. Riding it through some of the more winding roads in Malaysia was great fun.

Now looking specifically to the engine where it uses an inline-four as its power plant. The engines spin off was quick, giving it a better acceleration from a standstill, say, from each traffic light to each traffic light. This was obvious when you stopped next to other bikes of similar capacities. The engine continues to rev until a SCREAMING 16,000 RPM. Though, the mid-range power was not very encouraging and sometimes in corners, you cannot really expect it to go like herpes if you do not scream your engine.

The shape and form of the CBR400RR is simply beautiful, it has the old charm, yet being a Honda, it was a step forward from its time and the bike often attracts looks from onlookers, especially if you ride it to your local coffee shop.

The shape and form of the CBR400RR is simply beautiful, it has the old charm, yet being a Honda, it was a step forward from its time and the bike often attracts looks from onlookers, especially if you ride it to your local coffee shop. The twin headlamps and twin tail lights are also a unique and distinguishing feature when on the road.

Though the exhaust is pretty loud, and I would usually have to “sneak” into my carpark at 1 – 2 k rpm slowly lest I wake the neighbors. But when gunning the throttle down the North-South Malaysian Highway, the bike has a very nice scream.

Under heavy braking, the twin spar  aluminium frame handles the forces very efficiently and keeps the bike straight as an arrow; I have once braked from 160km/h – 0 km/h, hard, braking.

Overall, This bike is a joy to ride and though it has various problems with the engine and electronics from time to time, it is still charming and extremely exciting to have a go on.

Riding Into Johor Bahru Pt. 1

For those of you whom love to venture into Johor Bahru but don’t quite know the place too well, here are some places you might want to visit! I will be going more in-depth into these places once my camera is up and working again; my camera had broken 😥 and is currently undergoing repairs. In the posts, i will be rating the places on its ambience, interest, shopping experiences, dining experiences and safety, both of the persons and the vehicles! So lets get into part 1!

City Square Mall.

How to get there?
After Departing from the Malaysian customs, keep left, take the lower fork and not the flyover and make a left turn at the first traffic light, keep left again and take the left fork. Keep right, the building and carpark entrance will be on the right.

Things to experience and see

  • Shops
    • Lee Cooper Originals
    • Cotton On
    • Reject Shop
  • Dining/Coffee
    • JCO
    • Seasons (Swensens)
    • Rib/Steak Houses
    • Mcdonalds
    • Starbucks
  • Shopping Experience: 3/5

Good Price for good quality goods, however, the prices are close to those in Singapore, except with lower exchange rates.

  • Dining Experience: 4/5

The food is fresh and the portions are huge! Very low prices too!

  • Safety: 4/5

The mall is secured by Nepalese Guards, (Gurkhas), even the carparks are under constant surveillance, so fret not!

Lorong Bapok/Jalan Bapok/Ah gua Lane

How to get there?
Upon exiting the Malaysian customs keep right and go up the flyover, take the first exit from the flyover after which you should make a right turn at the traffic light. Keep left and exit into the first slip-road you see on your left.

Things to experience and see.

  • Food
    • There are great open air hawkers there, for about maybe RM30? about SGD15 you can eat to your hearts fill for 2 persons, with dishes such as Chinese style fried rice, nasi ayam ( chicken rice ), otah (spicy fish meat) and many other local style dishes to try!
  • Motoring
    • Both Bike and Car washes are available there from as low as RM9 (SGD4) for bikes, great service by the washing guys too!
    • Many Bike shops along this stretch of road, however do take note that most of these bike shops service 2B (small bikes <400cc)
  • Bapok/Ah Gua (Transsexual)
    • I do not condone such activities however, for those of you with an inclination to transsexuals, this place is happening, especially on the nights of weekends!
  • Shopping/Service Experience: 3/5

Wide variety of parts available, however it is only meant for small bikes, also, some of the shop keepers are slightly irritable when providing information.

  • Dining Experience: 3/5

The food is fresh and the portions are huge! Very low prices too! The only thing is that the food might not be up your alley, as it is served at the roadside, pretty literally.

  • Safety: 2/5

Do watch out for the exit of the places as sometimes there are lurkers, also do park your vehicle near you and watch your belongings when at Jalan Bapok.

I’ll leave you with these two places currently, as I do not have photos nor a “Get there Video” as my camera is down, but I will be back soon with full photos (food and all) and a “get there video” of the ride to the destination! Of course finally, more destinations to visit and chill at!

Trip to Port Dickson: Riding Around Port Dickson Pt 3.

The view from the hotel cafe which is situated next to its boathouse on the last day of my stay there.
Don’t ever want to leave this bed.

The Sunrise from the room.

All in all the cost of the hotel amounted up to about 300rm for the 3 days but it was well worth the trip, the security at the hotel and the views of the area was stunning.
Now started the long 300km ride back to Singapore from Seremban Via the North-South Highway.
This is going to be a long way home.

We rode by the same route back to Singapore except we did not stop for lunch at Malacca as we had already   had our fill to eat at the hotel. Down the road I was hoping that there would not be any problems with the Duct Taped Fairing from the trip up.
The trip home was pretty uneventful except the stunning views of the hills, ‘Kampongs’ (thatched houses) and farms that greeted us on the way back to home.
similar views from the same road. 🙂

3/4’s of the way back along the Johor Stretch of the North South Highway things managed to get a little interesting.
Somewhere Just about there.

I was cruising along at about 140km/h when I saw a rider pushing his Honda Hornet 250 On the side of the road. I pulled over to see if I could offer him any help. I was mentally prepared for an engine breakdown, coolant leak, oil leak or something serious of that sort. Turns out he had ran out of gas. The nearest gas station would be about a mile and a half away. So I took out a water bottle to give him some gas.
Once again by the side of the Malaysian North-South Highway

I gave him about 500ml of petrol which would be enough to get him to the next petrol station. He was extremely grateful for it and he tried to pay me for the petrol. I was content with simply just being friends. I was surprised to learn that his Honda Hornet had actually been bought in Singapore for about SGD1500!! God that bike looks fantastic!
And so we set off after exchanging contacts and his father contacting me and thanking me for helping his son out later was a warm and nice gesture.
That pretty much sums up the fill of the short ‘roadtrip’ getaway from Singapore to Port Dickson!

Trip to Port Dickson: Riding Around Port Dickson Pt 2.

The General Overview of Port Dickson
Getting Lost There isn’t so bad.

Port Dickson is home to quite a number of army installations and not one, but two army museums. The entry to this museums are of course free. However if you do try to go to Port Dickson by Bus, Please be prepared that there are NO MOTORCYCLE/SCOOTER rentals available. For some reason, they are just not willing to loan out motorcycles or scooters. 
The public beach where you find a car has driven up the grass

I bet you could swim onto that island and have some
private fun. 
Do however remember that this is a strict Muslim
State in Malaysia.

I went around most parts of Port Dickson, though due to the lack of time during the trip I was not able to fully photograph and capture the scenery of the place. What a bummer, well maybe next time. The public beach was clean and the water was clear. The only problem was the accessibility, it was 2-3miles away from the hotel, which itself had a private beach.
Private beaches always look nicer than the public ones

However for those of you who enjoy riding there are ribbons of asphalt that are located in Port Dickson. The map below is an example of some of those ribbons of asphalt. Do be CAUTIOUS as some of the roads there may be quite treacherous due to negligent maintenance. However the road closer to the sea side has crests and drops through the corners which makes them interesting if you take those roads at around 10-11am when there is less traffic, even if you rent a car the roads are still a sight and experience to behold. 

Taking corners one step at a time




The Town in Port Dickson


If you do  however go to the Bandar Baru Sungala which is sort of the town area in Port Dickson you will find money changers, DVD stores and many other simple amenities. One of the places that I personally find superb is an Ice-Cream Parlour located near the entrance of the town.

It never looked so good for 20RM.


The conveniently located Ice-Cream Parlor in the town is a welcoming Oasis if like me you decide to head out on a sweltering hot Afternoon. The place is something which you can’t miss an entire area of the building in green, with the words ICE ROOM on the side.

The Hotel Again


After the meal and romping around town it seemed inevitable that I would return to the hotel to retire as the stresses of the heat were getting to me.

Traumatizing people since 1990.


A quick walk by the beach and back to the hotel room for the evening.


10 Things I have learnt while riding in Singapore Pt 1.

These are a couple of things I have learnt about the roads around Singapore in the minute number of miles since I got my licence.

1. If no one saw it, it did not happen

This definitely happened, Dude.

This is the “heck care” or lackadaisical attitude that most Singaporeans tend to take when driving and if they hit someone or something, most of the time, they would say things like “WHERE GOT? WHERE GOT? I DID NOT HIT YOU!” [ what they are trying to say is: “I did not even feel my large heap of metal turn you into paste” ] and if they are caught red handed, they will simply act as if there is no damage to your vehicle  or persons whatsoever. 
2. Car drivers do not care whether you are in the lane and will simply pull out as and when they wish 

your next trip to the hospital.

3. The hot and humid weather and a tad bit of ignorance leads MANY riders to dress as if they were in their homes, eg. Singlets, Shorts and Slippers.

you might think that’s cool.

If she takes a fall in that position she is probably going to have a dislocated pelvis and it will not be pretty. Most riders in Singapore do not take safety seriously enough, and it is common sight to see even younger supposedly more educated riders often riding without any safety precautions in place.

4. Old taxicab drivers would scream at you in Hokkien if you squeeze them off after a tiff even if it was initially their fault
5. Both Cars and Motorcycle lots are often misused by really crabby people; this usually happens at the times when one simply wishes to park his/her vehicle in a crowded carpark to proceed on with their activities.
Even a blind man can park better than you

Parking in Singapore, pronounced by most locals as “Pah King” can be a living hell, sometimes you wait almost half an hour for a lot and some guy just “steals” it away from you. Especially in a small country like Singapore the parking can get a little more than a little cramped on a daily basis. To avoid people from cheating and not paying their parking fees in the carparks by not tearing the relevant coupons and such.
This sells better in Singapore than 4D/Lotto Tickets

The Government or “Gah Ment” / “Ah Kong” [Meaning Grandfather] has installed electronic gantries with cameras and all the other bells and whistles. 
Cringing at every cold and mechanical beep

Honestly, this does not really help the problem as it makes it more likely that people will take up 2 Parking spaces with one car, or park in a non specified place all the more, as the good old fashioned policing is no longer in place, where an attendant would come and manually check on cars/motorcycles parked in the area at that time.
Part 2 To be Up Soon! =d