After a few months chained to work and life in Australia (no bad thing, of course), Mevrouw T and I will be taking to the air again next week, flying first to Singapore, then by boat crossing the South China Sea, into Indonesia’s Riau Islands.
It’s become an annual trip around this time of year, visiting Telunas Beach Resort on Sugi Island to lead a writers’ camp for students from Singapore. I love it.
From Singapore we take the Singo Ferry for a one hour trip across the water to the island of Batam. I’ve heard it’s the fastest growing area of Indonesia and it’s certainly one of the most prosperous, thanks to its proximity to Singapore.
The ferry is usually crowded with Singaporeans visiting to Batam for the golf and cheap shopping and Indonesians visiting Singapore for the quality electronica.
But with newfound prosperity comes new development – ‘You want it fast, cheap and good? Pick two.’
Buildings are springing up everywhere and Batam developers are trying to sell property in estates that attempt to imitate ‘European sophistication’.
I know we privileged people who’ve seen the real thing shouldn’t laugh, but it’s hard not to.
The unfortunate thing is, parts of Batam are exceptionally beautiful. They shouldn’t feel the need to try to be European. They’re Indonesian, and why should there be anything wrong with that?
Anyway, who are we to scoff? We’re looking for a bamboo pergola cover to give our patio in Sydney a Balinese vibe.
We generally avoid the centre of Batam and instead go directly to Sekupang Wharf, where the pancung boats are lined up ready to take us further.
And very soon we’re off to Telunas again, skimming over the water in an open boat, spray in our faces and ersatz Batam fading into the distance. No cars, no motor bikes, no roads…no internet connection…
Back in a week or so!