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Harbour Bay Mall Batam

The Harbour Bay Mall is the newest mall in  Batam. It was opened in early 2010 with the anchor tenant – Carrefour. For those who are unsure of the location of this mall, it is located very close to the Harbour Bay Ferry Terminal. Once you have arrived at this ferry terminal, the Harbour Bay Mall is just about less than 10 minutes walk away. Do not waste your money taking a cab from the ferry terminal. Just observe how the taxis exit from the arrival hall to the main road and just follow it. As you walk along the road, there will be plenty of touts shouting to draw your attention, just simply ignore them and keep walking. Once you see a large but short building, this is the Harbour Bay Mall.


Harbour Bay Mall Batam


If you are observant, you will spot a tall building beside the mall. This is the Harbour Bay Amir Hotel. It is a relatively new hotel and I have stayed there and also wrote a blog, which is my review of this hotel. If you are keen in reading it, just click the link below: –

Harbour Bay Amir Hotel – My Review


Harbour Bay Mall Batam


When you entered the mall, you will feel that it is very spacious indeed. But there are only 3 levels where you can browse, walk and shop. The basement level is where the famous Carrefour supermarket is located. I use the word supermarket and not hypermart because it is indeed just a supermarket. I am rather disappointed that Carrefour have chosen to open such a small store ( which is in fact their first store in Batam ) in this mall. I wonder why is Carrefour is so conservative in opening up such a small store? You cannot compare this store to the Hypermart that is located in Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall which is huge and carry a wider range of merchandise. You can read my review of Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall – just follow the link below:-

Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall – My Review


Harbour Bay Mall Batam


As I was walking in the mall, I notice that there are still plenty of shops that were still empty – perhaps the mall management has yet to fill it up with the right tenants. There are a few restaurants located on each level of this mall. But surprisingly there is no Macdonald, KFC or Pizza Hut outlet here. I wonder why international fast food chains have not set up an outlet here. You can see the well known Polo store here. Buy more of their clothes and you get up to 50% discount from your total purchase. For kids, there is a large fun and games outlet in this mall. Kids will love it as there are lots of kiddies rides and game machines inside. For ladies, there are a few stores that sells famous branded bags, wallets and watches.


Harbour Bay Mall Batam


The mall was crowded as I was there during the public holidays. Carrefour supermarket was very crowded. There were lots of local Indonesians shopping there. By the way, most of the food products that are sold in Carrefour are produced locally or local brands from Indonesia. I do hope that they expand their bakery section so as to add more variety of bread and pastries. Maybe they should even consider opening up a small cafe next to the bakery section for customers to sit back and enjoy the fresh coffee and pastries.


Harbour Bay Mall Batam


I have uploaded a number of photos of the new Harbour Bay Mall in my website. Just go to the photo gallery of my website and you can see the photos of this brand new mall. The website link is below –

Harbour Bay Amir Hotel Batam

I stayed at the Harbour Bay Amir Hotel in Batam during the Chinese New Year holidays in February 2010. The most convenient way to reach this hotel is to take a ferry to Harbour Bay Ferry Terminal in Batam. You need to take a ferry that is run by the ferry operator called Wavemaster. The journey will take less than an hour from Singapore. Upon arrival at the Harbour Bay Ferry Terminal, you can actually walk to this hotel. Here is how to do it. Just outside the main arrival gate, you can see lots of taxi outside the lobby. Looked more towards the right and you can see a small road; just walk towards the road. Alternatively, you can wait till you see how the taxi drive out from this departure area towards the road that leads out from this terminal. Just keep walking till you can see a building which is about 6 or 7 storeys high – that is the Harbour Bay Amir Hotel Batam. It takes only 10 minutes to reach this hotel if you care to walk.

The Harbour Bay Amir Hotel seems to look relatively new and beside this hotel is the Harbour Bay Mall. This is the newest mall that has just opened in Batam with Carrefour as its anchor tenant. Checking in was relatively quick and I took an elevator to my room. The hotel room that I have booked was spacious enough and carpeted. There was a king size bed but I find the pillow rather worn out. The main disappointment is that the room does not have a mini fridge and a kettle – in short there was no minibar. I do not like room that does not have minibar. I think the management of this hotel should looked into this seriously. What is the cost of putting up a minibar in each room? I think it is minimal. I am sure all guests would want a minibar in their room – to be able to make their own coffee or tea and enjoy a cool drink straight from the mini fridge. Another item that is lacking is a hairdryer in the bathroom. Many women would liked to have a hairdryer in the bathroom. The TV in the room is the small old CRT type but to me it is still acceptable. The towels given is clean but looks worn out as well. Also if there can be an additional pillow provided, it would be good. The bathroom is spacious and clean and yes there is a bathtub if you enjoy soaking in the bathtub.


There is a lobby lounge at the ground floor which is called DLounge. I wanted to highlight something that is pleasant. I wanted to have a beer about 1 am in the night, I walked to this lounge, however it was closed. I asked the staff to confirm whether it was in fact closed. The staff nodded and told me that he could get someone to serve me. I sat in the lounge and later a male staff came to turn on the light of this lounge and served the cold beer that I wanted. Now that was excellent service which I very much appreciated. Breakfast in the morning was served in the restaurant that is on the ground level. The breakfast spread is quite standard as in most hotels in Batam. However I find that the tea that was served in the tea pot was too diluted. Overall, the breakfast is acceptable.


One of the distinct advantage of this hotel is that the Harbour Bay Mall is just opposite this hotel. However, there were many shops in this mall that remain empty – perhaps this is still a relatively new mall. Carrefour is open and it is located at the basement level. If you intent to go to Nagoya town, then you have to take a cab which is less than 10 minutes for most locations in Nagoya. For more photos on this hotel, you can visit our website at

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Harbour Bay Ferry Terminal in Batam

The Harbour Bay Ferry Terminal in Batam is located in Batu Ampar and it replaces the old ferry terminal which is very run down. If you are going to Nagoya town, the Harbour Bay Ferry Terminal will be the nearest terminal to the town center. It takes less than 15 minutes (depending on traffic condition on the road ) by cab to reach any part of Nagoya. Currently it seems that only WaveMaster is the only ferry company operating in this terminal. The return trip from Singapore to Batam is $48/- inclusive of all taxes.


From Singapore to Harbour Bay Ferry Terminal, the journey is approximately 45 minutes. It is a relatively smooth ride. On a major public holiday, do go early to buy your ferry ticket as it is sold out quickly even though there is a departure every hour from Singapore. Once you have arrived at the Harbour Bay Ferry Terminal, the arrival hall is quite small. But the clearance of immigration was fast and less of a hassle as compared to the same from Singapore. Right after you have clear the immigration, straight ahead you can see a small money changer store. The exchange rates are displayed on the electronic board. There is very little to do in within the new ferry terminal itself. To catch a taxi, just walk out of the main door and turn left – you will see a taxi booth. Taxi ride to Nagoya town is about RP40,000. You pay the taxi driver upon arrival of your destination.


There is a complete new development outside the Harbour Bay Terminal.  The nearest new hotel is just a walk away – the Harbour Bay Amir Hotel. This is a relatively new hotel that has good potential once development is completed around the ferry terminal. There are many shops that are near the ferry terminal. But most the shop houses are empty as it is not tenanted yet. The new Harbour Bay Shopping Mall is just outside the main road, but it is not ready yet. Hopefully this new shopping mall will be ready by 2010. Upon completion, the new Harbour Bay Shopping Mall will be the newest mall in Batam.


There are plenty of shops outside the departure hall of this new terminal. You can see the Polo shop, coffee joint, a new fun and game shop for kids, and many food joints. Inside the departure hall, just simply present your ticket and passport to the Wavemaster staff at the booth and you will be issue a boarding pass. The departure gate is just a short distance away. On the whole, the experience on using Harbour Bay Ferry Terminal is a pleasant one. The custom clearance is quick and getting to town is also fast as compared to other ferry terminals in Batam.


I have also written a blog on the Sekupang Ferry Terminal in Batam. The link is below –

Sekupang Ferry Terminal in Batam

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Stress & Pressures Living in Jakarta

A friend called me up for a casual chat on a Saturday evening. She was telling me about her work, family and the daily routine living. There seems to be so many things to do in the office as well as at home, with so little time to do it. Also, the family bills are piling up, cost of food and living is going up, teachers are asking for money from her children to buy books and uniform and many more problems. She find life stressful and feel that living in Jakarta is pressurizing, just like an oven. She missed the casual free and easy living in her hometown in West Java, where her mom is still staying.


I agree that living in Jakarta or other major cities in Indonesia is not easy, as the cost of living is much higher than in villages. But thousands of people flocked to the cities of Indonesia each year – to find a better life, to put their kids in good schools, to get better medical care and the list goes on. But there is definitely a price to pay if you want to stay in Jakarta. Better living, good school, quality medical care and life means a higher cost of living. It simply means that you must pay more for all these things. The cost of a condominium or a landed property is not cheap in Jakarta. In fact, I find that the prices of condominium homes are ridiculously high. Education is also expensive in Jakarta. I just don’t understand why the government and Jakarta administration are not able to make education more affordable, so that every kid in Jakarta can have an opportunity to go to school. Kids from the poor families simply cannot afford to pay the school fees, books and uniform. I am sure the government and Jakarta administration can work out a subsidy program to help these poor families; so that their young kids can get an opportunity to study.


Coming back to my friend, I told her that her problems are similar to many thousands of her fellow citizens living in Jakarta. She has to learn to take things slowly and resolve important problems first. In many instances, we cannot solve all problems, some can be resolved quickly, some problems need more time and others we just simply try our best to manage it. Though life is not a bed of roses, we still can find joy in living under stressful environment. I told her to be realistic in her expectations in work and towards to her husband and kids, learn to relax through meditation or exercise, cut down on unproductive activities – one of it was to stop going to the mall frequently; and look at life more positively. In many instances, problems are in fact opportunities –

“We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” – Charles R. Swindoll

We are not able to control the situations and things that comes to us every single day. That is beyond our control. But we can control how we respond to situations and problems. So long as we have put in our best effort and interest in the things that we do, we have respond it positively and that to me is good enough. Finally, I told my friend to slow down and smell the roses, admire pretty flowers and what nature can offer us – it does help to relieve stress and anxiety.

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Mushroom Soup | Bakso Jamur

In many Chinese families that I know, soup is an important part of their daily meal. Some of my friends told me that having a meal without soup is definitely an incomplete meal. Traditionally, Chinese families whether they are in Indonesia, Singapore or Malaysia will have a bowl of clear soup as part of their meal. Surprisingly, many of my Indonesian Muslim friends also love clear vegetable soup.


I love mushroom soup. The western menu of a mushroom soup normally refers to cream mushroom soup. Though I do enjoy cream mushroom soup, it is not my favorite soup. Personally, I prefer the Chinese style clear mushroom soup ( without any cream) where fish or chicken along with other vegetables are added to make this soup. Normally oyster or abalone mushroom are used to make this soup. It is a simple and yet delicious soup that you can cook for your family. All you need to do is to have a pot of water, add some chicken meal, carrots or other vegetables like lettuce or cabbage and oyster mushroom and let it boil. I normally do not add oil because the chicken meat itself has natural source of oil. Just add some light soya sauce and pepper and boil the soup for half an hour; and it is ready to serve.


As we all know, the benefits of eating mushroom is enormous. For thousand of years, Asian having been consuming mushrooms both as a food and as well for medicinal purposes. If you go to the pharmacy or health store today, you will see health pills that are made from mushrooms. But why consume expensive mushroom pills when you can actually eat it fresh on a daily basis. Mushrooms contains lots of minerals, antioxidant and vitamins. In Indonesia, mushroom is commonly called Jamur. If you want to order mushroom soup in Indonesia, it is called Bakso Jamur. Normally it is serve with vegetable and/or with fish. It is a clear soup ( without the curry and heavy spices) which is light on your stomach and easy to eat.


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Durian – Asians’ Favorite Fruit

When the durian season arrives, you can lots of fruit stalls and supermarkets selling this King of  Tropical Fruits. Durian are produced in Indonesia, Thailand Brunei and Malaysia. In my opinion, the best durian are from Johor Malaysia. There are so many types of durian that most consumers are confused.  Some of these have weird names like D24, D13, XO durian, Mao Shan Wang etc.  When there is a good harvest, the durian prices will fall to as low as $1/- for a small normal durian ( these are durians with no fancy names ) , and are placed together in large baskets.


Durian is not my favorite fruit though it may be known as the King of Tropical Fruits. But I do eat them if there is someone who is there to share the meal with me. I am not able to finish eating a single durian by myself. Customers have  their peculiar ways to choose a good durian. Some people will shake it, smell it or do both, while others may pick it up and exam it like a expert. For myself, I simply asked the durian seller to choose a good durian and he will choose one and open it up for me to see.  My budget is normally about $8/- to $15/- per durian. I like those durian that are not so sweet and with a slight bitterness in taste. I understand from one seller that these durian are from Pahang Malaysia.


It is well known that durian is a heaty fruit. It is also a fruit which contains a high amount of sugar, fats, fiber and protein. Some even swear that it is an aphrodisiac fruit. No wonder so many older men love it. I understand that durian should be consumed in moderation for those who are suffering from high blood pressure.  I do know that after consuming durian, I do experience a mild hangover effect on my head. But friends tell me that it may be due to the warmth effect of this fruit on my body and advise me to take more cooling fruits like water melon or drink Chinese tea.


If you are not able to consume the durian fruit, there are now many products that are made from durian. There are durian flavor cakes, biscuits, candies, ice cream, milk shakes and drinks. But nothing can beat the real thing – that of eating a durian. I notice that there are now fruit stalls that sells durian where they now provide tables and chairs for customers who can pick the durian and eat it on the spot. I choose to eat it at the durian stall because it is convenient to do so; and specifically telling the stall owner that I am consuming it here, he will choose a good durian for me.


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Batam City Square Mall – BCS Batam

A friend of mine was asking me where is Batam City Square Mall or BCS in short. So I have decided to post this blog to provide some information for those who are keen in visiting this Mall.


BCS is located in Penuin area in Batam. If you intend to stay in that area, one of the hotel that you can stay is the Hotel 89. This is a 155 rooms hotel which is close to BCS. If you are walking to BCS, I would say it takes approx 20 minutes from the hotel. Besides the BCS mall, there is another old mall called the Plaza Top 100 which is also nearby.


BCS is not a new mall but it has its own unique identity which makes it attractive to shoppers to visit this mall.  In this mall, you can see lots of small retail shops selling all kinds of merchandise. You are also spoilt for choice if you are hungry, as there are numerous food outlets. I would say that this mall is self contained and complete.. There are stores that sell clothes, cellphones, electrical and electronic gadgets, toys, saloon and massage, amusement center, jewelery and much more.


In my opinion, BCS mall seems to have a worn out look. Perhaps it is time for the management of this mall to consider a major renovation to brighten up and upgrade this mall. But most malls in Indonesia do not engage in self renewal or upgrade which is unfortunate. I have see many malls in Indonesia simply fade away when new malls are built.


Over the weekends, you can see quite a number of Singaporeans as well as the local chinese Indonesians coming to this mall. But during the weekdays, this mall is relatively quiet. If you are residing in Penuin, then this mall is the place to go for shopping. This mall also has a spacious atrium at the ground floor where events are being held. When I was there, there was an exhibition cum event on Buddhism being held at the atrium during the Vesak Day celebration.

So is the BCS mall worth visiting? Yes, if you have the time to spare. You can spend a couple of hours shopping and having a good meal at this mall. Perhaps another hour for haircut or manicure or massage. Taxis are readily available just outside the mall if you are carrying lots of shopping bags or just want a ride back to your hotel.

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Hot Weather in Jakarta – How To Keep Cool

There are basically 2 types of weather in Jakarta. First, is the hot and humid weather and second is the raining season. If you asked me which is my preference, then my answer is the hot and humid weather. I dislike raining season in Jakarta as flooding is common in this city. Floods can cause plently of inconveniences to you if you need to go out to work or urgently get things done. Raining season in Jakarta normally begins in October to February each year. Floods situation in Jakarta seems to get worse. It is due to the lack of infrastructure in drainage and waterways, deforestation, and the tonnes of rubbish that clogs up the rivers and drains.


If you can’t stand hot and humid weather, then do not come to Jakarta. Jakarta has one of the most humid and hot weather in the world. Added to this woes are dead slow traffic on the roads and lots of dust and garbage on the streets. In order to cope with such harsh weather condition, it is important to know how to keep cool.  For me, keeping a bottle of mineral water in my bag is essential. There are times when I would also bring along a small bottle of isotonic drink such as Pocari in my bag. Isotonic drink replenishes not only body fluids, it also gives you back the necessary glucose and minerals that you have lost through sweating under the hot weather. There is also a cap (headgear) which I use for blocking the sun from my eyes. The most suitable clothes to wear here would be loose and light clothing. Personally, clothes that are made of cotton fabric are the best, as it absorbed sweat, cool and light. If you are staying in a hotel, make sure that you have a room with good air-conditioned. I always check to make sure that the air-conditoning is in good condition; otherwise I would have to endure a warm, warm night.


The local government of Jakarta should take the initiative to plant more trees. More trees should be planted along the walkaways, pavements and road dividers.  More open space should be allocated for public parks. Larger bus stand with shades should be built not only for commuters, but also for people who just want a rest after walking along the pavements. If you are wondering why are there so many people in the malls during the weekends, it is mainly because it is cool there. Of course there is the shopping and entertainment; but for many people, it is to escape from the heat outside. If you are able to adapt yourself to the heat and take steps to keep cool, Jakarta is a wonderful city to visit.

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Staying Slim and Fit – My Formula

I have been asked this question so many times – ” How do you managed to be slim and fit for so many years. ” I do not go on any diet, nor pop any slimming pill. I have no time to go the the gym and I eat anything that I fancy. Yes, I have ssen so many of my friends becoming obese and unfit. Most of them tell me that they do not have time to exercise and they enjoy eating. I gues obesity is now a major problem for both the young and old, especially in developed countries.

Let me share some of my ‘secrets’ of keeping slim and fit.  First of all, I eat more vegetables than meat whether it is chicken, beef or fish. Most of the time when I eat vegetables – it is either boiled or stir fry quickly. My favorite vegetable is broccoli, cabbage, carrots, lady-finger, cucumber and tomatoes. I do not eat meat ( be it red or white ) on a daily basis.


I eat mushrooms almost everyday. It does not matter what type of mushroom, so long it is fresh and of course it must be edible.  Most of the time, I will boil, steam the mushroom or fry it with other vegetables. Mushroom soup is one of my favorite. My preference on the type of mushroom are shiitake and abalone mushroom. There are tremendous health benefits that you can get from consuming mushrooms. It has lots of minerals and antioxidants. In fact, many people around the world have regarded mushrooms as a beneficial health food.


As for fruits, I take bananas and oranges almost on a daily basis. There are times when I simply eat 2 bananas for breakfast and nothing else. There are also times when I just eat bananas for my dinner and nothing else.  It is the easiest fruit to eat. You simply peel and chew, that’s it. Personally, I eat bananas when I do not have the time to eat anything else. Bananas gives us the energy that we need, it relieves constipation, it is high in fibre and almost fat free. It contains lots of minerals and vitamins too. As for oranges, I do not drink orange juice, but eat orange. My favorite brand is Sunkist orange, because it is sweet and juicy.

As for beverages, I drink Chinese tea every single day. It is a routine that has stay with me for so many years. I normally drink 4 mugs ( or 4 teabags) of chinese tea daily. The chinese tea I drink are – Jasmine and Iron Buddha tea. One is light ( Jasmine ) and the other is dark and heavy ( Iron Buddha). There are again many health benefits that you can derived from drinking chinese tea. Simply Google it and you will find the answers. By the way, I do not add any sugar on the Chinese tea that I am drinking. Some of my friends in Indonesia add sugar to the Jasmine tea, they say it  taste better. I prefer to drink it as it is – the original taste.

” To Get What You’ve never had,

You must Do What You have never done.”

Finally on the topic of Exercise. There are many types of exercises that you can do. In this blog, you can watch a video of an Aerobic Exercise that was conducted in the business district – Raffles Place, Singapore. I do jog occasionally but I do make a point to walk at least 5 km daily. I find walking a very relaxing form of exercise. You just do it at your own pace and you have all the time in the world to appreciate the surroundings – especially when you do it in a park. Do remember to get a good pair of walking/jogging shoes, so that there wouln’t be so much stress on your knees and feet.

So that’s it. These are the things that I do to stay fit and slim.
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The Year of the Ox – Prospects in Indonesia

The Chinese community around the world are welcoming the Year of the Ox, celebrating their New Year with new hope for prosperity, good health and peace.  In Indonesia, the Chinese New Year is an official public holiday. So there is a recognition for this celebration for a minority race in a country that is predominantly muslim. This is a good start. I do hope that in the near future, there will be more recognition on the status of Chinese in Indonesia. In fact, irregardless of whatever race, religion or color, so long as you are a citizen of Indonesia, you should be given equal rights as a citizen and be treated as equal. Respect to all citizens is an important element to forge this country in unity and in progress.

The Global economic crisis that has started last year will have a greater impact this year on the economy of Indonesia. I think Indonesia will still be experiencing positive economic growth of say 4% and is not going down in recession like in many countries such as US, Japan and Singapore. However this does not meant that all is well in Indonesia. In fact, Indonesia is still struggling to manage its high unemployment rate and the poverty of the lower income group. The recent lowering of fuel prices and transportation cost does help to alleviate the cost of living for its citizens. But more needs to be done, and can be done. Indonesia must do its best to attract foreign investments and promote tourism. The government of the world largest archipelago cannot afford to rest on its laurels on this 2 major tasks. Attracting more foreign investments and tourists into Indonesia will result in the creation of thousands of jobs for its people. The global tourism market is worth more than US$900 billion. Now that is a lot of money here. So how can a country that is so huge and beautiful like Indonesia be looking at tourist target arrival of just 10 million visitors? I am sure the Indonesian government can do much better in promoting this country as a top tourist destination in Asia. A friend of mine who runs a business in Jakarta told me that if the government could lower the unemployment rate to say 4%, then there will be less demonstrations in the streets of Jakarta. That is because everyone will be so busy working or running their businesses. Who on earth will have the time to demonstrate? Whatever free time that the people have, will be for the family, shopping, drinking coffee in nice cafe or enjoying leisure activities.

The government of Indonesia must act decisively with its pro-business policy. It has to focus to eradicate all laws, by-laws or unnecessary red tapes that hinders investments in this country. It must act to welcome visitors and tourists in this beautiful country. I think the central government did well in Batam recently. It has acted decisively to make it a free trade zone – now that is good news for businesses. The Ox in the chinese calendar symbolize a hardworking animal that is persistence in performing its tasks. No matter how tough the problems may be, it never gives up. I do hope that the government and the people of Indonesia will forge ahead to handle this economis crisis together. Constant street demonstrations will not resolve anything. In fact, it simply disrupt businesses and the daily lives of the people. There are many ways to be heard without gathering in the streets screaming and shouting to draw attention – whatever issues it may be. The government should be seen as acting sincerely for the people. Do not issue any laws that discriminate people, whether of race or social status. Don’t put in laws just to gain popularity or votes. Some political parties in Indonesia have proposed sharia laws to be implemented in Indonesia. That is totally stupid and these political parties are just like clowns in the circus. Indonesia is not a homogenous country with just one race, language and culture. This country has so much cultural diversifications and languages that it has make it so unique as a nation in Asia.

Finally in this new year, the Year of the Ox, I would liked to wish everyone in Indonesia – Good Health, Prosperity. Peace and Success.

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