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Batam City, Indonesia

As I want to cover as much of Asia as possible I decided to take the short ferry trip from Singapore to visit Batam City in Indonesia. It was obviously going to be a much less developed place compared to Singapore but I don't think anything could have prepared me for the culture shock.

I left the ferry terminal and there wasn't much there, just the car park, no buses and of course no underground, but there was a taxi driver who drove me into the city. This time there was no meter to go by, just a tariff to read off, and even if I was over charged it's really no big deal. I was rummaging though all the notes in my wallet to pay the driver, several notes all in their thousands, you're lost in all the zeros but I got there in the end.
         He drove me to a shopping centre in the middle of Batam City, my first impressions are of a city that's less developed but is vibrant, friendly and very happy to see any tourists. There were taxi drivers everywhere getting my attention even when I was ordering food inside a restaurant. One of the taxi drivers offering me a lift had a car that looked like it had been on Pimp my Ride Indonesia, I said "No thanks, but can I take a picture of your car?".

A photo posted by David Jenner (@davidjenneruk) on

I had a look around the shopping centre, half of the ground floor was all to do with electronics, mainly mobile phones and accessories. There were what seemed like about 100 or more kiosks all selling the same thing with bored staff behind the counter probably playing Candy Crush on their phones.
I was the only westerner I could see in the whole city, everyone was looking and me and trying to get my attention especially taxi drivers, some were even staring at me like they've never seen a westerner before. It was nice in that if I smiled at someone they were all too happy to give me their attention and smile back.

#batamcity #indonesia #taxi #taxidrivers https://www.twitter.com/davidblogsasia

A photo posted by David Jenner (@davidjenneruk) on

I then encountered an old lady and a little girl selling newspapers on a busy roadside, even though I wouldn't be able to read it I was all to happy to pay for one. I even paid several times what they were asking and told them to hand them out for free but I don't think they understood. I know this hasn't solved the worlds problems but hopefully made their day. I sat down for my last meal by a busy and muddy roadside with shops selling motorbike and car parts for what was a lovely meal. A man walked into the restaurant out of nowhere and tried to sell a liter bottle of honey just to me and then walked out, I really wasn't sure what I would do with all that honey. After that, I made my way back to the ferry terminal feeling upset that their economy isn't anywhere near as good as Singapore's despite being right next door

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