Update from Smiling Hill


Pretty quiet here at Smiling Hill, but I have had a chance to get into the kampung bule (Westerners village) a couple of times recently – one was almost a disaster. Weather-wise we’ve been in and out of rainy periods, even though this is supposed to be the dry season.

At Smiling Hill, construction is ongoing for the major addition to the restaurant and bar, with concrete supports going in recently. Everything here is done mostly with labor, not machinery, and the safety standards are somewhat haphazard (guys climbing scaffolding in flip-flops, buckets of concrete being passed up by hand). It all gets done, though.

Also, the thatch covering for a section of dining area alongside the pool has been replaced and heightened, and work is ongoing on some of the properties being renovated. We expect a big party at Goodies once the addition is complete, probably in July, which means the marketing person (me) needs to get in gear.

Web sites

After four months or intermittent work, I have finally “finished” dividing our single Web site into four new sites.

The new higher roof goes up along the pool. Old roof in background.

Now they go for approval and the inevitable changes. These sites will cover: Batam and Indonesia, Goodies Restaurant, Smiling Hill, and investing in Smiling Hill. All the information was previously on one site. The new sites, when posted, will only be an interim solution, as we plan to hire professional Web developers to create more-sophisticated sites that are beyond my limited capabilities.

On the marketing side, we continue to gain an advertiser or two for the newsletter, although we re not really being aggressive with sales. Sales meetings with clients can be at almost any time, however, as evidenced by Wednesday night when I had to interrupt my dinner (Salmon and baked potatoes) to meet with a potential client at Goodies.

We also just signed an agreement with the Batam Marine Expo to be a media sponsor of their October event, which is now in its 6th year. The Expo focuses on the shipbuilding and oil & gas industries. This will be the company’s first foray into trade show marketing and we will need to develop all the marketing materials associated with such efforts, including booth design. Maybe my experience at attending about 100 trade shows, as well as creating and running the Atlanta International Summit and InterTrade, will come in handy.

Dinner at the Windsor

I have been able to enjoy dinner twice at the local food courts, or pujaseras, in Batam and was looking for another opportunity to taste the local food, but I needed company for dinner. Finally had a night that I was able to accompany a couple of friends.

The taxi ride to the Windsor was 50,000 rupiah, or about $5.50. That may be inexpensive to many people here, but I find it a little high for the relatively short trip into town. Anyway, the three of us jammed into the back seat and headed off. I had been to the Windsor during my first month here, which was also my first experience with the beer girls at these food courts.

The food courts, as I’ve described in a previous post, are large open-air areas of tables and chairs, surrounded by food stalls selling all sorts of local foods, mostly seafood. And, of course, most of the dishes are spicy hot, which is not something I favor. But I thought we could order something that would not hurt my mouth, my stomach, and so forth.

Of course, the beer girls descended on us as soon as we walked through the gate. I chose Tiger beer this time, not because the Tiger beer girl was the prettiest (which is the way I choose the beer since the beer girl will sit at your table) but because I hadn’t tried Tiger as yet. .

I let my friends order the food, asking them to respect my dislike of hot, spicy foods.

The remnants of dinner. The food comes at intervals so a group shot before eating is difficult.

We ended up with seven dishes, plus white rice, and we pretty much finished most of it. Most of the food was, in fact, hot and spicy, but I charged through. We ordered the black peppered crab, prawn curry (thought I was getting steamed prawns), a dish of tiny shellfish that was very spicy, two plates of vegetables, a steamed fish and something that evades me at this moment. The picture shows what was left after we were done.

The tab for the food and drinks was 425,000 rupiah, with tip about $50. Spent the night tossing and turning, a hostage to my stomach throwing a tantrum over what I put in it.

Back to kampung bule. Last Friday night, managed to find a pool tournament at the Fore Play bar. $10 buy-in for a single-elimination 8-ball tournament. There were a lot of entrants and only one table, plus it started after 10 pm, so the night was long. I think about 2 am I finally lost and headed home, only to have to get up at 7 for work.

Tuesday night I needed to go back to the district because one of our potential customers

Rina @ Wet Willies

was having a birthday party, so grabbed my camera and headed down the hill. Turns out there were rolling blackouts in the district and the bar in question, Mary’s, was dark. Under candlelight, I socialized with the owners and staff for a drink and then went looking for a pool game in one of the bars with electricity. I finally ended up at Wet Willies, where I spend a lot of time. The owners, Alan and Niken, started a tournament and, of course, I had to play. After a couple of hours, I left, taking a ride on the back of a ojek (motorbike) up the hill to home.

Trouble is, I forgot my Nikon at Wet Willies. I woke about 4 am with the sudden realization

The girls love the camera here – Wet Willies. From left: Angel, Juliette and unknown

I had probably just lost an expensive piece of essential equipment. However, I had placed the camera on top of a tall cabinet, out of sight, and Alan and Niken (and the staff) would know it was my camera if they found it, so there was a slim chance it would be OK. But I couldn’t go back until the end of the work day Friday. So I fretted all day. Very fortunately, the camera was right where I left it. No one even knew it was there. Whew!

About 2bagsandapack

Lifetime journalist, author, magazine editor and publisher, now semi-retired and traveling the world. My plan, after living in Costa Rica for 14 months, was to visit a new country in southern Europe every three months to experience the culture and the challenge of adapting to a new environment, while on a fixed income. That plan was sidetracked when I was offered a job in Indonesia, providing an opportunity to explore Asia. I'm also using this time to write, having now authored nine e-books, including photo-essays of my experiences in Costa Rica, Croatia, Sicily, Indonesia, Bali and Malaysia.
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