Breaking fast

Finally, some local culture!

Yesterday, when I went outside for my early evening 2.5-mile walk, I was overwhelmed by the crowd on the street alongside my apartment building. There were so many parked motorcycles I could barely get to the street.

Making prata, first the dough

Making prata, first the dough is made very flat. Then it is placed on a flat skillet and an egg/chicken/curry filling is added. Then it is folded twice to form a square. When it is fried, it is cut into pieces for eating with a curry sauce.

I had read about the crowds gathering at the end of each day of Ramadan, finding food to end their daily fasting, but having been cloistered at Smiling Hill for my first 2 1/2 years in Batam, I had never experienced Ramadan among the population first-hand. It was a mob scene.

Interestingly, though, the mob scene was not everywhere, only in pockets like the side street next to my apartment. All the regular street and in-building restaurants (warung) were closed. I didn’t realize until the next day that was because their owners had moved their operations to outdoor street scenes like on my street.

So today I decided to venture into the throngs of hungry people with my camera. It was a madhouse, with one lone bule (me) trying to force his way through the crowd, while also trying to take pictures.

The variety of foods being offered was mind-boggling, and I have no idea what most of them were. But there was a selection of fish and chicken curries (kari ikan/ayem), barebeque fish (ikan bakar), fruit juices, breads (roti) of all sorts, filled and fried pancakes (roti prata), fruits, a host of pastries and sweets, and much more. One vendor was even selling tropical fish in plastic bags.

Curry snails, extremely spicy

Curry snails, extremely spicy

The street is normally for traffic and is lined by businesses on one side and warungs on the other. But for now, it is closed to everything but people and motorbikes.

Mostly, people just came to buy their food and take it away in plastic bags. There was no place to sit to dine. And my Aceh friends from the warung across the street from my apartment, where I have eaten numerous times, were there cooking a variety of barbequed fish. I even ran into a couple of women I know from the bars. But the only bule was me, with my camera, which might have made me stand out a bit.

This scene will be repeated every night through Ramadan, which runs through July 18. True believers gorge themselves every morning before the sun comes up, and then do not eat, drink, smoke or have sex until the sun goes down. Then they stuff themselves again.

I did buy several things: roti prata, some sweets and some fried bread items. Roti prata is a fried flour-based pancake that is cooked over a flat grill. It is usually served with a vegetable- or meat-based curry and is from Malaysia and Singapore. Prata is also commonly cooked upon request with cheese, onion, banana, red bean, chocolate. Mine had chicken in it.

Here are my photos:

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The New Place has great tacos

I’ve been on the road for five years now and rarely have my travels offered the opportunity to sample good Mexican, or Tex-Mex food. At least not since I left Costa Rica in 2011. There was nothing in Croatia, or Sicily, and little here in Batam.

tacosSo when I learned that The New Place bar and restaurant in the Nagoya Entertainment District offered “genuine” Tex-Mex food, I thought it was worth a try. Apparently, the expat owner is from Texas and he brought his love of the food to Batam.

What I was really craving was tacos, as it had been years since I had one.

At New Place, I asked for a menu and glanced through it looking for my target dish. I don’t even remember what else is served as my only wish was for a good taco, or three. I found the tacos in the appetizer section, but found out the dish was more than ample as a complete meal.

I was a little concerned, however, when I saw the price (Rp100,000) and asked how many tacos came with the order.

“One,” the waitress answered. “Only one,” I replied. “How big is it.”

“Medium size,” came the answer, “but it will fill you up.”

Well, I had come a long way to try the New Place tacos, or taco, so I ordered. I was more than pleasantly surprised.

First, the communication with the waitress obviously was not perfect, as I was served three normal-sized tacos – a full plate full. So far, so good.

Each crispy taco shell was filled with a ground beef and spicy sauce mixture. On the side were fresh lettuce slices, thinly sliced tomato, sliced chili peppers, shredded cheese and sour cream. All the necessary fixins I was used to in the United States (except for avocado), although a California friend would quibble as to whether authentic tacos include sour cream.

2 thumbs upAfter piling on the add-ons (even the chili peppers – I’m not a hot spicy kind of guy), I dug into my first taco. Maybe it was due to my long separation from anything taco, but it was absolutely delicious. I proceeded to devour all three tacos, sour cream and sauce dripping from my hands and lips, but not caring about appearances, just enjoying good food.

My one small complaint is that there was not enough cheese or sour cream for all three tacos, but I understand the availability and cost issues related to both. In Singapore, an 8-ounce container of sour cream costs almost SG$5, and cheeses are equally expensive. A dark cheddar instead of the light cheese (Was it mozzarella or white cheddar?) would have been nice, too.

But overall, well worth the price, at least to someone who has been taco-deprived for years.

And next, sampling the pulled pork at Lusy’s Oarhouse, another American delicacy I haven’t had since my last visit to the U.S. two years ago. Wouldn’t it be great if someone on Batam were to actually roast a whole pig in an in-ground pit for truly great pulled pork?

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25 Reasons You Should Never Travel to Indonesia

I just came across this at and wanted to share:

There’s been so much hype about Indonesia. We just don’t understand why.

That could only mean one thing – these people must never have travelled to other destinations before.

Here’s 25 reasons to convince you that travelling to Indonesia is absolutely pointless.

1. It’s not like Indonesia has a great sunrise view.

1. borobudur

Borobudur temple

Photo via 

2. Light from heaven? Come on, it’s only Jomblang cave in Yogyakarta

23. Jomblang cave via Zexsen Xie Photo via Zexsen Xie

3. The glowing lava at Kawah Ijen Volcano is so blue it hurts

20. Kawah Ijen Puchong Pannoi

Photo via Puchong Pannoi

If you are still not intimidated by it, you should follow us on Instagram

Photo by Olivier Grunewald  

Thumbnail by: Olivier Grunewald

4. There’s really nothing to see at Munduk Moding Plantation, just clouds

munduk moding

Infinity pool at Munduk Moding Plantation

2. munduk moding 2 via dreamka tour

5. See crater lakes in Mount Kelimutu? Nay, not pretty either.

12. Mt Kelimutu, Flores via Shann Biglione

Yeah, they will change color, but that’s all.

12. Mt Kelimutu, Flores collage

Photo via holykaw.alltop

6. A sea of ugly islands you don’t need to check out?

Wayag 6.

 Wayag islands at Raja Ampat

7. Water bungalows in Raja Ampat? Ugh, the water is too dirty!

13. rajaampat islands via misoolecoresort

13. rajaampat islands via misoolecoresort 2

Misool Eco Resort

8. Watch sunrise at Tebing Keraton in Bandung? I would rather snuggle in my bed.

4. tebing keraton via rajatourbandung

Photo via rajatourbandung

They say Tebing Keraton is the coolest destination in Bandung on Instagram. I say, spare me please, I can see the same thing in Norway.

9. There’s no interesting wildlife in Indonesia

Traveling to Komodo Islands is like entering the Jurassic Park. Why would you risk your life eaten up by these wildly-roaming monsters that can grow up to 3m?!

8. komodo islands view via remotelands

The one-ton heaviest known bony fish Mola Mola is not interesting either, seriously, don’t bother diving at Nusa Penida

8. mola mola via divetravelfriends

10. Don’t even mention about the stingless jellyfish in Kakaban islands, they are truly gross.

9.kakaban jelly fish lake via CheanChong Lim

Photo via CheanChong Lim

11. Panoramic view at Kalibiru, Bukit Menoreh? Nope, you will fall to your death.

16. Kalibiru, Bukit Menoreh via Sherly Septiana

Photo via Sherly Septiana

12. Desert? There’s not even a blade of grass here at Gurun Pasir

5. gurun pasir mount bromo via setapakkecil

Why bother going to Gurun Pasir at Mount Bromo?

13. Too humid and wet in Green Canyon Java

6. green canyon java via

Photo via youkeepustraveling

14. Indonesia has no culture

What about the Minangkabau dance again?

7. minangkabau dance via archipelagofastfact

Photo via archipelagofastfact

You have to take more than 11 hours to reach the Waerebo Traditional Village. Are you sure you want to see this weird place?

7. Waerebo traditional village via

Photo via Minakmataphotography

And what’s so special about these paper and bamboo monsters during the Ogoh Ogoh festival in Bali?

7. ogoh ogoh via thejakartapost

Photo via thejakartapost

15. Kenawa Island in Sumbawa just resembles Middle Earth. Now what’s all that hype about?

22. Kenawa Island in Sumbawa via

Really, what’s there?

Photo via

16. Have I told you about the smelly white lake at Kawah Putih?

10. Kawah putih via vebi

Photo via Vebi

17. You will be alone in Karimunjawa with lots of tiny islands like this

11. Karimunjawa private islands by Eri via Path

You will be BORED to death 

Photo via Eri

18. Indonesia’s beaches are not unique at all.

Do you know about the Tanjung Ringgit beach in Lombok? It’s pink, eww.

14. pink beach via Ferdinan Darmalim

Photo via Ferdinan Darmalim

Kolbano Beach – Copycat of Nice’s pebble beach in France

14. Kolbano Beach via yukpegi

Photo via yukpegi

There’s no one here at Walea beaches at Togian Islands, absolutely no one, so boring.

14. walea beaches togian islands via waleadiveresort

Photo via Waleadiveresort

19. The urban planning in Bandung is just so messy.

21. Caringin Tilu, Bandung nightview via nicko vandha

Photo via Nicko Vandha

What’s wrong with those people who keep going to Caringin Tilu for the night view?

20. Madakaripura Waterfall? Why do you want to get yourself totally wet in here?

15. Madakaripura Waterfall via

Photo via jelajah-nesia

21. The underwater life isn’t really interesting

17. rajaampat islands via Conservation International: photo by Sterling Zumbrunn

Raja Ampat Islands (Photo by Sterling Zumbrunn)


Bunaken National Park (Photo via originaldiving)

17. wakatobi via dailynewsdig

Wakatobi islands (Photo via dailynewsdig)

22. What’s there to say about Lake Toba? Too overrated.

18. Lake toba via Clement Gultom

Photo via Clement Gultom

23. Why are people so fascinated by this abandoned plane that’s chilling out at someone’s backyard? Seriously. You can find it anywhere.

19. abandoned plane kuta

They are just ruins, isn’t it?

24. Why bother climbing Puncak Jaya when you can conquer greater mountains? Say, Everest?

24. carstensz pyramid puncak jaya, papua via

Photo via yukpegi

25. Mount Bromo is just another volcano

25. Mount Bromo via bromoeastjava

Photo via Mazrobby

You should really never travel to Indonesia, because…….
friendly indonesia kids

Photo via worldnomads

Once you are here, you’ll fall in love, and won’t bear to leave.

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