Exploring the neighborhood and other tidbits

It is easy to get confused as you walk around the streets of Nagoya. The storefronts all look

Kampung bule street outside my apartment

Kampung bule street outside my apartment

the same – every block seems to have several small restaurants (warungs), at least two small stores selling sundries, sodas, and other stuff, maybe a small hotel, probably a ladies retail store with windows stacked with women’s purses of all colors, and several ojek drivers at each corner. To a newcomer, one street looks the same as the next. So I’ve learned to navigate using tall buildings, such as the Panarama Hotel, which sits about a block from my apartment.

It seems as if half the population is engaged in the food trade in one form or another. Small warungs carve out space in the sides of the buildings, offering very limited menus, often maybe just one or two dishes, such as ayam penyet ( chicken and rice), ikan bekar (BBQ fish) or any of a variety of noodle-based items. Larger restaurants usually are on the street corners, serving 30-40 people with a more extensive menu.

Then there are the “pop-up” warungs, appearing nightly as if by magic in what had been

Pop-up warung outside my front window

Pop-up warung outside my front window

empty space along the roadside. Gas-fired grills, open tenting and plastic chairs with folding tables are the decor, but the food is fresh and cheap. And last are the small push carts, evident especially at night, that serve single items such as sate ayam for a quick bite. I have a favorite who works kampung bule at night, selling fresh-cooked sate ayam in a sweet sauce. Definitely Javanese. Eight small sticks go for about $1.75, a nice late night snack.

There are two of the pop-up variety that appear nightly in front of my apartment building. I had some chicken and rice under the sky one night for less than $3. I plan to try the other soon. The smell of grilling chicken and fish often wafts up to my open apartment windows.


Inside the plaza I discovered

The small groceries that also line the streets are almost as varied. Some are very small, offering a limited selection of food and household needs. There are numerous Circle K’s, Batam’s answer to 7-11. Larger stores appear every two blocks or so, and there are larger markets within plazas and malls. I found one today as I was exploring in a new direction from the apartment.

I headed toward the Panarama and first found a bustling outdoor clothes and garment market. It was about noon so the vendors

Part of the merchandise outdoor market

Part of the merchandise outdoor market

were all hurriedly breaking down their stalls and heading home I assume), only to return the next day very early in the morning. Looks like you can get linens, shoes, various items of clothing, sunglasses, hats and much more here. I will check it out earlier in the day soon. There should be very good bargains.

A little further down the road, I came to a 3-4 story plaza that just screamed at me to go inside. The first floor was mostly electronics and appliances. The second floor contained a department store (i.e., clothing) and a large grocery offering mostly packaged foods at local prices (The Hypermart at the Nagoya Hill mall is higher priced). I picked up a few things and noted this as a place to frequent on a regular basis because of the prices.

Indonesia visa


Stopped for an ATM and this guard insisted I take his picture

I’ve been hyperventilating about getting a retirement visa so that I can stay in Indonesia long-term but I’ve been worried about the process. There is a lot of documentation you need, and after doing a little research about all the steps you have to take, including multiple trips to immigration and the Indonesian Embassy in Singapore, I was getting a little worried. For example, what I first read was that I would need a travel agency to provide me a sponsor letter, which I did through a friend who owns an agency. But it turns out that only a select few travel agencies qualify and hers was not one of them. There is an agency in Bali that provides the service for a fee but they wanted me to come to Bali and that would mean making two trips there as well as to either Jakarta or Singapore. This was starting to get expensive.

My plan had been to enlist Sylvia’s help, go to the immigration office in Batam Centre and

Outdoor merchandise market

Outdoor merchandise market

try to do the whole thing by myself. This has the advantage of avoiding maybe $750 in fees to an agency. But I’ve decided to do what I did when I moved to Costa Rica and hire an agency to handle all the paperwork and legwork. There is one located in Batam, at Harbor Bay (Okuisa & Associates). The owner is a small Smiling Hill investor and has been advising their ownership on business matters for years. I’m just going to have to bite the bullet and spend the money. I will still have to make maybe two trips to Singapore but the process will be handled by experts. The cost will be somewhere between $2,000 and $3,000. Each year, renewal will cost an additional $750.

Why spend this much? Peace of mind mostly. Less hassle, too, as the alternative is to get aDSC_1419 new 30-day visa every month, requiring a trip to Singapore on alternate months. I’ve always said to let the experts do those things experts do. I don’t do plumbing; I hire a plumber. Tomorrow morning I will go to their Batam office and get the process started, which I understand may take up to two months to complete.

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. Indonesia lasted for a 4 wonderful years but I have now moved on to Hua Hin, Thailand.
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