Friday, January 18, 2008

Day 1 (December 12th) - To Singapore through Batam

The journey started with an AirAsia flight on the very early morning. I got to the airport at about 5:15 and found that Suhendry and Timotius is already there, while Kenny is still on the way. Since it's getting late, we decided to enter to the check in hall first. The domestic section of the Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (CGK) was very crowded, just like a bus station. Just entering the check-in hall require some 15-20 minutes queuing for security check.

As a low-cost airline, AirAsia seems to do anything to save costs, including by using just a limited amount of check-in counters that are being shared for all AirAsia flights. That makes the check-in process quite time consuming because of the long queue. Kenny arrived inside (after queuing for a while to enter the check-in hall) just right at the time we are going to check in. Instead of the standard boarding passes, AirAsia uses some kind of thermal-printed paper that looks just like a cashier receipt as the boarding pass. We proceed to the waiting room after that (which is crowded as well).

The flight was quite on schedule, as it arrived in Batam a few minutes ahead of the schedule. The aircraft itself also looked fine and the seats were comfortable. Aside from the long queuing involved, AirAsia is quite satisfactory in terms of service.

The Hang Nadim International Airport (BTH) of Batam is just like another airport in Indonesia, although it was cleaner and less crowded than CGK. It took a while until our baggage come out, and they came out wet (which means bad baggage handling, although it was raining when we landed). We bought one-way ferry tickets in the airport (which supposed to be a few dollars cheaper) - the rate is in Singapore Dollars already. A taxi ride to Batam Center costs about 70-80 thousand rupiahs and it takes somewhere between 30minutes and an hour.

We had some breakfast right after arriving in the Batam Center seaport, in some restaurant serving Indonesian dishes. Checking in for the ferry ride require us to pay 3 SGD as the seaport tax (well, quite ironic as it's an Indonesian seaport). We also paid the fiscal tax which amounts to 500 thousand rupiahs. All set up and ready, we entered the departure hall through a security check and immigration, and wait for our boarding.

The ferry ride took about one and half an hour. If you are a non-smoker, sit at the window-enclosed area instead of the area without windows - there are many smokers onboard and will sit there (usually that's the upper deck). During the ride you'll experience the huge difference between the Indonesian side and the Singapore island.

Arriving at Harbour Front, we had to go to the immigration again (ASEAN citizens does not need a visa for a short visit). After buying M1 SIM Cards to be used during our visit (turns out that it was overpriced at around SGD 25), we decided to take a taxi to the SummerView Hotel which is located in the Bencoolen street in the city center near Orchard Road. The taxi ride costs somewhat less than 10 SGD.

The check-in process itself was smooth by showing the printed voucher from HotelClub. We were told to wait for a while as the room is being prepared. Unfortunately our triple room in the 8th floor was located at the center of the building, thus having no window at all.

It was about 2pm when we finished the check-in and left our baggage in the room. We contacted the other team from BINUS and it happens that they have already arrived in the Fort Canning Lodge YWCA, which is about 15 to 25minutes walk from our place. Arriving there, we found out that their room reservation has problems as one room was not properly booked and thus was not available for check-in until some calls being made to Indonesia to have someone contact the travel agent who booked the rooms. It was solved in the evening and it turns out that it was just a little misunderstanding.

We then went to a nearby mall to have a lunch, and had it in a restaurant which is quite expensive. The mall itself has a bookstore, and some of the other team also bought their SIM cards there. We then walked to SummerView hotel again, and some of us go to Sim Lim Square which is located just a few meters away from the hotel. Ms. Yenlina and Ms. Agustina met someone in Sim Lim and departed earlier. I found the laptop I was looking for (a friend's order), and negotiated with the shop to return on Saturday to pick it up (as they does not have new ones in stock at that time). The Sim Lim square itself is quite a convenient place to shop for computer stuffs, and the collections are quite complete (in contrast to Indonesian shops which only have commonly bought items). After that, we returned to our SummerView hotel room and waited for Ms. Ang Ing Ing (former BiNus ACM ICPC team member) and Mr. William Anggakusuma (with his girlfriend) to arrive.

As planned before, we went to a hawker center in Toa Payoh to have dinner. Before the first MRT ride, some of us bought the EZ-Link prepaid card which is usable for MRT and Bus rides. Ms. Yenlina and Ms. Agustina joined us in Toa Payoh MRT Station before we took a bus to the hawker center.

The food stalls there sells mostly Chinese foods, but some also have Indian foods and others. I had full meal consisting of a barbecued stingray, some vegetables, some clams, and a big glass of sugarcane juice for less than 20 SGD. Being completely exhausted after the long day, we then returned to the hotels and have a rest.

Continue to Day 2

-Andrian Kurniady


Andrian Kurniady’s Blog » ACM ICPC Regional Contest - Singapore Site 2007 said...

[...] Day 1 (December 12th) - To Singapore Through Batam [...]

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