Sunday, September 20, 2015

one day in Batam

A few years back, I visited the Indonesian island of Batam. Just slightly larger than Singapore, and only 20 plus kilometres away by high speed ferry, it felt like visiting your own backyard. I expected the place to be quite laidback and backward, from the stories my friends brought back, from their days of working on the island.

But it is really not so. She is doing catching-up, and at a fast pace. The power lines on pylons crisscrossing the island, the satellite dishes on almost every rooftop, and the SUVs on the new highways are telling a new story. I have not been back there since and I wonder how she is doing today.

photo of a bridge at Batam by dsnake1

one day in Batam

We came down from the tour bus to a hot dusty track. The guide was saying this is how the locals still lived. The zinc roofs of the village huts shimmered in the noon heat, and I was half expecting them to melt, or burst into flames. In a field, an old man walked among the scrub and stones, shoeless. He was carrying a sickle but there were not many weeds to cut. We can feel the heat of the road through the soles of our shoes. A dog ambled like an old friend to the shadow of the bus, sat down and scratched its face with a dirty paw. A lady, wiping the sweat off her face with a blot of tissue, grumbled and muttered, and returned to the aircon comfort of the bus. I felt like we have landed on another planet.

lunch time -
        the flies buzz
        to another feast.


photo by dsnake1

"Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us."

-- Calvin, Calvin and Hobbs

Shared on Poetry Pantry #270 at Poets United.

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2015

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Blogger X said...

And you are the feast.

I have been in a few places that felt like I had been dropped on another planet. When you can not speak the local language it seems to enhance that feeling as well. Everything gets a bit of an edge as well, like that guy with the sickle.

20 September, 2015 19:59  
Blogger Jae Rose said...

Understanding something is in noticing the little things - of which you demonstrate perfectly..

20 September, 2015 20:00  
Blogger Sumana Roy said...

could feel the exotic in every word...a nice haibun...

20 September, 2015 20:14  
Blogger Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

A beautiful evocation of place.

20 September, 2015 20:41  
Blogger Mary said...

I enjoyed your description of Batam and also the backstory. It seems that modernization catches the most remote of places eventually. Change is inevitable! Always glad to see you in 'the pantry.'

20 September, 2015 21:11  
Blogger Nataša Dolenc said...

what a picture.. so many different stories we live on this planet.

21 September, 2015 00:19  
Blogger Sherry Blue Sky said...

You took me right there, the dust, the heat, the dog.........and then cracked me up with the Calvin and Hobbs quote. LOL.

21 September, 2015 00:24  
Blogger R.K. Garon said...

"Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." HAHAHAHA...YUP!
I do enjoy your "Diary" entries.

21 September, 2015 03:01  
Blogger Sanaa Rizvi said...

Such vivid and palpable images in this exquisite piece :)

21 September, 2015 03:15  
Anonymous Donna@LivingFromHappiness said...

Viewing life in another time how you captured it here as if I was there...and I loved the Calvin quote!

21 September, 2015 07:04  
Blogger totomai said...

A detailed observation on what's happening around you during a tour bus.
I may never do that as I am busy with my camera :-)

The last lines brought a smile on my face.

21 September, 2015 19:46  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


heh, it gets more edgy if both sides are unable to communicate, yeah. :)

Jae Rose,

thank you! the little things are not to be overlooked. :)


thank you! :)


thanks! they have over, 17,000 islands?


yes, change is inevitable, even in the most remote places. in our jungles, we are able to get a cell phone signal in most places. :)


thank you! :) that's also the beauty of this planet.


glad i cracked you up. :)
but i really cannot forget that dog. though we were from another "planet", it greeted us like old friends.


what "diary" entries? :D


thank you! :)


yes, it was like i was transported 2 or 3 decades back to my own country. :)


my regret is that i did not take enough photos then. i was only using a point and shoot camera. plus on a bus tour, you do not have enough time to wander around on your own to explore.

21 September, 2015 20:20  
Blogger G L Meisner said...

The picture you painted is very vivid.

22 September, 2015 20:41  
Blogger A Cuban In London said...

Beautiful post. I enjoyed your journey, too. Thanks.

Greetings from London.

23 September, 2015 04:23  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

G L,



thanks! Batam was once noted for it's sex trade and kept mistresses, but i was not there for those things. there are a lot of other stuff to look out for. :)

24 September, 2015 13:15  
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26 October, 2015 16:58  

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