I hired a driver for a full day for about $55. This is definitely my favorite way of traveling around in Indonesia. I got a great recommendation for a driver and he didn't disappoint. Ropik showed up in an SUV which was very comfortable on some of the bumpy no-roads on the islands.
Goal for the day was to drive all the way to Pulau Galang Baru, the last island connected to Batam through the 7 Barelang bridges.
I have been many times at the first Barelang bridge, the most imposing one. I've never driven all the way over all seven to see where this leads to.
On my way we stopped at Kampung Vietnam to take a look at the Vietnamese refugee camp. I had read about it online ... I could undeniably feel the suffering still hanging around on this hot day many years after the closing of the camp.
Once we made our way to Palau (Island) Galang Baru, we were rewarded with with amazing views of tropical islands in an environment were time stood still for many years.
Everywhere I went I heard girls yell "bule bule ... photo ... photo ... please take picture ..." (bule = westerner) ... No greater delight for these young women to know someone snapped their picture with their girlfriends ... big smiles guaranteed ;-) No need to worry about leaving an email address for them to get the image ... all that's required is to know someone spend time taking their picture and will have a souvenir from them forever.
At this time in the year, sun is only guaranteed in the morning. As soon as it turns around 2:00 pm, the clouds change dramatically into thunderclouds with torrents of rain falling down. It doesn't last long but one has to take precautions. Not too difficult when one travels in car but it's a totally different story for the locals on their motorbikes and scooters.
Two of the images I shot that day show clearly rain drenching down in buckets at the horizon. We only got wet on our way back to Batam. Rather than hanging out on a tropical beach waiting for a nice sunset, I decided to go visit Tanjung Uma ... a place I'll write more about when I have time to process the images.
Those who have been following my travels know that this is my fourth trip in about 5 months to this area of the world.
I've been in Indonesia before. In 1999 to 2001 I spend quote a few weeks in Bali paradise working special effects for an amusement park. Although a perfect introduction to the beauty of Indonesia, it didn't prepare me for the beauty of the Riau Islands comprising Batam. Most of these islands are sparsely populated and as of today, I'm constantly taken by the genuine happiness of these people whatever their living circumstances are.
More images from my recent Indonesia travels to Batam can be found in my Travel Images folder on Facebook.
So far I've not been able to find any shells on any of the beaches I visited. Who took them all ?