After a last night out and a chilling day in Singapore it was time to continue to Indonesia. There are plenty ferries that travel from Singapore to Batam, an Island just 20km. away.
Singapore to Batam
The ferries depart from Harbourfront, the same place where is the monorail to go to Sentosa Island. As there are many ferries, I just bought a ticket as I arrived. As my plan is to connect to go to Jakarta, I asked the vending lady which port was the more appropriated. There are several possible destinations in the Island – Batam Center, Harbour bay and Sekupang. She suggested me to go to Sekupang. And I did so. Why shouldn’t I trust her?
However, if you are planning to do the same take the one to Harbour bay.
Customs is easy going and friendly and the journey doesn’t take more than one hour. Once in Sekupang, as European we do not need visa. However, I had red that to be able to extend the visa is necessary to ask for a special visa on arrival. I did ask so to the lady at the customs, and she friendly told me that there is not such a possibility of extension. I did ask if there is not a way I can get a visa on arrival that I can extend afterwards, and she answered me “no possible extension”. I decided that insisting will not take me anywhere.
Finding a ferry to Jakarta
Once with the stamp on my passport and out of customs I started asking where could I find a ferry to Jakarta. Some people told me that there was no ferry to Jakarta from Batam, then someone directed me to a travel agency. They told me that it was not until Wednesday. I said ok and asked them if they could sell me one ticket. They said no and told me that I need to buy it at Batam Centre.
I manage my way to get the Trans Batam bus to Batam Central where once again I started asking. The same story repeated. Some people didn’t know about the existance of such ferry, others informed me that it wasn’t until Wednesday and after asking in all ferries agencies I was addressed to go to Nagoya Hill Mall.
As I had time I decided to continue the research the following day and then first find a hostel or hotel and had dinner I look for a place next to the mall.
The next day I keep on asking at the mall. Here it was at the currency exchange shops where you buy the ferry tickets. Some denied me a ticket as I was not Indonesian – I think they thought I was willing to go to Singapore. Other told me that just to Singapore. Finally, someone told me to go directly to the departing port, Batu Ampar. Near Harbour Bay.
A nice guy drove me all the way to harbour for free when I was asking how to go there. Once there, at the basic police control to the harbour, they told me that I there is no one selling tickets on the Harbour. The police offered to sell me one. He was about to buy it online and there is where I get the website of the company. www.pelni.co.id. Also, they told me that I can buy it at a travel agency in Nagoya called Paris.
I turned back and at the agency, after checking the prices and finding that online you have to buy the ticket at least 3 days before the departing day I got my second-class ticket to Jakarta. Now I only have to wait.
What I learnt is that if you are traveling overland to Indonesia from Malaysia, you can go from Melaka to Medan or from Singapore to Batam and there connect to Jakarta. The ferry company from Batam to Jakarta is Pelni www.pelni.co.id At their site you can check the schedules just for the following one or two months and buy the tickets with more than 3 days from departure.
The ferry to Jakarta departs at 13:00 from Batu Ampar which is next to Harbour Bay, so you can even get a morning ferry from Singapore to Batam Harbour Bay and connect to the ferry to Jakarta. You would just need to arrive to the harbour at Batu Ampar 2 hours in advance.
And the most important. If you come across an ignorant at customs that do not know that Indonesia has a special visa you can extend, insist or turn back and go with another customs agent. To be continue