Earlier this year, when my father-in-law suggested we go visit his friends in Batam, I wasn’t too keen. I’m not one for meeting new people and besides, I didn’t know much about Batam except that Singaporeans tend to head over there for a quick weekend getaway to do what we do best: shop and eat.
But the wife had met the family before on a previous trip and she was excited to go back. She insisted that it would be nothing like what I’d imagined. Besides, it would be Varun’s first trip overseas. She told me that they lived in a house on stilts, on the riverbank. I had to see this!
The trip over to Batam was pretty uneventful. Long queue, noisy ferry, etc. Pretty standard stuff. The family greeted us at the ferry terminal and hugs were exchanged while I stood there, smiling. I was pretty grateful that I had Varun to hold; at least, I wouldn’t look so awkward! But that lasted all of 2 seconds. The wife took him from me and passed him around to the delight of the ladies. Now I felt really out of place!
We got into the car and started to drive. My father-in-law had loads to talk about and even the wife was pretty deep in conversation with her friend, Mimi. She doesn’t have a good grasp of Bahasa Indonesia but they somehow managed to communicate. Varun and I sat by the window and enjoyed the scenery. This was nice.
About 40 minutes later, we reached another ferry terminal, from which we took a boat to another island. Home was in sight!
We disembarked and climbed a ladder up to the house. The wife posed for an obligatory shot with Mimi on the front porch. The surrounding scenery was rustic and beautiful with not a building in sight.
I was loving this already.
The ladies started on lunch. I had no idea idea what they were preparing but I’m a huge foodie and I couldn’t wait to eat!
There was hot rice to go along with the prawn sambal and the squid and it was amazing! I wish I had beer but of course, that would’ve been wildly inappropriate considering our host family was Muslim.
We sat around the table and ate together and I don’t know how but we had a great time even though we don’t speak the same language! That’s what I love about food! It brings people together. I can get pretty emotional about it if you let me.
We spent a total of 3 days and 2 nights with Mimi’s family and on the last evening, had a long discussion with her about putting up her home on Airbnb. She was pretty excited about it but unfortunately, most travelers to Batam are Singaporeans and they’re aren’t looking for a rustic, internet-free holiday experience.