Thursday, May 18, 2006

Kelong tip at Batam

Yet another seemingly interminable post after a long period of absence from blogging. Well, this time round, I have many things to talk about, from the happy to the frustrated.

From the 12 to 14 (Friday to Sunday), I went on a short, relaxing holiday to Batam, Indonesia. (This explains me not attending the meet-the-parents session.) But I did not stay in a comfortable hotel, instead, my family and I camped in a kelong for 3 days, together with other close families whom my parents are friends with. The kelong belongs to a missionary who runs his ministry in a village at Batam, so occasionally he will open his cosy kelong to earn some extra bucks. However, he stays in Singapore. It was truly an eye-opener and I experienced a different life-style, one that is slow, peaceful and calm.

We took a boat ride from Harbourfront to our destination, after which we transferred to a small mini bus which was home to a few houseflies, then finally we took a slow 1 hour journey onboard another boat to reach the kelong. It is located in one of the many pockets of islands in the middle of the ocean.

And this is how the living room looks like, all made from good sturdy waterproof wood of course:

It's not all that old-fashioned ok...there is water piped in from mainland, electricity from generators, proper taps, toilet bowls, showers, beds, mattresses, lights, fan, and even a wind propeller thingy to generate extra electricity when it is windy (usually before a storm). Cool.

The main purpose of that trip was actually to fish, and there was no fixed planned itinerary. A large part of the day was spent lazing around, eating or chatting. It was more of a time of 'catching-up' with people, expecially my close friend since young, Joshua. He's currently studying in ACS (I) and is in the IB. Smart kid he is. And in the same boat as me too: we both cannot do pull-ups. His reason? I've got a heavy bottom body.

For a more visual impact, I thought it would be good to show him combing the shores for anything interesting:

There was this two young twins too, very jocular, lively, energetic and cute, albeit with this unusual habit and tendency to poke, jump and touch people. One of them rubbed his butt on my butt and tickled me and supposedly touched another girl...(which part I shall not say), without knowing what the consequence of his action was. Luckily, and thankfully, the other twin is more reserved and controlled.

It was hard trying to get them to pose for this picture, but just to show how lovable they look:

Also, I met this new friend who is sec 2 who coincidentally is also studying in VS! His name is Andrew, an extremely benign, approachable and friendly guy who sadly isn’t that tall.

He, I must say, is an avid angler, who would gladly devote his time the whole day to patiently wait in front of a long rod for the gentlest tug on his line, after which he would beam in happiness and excitedly reel up the line carefully to see his catch. His knowledge about marine life is also surprising at his age. And a sadist to some extent too, I must say, for he would catch all sorts of wonderful live baits to lure in the fishes.

We went to the shore and collected a bottle of small crabs and clams, and he would then shake the poor crabs unconscious and scare the living daylights out of the lives, before carefully puncturing the long curved metal hook up the crab's ass, where some disgusting liquid would then squirt out. After adjusting it firmly into place, he would swing his rod violently and the crab would fly in the air with a sudden rush of adrenaline (I believe).

Occasionally, Andrew would scream in disappointment when the crab disintegrates in air due to the force. Oh poor thing...

I, on the other hand, did not participate much in fishing, for fishing had never been my passion. In fact, my dad bought some rods particularly for this event. But through this trip, I had at least learnt the basics of that pastime, and discovered that it is exceedingly easy for the line to get tangled up with the wooden sticks and nets.

It paid off though, as I caught a few fishes in the process. They are remarkably slimy and squishy to deal with when you want to take out the hook from the fish's mouth after observing that keeping it any longer would just result in its tragic dead, and it would not make good dinner either. They would disobediently jump around gasping for air, spraying you with droplets of sea water.

But this is not to say that all fishes there are the bony petite ones. There were a few big catches too. This fish below was what we had for dinner, and it was deliciously tasty.

Which brings me to the food, the major highlight and me and my dad's most enjoyed part of the trip. To wrap it up in a word, the food was AMAZING. There were superb cooks there...the workers the missionary hired. Naturally, we had much seafood, especially those juicy, sweet crabs. The only thing I didn't like was that the crabs were either 'full of shit' (as what Andrew says) or it's 'messy inside'. Indeed, it was hard to fish out the soft crab meat with all the hard shells and the various parts of the body intruding here and there. But the taste was worth the trouble. We also had prawns, sotong and gong-gong...

As they say, a picture speaks a thousand words, so I've got 3000 words here to fully explain just how appetizing the food is. This is what we had for lunch on the first day just after we arrived:

And this for dinner...there's some barbequed stuff...

And this palatable last lunch we consumed before leaving...

On the last day, just to make full use of the kelong and its surroundings, we (the children) went for a short sampan ride and then followed by a swim in the sea.

I brought back a surface cut by the barnacles when attempting to climb up some rubber tyres to reach the kelong, but to no avail. Instead, I pressed my leg down on the sharp barnacles strudded on the wood, resulting in a flap of skin torn away, and a 2 cm by 1 cm cut. Nevertheless, I had fun swimming with Andrew and Joshua.

At night, my mum so happened to spot a spider with it's magnificently crafted web. Using flash, I captured its complicatedly puzzling work perfectly. Never before had I seen such complexity from a spider.

The whole trip was a peaceful and slow-paced one which benefitted me. Sometimes, in our busy and hectic lives, we just need to stop, stand back and deliberately make time for these activites which would allow you to step out of the rat race for a while.

Finally, the sunrise. Demarcating the night from day.


cindy said...

Hi Ian,

Where is this place exactly, i am really interested, can i have the contacts of the owner?


lincoln ong said...

you can reach me at for more info. Also pl go to our site