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Archive for December, 2013

Swiss-Belhotel Harbour Bay, Batam, Indonesia Oct 2013


Swiss-Belhotel Harbour Bay (SBHB) is an ideal hotel for vacationers in Batam.  A part of the established Swiss-Belhotel group which has hotels in the Middle East, Australia and Asia, this new hotel is less than one year old at the time of writing.

SBHB is located in Harbour Bay which is easily accessible by ferry from Singapore.  There are multiple trips everyday running between Harbour Bay, Batam and Harbourfront, Singapore.   Prima Ferries has one ferry departing from Harbourfront, Singapore approximately every hour.  Batam Fast has 4 trips departing from Harbourfront, Singapore per day.  A return trip ticket, regardless of the ferry operator, is SGD$48 nett, inclusive of all taxes.  You can simply show up roughly an hour before departure and buy your ticket.  Ensure that you have the necessary visa to enter Indonesia.

SBHB is located right beside the ferry terminal.  After you passed through immigration, you will follow the signs through the ferry terminal to reach the hotel.  As you walk through the ferry terminal, you will pass by some unair-conditioned food courts.  You will also pass by the Batam office for Prima Ferries, where you can exchange your return ferry ticket for your return boarding pass back to Singapore.  At the end of the ferry terminal, you will see a big sign for SBHB.  You will go up an escalator and carry on walking into Harbour Bay Mall.  Inside Harbour Bay Mall, you will see glass doors leading you into SBHB.  The walk from immigration to SBHB is only 5 mins, and as it is sheltered, you will be protected regardless it is rain or shine. 

SBHB is a 4-star hotel.  The hotel has a very simple lobby café.  Part of the lobby cafe is partitioned to become a very small and simple Chinese restaurant.  There is live music on some nights.  The hotel also has a spa, a very small pool and a very, very simple gym.

Depending on which direction your room is facing, you may see rows of shops or the sea (with ships) in the distance. The deluxe rooms have coffee making facilities, coffee sachets but not tea bags.  There is no bath tub in the deluxe rooms, only shower stalls. The room is clean and there are many sockets around the room—–convenient for laptops or handphones.  Moreover, these sockets are universal sockets.  In other words, these sockets accept all countries’ plugs—–no need to bring adaptors.  There is a sturdy luggage bench and free wifi.  The hotel provides a very simple turn-down service—they simply fold down the corner of the duvet.   They do not provide slippers in the room.   

SBHB is connected to a very new mall, Harbour Bay Mall.  Harbour Bay Mall is not fully opened.  At the moment, there is a huge supermarket, a fast food restaurant as well as a couple of international brands such as JCo Donuts and Breadtalk.  I heard there will be a cinema soon.

There is a clean massage place right opposite the hotel—Six Stars Massage. Six Stars Massage provides good massages and is newer, cleaner, cheaper than Isabella Massage which has been recommended by Ladyironchef and other bloggers.   Opposite the hotel is also a bakery.  By the harbour terminal is a minimart (I’m not sure if it’s 24 hours).  At the end of the road of the hotel is a row of seafood restaurants fronting the sea, including Wey Wey Seafood.

The service at SBHB is a little wonky.  When I first checked in, my TV had a little problem.  I told my porter who brought my bag.  He tried to solve the problem but couldn’t.  He said he would get housekeeping to come take a look at my TV but housekeeping never came.  On another occasion, I called twice to Housekeeping for bottles of water to be sent to room but they didn’t come.  I had to call Reception to complain before they brought the bottles to my room.  The air-conditioning in the corridors is always switched off, presumably to save electricity. 

I tried the room service—- Gado Gado (IDR$49,000) and Nasi Goreng (IDR$59,000).  Remember to add service charge of 10% + 10% sales tax on the price. The food was very ordinary. I would have expected hotel prepared food to be more delicious. 

Considering that Batam is a relative backwater, based on the cleanliness of room, room facilities, room decoration, newness of hotel, ease of accessibility from Singapore, convenience of affordable massage, affordable seafood and shopping, SBHB is probably one of the best in Batam.


湾景瑞士花园酒店 (SBHB)是来巴淡岛度假的游客的最佳选择。这家酒店开张至今不到一年,是瑞士花园集团旗下的其中一家,该集团在中东、澳大利亚和亚洲各地皆设有很多酒店。


湾景瑞士花园酒店位处港湾,从新加坡可轻松搭车渡轮前往。每日有多趟渡轮往返于巴淡岛的港湾码头和新加坡的港湾渡轮中心。Prima Ferries 渡轮公司大约每小时提供一趟渡轮,从新加坡港湾渡轮中心出发。Batam Fast 则每日提供四趟从新加坡港湾渡轮中心出发的渡轮。不论你是乘坐哪家公司的渡轮,回程票含税后皆为新币48元。你只需在出发大约一小时前往购票即可。请确认你已经申请到了印度尼西亚的入境签证。

湾景瑞士花园酒店位于渡轮码头旁边。当你经过入境关卡后,你将可以顺着渡轮码头内的方向指示牌抵达酒店。当你穿过渡轮码头时,你会途经一些无空调设备的食阁。你也会经过 Prima Ferries 的巴淡岛营业处,游客可以在这里以回程船票更换回返新加坡的登船卡。在渡轮码头的尽头,你将会看到写着酒店名字的大招牌。你将会搭乘自动扶梯到达上方的港湾广场购物中心。在港湾广场购物中心内,你会看到一扇通往酒店的玻璃门。从入境关卡步行至湾景瑞士花园酒店只需5分钟,而且全程设有遮盖设施,因此不论晴雨你将始终受到保护。




湾景瑞士花园酒店的对面有一家干净的按摩店,名为六星按摩。六星按摩为客户提供优质的按摩服务,而且比一些网络明星博客如 ladyironchef 所推荐的 Isabella 按摩店更新、更干净、更便宜。酒店的对面也有一个面包店。在渡轮码头的边上有一个小便利店(我不太清楚是不是24小时开放的)。在酒店所处的道路的尾端是一排面海的海鲜餐馆,其中包括了 Wey Wey 海鲜餐馆

湾景瑞士花园酒店的酒店服务有点靠不住。当我办理入住手续后,我发现电视机有点小问题。我把问题告诉了帮我提行李的服务员,他尝试解决但并不成功。他说他会通知客房服务来看看我的电视出了什么问题,可是客房服务始终没有来。还有一次我打了两通电话让客房服务送瓶装水上来,但也没见到人。 直到我打电话到酒店前台去投诉以后,他们才把瓶装水送到我的房间。也许是想省电的缘故,走廊的空调系统一直都是处于关闭状态的。

我尝试过酒店的送餐服务,一份加多加多 (49,000印尼盾)和一份印尼炒饭(59000印尼盾)。在这个价格的基础上还需记得加上百分之十的服务费和百分之十的营业税。食物的味道非常普通。我期待着的酒店菜肴应该要比这还要美味才对。




灣景瑞士花園酒店位處港灣,從新加坡可輕鬆搭車渡輪前往。每日有多趟渡輪往返於巴淡島的港灣碼頭和新加坡的港灣渡輪中心。 Prima Ferries 渡輪公司大約每小時提供一趟渡輪,從新加坡港灣渡輪中心出發。 Batam Fast 則每日提供四趟從新加坡港灣渡輪中心出發的渡輪。不論你是乘坐哪家公司的渡輪,回程票含稅後皆為新幣48元。你只需在出發前大約一小時前往購票即可。請確認你已經申請到了印度尼西亞的入境簽證。

灣景瑞士花園酒店位於渡輪碼頭旁邊。當你經過入境關卡後,你將可以順著渡輪碼頭內的方向指示牌抵達酒店。當你穿過渡輪碼頭時,你會途經一些無空調設備的食閣。你也會經過Prima Ferries 的巴淡島營業處,遊客可以在這里以回程船票更換回返新加坡的登船卡。在渡輪碼頭的盡頭,你將會看到寫著酒店名字的大招牌。你將會搭乘自動扶梯到達上方的港灣廣場購物中心。在港灣廣場購物中心內,你會看到一扇通往酒店的玻璃門。從入境關卡步行至灣景瑞士花園酒店只需5分鐘,而且全程設有遮蓋設施,因此不論晴雨你將始終受到保護。




在灣景瑞士花園酒店的對面有一家乾淨的按摩店,名為六星按摩。六星按摩為客戶提供優質的按摩服務,而且比一些網絡明星博客如ladyironchef 所推薦的Isabella 按摩店更新、更乾淨、更便宜。酒店的對面也有一個麵包店。在渡輪碼頭的邊上有一個小便利店(我不太清楚是不是24小時開放的)。在酒店所處的道路的尾端是一排面海的海鮮餐館,其中包括了Wey Wey 海鮮餐館




Shang Palace, Shangri-la Kuala Lumpur Nov 2013


Shang Palace, located with the Shangri-la Kuala Lumpur, is a high-class fine-dining restaurant favoured by the powerful and elite.  When I visited on a Tuesday afternoon, the place was hopping with businessmen, Western expats, C-level executives and society’s elite.

Each dish I tried here was of the most excellent quality that left nothing for me to pick on:

Double Boiled Chicken Soup with Sun Dried Scallop and Dried Figs (RM$35)

The woody fragrance of the mushrooms immediately wafts into your nose, which is so rare and a sure sign that the soup is of the highest quality.  There is a gigantic fragrant dried oyster in the soup as well as several cubes of boneless chicken.  The chicken is firm, which is a testimony to the freshness of the poultry.  Yet, the chicken breaks up easily in the mouth, which means they really have boiled the chicken and soup for a really long time.  Indeed, as the flavour of the soup has been taken up by the meaty flavour of the chicken, the figs provide a great light balance to the stock.  Clear and thick, the soup is of the very best Cantonese style soup.   

Braised Cubed Abalone, Sea Cucumber and Chinese Leek with Oyster Sauce (RM$198)

The sea cucumber is soft and jelly-like.  It has entirely taken up the rich and flavourful oyster sauce.  Yet, at the same time, the leek provide great snap.  The chef must have had great control of execution to achieve that.  The abalone is sweet, firm and succulent.  Heaven!

Stir Fry Choy Sum with Oyster Sauce RM$36

The Chou Sum is young, fresh and tender with great snap.  In other words, the chef cooked it just right—-it was neither under nor over-cooked.  The oyster sauce is rich and has that distinctive Chinese unami flavour.  Oh-so-satisfying!

Stewed Hong Kong Noodles with Minced Prawns and Diced Vegetables (RM$38)

The noodles are smooth and glide down easily but are still reasonably firm. 

Cream of Almond with Bird’s Nest (RM$160)

The wait staff are very attentive and always replenishing my tea.  They are cheerful and upbeat.  They never over-compensate (over-compensation is always a sign they have been badly trained).  The staff knows what they are supposed to do and they execute their excellent service without fuss.  Shang Palace uses Narumi fine china with Shang’s own unique design.  The fine china was a joy to hold and use. 

All restaurants would do well to set Shang Palace as their benchmark.


Le Shang Palace, dans les murs de l’hôtel Shangri-La (Kuala Lumpur), est un restaurant gourmet de grande distinction achalandé par la classe dirigeante et les élites. Quand je m’y suis rendu un mardi après-midi, l’établissement bourdonnait de la présence d’hommes d’affaires, d’expatriés occidentaux, de cadres supérieurs d’entreprise et d’autres clients distingués.

L’ensemble des plats que j’ai dégustés était d’une qualité supérieure qui ne laissait aucune place à la critique.

Soupe au bouillon de volaille avec une noix de Saint-Jacques séchée au soleil et des figues séchées (RM$35)

L’arôme boisé des champignons frappe les narines dès le premier contact, expérience rarissime annonçant une soupe indubitablement de la plus haute qualité. Dans l’assiette se trouve une énorme huître aromatique séchée au soleil, de même que plusieurs cubes de poulet désossé. Le poulet est ferme, preuve de fraîcheur de la viande. Néanmoins, il fond dans la bouche, indice que le poulet et la soupe ont été bouillis longuement. Le parfum robuste du poulet ayant ainsi rehaussé les arômes de la soupe, les figues restituent au bouillon un équilibre d’une légèreté sublime. Claire et épaisse, cette soupe est dans la meilleure des traditions gastronomiques cantonaises.

Ormeau braisé en cubes, concombre de mer et poireau chinois à la sauce d’huître (RM$198)

Le concombre de mer est tendre et a une texture de gelée. Il a entièrement absorbé la sauce d’huître qui, elle, est riche et pleine d’arôme. Le poireau, par contraste, est d’un croustillant suprême. Pour arriver à ce résultat, le chef a dû faire preuve d’une parfaite maîtrise de son art. L’ormeau est sucré, ferme et succulent. Le paradis sur terre !

Choy Sum sauté à la sauce d’huître (RM$36)

Le choy sum (chou chinois fleuri) est jeune, frais, tendre et croustillant. Cuit exactement comme il faut, il n’est ni sous-cuit, ni surcuit. La sauce d’huître est riche et a cet arôme umami chinois que l’on connaît. Dé-li-cieux !

Translator’s note: the flavour referred to is not called unami, but umami. I have adopted the latter spelling in my translation.

Nouilles de Hong-Kong en daube, avec une purée de crevettes et des légumes en cubes (RM$38)

Les nouilles sont lisses et s’avalent sans difficulté, tout en gardant une certaine fermeté.

 Crème d’amande au nid d’hirondelle (RM$160)

Les serveurs sont très attentionnés et m’ont constamment resservi du thé. Ils sont souriants et de bonne humeur. Ils ne forcent jamais la dose (ce serait faire preuve d’une formation qui laisse à désirer), savent ce qu’ils sont supposés faire et s’exécutent avec excellence et sans histoires. Le Shang Palace sert ses plats dans une fine porcelaine Narumi au dessin unique de la maison. Manier la porcelaine était une véritable joie.

D’autres restaurants feraient bien d’aspirer aux hauteurs du Shang Palace.




无花果干贝炖鸡汤  (RM$35)


京蔥爆海參鮑魚角 (RM$198)




蝦茸干烧伊麵 (RM$38


杏仁燕窝 (RM$160)



Shopping in Batam; Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall

Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall is the largest mall in Batam.  It has 3 storeys and 2 anchor tenants- Hypermart (think a Carrefour-like store) and Matahari, which is a well-known department store throughout Indonesia.  There is a Food Street with small restaurants offering very affordable Indonesian and other Asian food.  There is also a multi-screen cinema. 

The shops sell mostly very affordable fashion.  I’m not confident of the quality though.  You can also find counterfeit leather goods here.  There are a couple of spas.  In the basement, you find computer and IT stores, including one or two shops selling pirated DVDs.      

The best bet for fashion is Matahari but even so the quality is not very good.  Around Nagoya you have more shops selling luggage, some restaurants, massage spas. 

It is easier to get there, harder to get away.  From Harbour Bay Terminal to Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall, a mere 5-minute drive, I managed to negotiate a cab for IDR$30,000.  Coming back to Swiss-Belhotel Harbour Bay, the taxi stand in front of the mall quoted me IDR$50,000.  Other taxis quoted me IDR$40,000.  They are not willing to come down on the price because they know there will be other tourists who will be willing to accept the price.  Finally, I walked out to the road in front of the mall.  A passenger car passing by stopped and agreed to take me back to Harbour Bay for IDR$30,000.

Seafood in Batam; Wey Wey Seafood

Many tourists head to Batam for cheap seafood.

Golden Prawn Seafood Restaurant is famous in Batam and known to Singaporeans for their seafood.  But according to Wikitravel, Golden Prawn “seems inexpensive to touristing Singaporeans but is well-known in Batam to be an expensive tourist trap. The seafood they serve may not be fresh, which they will attempt to mask by deep frying them.”

At Harbour Bay Ferry Terminal, there is a row of seafood restaurants right by the sea.  Most popular is Wey Wey Seafood.  It is so popular that they opened another restaurant Wey Wey2 two doors away. 

The prices at this entire row of seafood restaurants are not indicated on the menus.  In other words, the prices may fluctuate between different customers.  Here is a sample of the prices quoted for 1 pax portion at Hawaii Live Seafood , which is the restaurant sandwiched between Wey Wey and Wey Wey2.

Fried Seafood Noodles IDR$18,000

Steamed scallops IDR$50,000

BBQ Squid IDR$35,000

Verdict: The seafood at both Hawaii Live and Wey Wey is not very tasty and the quantity is little.  Worse, the seafood is just a notch above unfresh.  As such, though the prices seem cheap, the seafood is not really good value for money. 

Tip 1: ask for discount at the end of meal.  I asked for a discount and they gave me a 10% discount, and I only ordered 3 items.  If you ask for a discount when ordering, they simply give you less quantity. 

Tip 2: My hotel Swiss-Belhotel Harbour Bay was just a few steps away from the row of seafood restaurants.   It is recommended that you pack your food for take away back to your hotel room to avoid eating in the sour stench of sluice and sewage.

Getting to and from Batam from Singapore

There are many ferries from Harbourfront, Singapore to various ferry terminals in Batam.  If your main purpose in Batam is to shop, it is highly recommended to take a ferry terminal to Harbour Bay Ferry Terminal at Batam.  The main town of Nagoya, where all the shopping is, is only 5 mins away by taxi (IDR$30,000).  If you intend to visit beaches, perhaps Nongsa would be more suitable.  However, my personal recommendation is not to go to Batam for beaches as they are not pretty and can be quite dirty.  It is advisable to go to Bintan for beaches instead.

There are multiple trips everyday running between Harbour Bay, Batam and Harbourfront, Singapore.   Prima Ferries has one ferry departing from Harbourfront, Singapore approximately every hour.  Batam Fast has 4 trips departing from Harbourfront, Singapore per day.  Even if you buy a Prima Ferry ticket, sometimes, you still end up riding a ferry operated by Batam Fast.  Regardless of the ferry operator, a return trip ticket costs SGD$48 nett, inclusive of all taxes.  You can simply show up roughly an hour before departure and buy your ticket.  Ensure that you have the necessary visa to enter Indonesia.

Harbour Bay Ferry Terminal is the nearest ferry terminal to the main Batam town of Nagoya.  From Harbour Bay Terminal, it is only a 5 min taxi ride (IDR20,000) to Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall, the largest shopping mall in Batam.