Balik Kampong!!! (Jambi Series)

What’s Abd?!!


26 October 2008

I thought that I could probably sleep in and wake up 30 minutes before checking-out but I guess that dad had planned something else. He decided to give me a wake-up call at 0730hrs and invited me down for breakfast with him.

Honestly, I wasn’t impressed with the breakfast served. There were just a few dishes and it was all high carbohydrates and too heavy for my empty tummy to take in. In the end, I decided to just drink a cup of hot tea and munch on some snack that my dad had bought earlier.

[The view from the breakfast table]

While eating breakfast, I realized that there was a buzz of activity at the road our hotel was facing. I remember that when I arrived back at the hotel the previous night with my family, there were push carts selling handicrafts and when I got home later in the morning at 0230hrs, the whole road had turned into a street market selling fruits and vegetables.

[At the market]

Finally now, in the late morning, stalls had been set up selling 2nd hand merchandise. I guess the activity along this road never stops and is fully occupied all the time. I decided to venture on my own to the dry market just a few metres down after finishing my tea.

[Some 2nd hand stalls]

As I walked past the 2nd hand makeshift stalls, I discovered that the items being sold ranged from toys to bedsheets even to clothes. Shoes were also being sold and it was all 2nd hand, possibly even more than 3rd or 4th hand based on the visual look of the condition of the items. I guess that people here live a hard yet happy life. If life for you trying to sell things is too difficult, then just be a parking attendant because for every car that parks in the area that you manage, you stand to get Rp1000. That’s S$0.15 per car that’s parked. It’s an easy job and its suitable for those who want to lead an easy life but of course, your earnings is dependent on the number of vehicles that patronize your area. The more cars that come and go at a shorter time period, the better for you.

[The Hotel Room]

At 1030hrs, we checked-out and squuezed into the Avanza as we headed towards the airport. The airport, named Hang Nadim, is a very simple airport. People who come to send friends or relatives are not allowed into the terminal. You only get to stand outside to say your good-byes. As soon as we checked-in, we had breakfast and explored whatever that could be explored, which wasn’t much. There was easily less than 20 retail stores in the airport and most of the branded goods being sold, are fake, likewise for the rest of Batam.

How do I know this?

Because how else would a Louis Vuitton bag or Burberry bag cost less than SGD$100.

I was told by Eddy that most of the branded fake watches are imported from Singapore or Italy. I’m not sure how Singapore came into the picture because I have never seen a fake Rolex, Tag Heuer or Guess watch being sold in Singapore. According to Eddy, the watches from Italy could last for a good 2 – 3 years if you don’t quite take care of it. Otherwise, it could last a pretty long time. I’m not sure about the bags but my dad told me that they have factories in Bandung, Indonesia which produce such duplicates. These duplicates are of AA or A grade to that of the original.

[In Hang Nadim Airport, Batam, Indonesia]

Okay so anyways, we boarded our flight, Kartika Airlines at 1300hrs. This airline is a new airline according to my dad. The airstewardess wore these wings on their chest. There was something amiss though, all the wings were short of a wing!! Not quite qualified to be a full-pledged stewardess I suppose? I’m not sure but one of the stewardesses name was… get this okay… LEFTY.

I’m serious!!

I wanted to burst out laughing when I read her name. LEFTY!!!

Trying to tell us something I suppose?

Lefties only?? hahahah

So we safely touched down at Jambi airport, Sultan Thaha airport 30-minutes after taking off. Phew… We were received by Pak Hassim, my dad’s good friend who would also be our driver for our entire stay in Jambi. Now, Pak Hassim as it seems, comes from a very rich family. His grandfather owned practically the whole of Jambi island! I refused to believe it until much later during our stay that I was introduced to the land that he had sold off or donated, which included cemetries, the airport and several other government buildings.

Now, this man’s daughter was the one my dad had wanted to introduce me to. The first agenda on our list upon arrival was to settle our flight tickets back home especially since there’s only 3 flights here a week from Batam. Flights are all by Kartika Airlines and there’s only one or two flights per day on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. You can also fly out if there’s enough passenger on board the chartered flight of Riau Airlines. BIL and my sister wanted to leave early because they had to go back to work on Tuesday. Now, that meant that they had to take the flight back home the following day. Fortunately, there was ONE ticket left on board Riau Airlines back to Batam on Monday. The officer told us that we could try our luck on Monday morning as there would be passengers who cancel their flight, thus allowing my sister to follow.

The ticket cost Rp690, 000. That’s SGD$104.55. Not bad ahh… My ticket on Wednesday cost me Rp500, 000 which is SGD$75.75.

Once we settled the tickets, we headed to the market to get some dry food stuff that we’ll be needing for the our stay. Some cooking oil, sugar and other necessities were purchased at Pasar Baru Talang Banjar Jambi (Talang Banjar is the district name. Pasar Baru means New Market.)

Upon arrival at our home, we were greeted by several people who had since occupied one of our empty units. The man of the house, Hussein, was my dad’s manager. He had been managing our assets in Jambi and was a reliable man to assist in running of the day to day business of fish rearing, rental of units and plantation. We quickly settled in and then headed to the plantation.

The plantation obviously hasn’t been tended to for a very long time as there was plenty of marshes and lalangs that had overgrown. We wanted to make a quick check on what fruits had grown and could be brought back to be eaten. We brought back ripe rambutans, papayas and coconuts to be eaten. I got into action once there, and turned on my climbing mode as I soared up a few metres the papaya tree to pluck a few papayas. It’s not high lar, just about one metre high that I climbed. Hehe…

Later that night, I went to Prima Mall to window shop and damn, things are really cheap there!

I find it rather impossible to believe that you can buy a Fender Bass guitar for Rp250, 000. That’s SGD$37.80!? Hahaha…

I really have no idea if it’s real or not. The first night was welcomed with a blackout as well.

One thing I’m not accustomed to though, is sleeping early!

The gate to our house is locked by 2100hrs and everyone is asleep by 2200hrs.

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