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From The Star http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2010/7/31/lifetravel/6503317&sec=lifetravel

Bountiful Batam
By Thomas E. King

Inexpensive and accessible, Batam attracts droves of Malaysians and Singaporeans who come for the shopping, golfing, nightlife and dining.

Inhabited by sea people since the early third century, Indonesia’s island of Batam was home to only a handful of fisher folk until 40 years ago. But what a difference four decades makes — this prominent isle in the Riau group south of Johor Baru now has more than 800,000 residents and receives even more tourists.

Malaysians make up a substantial number of annual arrivals, many of whom may not know there’s a historic link to the island.

No, it’s not a ship — it’s a themed hotel built to replicate an ocean vessel.

Batam, as well as neighbouring Bintan, were once part of the Johor Riau Sultanate which spread from Johor and across Sumatra. Though lacking a high-profile tourism identity and not able to boast of mega-attractions, balmy Batam nonetheless pulls in the numbers. More than a million visitors arrived last year to partake in Batam’s four prime pursuits: shopping, sports, nightlife and dining.

My wife and I were among the multitudes sampling happily some of the island’s many lures. Our introduction to Batam’s excellent and inexpensive dining scene came as we gorged on gong gong, a seafood delicacy that’s unique to Riau. We spent our pleasant first evening savouring seafood specialities at one of several dozen open-air waterfront restaurants that line a dining precinct at the new Harbour Bay development in Nagoya, the island’s commercial centre.

Nagoya — the name is derived from the time when teams of Japanese workers camped there — is nightlife central.

In fact, this business, shopping and entertainment hub of Batam claims to have one of the highest caf
From The Star <a href="http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2010/7/31/lifetravel/6503317&amp;sec=lifetravel" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2010/7/31/lifetravel/6503317&amp;sec=lifetravel</a><br /> <br /> <span style="font-size: 14pt"><span style="font-weight: bold">Bountiful Batam</span></span><br /> By Thomas E. King<br /> <br /> Inexpensive and accessible, Batam attracts droves of Malaysians and Singaporeans who come for the shopping, golfing, nightlife and dining.<br /> <br /> Inhabited by sea people since the early third century, Indonesia&rsquo;s island of Batam was home to only a handful of fisher folk until 40 years ago. But what a difference four decades makes &mdash; this prominent isle in the Riau group south of Johor Baru now has more than 800,000 residents and receives even more tourists.<br /> <br /> Malaysians make up a substantial number of annual arrivals, many of whom may not know there&rsquo;s a historic link to the island.<br /> <br /> No, it&rsquo;s not a ship &mdash; it&rsquo;s a themed hotel built to replicate an ocean vessel.<br /> <br /> Batam, as well as neighbouring Bintan, were once part of the Johor Riau Sultanate which spread from Johor and across Sumatra. Though lacking a high-profile tourism identity and not able to boast of mega-attractions, balmy Batam nonetheless pulls in the numbers. More than a million visitors arrived last year to partake in Batam&rsquo;s four prime pursuits: shopping, sports, nightlife and dining.<br /> <br /> My wife and I were among the multitudes sampling happily some of the island&rsquo;s many lures. Our introduction to Batam&rsquo;s excellent and inexpensive dining scene came as we gorged on gong gong, a seafood delicacy that&rsquo;s unique to Riau. We spent our pleasant first evening savouring seafood specialities at one of several dozen open-air waterfront restaurants that line a dining precinct at the new Harbour Bay development in Nagoya, the island&rsquo;s commercial centre.<br /> <br /> Nagoya &mdash; the name is derived from the time when teams of Japanese workers camped there &mdash; is nightlife central.<br /> <br /> In fact, this business, shopping and entertainment hub of Batam claims to have one of the highest caf
KuKuKaChu: dangerously too sophisticated
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