30 July 2014, by Darren Lim
Earlier in June, we travelled to Nongsa, Batam for a short getaway with the family and extended family from Evelyn’s side. We invited Evelyn’s parents to join us to sail together and they readily accepted the invitation.
Apart from one other trip we did about three years ago to Swatow, China, this was probably the only other trip we were doing together again. The kids were excited that grandpa and grandma were joining us on the trip and they all volunteered to offer their rooms to their grandparents to sleep in. We set off at around one o’clock in the afternoon and arrived at Nongsa Point Marina in the late evening.
Passengers (my parents-in-law included) who have plied this route before always ask us why we even bother — it would save so much more time if we just paid the ferry ticket and got there in 45 minutes instead of our four-hour long trip! But we think sailing is the way to go because it is during this time when you have a captive audience for whatever you wish to do with your kids.
We had a relatively smooth ride there and all my four ‘water-legged’ children did exceptionally well with no one complaining of sea-sickness. It was already in the evening when we arrived at Nongsa Point Marina, so we settled for a quick dinner, took a quick bath and went to bed.
Usually, we would make a trip down to city centre so we could do some grocery shopping and enjoy authentic Batam food. This time round, as we were following a fleet of sail boats from Changi Sailing Club to explore the nearby island, Tanjong Piayu, we gave that a miss and spent the next morning preparing ourselves for the 4-hour sail to Tanjong Piayu while the kids went to play in the pool. It might sound like it is another long ride, but every minute of that 4 hours was worth it!
When we arrived, the sight that greeted us was what I would only see in books and magazines! Those rustic villages and sweet smiling faces beckoning to the sea farers passing by, were more than enough reason to forego our usual routine and brave the unfamiliar waters! We had seafood (of course) that evening and the children got a chance to experience what life was like for the villagers there — dirt tracks, toilets that were simply cubicles with a hole on the floor that led straight to the sea!
Everything was basic and amenities simple, that was the way of life for the people there and I want my children to see that. In fact, that is the reason why we wanted to sail in the first place, to go off the beaten path of tourists to see and experience life from a different point of view. Not to compare ourselves with them and expect our kids to count their blessings that we have clean sanitation, air conditioning, etc. But to appreciate how different life can be for others and to be open and receptive to their culture and way of life.
We anchored off near the fishing village that evening and slept under the stars that night (at least until the houseflies started getting onto our nerves and we moved back to the rooms). I must say the kids enjoyed themselves very much! It was going to be a long ride home the next day but fortunately the children have learnt creative ways to entertain themselves.
All in all, it had been a wonderful trip and a lovely sailing experience. All great journeys always start with the first step — my dream is to sail the world, I believe I have just taken that first tiny step!