Visiting Batam: Life Lessons from Tanjung Uma


Many people, especially those in developed countries like Singapore, believe that children learn best when they’re sent to top schools and renowned tuition centres.

They’d ‘race’ to fill these little ones’ minds with the ‘best knowledge’.

While I am one who encourages my kids to read books and give their best at school too, both Wilson and I also strongly believe that children (and us!) learn MORE from life’s experiences.

Things that we ourselves see, feel, experience and share with others. And hopefully, things that also touch the heart and not just fill the mind.

It was because of this reason that we decided to check out Tanjung Uma with the kids during our recent Batam trip.

We left the hotel on foot after breakfast and went looking for it.

We traveled as light as possible (Wilson only brought his camera bag, and I only had a disposable plastic water bottle stuffed into my shorts’ left pocket and my Canon Powershot S90 in my right pocket).

After asking for directions (and getting ourselves lost) a few times, we finally found Tanjung Uma.

We were greeted with a sight that we would never see in a clean, organised city like Singapore.

Wooden boats, both abandoned and still working ones. Muddy tracks. Countless bits of trash and used plastic bags, on land and in the waters.

While we’re there, we decided to visit the homes where the locals live across the waters too.

And so there we were, booking a manually-pedaled ’river taxi’ for Rp. 5000 (S$0.80)

In the photo below, Anya was already seated on our little boat, while one of the locals helped and carried Vai down the steep wooden ladder. We had to step onto the swaying parked boats first to get onto our boat on the right.

It was about 11am to 12 pm when we were there, I think. It was scorching hot, but the weather was great!

I totally LOVE the blue sky and bits of fluffy white clouds.

The four of us sat on this tiny little wooden boat while the fisherman stood and pedaled.

Because of the reflection, the waters might have looked nice and blue in the photos, but in reality, the waters is black in colour. The stench was strong and the amount of trash in the waters was just sad.

Wilson and I weren’t bothered about it though, and I guess that was why Anya and Vai didn’t complain about it either.

We’re more interested in capturing the experience on camera and sharing the adventure with the little ones.

Upon reaching the village, one of things that immediately caught my attention was the wooden bridge that connects all the homes (all of them are supported by wooden pillars).

The wooden planks were all wobbly!

Some are widely spaced out, and many of them have cracks or big holes!

[And I ended up being the slowest walker around!]

It’s amazing how some of the locals actually ride their motorbikes around the village and ON these bridges!

Now, below is a photo of Vai purposely standing on a plank and WOBBLING it like he was on a surfboard or something!


I was like, Vai … stop doing that!

And I just rolled my eyes and sat back when he went and continued doing what he was doing anyway.

While Wilson ventured deeper into the village, the kids and I bought some canned drinks from a shop.

And that was when we made new friends: Zidan, Zikri, Agung and Utari.

They have NO computer games nor mobile phones to play with, but I think THAT what makes them play more with each other.

Real conversations and social interactions with fellow villagers.

Something that we city people need to do more, I think.

When it was time for us to leave, the kids sent us to our boat. They laughed, waved and asked if we could take more photos of them *smile*

Anya asked questions through out the trip.

Why weren’t they wearing any shoes? What do the people do everyday? Why did the baby sleep with no clothes on? Where do the whole family sleep if their home is that small?

We tried to answer her questions. And if we didn’t know why, we told her that too.

We explained to Anya and Vai how different people have different lifestyles, how we need to be respectful towards people from different walks of life, how we need to always be thankful for what we have and not complain about what we don’t have.

I might not know how much Anya and Vai learned from this Tanjung Uma experience. But the one thing I know for sure is, Anya and Vai would NOT have learned anything if we had not gone over to the village and had the experience ourselves.

As for me, well … this particular trip to Tanjung Uma was one of the memorable ones.

Beats going to the malls, I’d say.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.