This post is purely a blog – my yearly experience of getting from Bangalore to Batam Riau, Indonesia to meet my parents. For a guide to getting to Batam from India, read my Batam travel guide here.
India to Batam, a 23-hour journey? No, even the longest flights take over 6 hours to make that distance! If you wish to skip to the part where I take a 4-hour Air India flight from Bangalore to Singapore, then click here to jump right over.
This begins from my hometown, Dharwad, around 450 km from Bangalore where I usually board my flight to Changi Airport.
India to Batam: Getting to Bangalore
The most efficient route is Dharwad to Bangalore, Bangalore to Singapore, and finally Singapore to Batam Riau, Indonesia. One can take connecting flights via Hubli (20 km from Dharwad) to Bengaluru which lasts a modest 1 hour.
But with a comfortable budget, I typically take a sleeper bus from Dharwad to Majestic, Bangalore. Redbus is my go-to site for buses. As for pricing, as long as the bus is a sleeper coach and doesn’t have odd timings like 3 a.m. arrivals, I don’t mind much. So my bus booking costs around Rs. 700 to 900 depending on the peaks.
It’s a 7-8 hour journey to Bangalore. Traveling solo most of the time, I love the routine and my itinerary. I always carry a backpack – the one with my laptop and a heap of chargers. And of course, another large trolley bag with clothes. I usually wave goodbye to whoever drops me off at the bus stand and plug in my earphones right after looking out the window.
Dozing off at some point, my vision gets back when the bus conductor screams out stops in Bangalore – Majestic! Yeshwanthpur!
Staying a Night in Bangalore
Unlike my usual visits to Bengaluru (as of 2023, I live here), I alight at Anand Rao Circle and head straight for a place to stay. There are a number of cheap accommodations anywhere from Rs. 400 to Rs. 900 per night around the Majestic area. More so near the long trip buses like VRL and SRS bus stands.
First off, why stay in Bangalore? No, I wasn’t here to stay the night. The flight to Singapore from the Kempegowda Airport are usually (and preferrably) at night. A 4-hour flight in daytime isn’t something I’d look forward to. Thus I stay in Bangalore till dusk and then head to the airport for my flight.
As for staying, one can no doubt choose staying with someone they know in Bangalore. That’s what most do. Not having close relatives’ places that I could crash at back when living in Dharwad, I’d get a room to freshen up, keep my luggage in a spot and then go some place in Bangalore.
Here’s one morning of how my day in Bangalore goes.
With almost two hours in my hand, I had a quick bath at a cheap hotel. Then I stepped out to get some breakfast. Filling up my belly with Idli Vada- something I love for breakfast- I walked back to the hotel where my bags were still waiting for me. It was still 7:30 now… so what did I do now?
I went back to my room and dozed off and had a beautiful dream… a dream with my backpack laying by my feet. When I woke up, it was 8:45 am.
Run for a bus and obnoxious misers
The Majestic bus stop was new to me. A guy at the hotel reception had told me to find the bus stop ‘Vayu Vajra’. I thought it’d be easy but when I looked for the signboards, they seemed to be endless. After asking a wary old policeman, a confused bus conductor, and Google Maps, I managed to find it. Vayu Vajra, the government-run AC airport buses are much different from local ones.
They have a large baggage area at the middle. I tucked the big bag in the luggage spot and took a seat. The spot I chose to sit had opposite facing seats. Assuming I’d have a smooth ride, I laid back relaxed. That’s until two uncles in their forties took their seats before me. Adios to my peace.
The ticket to the airport from Majestic costs Rs. 235. Trying to avoid the extra charges on luggage, the uncles decided to place their baggages on their feet, and mine too. Kept one at their feet (and my feet) and kept another huge bag on their laps. You’re heading to the airport, how much would you save!
I put my earphones back on and sat in the congested seat of mine for the rest of the 45 minutes.
India to Batam: Kempegowda Airport
Quite frankly, nothing very interesting at the airport. That featured image I took on the top of this article was in a washroom at the airport. Speaking of the washroom, something did happen in the washroom. After that selfie, I came out with my phone and my backpack and sat down on an oversized sofa by a ceiling to floor window. I played the Google Chrome’s Dino game for a while and then strangely, a cleaning staff member called me… into the washroom.
He had a dark burly but stout figure with a suspicious-looking mustache. The way he gestured me to come wasn’t suspicious- it was scary. “Aye!” he called out in a deep voice. I followed him back into the dimly lit washroom. There was no one else there. Once I was in, he turned around and glared at me. Before I could respond (I couldn’t respond actually), he lifted his right finger and pointed at a small black notebook-like object sitting by the sink.
“Ahh… um… thanks… bro.. uncle.” I stammered. That small object was my passport, boarding ticket, and visa- all the stuff that one need in order to fly… or go anywhere. I didn’t say anything more, picking up the passport and its contents, I fled from the washroom.
Behind me, I could hear the man laughing in his booming but innocent voice. Still cringy!
Air India after almost a decade
I’ve usually flown over from the past years with Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, Tiger. Air India had been closed for the Bengaluru-Changi route for quite a while. I missed it… especially its ‘free’ food facilities. So after a long long time, Air India really felt great to be in. I got an aisle seat for the 4-hour 40-minutes journey but it was fine as long as there was a lot of leg space below. Leg space in flights such as Tiger is very little!
Last time with Tiger, I had to squeeze my legs in to sit and a plump guy beside me had his legs outside the plane window.
India to Batam: Using Grab
My parents and my little bro were there to see me at the airport. We booked a cab with the app- Grab. Just the way Bengaluru had Ola and Uber, Singapore had Grab. A 7-seater Mazda picked us up. I looked around. It was big enough to be a tiny caravan itself. But still, it managed to maintain a steady speed between 80 to 110 Kph. All vehicles in Singapore were supposed to drive at this speed anyway.
We were going through a long tube tunnel when I spotted a sports bike running beside us – a Ducati. The person riding it had a helmet on with a chest almost touching the engine. My mom looked at the position and absently said, “Instead of getting that and riding with such difficulty, he could have bought himself a car.”
My dad was observing and slowly replied, “That’s a ‘she’…”
At that moment, the tunnel ended and the lady riding it shifted gears and boomed past us and all the vehicles in front of us in a matter of seconds. I looked at our Mazda cab’s speedometer. It was 110Kph. The bike was nowhere to be seen now. Some did live their dreams here.
India to Batam: Ferry Ride
From Singapore to Batam Riau, we can take a ferry from HarbourFront… or just swim across the water. But considering that it takes an hour to reach Batam even with the ferry, it is better not to swim.
It was late at night and we barely managed to make it to HarbourFront in time. We went for the last ferry available… and we were also the last passengers to get in. In fact, our names were called over the loudspeakers for the last call!
Batam at first didn’t seem to have changed much from the past two years. But as my dad sped on the roads, there were constructions going on everywhere. Roads were becoming larger. More restaurants, more high-rising apartments, and definitely more vehicles on the streets now. The standard of living had risen and still is rising and the mass majority could afford cars now. The traffic clearly indicated that.
I wrote a travel blog/guide on Batam Riau last year(not 1970) for the Travelista Club. But I guess I have to write another guide now! We’ll see about that later, shall we?
India to Batam: Pin this blog for later: