Monday, December 29, 2008
Karimun is located just off the east coast of Sumatra, west of Batam and to the southwest of Singapore. It is the furthest west of the Riau Islands.
Its proximity to Singapore has made the islands quite affluent and busy. Its main town, Tanjung Balai is a bustling port town with a lot of commerce, boosted by tourists from Singapore and Malaysia.
There is unfortunately a downside to the bordertown boom. Like Batam and Bintan, Karimun is a favourite haunt for males from Singapore and Malaysia looking for cheap sex, often with underaged girls.
Penguin (Tel: +62-777-324300 in Tanjung Balai; +65-62714866 in HarbourFront) and Indofalcon (Tel: +65-62783167 in Harbourfront) ferry companies operate ferries between Tanjung Balai and Singapore's HarbourFront Centre. Between them, they run 3 trips on weekdays (From HarbourFront: 0800, 1420 and 1820. From Tanjung Balai: 0730, 1100 and 1700), increasing to 6 trips on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays (From HarbourFront: 0800, 0950, 1225, 1420, 1625 and 1820. From Tanjung Balai: 0715, 0945, 1130, 1315, 1530 and 1700). From Singapore, tickets cost S$43 return before Indonesian port taxes or Rp 110.000 one-way before port taxes (Rp 10.000) from Tanjung Balai. Journey time is about one and a half hours.
Please note that the two companies' code-sharing agreement allows you to board any ferry at Tanjung Balai for the return leg to Singapore only if you hold a return ticket that was purchased in Singapore. If you buy your ticket in Tanjung Balai, you can only board the ferry of the company from which you buy the ticket.
Several companies operate frequent ferries between Tanjung Balai and Kukup, pontian in the southwestern part of Johor.
* MV Ocean Indoma ferries leave Kukup at 1145 and 1700. From Tanjung Balai, ferries leave at 0930 and 1430.
* New ferry service operated by Esnergy Enterprise Sdn. Bhd. (Tel: +60-7-4288181 in Batu Pahat, +62-777-324355 in Tanjung Balai) links Tanjung Balai and Batu Pahat, the 2nd largest city in Johor State. From Batu Pahat, ferries depart at 0900, 1200 and 1500. Tickets cost RM70/95 one-way/return (excluding RM10 port tax/boarding fee). From Tanjung Balai, ferries leave at 0800, 1100 and 1400 and cost Rp 170.000/240.000 one-way/return (excluding Rp 10.000 port tax/boarding fee).
* Baitul Karim Mosque, Tanjung Balai.
* Vihara Cetiya Vidya Sagara 朱王庙, Jalan Jenderal A. Yani, Meral. This chinese temple was built in 1926.
* Vihara Sasana Diepa 妈祖宫, Jalan Jenderal A. Yani, Meral.
* Palawan Beach, a beautiful beach. There is a nice small restaurant under the palm trees, overlooking the sea. On Sundays and holidays, it is a popular destination for the locals.
* Pongkar Beach, another nice and beautiful beach. It's very refreshing and relax place that you have to visit when you are in Karimun
* Waterfall usually call Air Terjun, climbing to the top of the waterfall. Have a nice and clear water, barbecue at there, etc... Really fun :D
* Paradise Hotel: Jalan Setia Budi Tg.Balai/K, Kepri - Indonesia. Reflecting a warn, friendly ambience make you feel at home. For advance booking: +62-777-23111, 23222, 23333, 23555. http://www.paradise-karimun.5u.com
* Mirama Hotel: Jalan A.Yani No.08 (Sei Lakam) Tg.Balai/K, Kepri - Indonesia. A beautiful and well designed hotel with good quality of services. For advance booking: +62-777-325818, 325828.
* Gabion Hotel: Jalan Nusantara No. 45, Tanjung Balai. Close to the ferry terminal but hotel offers complimentary terminal pickup and drop off. Tel: +62-777-326222, 326250, 31874. Prices from S$22 or Rp. 120,000 inclusive of breakfast.
* Horizon, Jl Setia Budi, ☎ +62-777-324008. '''US$13''' or Rp120000. edit
* Holiday Karimun Hotel: Jalan Trikora Laut No. 1 Tanjung Balai (very near to the ferry terminal). Tel: +62-777-21065. Between Rp. 120.000 and Rp. 140.000.
* Maximillian: A new hotel opened, it is 7 storeys high, offers a karaoke lounge and much more. Tel: +62-777-328028 email: email@example.com Between S$28 and $S68.
* Paragon Hotel: Jalan Trikora No. 38D, Tanjung Balai (about 200m from the ferry terminal in the heart of Tanjung Balai, straddling one block between Jalan Trikora and Jalan Nusantara). Tel: +62-777-31488. Said to be the best hotel in Tanjung Balai. Between S$25 and S$40.
* Padi Mas Hotel: Jalan Pertambangan, Tanjung Balai (About 1-2Km from the ferry terminal).
* Victoria: Next to Gabion Hotel.Tel:+62-777-325777. Between Rp.100,000 and Rp. 140,000
* Wisma King Star, Jl Setia Budi, ☎ +62-777-22348. S$20 / Rp:100000. edit
* Hotel Rasa Indah: Jalan Nusantara No.127 B, Tanjung Balai Karimun-kepri,Indonesia. A 5 storeys Hotel, located near to many local outstanding Restaurants. Awesome services with economy prices from as low as S$18-S$25 or Rp.100,000-Rp.130,000 inclusive of breakfast(prices many varies). For more Information, please contact:+62-777-327687,27689.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Yesterday, three Singapore ferries carrying 20 to 30 Singaporeans arrived on the island famous for its pretty young things.
The arrivals surprised locals, who had been complaining of poor business during the police crackdown - a month of nightly raids which ended on May 15.
At least four hotels declared 'full house', and pimps were all smiles yesterday, different from the expressions they wore a day earlier.
By noon yesterday, 49 of 60 girls under one pimp's charge at a popular sex joint, Villa Kapling, had already been booked.
'Half my clients today were Singapore men. I am now left with only 11 girls. If you want, book one now. In an hour's time, when the next ferry arrives, there will be no more girls for you,' he told The Sunday Times.
The Singapore men were seen walking hand-in-hand with their 'cewek' (Indonesian girls) making their way to seafood restaurants around town.
Most just smiled and refused to talk when approached by this newspaper reporter. Others shook their heads when asked if they were looking for girls and walked away.
One said: 'Sorry, I do not know anything about the raids. This trip is my first time.' But locals familiar with him said he was a regular.
Another, a widower in his 60s, said he came with a friend and worked as a lorry driver.
'I like to come to Karimun to enjoy myself. We can have a good seafood meal for $20.
'Sometimes, I try to get an Indonesian girl to keep me company. Those from Java are very pretty, and they also know how to treat men nice,' he said.
He said he had heard about the raids from a friend and avoided coming.
But now, he thinks that everything is okay.
'I am not scared because the Karimun police will only catch the types who book the young ones.'
A Singaporean who looked to be in his 50s said he had visited the island only last week.
'The usual things, makan, sleep, sing. I am not choosy. I do not need a young girl, but she must be pretty,' he said.
'We Singaporeans come here not to do bad things. We pay everything for the girl. Now, I do not go out of hotel room. I just tell my driver to take the girl to the hotel, and we stay inside. We do not need to come out; it is not safe.'
One man was even defiant about his plans. He said he was here to eat, drink and have a good time, and there was nothing wrong with that.
Operasi Bunga Seligi 2007, the police raid, was the first of its kind on Karimun - and will certainly not be the last, said Karimun police chief Leonidas Braksan.
He said his team will decide if such raids will be conducted annually or more frequently.
In Indonesia, women aged 21 and below are considered minors unless they are married. The police chief said many of the 200 women rounded up during the operation were minors as young as 16 years old.
An Indonesian pimp who goes by the name Yus said: 'It is an open secret that majority of the girls here were young, 17, 18, 19 years old, before the operation.
'But now, no more young ones. They have all been sent back to their villages.'
He said that Singapore men make up 30 per cent of the clients at Villa Kapling.
When police raided the place sometime in May, close to 100 Singapore clients were at the scene.
'They were traumatised by the experience, although the police left them alone. Until today, some kept calling me to ask if it was safe to return,' he said.
Sixteen pimps - all Indonesians - alleged to have trafficked in women and young girls by force had been arrested, and were now awaiting their fate in court.
If found guilty, they each could be jailed for up to five years.
Mr Leonidas said: 'We welcome tourists, whether they are Singaporeans or Malaysians. We will not stop them from having a good time here as long as they do not exploit the women.'