Late last year my friends and I were looking for a quick getaway over the new year. We didn’t want to get into too much planning, and flight prices to popular destinations had by then gone way up. In the end we decided upon a fuss free 3 day 2 night kelong stay at nearby Batam. It was just right, manageably priced for a peak period trip, with almost nothing to plan or prepare for.
The kelong we decided upon was Blue Mountain Kelong. I’ll cover as much as I can on what we thought of the stay, the nice and not so nice things about it. We paid for our trip in full (no sponsor) so you won’t have to worry about objectivity!
Blue Mountain Kelong
Blue Mountain Kelong is situated next to a small island near Batam, some distance (but not too far away) from civilisation. If you had not heard of them, kelongs are offshore platforms commonly found around Malaysia and Indonesia, usually as fish farms or for fishing. In recent times, many have been built for holidaying purposes as well.
Blue Mountain Kelong does rear some fish on the kelong but most of the platform is dedicated to accommodation. The kelong is attached to a small island by a long wooden pier, and is in a fixed structure so you won’t have to worry about seasickness or being stranded at sea. Perfect from escaping the bustle of the city without having to get too far!
Prices and Payment for Blue Mountain Kelong
There are guest rooms (4 beds, 1 toilet) and family rooms (8 beds, 2 toilets) available, for either 2 day 1 night or 3 day 2 night stays. Here are the rates (for accommodation, food and activities but excluding transport) as of December 2017:
2 Day 1 Night, normal rate: SGD188 per pax (Quad share room, total SGD752)
2 Day 1 Night, peak* rate: SGD208 per pax (Quad share room, total SGD832)
3 Day 2 Nights, normal rate: SGD218 per pax (Quad share room, total SGD872)
3 Day 2 nights, peak* rate SGD238 per pax (Quad share room, total SGD952)
* peak rate applies for Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year holidays
Children under 12 years old are charged SGD40 less per pax, and if you have a group of 8 you get SGD8 off per pax.
We picked Blue Mountain Kelong as the minimum number of people was 4, compared to other kelongs which sometimes need up to a minimum of 10 to go. As you can see from the prices, it isn’t exactly cheap, but for something last minute on a peak holiday period it was still manageable.
Correspondence with Blue Mountain Kelong was through email at [email protected], replies were prompt and payment was via bank transfer (iBanking or ATM).
Blue Mountain Kelong also helped to arranged for the ferry through a travel agent at SGD38 per pax for return tickets from Habourfront Ferry Terminal in Singapore to Batam Centre. Payment was made separately to the travel agent and not through Blue Mountain Kelong. Likewise, payment can be made via bank transfer (iBanking or ATM) and on top of that there is also an option to pay at the travel agent’s (Lokopoko) office at Burlington Square in Singapore.
Lots of text here but really, not that much of a hassle with some emails and internet transfers.
Getting to Blue Mountain Kelong
With that we were good to go! Getting out of any of the non-air checkpoints from Singapore on any holiday period can be very busy. The ferry departed at 9.30am and in about an hour we arrived in Batam. The queue probably took another half or an hour more (likely much faster off peak). Didn’t had much trouble locating the manager who held up a sign beyond the customs, but some of the other guests got lost and he took some time to find them. Nonetheless, all was good and we were soon on the full van to transit to another pier for the ferry to the island.
The rest was smooth, and we arrived at the kelong just before lunch, ready for our digital detox.
All 3 meals are included in the price, as well as an afternoon snack and unlimited coffee and tea. There are also beer and soft drinks available for purchase. Lunch and dinners were sort of a small buffet style, with 4 or 5 dishes with rice. Food was decent but don’t expect a spectacular spread.
None of the dishes were repeated for our 3 day stay, so things were kept fresh in both meanings of the word.
As there are no shops around for you to get your comfort foods, it may be a good idea to pack some instant drinks and snacks to enjoy on your relaxing stay. Hot water is always available. One thing though, it will be a good idea to secure your food/snacks in plastic bags, out of sight and smell. We found holes in unopened packet drinks we brought, and as they were on a table on a kelong with dogs, we suspected that it was the work of bats rather than rats. None sound comforting but fortunately that was the rare not so nice things on the kelong.
Some of the activities offered/ we did were:
Afternoon on a secluded beach
A visit to a white sandy beach with calm waters nice for swimming/ chilling, which was a short boat ride away from the kelong. This was on the first afternoon we arrived, some time after lunch and back before afternoon snacks. There wasn’t much of a beach at the island the kelong was located, but the beach we visited was lovely to spend a couple of hours on.
Jungle trekking across the island
A guided hike on the island where the island is located, which didn’t happen due to inclement weather on the morning of the second day. We explored the island on our own later that day, checking out some of the plants and vegetables the kelong staff grew for the fresh meals, and soaking in some of the rustic feel. That ended suddenly as mosquito swarms closed in and we made a hasty retreat to the kelong. All that repellant we prepared had nothing on these bugs.
Nightly squid fishing. Not that much to get involved but more to witness. We often enjoy sotong in Singapore but I had never seen any alive or how they were caught so that was an experience, though not that friendly an experience watching animals killed.
You can also fish all day at the kelong, and they do provide bait as well as small rods for free. For those with some experience you might want to bring your own rods as the free ones are quite flimsy.
Relax/ Drink Tea or Coffee/ Read
If you’re not that into fishing, like my friends and I, the kelong is perfect for lazing around. The chairs on the open wooden decks or on the attached balcony overlooking the sea are great for reading.
There are also some hammocks to laze on, and as mentioned, more tea and coffee to go with the reading/ chilling.
Traditional massage can also be arranged for 150,000Rp per hour (the above mentioned activities are free). These are done by old local women so on top of being able to contribute a little back to the community, their experience and strength should make the massage pretty worth it.
There were more activities listed on the brochure Blue Mountain Kelong sent me that we didn’t do, maybe due to the bad weather around the end of the year, such as snorkelling, coastal walks, campfires and stargazing. Not sure if snorkelling/swimming near the kelong is a good idea though, as toilets at the kelong flush straight down to the sea below.
If you’re looking a for a short getaway near Singapore, away from the traffic and noise of they city, Blue Mountain Kelong may be the place you’re looking for. While most comforts required for a short stay are available, it is not the place for a luxurious 5 star stay. Decently clean, friendly staff, great for unwinding before heading back to the craziness of the city again!