The prelude to the ride proper is a ride to Harbourfront, followed by a two-hour ferry ride. The bewilderment begins upon landing.
The hassle: It doesn't matter that I can get into Indonesia visa-free. Upon landing, a man in uniform walks up, checks my passport and says that as I hadn't been to Kundu before, I have to pay up. After I pay him, he asks for tips. Another man demands $10 for pushing my bike out of customs, though I didn't ask him for the service. And you've got to register with the area chief with a photocopy of your passport and more money. Somewhere out there in the boondocks, a man in a helmet and flak jacket yells at me. He's appeased after I wave a greeting to him. Back in Singapore, I'm almost abducted as the ferry pulls away even though my pals say I'm still on board. I take a running jump and barely make it on shore.
The businessman: Bikerboey's contact, SB, is an "Indiana Jones" entrepreneur. He's been around the region sussing out a place "to make a few bucks". He sinks in $300,000 into Sawang Beach, catering to the expatriate market in Batam until the heyday was over. He's in the construction business and was involved in building Bridge #1 at Barelang.