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Ramadan on Batam: everything closed down NAGOYA - The first of September of this year was the official start of the Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for Moslems in Indonesia. In general this comes with all kinds of threats from - in general - radical elements in the society that some places should better shut down for the entire month or otherwise be visited by people that are not visitors or customers. Fortunately those people are not the majority nor the government in this country, thus the local government on Batam has decided that the two weeks of obliged shut-downs is to be limited to only four days; the first day of fasting, the 17th day and the days of Idul Fitri (also known as the Arabic term Eid-ul Fitr). This however is the official regulation, outside that it will still be different than people hoped for.

A roadside banner wishing passers-by a good Ramadhan.  indahnesia.com
A roadside banner wishing passers-by a good Ramadhan. indahnesia.com

However Batam is not a tourist destination at all, there will always be 'expats' on the island who work here several weeks to several months in general. Singaporean people are also to be found on the island, but outside that, it is fairly quiet. There is also nothing to do for tourists, so you will probably end up in one of the local bars in the nightlife district of Nagoya, locally better known as 'Kampung Bule' because of the many foreigners that frequent the area during the evening hours of their working days. Starting the first of September, things changed however. Where fronts of restaurants and cafe's were closed during daytime, most stayed closed during the evening hours as well. The first night was dark and quiet. Day two started like day one started as well. Everything was closed and however closed in Indonesia doesn't mean shut down, it was obvious that Ramadan had started.

The first night I spent time with a friend - not because of boredom have to add - in the Mercure Hotel in Nagoya to have a drink. However the club of the hotel as closed, the bar still served beer and liquor from behind the main counter. Mainly hotels do have something of a special position because they at least have to serve their - few - customers some alcohol if they request that. The remaining ingredients of a night out in the club had to be forgotten for now because they also had to keep everything closed down for the fasting Moslems. No problem of course because without music, a nice atmosphere and some women beer does taste nice as well. Beer from cans was served, nothing else was available, whatever the reason might be.

Shop fronts of restaurants, but especially bars and pubs are closed during daytime, where they normally open early in the afternoon.  indahnesia.com
Shop fronts of restaurants, but especially bars and pubs are closed during daytime, where they normally open early in the afternoon. indahnesia.com

However I am mainly on Batam to bring a visit and to make some pictures on the way home from Kuala Lumpur, that does not mean that I don't do anything else outside these things in my agenda. I don't join with the Ramadan, but I have the respect for those who are doing it, but sometimes I ask myself why all those temptations have to be hidden. It sometimes seems like the average Muslem doesn't have enough encouragement to join the Ramadan, especially when the non-Islamic part of the population and some foreigners continue with their own lives. Or is it just that small group of radical people that is trying to enforce their interpretation of regulations on everyone else?

External link
Batam allows nightspots to open during Ramadan



Posted in Ramadan @ 05 September 2008 by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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