Pekanbaru Day 5: Breakfast at Novotel, Shopping at Mal Ciputra Seraya and 88 Plaza

novotel pekanbaru

Breakfast at Novotel Pekanbaru starts at 6am and lasts till 10am. I think it’s probably the lull season in January. We stepped into the restaurant at around 7am and there were just a few occupied tables. Novotel’s breakfast spread offers many kinds of porridge (chicken, pitan, etc) and rice. Of course, for the angmohs, there’s also toast, muffins and a cereal bar. I thoroughly enjoyed the beef and mushroom porridge and had two servings! πŸ˜€ I think there are only two things about Novotel Pekanbaru that I like: the location and their breakfast spread! πŸ˜€

novotel pekanbaru breakfast

lontong and beef+mushroom porridge

novotel pekanbaru review

novotel pekanbaru food

The lontong was a little overly salty but I loved everything else, especially that cute porcupine or anteater shaped pau. The cut fruits are stored in the chiller, making them easy to miss. The melon also seemed a tad unripe. As for the pineapple, if you know how to select the ripe bits, it tastes delightful! *burp*

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Checkout takes a while at the Novotel so make sure you only book your ride after you are done. The front desk staff need to communicate with housekeeping staff above and then again and again before finally releasing the deposit. My three crisp 100,000rp notes which I’d handed over for the deposit were returned to me in the form of six old 50,000rp notes. Bummer.

For some reason, old (crumpled, creased, stained) notes are not phased out. And as tourists (obviously), you might often find yourself the recipient of old notes. But it is ok, just hand them to the driver for your next Grab ride. So far, no one has refused any old notes… unlike in Singapore – you know how our aunties are.

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Since our flight was at 6.30pm, we decided to do some last-minute shopping before heading to the airport. That’s easy since Mal Ciputra Seraya is just next door.

And there’s always time for another LIANG sandwich:

liang sandwich bar pekanbaru

We went back to LIANG and found that they take really long to prepare your order. The lady before us had placed her order, gone into the cafe next door and started working on her laptop. I was impressed at how customers can order from LIANG and eat in Cinnamon & Coffee, after ordering a beverage of course.

The LIANG “sandwich” (which is more of like a prata than a crepe or sandwich) has scallions in it. So it is different from the plain ones we are able to buy frozen from supermarkets. Smart! This means we will still have a reason to visit LIANG’s outlets.

The Nyonya Spicy Chicken tasted just so-so. The previous one I had with mayo and mushrooms tasted a lot better.

Then we went shopping…

At the Polo Ralph Lauren shop, we found just one female staff seated on a stool near the changing rooms. No greeting. No recommendation. And interestingly enough, I found the top I had held up the day before and placed back down at an awkward angle was still there in the exact same awkward angle on the same pile. 🀣 Looks like no one bothered to fold the clothes properly even though customers would see them the minute they entered the store.

When my darling asked if a particular top came in a larger size, she replied with a simple “no”. She didn’t need to check, had no other styles that came in a larger size and that she’d recommend.

The good thing is she doesn’t do any selling. So you can take your time and look through everything on display. She really doesn’t care.

I’m not saying all sales staff are like that. There is one particular boutique next to a shop selling teddy bears whereby the staff stand outside the shop to invite customers to enter. We went past a couple of times and I had to avoid looking them in the eye.

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We then took a different exit from Mal Ciputra Seraya and next, a very short walk to 88 Plaza. It’s like Sheng Siong. With slightly cheaper snacks. Masks were flying off the shelves there! We saw one shopping trolley with 5 or 6 boxes of masks. And there were more people picking up the last few boxes near the cashier. Apparently, the Indonesians are panicking just like us in Singapore.

After heading back to the hotel, repacking our luggage and chilling a bit in the lounge, we took aΒ Grab ride to the airport and it cost just 46K – cheaper than the ride from the airport! Along the way, we saw people peddlingΒ keropok once your vehicle stops at traffic junctions.

Here’s a lady who’d come right up to your vehicle to ask if you’d like to buy keropok:

pekanbaru traffic junction keropok seller

When we finally reached the airport, we located the Information Counter and confirmed that there’s no departure tax and we were free to spend all our remaining rupiah. πŸ˜€

We then found a cafe that looks quite popular and has an obvious plus: it disallows smoking. However, according to the sign at the entrance, they do not allow DATING COUPLES too. πŸ˜…

no dating couples in pekanbaru cafe

I’m really not sure if they are serious about this:

no dating couples pekanbaru airport

I turn to my darling and point out the sign and he immediately says we are not dating. 😎 OK. πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ So we sit and chat as if we are two serious business people. We’re totally not dating.

Food takes REALLY long to be served here. Like maybe the chef fell asleep halfway or they had to make the meatballs from scratch. Order only if you don’t mind waiting. If you have a plane to catch, A&W might be a better choice.

pekanbaru airport food

pekanbaru airport food review

And we DID go to A&W after that too! πŸ˜€ We were obviously trying to stuff ourselves silly before returning to Singapore:

pekanbaru airport A&W

My darling ordered the Deluxe Burger and it turned out to be one sad burger. How is this deluxe?

pekanbaru airport A&W review

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Since there’s no departure tax, we spent just about all the remaining rupiah we had. Then we went to the check-in counter.

Note: After you have checked in your baggage and gotten your boarding pass, take the escalator up and look around as there is a departure lounge for domestic flights and one for international flights. The domestic one had a long queue. I spotted the sign for domestic and turned back in time to see the one for international flights which had no queue! We could have easily joined the queue for domestic flights, reached the front after much waiting and then found out we joined the wrong line. So please pay attention, ya?!

The boarding lounge has washroom facilities and it also has a water dispenser. Plus a booth selling snacks and drinks. So if you don’t wish to pay for pricey F&B items on the plane, you can get what you need here.

And that’s the end of my Pekanbaru travel series – nothing terribly exciting, just a relaxing trip for both of us.

Read, if you haven’t already done so:

Pekanbaru Day One

Pekanbaru Day Two

Pekanbaru Day Three

Pekanbaru Day Four

Pekanbaru Day 1: Airport, Mall Ciputra Seraya, Grab Rides, FOX Hotel Pekanbaru

sultan syarif kasim II international airport pekanbaru

Pekanbaru’s airport – Sultan Syarif Kasim International Airport – is a really compact one. After exiting the Scoot plane upon landing, we took a few steps and could then see the queue to get our passports stamped. πŸ˜… The leftmost queue was for Indonesian passports while the other two were for foreigners. So make sure you join the right queue! And awaiting us downstairs, after clearing all the immigrations checks, was A&W! (Head down the escalator and you’ll see it behind you) *By the way, if you need help with your luggage, there’s a porter service at 10,000rp per piece of luggage. πŸ˜‰

If you’re wondering why we picked Pekanbaru, which is a relatively ‘unknown’ place to us Singaporeans, well, I read some sponsored articles about Pekanbaru and mistakenly thought that it’s quite the happening spot for a holiday. But it’s not really the case. We did not encounter a single PRC Chinese person in Pekanbaru so you can probably tell how ‘popular’ it is as a travel destination. Not a bad thing, actually, considering the fears of the Wuhan virus which has been spreading across the globe.

Photo taken while waiting for our Mango Chicken Pocket which turned out to be a disappointment:

A&W pekanbaru airport

The chicken’s puny. But the curly fries are top-notch and the ‘Perkedel’ were delicious, packed with mashed potato, corn and spring onions. At 13,000rp per piece, the perkedel don’t come cheap but are well worth the pricetag. I really should have brought some back to Singapore since the flight time’s only about an hour! πŸ˜› (We spent some 153,000rp here so I wouldn’t say dining at A&W at the airport is cheap, ya?)

We then purchased a 1.5litre bottle of AQUA water from the convenience store and it cost 11500rp. Could be much cheaper elsewhere but we were thirsty!

We also wanted to get a SIM card BUT strangely enough, I asked a few vendors and couldn’t find one selling a SIM card at the airport! However, there’s free wifi in the airport, and I had my TPG sim card which offered free data in Indonesia. *TPG’s coverage in Pekanbaru during my stay was spotty at best so I couldn’t always rely on it.

On the way to the Mal Ciputra Seraya…

The traffic police might miss you if your vehicle’s ‘camouflaged’ like this. πŸ˜€

*Malls are spelled ‘mal’ in Pekanbaru. So instead of it being the Ciputra Seraya Mall, it is Mal Ciputra Seraya.

The Grab ride from the airport to Mal Ciputra Seraya cost rp87,000. I was not expecting the vehicle to be a blue cab. We boarded the cab at about 1.30pm and reached the shopping mall at 1.52pm. To my surprise (and a bit of annoyance), the cabbie asked for an additional 5000rp for the ‘tiket’. Had to dig it out of my purse for him. πŸ˜‘ Had already prepared 87,000rp exact so I wasn’t expecting to pay any more. But since 5000rp is 50 cents in Singapore, there was no point questioning him – just pay lor.

*And when we were heading back to Singapore, the Grab driver who took us to the airport also asked for 5,000rp for the tiket. (@_@) So my guess is they’ll ask for money from the guest they drop off at the airport and also the one they pick up from the airport, and pocket 5,000rp.

CFC pekanbaru

Mal Ciputra Seraya is quite something. Saw a CFC outlet (yup, not KFC, though there’s ALSO a KFC outlet) and the Shihlin Taiwan Street Snacks outlet was offering Tokidoki totes with selected menu items! The design I wanted was out-of-stock though. So I didn’t want to settle for second-best.

shihlin taiwan street snacks pekanbarupolo ralph lauren pekanbaru

sour sally pekanbaru

chatime pekanbaru

boboutea pekanbarucalais pekanbaruMatahari department store, Mal Ciputra Seraya

The Matahari department store also had some CNY promo going on. We found Disney items at ‘Buy-1-Get-2-Free‘. Insane! We bought fast charging cables. And then found there were discount coupons attached to the long receipt. One of them was for 50,000rp off our next 100,000rp purchase. Needless to say, we went for another round of shopping, hoping the next receipt won’t have more coupons or else this will never end. πŸ˜…

Bought toothpaste at Guardian as it was SO cheap:

guardian toothpaste pekanbaru

fox harris lounge

The lounge area of Fox Hotel Pekanbaru or Fox Harris

fox hotel pekanbaru review

Apparently, there’s no need for travel adaptors in Pekanbaru. The hotels are usually designed in a thoughtful manner:

pekanbaru power outlets

fox harris hotel spa

The main reason you have to stay at Fox Harris is for the view from the infinity pool πŸ˜€

fox harris infinity pool

It’s also an indoor pool so you can swim when it’s raining outside, I guess. But even with good weather, the water’s also really cold. So try not to dive into the pool, ok? πŸ˜‰

And the gym’s forever empty. If you’re a fitness fanatic, you’ll LOVE this hotel:

fox harris gym

View from our room – 714:

fox harris hotel room

I didn’t check my email so I didn’t know our Agoda reservation had been cancelled without our knowledge. πŸ˜… Anyway, we got a better deal booking a room at the hotel itself at 396000rp per night. That’s about S$40 so it’s really quite affordable. We didn’t opt for the hotel breakfast though, thinking we’ll find better food elsewhere.

Since Mal Ciputra Seraya is just across the road, we went back there in the evening. And we picked a bakso place for dinner:

bakso pekanbaru

You can never go wrong with bakso in Indonesia, really:

bakso lapangan

bakso lapangan review

bakso lapangan pekanbaru

bakso lapangan food

The Bakso Penyet Kom (34,090) is really good. That sambal has oomph! The bakso’s delicious, of course, thought that hotplate kangkung with beef has too much salt. Make sure you eat it with rice or else it can be overwhelming. πŸ˜‰

We’d spotted a Celine Dorayaki stall at the airport but didn’t buy anything from them. So when we saw yet another Celine Dorayaki stall at this mall, I bought a Belgian Choc dorayaki. Unfortunately, it didn’t taste very good so our first purchase was also our last.

celine dorayaki pekanbaru

And something happened at this other food stall – Verina Risoles – that I’ll probably remember for quite a long time.

verina risoles pekanbaru

We ordered this ‘risole’ without actually knowing what it is. But since there’s a queue here, we thought it must be good. According to food.com, a risole is “a small croquette, enclosed in pastry or rolled in breadcrumbs, usually baked or deep fried.” At Verina Risoles, it’s served with small green chilis.

verina risoles pekanbaru price

My darling said that this should probably be eaten the same way we eat vadai. It didn’t cross my mind that this small green chili can pack a punch. I ate it with our Prawn Risole and at first it tasted OK, then when the spiciness kicked in, my tongue felt like it had been set on fire, my eyes were tearing and even my eardrums were hurting (I don’t even know why!) Water did not, and does not, help, of course. So I made my way to the hypermart to purchase some milk. By the time I’d paid for the chocolate milk, the ‘fire’ in my mouth had been extinguished somewhat. My goodness! Do NOT eat the green chili! EVER! However, the risoles are good. I just wish this wasn’t the only time we saw the risoles freshly prepared. At other malls / outlets, the risoles looked like they had been sitting there for a while already so we didn’t feel tempted to purchase any.

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And here’s the interesting thing: Across the road from Mal Ciputra Seraya was our hotel – FOX Hotel. And this road, however, is not an easy one to cross. So on our first day in Pekanbaru, one security officer actually assisted us in crossing the road THREE times. The first time was before we checked into the hotel (we’d gone straight to the mall from the airport, remember?) and we had to cross the road to get to Fox Harris. Then a second time when we went back to the mall for dinner. And finally, the third time (it was even drizzling then) when we returned to our hotel. Because Pradana was SO helpful, so friendly and displayed such initiative, I thought I had to go beyond just thanking him. I bought him a J.Co donut from the mall. Saw his eyes light up when I handed him the sweet treat. πŸ™‚ Sadly, that was the last time we spotted him on duty. For the next few days, we met other security officers who were less friendly and less proactive. So no more donuts.