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Galang Island, Memorizing a Refuge of Vietnamese in Batam

Galang Island ever became a hot discussion in United Nations because the island served as a place for refuge of thousands people from Vietnam. They crossed the ocean and left their country after war between South Vietnam and North Vietnam. They came with boats with alarming condition because they had jostle in a small boat. They drifted for months in South China Sea with unclear purposes.  Most of them died in the middle of sea and some of them could survive and reached Indonesian territory, including Galang Island, Tanjung Pinang, and the closer islands.
United Nation and Indonesian government stated that Galang Island was a safe place for refugee before they sent back to the other countries. They were so happy and thanked to God because they could find a peace in a beautiful island with white sand. There, they started to build houses, place of worship, schools for their children and cemetery.
Currently, the camp becomes a tourist destination site. By visiting Galang Island, you will be brought to remember the tragedy in the past when thousand Vietnamese left their country to find protection. There, you will see so many ruins, like a church and a pagoda which are treated well and can be used by visitors. 
The refugee came around 1976 to 1996 and this can be seen from a replica of a small boat that was used in 1975 by hundred Vietnamese to cross the ocean and escaped from their homeland because of civil war.
Galang Island is a small island at Kepulauan Riau Province and the camp itself is situated at Sijantung Village, Galang sub-district, and lies close to Batam. It can be reached for 56 km. You can take a ferry from one among six terminal ferry in Batam. If you start your journey from Jakarta, you can continue it again to Hang Nadim Airport in Batam.
The easy way to visit Galang Island is by driving a car because from Batam to the camp needs two hours. The road is quiet and no traffic. But, you still have to be careful when you driving. Just watch the signpost because the gate is not prominent. Then, you have to pay IDR 5,000 or US$0.5 to park a car and admission ticket is IDR 3,000 or US$0.3 per person.

Actually, there is no hotel in Galang Island. But, you can find them in Batam Center like The Centro Hotel & Residence, Ace Hotel Batam, Batam Centre Hotel, King's Hotel Batam, Venesia Hotel, Harmoni One Convention Hotel and Service Apartments, Cittic Batam Hotel, Crown Vista Hotel, and Indah Hotel. 
Besides that, there is no food vendor or restaurant near the camp. You can enjoy the local culinary in Nagoya, Batam Center, and Barelang. For the souvenir, you can purchase it in the island, like pin and t-shirt.

Entering to the area of the camp, you will be welcomed by dozens of monkey that hanging on the branch of trees. They running and jumping at the edge of the street to catch the nuts that are threw by visitors from their car. The situation is so quiet and there is no activity around the island. 
The tree lining along the street and guide you to reach the camp. Accompanied by the breeze and peaceful atmosphere, your coming will be enlivened by the chirp of birds as if this area is belongs to them. And when you come closer, you start to see the camp that looks like a settlement that has been left for a long time. The farming area stretches widely, green and thriving. 
The sign board ‘Welcome to Vietnam’ will show you that this place was occupied by the refugee. All of the real life that had undertaken by Vietnamese can be seen. All are using Vietnam language for museum and grave. When you walk around the camp, you will find traditional boats that were used by the refugee. It’s wooden boat and they struggled and challenged the high waves to reach the land before they arrived to Galang Island.
Besides that, there are ruins of boat burnt by refugee to protest because that couldn’t get a new citizen. Initially, the settlement was small but lately the new boats came again. Even, they reached Bintan Island and Anambas Island as well.
Not only the houses, but you still can find a small jail and security post. These building were used by Indonesian military to secure, monitor, and preventing vaginal disease, i.e. Vietnam Rose that brought by the refugee. The jail itself was used to prison robber, rapist, killer and one who tried to escape.
Near the entering gate, you will find a woman statue. This monument built to memorize the tragedy of Tinh Han Loai. She was a woman the killed herself because she shied after raped by the other refugee. The cemetery of Nghia-Trang Galang is one spot here. There are 503 graves of refugee. They died because of disease after sailing for months. The cemetery itself is still visited by their family that comes from Vietnam.
Although Indonesian government monitored very tight, but they built worship place, like Quan Am Tu Pagoda, Nha Tho Duc Me Vo Nhiem Church, Protestan Church, and Mosque. The Quan Am Tu is the most prominent worship place and it can be seen clearly from the distance. The building itself are original because the current government keep it very well. 
If you want to know the condition of the refugee, you can go to the museum that displays lot of photo, family photo, activities during their life in the camp, and household stuffs. The museum was used for an office for the UNHCR. Near the museum there is a ruin of hospital that kept the box of medicines.
By visiting the camp in Galang Island, you will be brought to the life of a refuge with Vietnamese who escaped from their country. If you still have time for your vacation, you can continue the trip to Melur Beach in Barelang that is close to the camp. The beach is so beautiful and offers you natural scenery.
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