From various sources of history, Galang Island and some regions in the Riau Island at the period of Vietnam war of the north and the south made as “a transit land,” by Vietnamese exodus because of the too long civil war. They sailed from Vietnam behind back by using boats made of wood. Vietnam refugees arrived in Indonesia firstly on 22 May 1975 they were 24 peoples. They landed on Laut Island. After that, within a short period of time, 45 thousands refugees inundated Riau Islands (Tanjungunggat, Air Raja, and East Bintan).
The big exodus of these Vietnames by then becoming an international issue and on 2 November 1979, United Nations through UNHCR yielding a Geneva Convention. It was agreed that the problem of Vietnamese refugees handled by UNHCR. Then, as a sense of solidarity, the Government of Indonesia provided Galang Island as transit area for the Vietnamese refugees. On September 1980, a concrete measure was taken by the government of Indonesia by forming a Security Command Force and Treatment of Vietnam Refugees on Galang Island.
Through PT. Oto Perkasa Konstruksi, Indonesia set up camps, included 100 barracks ably to accomodate 50 peoples. The government constructed the irrigation system and set up electricity in the same year. After the first barrack completely constructed, the government put 816 refugees at the camps. And then, proven to be day by day, more and more refuges coming to this island.
Currently at this refugee location there is no more boat men or women. But Galang still remains becoming a monument of solidarity among nations. By coming to Galang, the past traces of boatmen or boatwomen are still found. Because the government through Batam Authority still takes care of this location well.
In Galang, you will still find boats made of woods used by the boatmen or boatwomen sailling South China Sea. The boats becoming the monument in Galang are only some of the hundreds of boats used to flee. Many of their boats run aground to the land or shattered in the sea. You can also trace their cemetery, churches, vihara, and the jail there.
To be able to reach Galang, from Batam you should take on the land course of a distance for about 60 kilometers. That course connected by six bridges, the first one is famous Barelang Bridge and becoming the icon of Batam City. By riding on taxi, bus or motorcycle, Galang can be reached within less than one and half-hours.
Bring your provisions of enough food and drink. But if you don’t want to be a troublesome, no need to bring provisions because along the street toward Galang, there found a number of seafood restaurant offering various menus and typical. Probably you need to consider your budget first, because the price of seafood there is not as cheap as at the same restaurants in the city area. (r/dpb)