Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bintan Indonesia

This is a post  long overdue .

Last summer, FF and I decided to get away from our tiny  isolated hole in the middle of the Black Forest to  join the people in their big metropole. To go to a  place of  excellent and cheap shopping experience, good food  and a place relatively close to (my) home. We went to Asia...Huraaah! However, before getting tussled and lost in the middle of a foreign and crowded city, FF and I wanted to recover from our long trip. To rejuvenate, to feel real sunshine on our faces, cool breeze on our skin and sand under our feet. And to do that, we decided to hop on an  island not far from  Singapore for a couple of days. We went to Bintan Indonesia..

Bintan is  one of the 3,200  islands of Indonesia's Riau Archipelago  and is only 55   minutes ferry ride away from Sinapore. Despite of this short distance, these two places could not get any more contrasting. The only thing they somehow share in common ( apart from some cuisine)  is the currency. The island Bintan has numerous beach  resorts and hotels . Some  more expensive than the other and most of these establishments accept Singapore  dollars . Few only Singapore dollars. We stayed in such a resort. Through various researches, I've read that Indonesian Rupiah is used in towns and areas  untouched by touristic traps ..... spots. FF and I were so tired and weary from our  long trip that we missed visiting local towns. We decided to get and be  trapped to our hotel compound and somehow did not regret it. We simply enjoy the art of doing...nothing! A perfect holiday treat. Here are some nips and highlights of our regretfully short stay in Bintan.

A weary and impatient FF waiting for our ferry. While the lucky Singaporeans  basically have to cross  only   the South China Sea    to get to the island, it took us 2 train rides, two planes rides ( plus 6  total hours of waiting between flights)  1 taxi ride, 1 ferry trip ( plus 3 hours of waiting  at the terminus since we missed the first one by minutes!) and a  short   but bumpy   bus drive  to reach our destination.

After more than 24 excrutiating hours  of travelling, we arrived  in Bintan hoping for a sunnier welcome. We were   instead  plunged in the   middle of a brewing storm! The last thing we wanted after a long turbulent filled journey. Fortunately, storm hits  the island few minutes after our ferry docked.Thankfully ,though ferry ride was on the rough side, it was manageable.  I'm not overly keen to see the fried noodles I had on the plane in a  barf bag .Well this pretty much sums up our first day in Bintan. We did not see any sunshine after arriving. It's a good thing that  picking up guests is well organized and went smoothly. Island guests were ushered to their respected buses in a brisk. FF and I were so tired,  we  barely noticed the group of young Indonesian dancers  who welcomed our party upon reaching the resort. After checking in, we hastily went to our room, dump   our  stuff  and spend the rest of the day and the evening  sleeping...Old weary bones need their rest.


Our travel agent in Germany gave us two hotel and resort options  to choose from in Bintan. One is Bintan Lagoon Resort  which is much bigger in terms of area and have a renowend 18-hole golf couse. We opted for  Nirwana Garden Resort instead, since we know nothing about golf ( only Tiger Wood's extra-marital affairs) and we don't want to spend our holiday trying to shoot a tiny ball into an equally tiny hole at 50 yards. We were quite happy with our choice. Rooms are pretty simple and basic but adequte, far from sterile but clean. Good enough for both of us. We just fell in love with the place and its people. Indonesians are somehow not so  different from Filipinos   with their geniune hospitality , friendly smile and engaging warmth. Sorry can't help it, I am Filipino.(^^)

I like going to breakfast buffet here. The smell of dried fish and shrimp paste (yes!)   in the morning  reminds me of home and makes me feel at home. The place is halal so no pork is on the menu. Did not miss it so much though since spread is extensive. For those who prefers something light and sweet in the morning, cereals, breads and pastries as well as pancakes and  local Indonesian delicacies are  abundant.

I guess even the most visually challenged person can see which breakfast plate belongs to me.

After breakfast we usually roamed the grounds of the resort. The area is quite big and not all spots could be reached by foot. The resort provides a free shuttle bus which brings guest from one area to the other. If guest wants to explore the entire 330 hectare resort on their own, a buggy could be rented. We did and it was fun.

The weather have been kind to us on the next few days. We were able to take our daily walk on this pristine white shore every morning. To our delight, the place is quite secluded  and guests are scarce. We have the   place almost to ourselves. Such a bliss.

The infinity pool that  overlooks the shore is a perfect spot to relax and get some tan. I'm tan enough but total relaxation is one thing I have been dreaming of for months. I stayed at this lounge chair sipping coconut juice  almost every day. I might as well write my name on it. This- is life...

Nirwana Garden Resort  is devided into five different areas. True to its name ''perfect bliss'', it provides guest  five  different  accomodation options. The Nirwana Resort Hotel ( where we stayed) combines indonesian ethnicity with a hint of mediterranian flare, The Nirwana Beach Club which is more laid back with its 50 air conditions cabana rooms,The Mayang Sari with its rustical beachfront chalets, Banyu Biru Villas with its cozy homes-like structures which are  perfect for family sharing  and down to the more lavish and luxurious Indra  Maya Villas. All resort areas except the Indra Maya are open and could be explored by guest. The later is well guarded and is  off limits even to fellow Nirwana Gardens patrons.

Nirwana resort also provides all sorts of recreational activities. Aside from various massages and pampering alternatives, they  also offer a variety of water sports like Jet Ski, Kayak, Diving, Snorkelling tours and trips, Windsurfing, Parasailing    ,Bodyboard, Banan boat ride, Laser sailing ( what ever that is) and some fishing trips. Everything at a  cost  of course, only swimming is free.

Unfortunately there a big ''Danger, jelly fish!'' sign  at the shore   so I  dare not test the waters. FF played Fear Factor and carefully wadded his way into the deep with eyed fixed downwards. Five minutes later he was  back on the dry lands  with some nasty blotches on his pale skin. Talking about irony. Well at least the pool's safe. Back to my favorite lounge chair then! (^^)
Aside from the numerous water sport, many more recreational options are offered on land. From ATV and dune buggy rides, archery and shooting,  ball games like tennis,basketball, bowling and  volleyball , to board games such as snake and lader and chess set with life sized figurines to boot. For animal lovers, horseback riding is another option. FF and I did not try any of the things mentioned above. Like I've said, we enjoy and wanted to perfect the art of doing nothing. Ok,  we did play with and ride the elephants...Always been a dream of mine.

So if we are not up and about walking at the shore,then we hang out and stay at our favorite and somehow guest-less bar for some fresh coconut juice and refreshments. FF developed a liking to Bintang Beer. How approriate. 

We visited and revisited  the resort's mini Zoo and try to feed the animals through the gaps. sssshhhhhh. Or sit lazily infront of the hotel lobby while watching the fat Koi fishes.

Once we rented a buggy to expore the whole place until we reached this place. The peak or summit which provides an amazing view of the island.

And of course, there's the food. We indulged ourselves silly with good Indonesian and Malay foods.Nirwana has numerous restuarants but one tops our list. The Spice Restaurant which is located at the lobby of Mayang Sari Resort. They offered some kick ass Indian and  Indonesian foods. Tasted the best satay in my life there with an unforgetable spicy peanut sauce. It's so good I could eat it with my sandwich in the morning.   Such a shame we discovered it on our last night in Bintan.

And so for the last time The Babbling Spoon and her partner Faithful Fork (  aka as FF) retraced their steps and found themselves heading back to a familiar shore. With a heavy sigh,they took a deep breath,   played with the gentle waves and let the water tickle their toes . Then they stood still for minutes and let the cool and familiar breeze embrace them. With a rather heavy heart we bathe our  senses with the  beauty of this tropical Island for the last time and said our  good byes. We did not have a blast, like other might say. We had peace and tranquility. It was a very enjoyable and unforgetteble 5 days and who knows, maybe someday again...........

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post Ms. Emily, keep it coming.


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