10 October 2012

Bintan Island, Indonesia

Bintan lsland is the largest of 3,200 islands in the Riau Archipelago and the third largest of twenty seven provinces in Indonesia. Located at the crossroads of one of the world’s oldest and busiest maritime trading routes, Bintan has provided a safe haven to traders and sailors from Europe, India and China for over a century.  (Extract from Bintan Lagoon Resort website)

A mere 75 minutes across the Strait of Singapore, lies the grand Bintan Lagoon Resort complete with hotel rooms, villas, a couple of swimming pools, several restaurants, sandy beaches and an 18 hole golf course.  Sprawled across 310 hectares, the sandy beach stretches for nearly 1.5kms.

Fortunate enough to be on the official ferry launch which takes the guest from Singapore directly to the resort, each passenger was spoiled to a gift filled with goodies.  Upon arrival we were greeted by a traditional Balinese dance, whilst the children were amused by Spongebob and Daffy Duck's larger than life appearance.

You have to love Indonesia's idiosyncrasies and sometimes lack of appropriate infrastructure, such as the electrical outtage at customs at which point the customs officers were no longer able to clear us.  En masse we were ferried through without our passports.

Our initial check-in was less than desirable when our requested deluxe sea facing view was a ground floor, back of the resort, overlooking palm trees view.  When I rang reception to discuss I was told that the sea facing view is not sea facing.  No kidding.  If I asked for a standard room, fair enough, don't care what I get, but when I ask for sea facing and pay extra per night for the privilege, I expect sea facing.  After 15 minutes of searching, asked if we would take a twin single room (yeah where do I put my daughter to sleep?), the Supervisor managed to find me an appropriate room with a slither of sea facing peeking through the palm trees.  Either way it was a much more pleasant location, with a great tub and shower, a balcony to indulge in our Caramel Baileys and really nice king size bed.

Our slither of sea view but lovely just the same.
With breakfast included in our room rate, we enjoyed the daily selection of hot and cold buffet, freshly cooked omelette, danish pastries and fresh fruit.  The poolside club sandwich with hot crinkly chips for lunch was just as yummy here as the ones John and I regularly ordered in Bali.

The main pool serves 1 for 1 beer from 4-6pm at which point both the pool bar and swimming pool close.  I found it a little odd to be in a resort of this size with the pool closing before the evening kicks in, given that most resorts have the pools close at 10pm.  It didn't bother us much since we had friends in villas with their private pools and we socialised with them throughout the weekend.

The first night we had a BBQ dinner at one of the villas with our friends, followed by the endless pour of Baileys, Whisky and everything else in between.  It was a wonderful night as we spent time with our Singaporean condo friends all in the one location away from our usual condo poolside gathering.

The gals post a super BBQ dinner.

We chose to have dinner at Miyako Restaurant with an extensive menu of both Japanese and Korean flavours.  Teppanyaki is also available.  We selected miso soup, tempura which consisted of battered vegetables and big, fat, juicy prawns and a platter of sushi.  Whilst the food was exceptional we were somewhat surprised at the 9 sushis provided for a "mere" SGD$50.  Given the prices we pay for a sushi platter in Australia this was extremely expensive.  Thankfully we are small eaters and the combined meals were more than enough.

Whilst the adult pool is beautiful and large complete with a pool bar, the kid's pool was more fun for Trini as she slid down the two really fun water slides and rolled around inside a blown up ball on the surface of the pool.  The nearby Leisure Center has a variety of activities such as a kids club, billiard tables, arcade game machines, dinosaur themed laser quest centre (which we wanted to try but Trini was too small for the equipment available... bummer), foosball, archery and a myriad other options.  Activities abound both on land and on the sea.  There is no shortage of things to do regardless of whether it's just a weekend away or a complete holiday.

Rolling over mum.
The super awesome fast slide.  We loved this.

Trini taking on daddy in a game of Foosball.

Besides the wedding we attended, which was Trinity's favorite part, the highlight of her weekend was feeding the koi fish at the entrance of the resort.  We purchased a bag of fish food for all of SGD$1 that provided us with great entertainment for the next half hour as we teased and generated competition amongst the fish to rise to the water surface to gobble the food.  On more than one occasion our fingers were gummified as the fish pried the food away.  We had a good cackle.

Gimme, gimme, gimme...

Upon check-out we were transported on a golf buggy (the major form of transportation on the island) back to the ferry terminal.  John was amused by the fact that his pockets were full of coins, wallet, keys and iPhone along with a big belt buckle on his shorts, yet the x-ray machine stayed silent.  He was wondering if it was even turned on or were they saving electricity. As I said earlier, you have to love Indonesia's idiosyncrasies.

Whilst the wedding was also my favorite part of the weekend, the next best thing for me were the colossal shipping vessels we were passing by on the ferry.  I love them from my apartment as they are my daily view and I certainly love them up close too.

Liberia's Conti Sydney container ship.
Singapore's Ore Bayovar bulk carrier.
We very much enjoyed our stay on Bintan and I look forward to returning with my brother to play golf, my sister to do what we do best, vege and our condo friends for some more frolicking on the beach and in the sun.

Our family.