Last last week I went to Bintan Lagoon Resort with Wing and gang. After learning in geography that the whole area is owned by Singapore, upon planning for the trip, we realize that it is a tourist trap. Almost everything in the resort is priced highly in SGD, with the option to pay by Rupiah, although at exorbitant prices. For example, the buffet lunch at the hotel’s restaurant costs $28++, while a 30-min ATV ride costs $88!
The bintan resort ferry was quite sad as we couldn’t go outdoors to feel the wind, as compared to the Batam ferry I took last time. Only the “Emerald” class seats can. Upon arriving, what I learnt in geography proved true: the streets to the resort is very well maintained, straight and lined with trees like Singapore. At the resort, for some reason we missed the “Welcome Indonesian Dance” which everyone else online experienced. We only saw the dance on the 3rd day.
After checking in, we ate lunch at a cafe near the golf course clubhouse. Each course was around $15++ average. Pretty expensive for us. We checked into our villa, which is one is the smaller ones, but it has 3 bedrooms, huge kitchen and living room, much like the changi chalets, but better furnished. The best part was we have a 6-seater buggy at our disposal, which we could drive around the resort! Super cool and everyone had a chance to try driving it.
After that, we decided to hire a taxi to Pasir Oleh Oleh to buy stuff to cook for the next day’s meals so that we don’t need to pay so much, and also to buy additional stuf for our BBQ. Realised that the ideal number of people to go is actually 6-7, as the villa’s beds and buggy fit those numbers, and so do the taxi. The resort actually charge us for populating >7 people in the villa. At Pasir Oleh Oleh, and the “Kampung” opposite, are actuallly purpose-built tourism towns to serve us. Hence the things, such as Polo Ralph tees, are priced at SGD and rupiah as well. Fortunately the groceries and meals here are much cheaper. We were led by a tour guide, as one of us could speak Indonesian, to another corner of the town which is actually the Indonesian’s own Hawker Centre and shops, which sell things even cheaper. Good place to buy stuff and not get cheated. We had a wonderful BBQ and Christmas gift exchange that night, thanks to good planning and various people contributing the food. The only initial problem was the firestarter – the Diaso one didn’t work too well, and the hotel gave us some gel-like fire starting liquid which worked well.
The next day, we went for a swim at the nice pool, which was oddly deep at 2.2m in one part but oddly shallow at 1m in most parts. After instant noodle lunch, we went to the beach, which is probably the highlight! The winds were really strong and continuous, never ending and very refreshing. The horizon was pure and empty with no ships in sight in the South China Sea. The waves were huge and strong, like those in California suitable for surfing. The beach is quiet, golden with fine sand, nice to step on, with many cute hermit crabs around. The only thing was the sea is unfortunately still not very blue compared to Calif. Nevertheless, it is still really shiok to just lie down on the beach reclining chairs and do nothing!
Other than doing nothing, we played some volleyball, dunked some people, and played monkey with frisbee after that. The only thing was they close the beach pretty early at 5.30pm, and don’t allow us to go into the water after that. Probably cos of monsoon season, the tides coming in are larger. Hence there are not many sea sport activities available too, not that they are affordable/worth-for-money in the first place. My friends say Rendung or Bali is better/more worth it.
At night we returned to Pasir Oleh Oleh for Zi Char food at one of the the cafes. At least it is more reasonably priced. We played mahjong/watch DVDs until we sleep. The next morning, some of us woke up earlier to try to catch the sunset, but it was too cloudy. Nevertheless, it was still a nice even cooler breeze, with even higher tide and bigger waves, so it was a nice dawn. We ate the buffet lunch and went back.
On the whole, Bintan is a nice quick getaway from Singapore, just bring your own food, or go in a group large enough to hire taxis to Pasir Oleh Oleh ($22/taxi) often enough, instead of taking the shuttle bus which only comes twice a day at $6/pax. I wish I have a chance to visit Tanjong Pinang, although my Indo friend said there’s nothing much. The tours to there from the Resort are too ex ($60-$100/pax).