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02 September 2013

Bintan, Indonesia

Since we're going home in a few days, we decided to visit another nearby spot. We spent the weekend in Bintan, an island in Indonesia.

I must be getting old or becoming more impatient. I no longer seem to have the energy to create an itinerary from scratch. For the weekend trip, I availed of a package I found in one of the resorts in Bintan.

I booked the Free and Easy Package at the Bintan Spa Villa Beach Resort. It covers fare for the ferry trips, transpo to and from the resort, overnight stay, and buffet breakfast. Cost is SGD143 per person, inclusive of the SGD24 weekend surcharge. I placed my reservation online at 12 midnight of Monday. They replied by 10 am. They're quite easy to deal with. Once you confirm your booking, you can pay with your credit card and they'll send you the hotel and ferry vouchers.

We took the 11:10 am trip on Saturday from the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal.

The ferry terminal in Singapore is so nice and clean and comfortable. Way different from our ferry terminals in the Philippines. Might even be better or at least comparable to the Domestic Airport Terminal. Even the toilets were clean. *sigh* Note that you're not allowed to go inside the pre-departure area until 40 minutes before your departure time.

The ferry trip was smooth and easy. It's free seating and the seats were very comfortable. No free food though, hehe. It's operated by the Bintan Resort Ferries. You can upgrade to the Emerald Class, sort of business class for them, but you have to pay an additional SGD21. For a short trip, it might not be worth it.

Trip to the Bandar Bentan Telani Ferry Terminal in Bintan took around 55 minutes. Upon arriving at Bintan, we lined up for the immigration checks. Indonesia is one hour behind Singapore time so when we got there, it was still 11 am. :) Since we're from an ASEAN country, we were not required to get visas. Nationals of other countries needed visas which cost SGD10.

There's a separate queue for the visa, after which you need to line up for the immigration check. Immigration lines were a bit long but they moved fast.

After going through immigration, we picked up our boarding passes for the trip back to Singapore, as advised by the resort personnel.

We then looked for our sundo. There were a number of us headed to the resort. We boarded a coaster/van. The trip to the resort took about an hour.

I think there's a ferry terminal nearer the resort but trips might not be that frequent. If you're planning a Bintan trip from scratch, make sure to check which ferry terminal is nearest your resort so you can save time. There were a lot of zigzag roads on the way. But we did not really mind. The route was quite scenic. It had a very probinsya feel. Not the urbanized provinces that we associated with Penang and Malaysia. This was really probinsya. Reminded me of the trips from Tacloban to Sulat or Borongan. Lots of trees and plants and mountains. Houses reminded us of houses in the provinces - may nagtitinda ng gas, mga sari-sari store with all the huge signs, Pinoy looking kids walking on the streets. This was definitely a place Rhuel and I would be comfortable in. :)

When we got to the resort, the personnel welcomed us.

Oh, the package also includes welcome drinks. We noticed that the Indonesians looked like Pinoys. More similar than the Malaysians. After showing them our hotel voucher, we were given the card key to our room. The resort had around 8 villas on the sea and they had a 3-storey building with 5 rooms per floor. Each room had a view of the sea.

Check-in time is at 3 pm but they'll allow you to check-in early if there are no other guests. In keeping with our budget conscious travel tradition, we stayed in the 3-storey building.

Room was okay. It had a balcony and the basics.

The furniture looked nice.

It was quite scary though because our room had a mosquito repellent spray. There was a note saying that they fog the premises twice a week but there might still be some insects so guests are encouraged to use the spray. It didn't help that when we were about to alight the ferry, I saw a couple putting on a lot of mosquito repellent patches all over their clothes. Being the paranoid person that I am, I started spraying the repellent on myself and Rhuel. Better be safe. We noticed that there were some mosquitoes in the toilet. We also saw some stagnant water in the resort's premises which could be the source of these mosquitoes. Tsk. I have some mosquito bites but let's hope and pray they're nothing.

After dumping our stuff in the room, we went to the resort cafe to have lunch. We had some spicy prawns and rice. They were okay. We also had some asparagus soup which also tasted good.

The nice or funny thing about Indonesia is the value of their Rupiah. SGD1 is roughly equivalent to IDR8,800. We had SGD100 changed at the Singapore ferry terminal and we were given IDR800k+. Ang yaman namin bigla. But I think Bintan is very used to having tourists from Singapore. They actually accept SGDs. Whenever you buy something from stores, they automatically convert the price to SGD. So if you're coming from Singapore, no need to have your money changed. You can pay with your SGDs.

After eating lunch, we decided to explore the place.

I was in the mood for lounging around and relaxing. Chill-chill lang, hehe. I got my iPad and started reading my book. Rhuel went for a swim while I relaxed on one of the beach chairs. The life.

I wish we had a nearby beach in Sta. Rosa too. Yung mga tipong 1 hour drive lang with nice crowd and environment. Rhuel says the beach water was not so clear but at least it was shallow and the waves were not strong. Definitely swim-able.

I spent the rest of the afternoon reading my second Pretty Little Liars prequel. Natapos na rin.

It was dinner time already. The resort offered seafood barbecue for IDR200k or IDR300k, depending on the items you're having. We chose the latter package. You see, we don't scrimp on food. :D We had shrimps, squid, chicken wings, spring chicken, some fish that I did not really like, and sirloin steak. They also served it with a huge potato. Okay naman. Good enough to satisfy our inihaw craving. Tasted Pinoy actually. :)

Since there was nothing else to do after dinner, it was meme time for us. The resort actually offers free shuttle to their sister hotel, Bintan Agro Beach Resort, which has a swimming pool. But we just wanted to relax and didn't really want to explore so we stayed put. The resort also has a jacuzzi you can use and they offer spa and massage services too.

Breakfast is served from 7-10 am. The food they served was actually good. Not that many but quality was okay. Better than the food in Penang. :) I had waffles, eggs, bacon, bread, and sausage. Rhuel ordered hard boiled eggs. He was whining when his order arrived because the eggs were soft boiled. But when I re-read the egg menu, half-boiled egg naman pala ang nakalista. Kaya naman pala, hehe. :D

After breakfast, we played some billiards and darts. Rhuel ruled billiards, I ruled darts. Hehe. The darts were nice because they were magnetic, not the sharp ones that I don't really like. We lounged around the rest of the morning and took photos.

Check-out time is normally at 12 noon but they allow you to extend til 1 pm if there are no other guests. I noticed some guests checking out even later than 1 pm. I guess they do not enforce this rule strictly.

After checking out, we had lunch. Rhuel had a burger while I had a hotdog bun. Both tasted okay. While waiting for our transpo to the ferry terminal, we played some more billiards and darts. We also enjoyed doing our favorite pastime, people watching. Rhuel especially enjoyed watching the Asian guy and Caucasian girl couple who were PDA-ing all over the place. He would also compete with me for the best seats in the cafe or wherever so he can get the best view of the couple. :D

Our transpo to the terminal left the resort at 3:30 pm. We were supposed to leave at 3 but there were some delays at the resort. Schedule became quite tight then because our ferry was leaving at 5:35 pm. It didn't help that it was raining so the roads were quite slippery. The driver could not drive so fast. Mabuti na rin because his driving the day before was quite scary. He didn't slow down on the blind curves and sometimes he would pull the hand brake while driving. Anyway, I slept for most part of the trip. We got to the terminal at around 4:50 pm.

The terminal was quite chaotic when we got there.

Good thing we followed the hotel personnel's advice to get our boarding passes the day before. There was quite a long line at the boarding pass counter. Since we already had our passes, we had the time to search for our ref magnet. We didn't really like the magnet we saw because it didn't look so sturdy but we had no other choice so we got it. We then proceeded to the immigration line. Lines were shorter this time.

There were more shops inside the pre-departure area. And we found a better looking magnet. Tsk. The ferry terminal had 3 Polo shops. Rhuel said the shirts there were cheaper.

The line to board the ferry was quite long and crazy.

But we still managed to get window seats. So okay pa rin. Ferry left at 5:35 pm Indonesian time. I enjoyed watching Rapunzel during the trip. This time we sat near the ferry's bar. Even the bar looked organized. *sigh*

It was 7:20 pm when we got to Singapore. I was a bit nervous to go through the immigration this time. Rhuel and I had some pass boo-boo. We had Rhuel's pass cancelled earlier and he was on Social Visit Pass since July 24. The SVP is only valid for 30 days. Since we went to Penang in August, he had a fresh 30 days when we got back on August 12. But since we're leaving on September 25, that would still be beyond the 30 days granted for the SVP. We wanted to visit the nearby spots but we were afraid that the immigration personnel would question the length of his stay in Singapore on SVP. One option was to just have the SVP extended for another 30 days. Pero sayang naman if we don't visit Bintan. So we decided to take the risk. We were prepared with our story. He's here to help me pack because we're going back to the Philippines. We also had our tickets to the Philippines on hand in case they ask for it. I was praying hard that things will go smoothly. I do not want to be left here alone. Thank God, everything went smoothly at the immigration check. No questions asked. Fresh 30 days for him, which means he can validly stay here til September 25. Yey! :)

It was a good weekend getaway. We enjoyed Bintan even if we only stayed at the resort the entire time.

I'm guessing the other resorts would have better facilities and there might be other places to visit on the island. We loved how everything felt rural and relaxing.

We must find a similar spot near Sta. Rosa. :)

1 comment:

  1. Every trip is unique and every place has its secrets to reveal to those who are willing to discover them. It would be a pity not to enjoy all the beauties, culture and adventures.