This year, for my b’day, K decided to gift amidst several other things (Ya, I manage to loot like that), a travel ticket to Indonesia. That I ended up getting pampered so much that I forgot that I am only getting older (okay okay I know the theory about age being numbers but still) and ended up wishing everyday was a birthday even if it came at the risk of getting old very soon.
For the past few months, I kept talking of Indonesia this and Indonesia that. K must have sensed the urgency in my voice. He gave me a pass to Indonesia. I could choose what kind of a holiday I wanted. I chose the obvious – a totally local trip, one where the locals would guide us and absolutely no resorts.
Somehow, I want to travel the entire of Indonesia. That place fascinates me. Like several others. And I now know the trick to bag tickets – keep talking of the place with K and make full use of 4 days in the year – wedding anniversary, my b’day, K’s b’day (Ya, I can gift him a vacation and say that taking the wife is mandatory) and ofcourse the proposal anniversary. I can also be smart and celebrate the respective dates every month. Hah ! Who am I kidding?
We decided to go to Bintan. It is accessible by a ferry and the journey takes between 1-2 hours. We had two options:
1. Go to Bintan Resorts and enjoy a lot of water sports and basically beaches et al. This was just one hour away and everything is priced in Singapore dollars because it is just so Singapore-ish, you see! And it is like this popular family getaway – go to the beach, play beach ball, do some water sports etc. which are all very exciting.
2. Go a bit further to the capital city of Tanjung Pinang where the best hotel is located at the heart of the city, where the artisans live; where the fishermen spend hours lazing under the sun discussing the catch of the day; where life is always slow paced; where the locals are way too eager to greet tourists; where you get the biggest of tender coconuts,; where the streets are soporific and narrow; where the biggest mall is like one of those sales that happen in cities and where people always always never forget to wear their best outfit – a warm welcoming smile.
No surprise that the second option appealed to me big-time ! It is quite quiescent a place to be called the capital and be listed as one of the biggest cities of Indonesia. But who is complaining? I love such small earthy towns. I love the feel and I love becoming a part of their native population. I don’t prefer being all touristy. We love blending in and that makes any holiday a perfect one for us !
We could just afford 3 days of holidays – 3 days and 2 nights given that it was not a vacation period. We set out on our ferry from the Tanjung Pagar Terminal. Armed with a cup of steaming hot kopi-c and some butter sugar toast, we proudly carried our backpacks into the ferry.
As soon as we entered the ferry, we noticed that no doubt it was air-conditioned but there seemed to be a small rainfall happening inside as well – all the condensed water droplets pouring right onto the seats at the centre. It was quite a sight to watch everyone trying to stand in a particular place, check whether the area is rain- free and choose their seats. I refuse to sit in anything other than a window seat. So we found ourselves a nice pair of seats as well and settled down nicely.
As we travelled by the ferry we noticed other offshore drilling facilities.
We also noticed other smaller ferries. The weather was misty and though the windows were closed, I somehow loved how it looked outside. Very soon, it started drizzling and I loved looking the the hazy scene outside and K and I decided to cuddle our kopi-c and just spent the rest of the journey looking into nothingness and dozing off a bit in-between as well.
As estimated we reached after a 2 hour journey The visa and everything was a very easy process and soon, we found ourselves shaking hands with the hotel’s driver who was there to pick us up. We loved the hospitality. He took us to the hotel via a longer route, highlighting the must-sees of the place with me belting out the shopping questions. He recommended spas, souvenir shopping, the Trikora beach, Ramayana mall and urged us to try their fantastic seafood and prawn crackers.
Soon, we were received by the hotel staff who asked us for what we would like to have as our welcome drink. We both chose their special tea and just sat their at the lobby. The hotel was a modest one if you were to go by the dimensions but you should have seen the warmth with which they greeted us and went about assigning the best possible room.
As soon as we were settled inside the room, K and I decided to have a small nap. I know we can be really adventurous like that 😛 After modifying their chicken dishes and requesting them to make them vegetarian for us to which they cooperated without any hesitation, we jumped onto the bed and watched some local channels trying to make sense of what they were saying. The language is Malay but they do have some dialectal variations. After gulping down the food, we hurriedly slept as though we went to Bintan with the sole purpose of sleeping.
When we woke up after a couple of hours, the sky was a faint orange and we could see palm trees everywhere. We got ready and left to check out the malls and city centre.
The hotel had a complimentary vehicle and city tour for as long as were guests in that hotel. We made the best-est use of it and totally roamed around the city in the 3 days we stayed there.
We first went to Ramayana Mall (Sorry, this was not as much a photography trip) where we saw a huge 2 storeyed building with sales – shoes, clothes, groceries and seafood. I did become disappointed because I kind of expected to see a lot of artisans selling their handicrafts and all. We could not see any of it. K consoled me saying that souvenirs were probably sold on streets. Ofcourse, it then dawned upon my bright head that nobody sells any souvenir in malls. So, I happily bought a top and we got some fruits and some drinks. We then went to the recommended spa and booked a slot for a couple spa for the next day and went back to the hotel.
We decided to eat at the hotel dining hall. I requested them to make some vegetarian fried rice for me and they happily obliged –
Easily one of the best versions of fried rice I have eaten !
All the three days, I ate just this. I did not have a lot of options but they managed to make it differently for me every single time by varying the type and proportion of mushrooms, by adding pepper and changing spices and so on! So awesome of them, no ?
With that our first day at Bintan had come to a close. All along the following night, I was only chanting about souvenirs and making sand castles and frog tunnels along the beach. K woke me up at midnight and was like, “Lets book a vehicle and do that Trikora beach and visit the souvenir village.” I gave him one tight jhappi, my mind already conjuring up images of the souvenir village, unable to sleep and unable to wait for the sun to rise.