After spending a blissful Day 1, we woke up at 8ish just so that we do not miss the morning victuals – buffet breakfast ! Turned out that their breakfast was a very modest spread of noodles, toast with peanut butter, hard-boiled eggs, some baked sweets, nasi lemma (coconut rice) and some gravy. That meant, the only vegetarian part was toast and the sweets. I was not really hungry, surprisingly and so kind of was happy with what I got.
While having breakfast, K and I just ran through what we wanted to do that day and our list looked something like this:
2. Go to Pasar Oleh Oleh at Bintan Resorts for souvenir shopping or explore other options.
3. Go to the spa in the evening at 7.00 P.M. for our couple package (2.5 hours long).
4. Manage to have lunch etc. in between 😛
We had spoken to our previous evening’s escort from the hotel who told us about the above. However, we were a bit unsure as to which beach to go to. So, K and I did what we always do when in doubt – toss a coin. The coin “said” Bintan resorts Beach and so we set off that way.
After our deep, intense discussions over coffee and the inevitably important toss, our list looked like this:
1. Go to Bintan Resorts.
2. Go to Pasar Oleh Oleh and shop or shop in city depending on what the guide says.
3. Come back to hotel to have lunch
4. Rest a bit and go for spa.
At this point, I must tell you that we stayed at Hotel Pelangi. The cab and complimentary vehicle is only for within-city tours. So, this trip cost us 600,000 Indonesia Rupees. Don’t get worried at the number- all you need to do is look at the exchange rate ! 😛
We set off by 9:30 itself. The weather was cloudy and slight drizzles here and there and not really scenic outside – the roads were tortuous at certain points but we loved looking out of the window and tried to smell the air. I have this doubt everytime we travel – whether the air smells different in different parts of the world – it actually does!
After a while, we just reached these long roads that you meet when you are moving from one city to another. There was hardly much traffic, actually, there was nil traffic and we seemed to be the only king’s chariot on the road.
It is a typical small town and has lot of coconut trees and other members of the palm interspersed amidst the dense foliage visible from a distance.
But to our luck, Bintan Resorts was closed owing to some important function. Bintan Resorts is a group of resorts with their private beaches However, one of the resorts, Resort Nirwana Gardens allows non-guests to come in and enjoy their beach. However, that particular day, there was something important going on and so it was closed for non-guests. That meant, there was no water sport happening as access to beach had been called off – for THAT day, THAT fateful day!
K and I looked at each other. We knew what to do. We asked the driver if we can go to Trikora. We are very compatible that way ! The driver spoke to the other guide next to him and after a couple of minutes, he comes close to us as if telling us a secret and says, “Sir, I take you. But you not tell hotel people because they ask you for 300,000 more!”. Such a gem of a man, I tell you – really! Who does this? Who can be so so wonderful to unsuspecting visitors in such a big way?
If you both happen to read this blog, K and I love you, really!
Since, Pasar Oleh Oleh was in Bintan Resorts, we decided to go there. It refers to a small village that sells indigenous items such as traditional fabric, paper products, clay products, paintings and lots of souvenirs. This is not inside the resort and hence access was not restricted. It is like a small souvenir village; add to it the rain, the hazy weather and a lovely coffee shop – you have found yourself a piece of heaven !
As soon as I stepped in, I let out a big big sigh of triumph – like the ones where you were on a mission and finally conquered the last stage or something – no seriously.
We had coffee with the driver and the guide at –
I ogled at the weather and ogled at the shops –
Looked twice to make sure we were at where we were –
We went inside one shop – correction- I went inside one shop with paper products because I so loooooooove them but K stood outside because the driver and guide were like, “Sir, it is too expensive here. This is a touristy village and so everything will be in Singapore Dollars”. But me being me, brushing off all the advice thinking how much damage can an extra dollar do and all that walked inside confidently. I had to hold myself from staggering back and tumbling down the steps – the prices were as steep as the steps ! One pencil was like 10 dollars and the reason – it was “authentic” and “hand-made”. Bhaisaab, really?
I took a good look, admired them and walked out with my head held high. I think I would have bought those hand-made paper diaries for 35 SGD if the driver hadn’t promised me that the same things are available in the city and he would take us there. So after asking a dozen times, “You sure they are available?”, I reluctantly joined the troop back to the car. Ofcourse, after glancing longing looks for one last time –
We then left for Trikora Beach. We are really happy we did not waste our day. As we drove towards Trikora, we could see the sparsely populated fisherman’s village. There were very few people there, mostly men, and I was surprised that it was even called a village. Our guide then told us that people do not reside there all year long. They just come there during the fishing season. They bring some paraphernalia and stay there for a week or two. And once they have obtained the catch, they go back to their homes in the city.
All along the beach, there are small structures that you can rent to keep your clothes and bags. They look like this –
They are quite bare, if you see what I mean. People who come to the beach use it to keep their belongings and also take a nap while the kids play away.
We could also see some structures bang in the middle of the water body. We were told that these are the places where individual or small groups of fisherman stay during the nights during fishing seasons when they need to start fishing early and stay put for long hours.
That does look so quixotic for a getaway, no?
Basically, Trikora is a stretch with several beaches dotting it. Each beach is different and has its own persona. However, the crowds, the frequent visits by natives who
find this to be one of their best weekend spots and the influx of several foreign backpackers has had its toll. Add to this, some beaches have a tarry layer under the sand. Beach 4 is considered one of the best and we went there. I must say, after Penang and Kuantan where the beaches are sparsely populated and few bother to leave their footprints, these beaches are full of happy feet and human activities.
You can see people with frisbees, beachballs, swimsuits, prawn crackers – pretty much a happy racquet !
Not the cleanest beach but who cares as long as there is enough sand to build those castles and tunnels you always wanted to build?
It is quite a tidal region and the waves and all the beauty can be reduced to mudflats by afternoon, as we had earlier online as well.
We scooped this off with one biiiiiiig tender coconut. We spent a good 2 hours building sand castles (which we did not take snaps of because we had to leave the camera aside and settle down nicely on the beach and the couple that we took have me in the most childish pose). We had a whale of a time !
And all this made us what?
You are absolutely right! – HUNGRY –
So, we decided to drive back to the hotel for lunch. On the way, we stopped at a mart, got some chewing gum because gum is not available in Singapore without prescription. We found Big Babol – yay ! We also got some salted pista and some fruitellas and some notebooks (yes yes!). We reached the hotel by 4 and I could hardly wait for a second more for my fried rice. Sensing our urgency, the hosts got us our food in a jiffy. We gulped it down, ran to our room without much ado, got our room changed to one on a higher floor and then promptly set the alarm for 6:30 and slept off.
We were woken up by room service for 2 complimentary teas and some amazing toast. We did not waste much time deciding what to do and got ready. Our car was waiting for us already. We left for the spa.
The spa is called Ladies Spa (a title that did not appeal to me) but you should have seen the interiors- beautiful ! Amazing hospitality again. The natives make such amazing hosts – they are not really very verbose, their smiles do most of the talking, not to forget their actions. They treated us to some lovely ginger tea and soon we were shown into the room.
I wish I could tell you how the experience was but I am yet to develop such a profound lexicon. We loved it – what started off with mmmmms and aaaahs trned into soft snores and then the final jacuzzi was the icing on the cake.
Feeling beautiful in and out, our skin supple and feeling good, we returned to the hotel for another round of the familiar and friendly fried rice. The spa worked its magic because we don’t remember what happened after dinner or when we fell asleep.