Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bintan Day Three: Under the Sea

Sunday was our last day in Bintan, but we had all day before we had to catch the ferry, and we planned to make the most of it. The hotel had really filled up during the day on Saturday, so there were more people and a much more impressive breakfast spread on Sunday morning. I was excited- they had gado gado! My favorite!
On the left: my gado gado, fried bananas, and coffee. On the right: Bryan's kway teow

We had plans for the afternoon, but we had time to kill after our hearty breakfast, so we continued with our relaxation weekend. Bryan took another bath and I headed back out to the beach with my book.
Silly palm tree down the beach from my relaxing spot

After hanging out for a few hours, we ate a light lunch, checked out of our hotel, and kicked back to wait for the shuttle that would take us the short ride over to the Bintan Agro Beach Resort to meet up with a boat to take us snorkeling. While we sat in the lobby and waited on the shuttle, we noticed this creepy homage to Singapore.
Demon or merlion?

Over at the Agro Beach Resort, we got all set to go snorkeling and then hung out on the beach and watched the windsurfers while we waited for our boat to be ready. I guess Bintan is a popular windsurfing spot, especially for weekenders from Singapore. We had fun watching the more skilled guys do flips and turns, while the less experienced people wiped out over and over again.
One of the good windsurfers

Eventually our boat was ready...or so we thought. We all piled on to a big, covered boat, only to be told to move over to another small, uncovered fishing boat. Bryan and I had brought a backpack with his camera in it, which we wouldn't have done in an uncovered boat, so we were a little miffed by the switch. Once in the boat, we whizzed off at a breakneck speed. I was clinging on to the side of the boat and clutching Bryan for dear life, while he held on to me and the backpack. It was one of those moments when you question whether you've made a good decision by going along with this nonsense. The water was choppy and the front of the boat was going waaaaaaaay up in the air, then slamming down, bouncing us all in our seats. There were five other people on the trip with us, and the three young Singaporean girls at the front of the boat were screaming their heads off. I figured they were small enough to go overboard first, so I decided that as long as they didn't go launching off the side, I'd survive. After a few minutes the water got less choppy and I slackened my death grip on the boat.
Our boat...not exactly engineered for choppy open seas

Pretty soon we stopped and hopped off the boat to snorkel. The reef was in pretty good shape, and we saw lots of neat stuff. The biggest clown fish I've ever seen were lurking in their anemones, then darting out to threaten us away. There were angelfish, boxfish, triggerfish, butterflyfish, colorful giant clams, sea urchins, long waving sea grasses, and more. We always have fun snorkeling around holding hands, and pointing out fun stuff to each other. Too bad we can't share what we saw! We need an underwater camera!

After about an hour, we all clambered back into the boat, which sped off to the nearby White Sands Island. The island was gorgeous and we had fun roaming around and sipping cold drinks provided by what appeared to be the island's only inhabitant.
White Sands Island
Beach cabanas and a little food place where we got warm cans of soda : )
Pretty as a postcard
Happy beach bums

There was a cute little dog tearing up and down the beach, barking at the waves, and doing his best to get some attention. What a nice life for a dog, hangin' out on the beach everyday!
Beach dog, livin' the good life

We also found some neat shells, and a surprising abundance of really big grasshoppers.
This picture of a conch shell looks like an optical illusion!!
And this grasshopper looks like some sort of alien life form...

After about an hour of kicking back on the island, we were beckoned back into what I had come to think of as the Death Ride, our little boat. The ride back wasn't as bad though, as the water had calmed down considerably. I mean, I still hung on for dear life, but I only screamed two or three times.

Back on shore, Bryan and I were hungry. We'd really liked the Sun Moon Restaurant the night before, so we headed back there. We ate a quick meal of rice, black pepper mock chicken (me), and ginger chicken (Bryan). Everything was delicious, especially after having worked up such an appetite. Also, the service was great, which is always a nice change of pace from S'pore, where customer service is typically seriously lacking.
Dinner with a view!
Happy Bryan with a full stomach

After dinner we killed some time playing Citadels in the lounge while we waited for the shuttle to take us to the ferry terminal in the north part of the island. The shuttle ride was kind of nice- it was neat to be able to see some of the sights that we'd missed as we'd come to the resort in the dark.
Cozy beach cabanas we saw from the shuttle

When we got there, the ferry terminal was packed and a little chaotic and I found myself getting grumpy with the Singaporean mentality of being pushy to be first (so widespread it even has a name- kiasu). The ferry ride was smooth and uneventful, but when we returned to the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal at around 11 PM, we had the worst part of our weekend- there were no taxis there to pick anyone up, the one bus only came every half an hour and was swamped when it finally got there, and even calling to request a taxi was futile, as no one would answer our request. Getting home was a serious trial. After calling taxi services repeatedly for an hour, we finally got on the second bus that came around, got off at an MRT station and took a taxi from there. So, my advice for planning a trip to Bintan is definitely to prebook a taxi for when your ferry gets back. You'll be glad you did!

Other than our trouble getting home once we were back in Singapore, we had a great, very relaxing weekend. I recommend checking out Bintan if you have the time, and if you're wary of the big resorts in the north, I do suggest our hotel, the Cabana Beach Resort- it was quiet and calm, with a nice view. Maybe we'll go back sometime!

Congratulations to Bing, the very deserving winner of the Lifestyle Category of the Singapore Blog Awards! And kudos to all the other winners. Bryan and I had a great time as nominees, and maybe we'll try again next year!


  1. The Tanah Merah Ferry problem sounds very familiar :)

    I found your blog because of your post on monkeys and dog attacks. It's heart breaking. I live not far from Bukit Timah, and frequently go there to take photos - my favourite :

    Finally, I might run into Bryan in the elevator. I work on the 19th floor at Fusionopolis...coincidence!

  2. Hahaha, what a greedy little monkey! She looks like she's loving that durian. Great photo!

    Yes, the dog attacks are very upsetting. I know that NParks does their best to deal with the problem, but I don't envy them- trying to catch a dog without catching a monkey or a squirrel or something else is no easy task. Truthfully, cars are a much bigger threat to the monkeys anyway. They get run over much more frequently than they get attacked by dogs.

    Enjoy Bukit Timah! I envy you for living so close :) And if you recognize Bryan in the elevator sometime, say hello. He'll feel famous!