Wednesday, February 10, 2010

beauty of bintan

Our company sent us over to Bintan Island, Indonesia, during the 1st week of February, to join the training with all the other account managers in the southeast asian region. Since it's my first time to visit the place, I wanted to note down the experience.

Bintan island, is one of the numerous island of the Indonesian archipelago. It's nearer to Singapore than Jakarta. Thus, it's proximity to Singapore,(just an hour ferry-ride away) makes it a playground for rich singaporeans.

To get to Bintan, Indonesian, it's more efficient to go via Singapore. Even my colleagues from Jakarta, flew out of their country, came to Singapore and took the ferry to Bintan. Otherwise, it will take them 4hours from jakarta to Batam airport (another island) and then take another hour of ferry-ride to reach Bintan. That's how huge Indonesia is.

From Changi airport, we rode a cab to Tanah Merrah Ferry Terminal (costs only about SGD$9.40) about 10minutes travel time. Don't you just love Singapore? Taxi drivers speak sensible english, clean taxi, clean surroundings, organized lanes. The weather though is a tad too hot for me.

Even it's just an hour ferry ride, bintan is another country. Passports, embarcation and disembarkation cards, immigration officials, luggage scanners are still SOP. The ferry terminal is clean and organized. It's like an airport, where there are different ferries and destinations (you can also go to other islands like batam, etc.) They also accept check-in luggages!

The ferry is big, pretty and clean. So, different from all the roros, i've ridden in Pier 12 and 14 from the Philippines. I've ridden Superkat before from Batangas to Calapan. But it's so-so compared to the ferry we rode in... spotless flooring, flat screen TVs, fully-airconditioned, and none of that rusty-seawater smell.. you know what i mean? Paminsan-paminsan, may masisinghot kang "european" at "bombay" na amoy, as some of the expats living in Singapore goes to Bintan for the weekends, as well. (now, i'm being a bigot -- that's why tina-tagalog ko.) Ferry ride is about SGD$30 for one-way.

When we landed in Bintan, we were fetched by our tour operator rep, and we hopped on a bus to take us to Bintan Lagoon Resort, our official residence for the 4days,3nights sojourn.

My first impression on Bintan, it's like entering jurassic park. Beautifully developed roads leading to the clubhouses/resorts, with huge electrical wirings and posts, but the by-ways are still uninhabited and lurks unknown creatures. As a matter of fact, it's called Komodo Island. My colleagues from the Phillipines watched the B-movie Snake vs. Komodo Dragon, and we had a laugh out it and now.. we're in Komodo island!

The resorts in Bintan are mostly 5star quality, very high-class resorts. They are not your ordinary huts and cottages. Think Club Med... and the like.

This is our welcoming committee:

Our resort, Bintan Lagoon Resort, despite its boring name has an 18hole golf course, several beachfront villas with its own private swimming pools, archery field, the grounds are huge they resemble like football fields in size...there are several swimming pools, restaurants, even a laser-game hall, etc. etc.

The place is so huge, that our team building game uses GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) handhelds. Our 7 teams run all over the place, and yet we rarely come across each other!

This is just one-wing of the main house:

This is just one-part of the huge swimming pool, which is also just part of several pools in different areas of the resort:

My very beautiful and elegant room, there's a space for a day bed, which we called a stage for bedroom performances. There's a lovely welcome letter and a tshirt from our company!

My very own, Flat Screen TV. Don't you just love the orange accent contrasting with the black TV monitor and the clean white walls?

I also have a veranda, overlooking the pool. But you know how it is with trainings, you are often cooped inside a room.. learning new things. A rare chance if one can have extra time to enjoy these little amenities.

Somewhere in the island, we also got a chance to visit another resort, unimaginatively called Bintan Resort which houses some species of deer.

In the evening, we went to the pasar oleh-oleh, a small village where had dinner and bought souvenirs to take home. My pinoy colleague calls it the Tiendesitas of Bintan, because of the native, cultural ambience. Prices are in SGD and quite expensive, which is not surprising, since this market is for tourists. I bought a lovely wooden figurine of a Balinese couple, and a native mask, which looks more african than indonesian, to add to my collection.

Shall i go to Bintan again with my family? only if it will be at the company's expense. Otherwise, if i have to spend my own money, I think there are many other equally nice but less expensive places to visit.

But if you're base in Singapore, and you've visited all the must-sees in the city, and you have the cash, by all means -- visit Bintan! A wonderful getaway to swim, hike, play golf, rest, pig-out on spicy indonesian food.. love it!