bintan – part 2

After 2 nights at Yasin, we decide to step things up a notch, get hoighty, and head to the ‘Resorts’ district. It’s  a whole other world in here… Our rickety bus passes through a security checkpoint, complete with barbed wire and armed guards. One guard seems to have the very important task of pointing a running hose at each vehicle that passes through. That’s not a euphemism. It was a rubber hose. With water coming out.

We drive for about 20 minutes until we enter the hallowed gates of the Bintan Lagoon Resort. IT’S WEIRD!!! There are people sitting at the side of the road picking weeds out of the grass. There is a golf course. THERE ARE MONKEYS!!

The foyer is ENORMOUS. We are welcomed with iced tea. And hot towels. And the promise of wifi. How bougie are we??

Our room has air-conditioning. And NO MOSQUITOS!! Rich and I are both very excited at the thought of a full nights sleep without that squealy whine in our ears and the opportunity to give our bodies a rest from being eaten alive.

There are 12 restaurants here, all essentially serving the same Western fare, along with a nightclub!!! And a karaoke lounge!!! Flaps up, gang. On Friday night, during Happy Hour in the main restaurant, the barman makes cocktails WHILE JUGGLING FIRE!!!! A sight to behold, and certainly a very different world from what we’ve just experienced on the other side of the island.

The music here is also awesome, but again, in an entirely different way. There is a band (four singers, guitar, keys, and I’m guessing there’s a drum machine in there somewhere as well) who sit in the foyer, singing earnest covers of Metallica and Faith No More. It’s really loud. And the singers are really off key. But it’s still totally incredible and hilarious.

Aside from all the crazy decadence oozing outta the perfectly manicured lawns and air-conditioning vents, my absolute favourite thing about staying here is that you can swim in the ocean. And it seems that none of the other guests know that they are staying on a beach, with most of them choosing to sun it up (and burn baby burn) by the pool. The beach at Yasin was too polluted and stink to swim in, and nearly all the beaches we passed on the way here were too rocky to get down to, and too litter-filled to properly enjoy. The beach here is calm, but with enough little waves to make it feel like you’re in more than a giant’s bathtub. The three times we’ve been to the beach during our stay here, it’s been pretty much deserted, and amazing.

crabs of bintan (aka popeye-armed fighting machines)

Crabs, eh? On our first afternoon in Bintan, the tide out and the lovely wet, boggy, seaweed-smelling sand filling my nostrils, I espy crabs – hundreds of them – frolicking in the sand. I’ve never seen crabs like these guys before, because they have great big POPEYE ARMS!!! Although I think they may actually be called pincers. But I will call them POPEYE ARMS, because that’s what they were. But just one popeye arm per crab – a big orange pincer, to fend off wild beasts and other crabs – while their other crab arm was much smaller, and seemed to be used to shovel food into their tiny crabby mouths.

I saw a few of these popeye arm crabs JOUSTING WITH EACH OTHER – no, not really. But they were having funny little crab fights with each other and pushing smaller crabs into holes in the sand.

Who needs a TV or wifi when there are POPEYE ARMED CRABS to behold??!

bintan – part 1

Where o where can one be blessed with pancakes, fruit, juice, coffee, beer, nasi goreng AND mee goreng for around $15? Yes – Bintan (but only once you get out of the ‘Bintan Resorts’ precinct, where the same will cost about 10 times that).

After 1 hour on a vom-inducing ferry trip from Singapore, followed by an hour long drive, we arrive at the Yasin Nostalgia bungalows, on the east coast of the island. There are about 15 over-water bungalows here, connected by a rickety bridge made of driftwood. Rich and I wonder how much it would take for the bridge to snap and are thankful for not being too much chubbier than we are.

Our room is basic (read: rustic) – a fan, a bed, a mosquito net. There’s a little bathroom that will become the bane of my existence, but that’s another story (and possibly one not to be broadcast on the internetz). There’s a small balcony that looks out over the water when the tide is in, and over wet boggy sand and crabs having a part-ay when the tide is out. The outlook is much nicer when the tide is in.

Most of our time is spent lying around reading books (I’ve just finished ‘Someone like you’ by Roald Dahl and have just started ‘The Fry Chronicles’ by Stephen Fry, if you’re interested) which is a pretty fine way to pass the time on week 1 of le world tour.

On our first night here, we take a stroll to a neighbouring hotel to check out the pool. Walking into the resort is kinda reminiscent of The Shining, if The Shining was set in Indonesia and in really hot weather. A HUGE hotel with lots of weird ‘quarters’ around the place. Multiple pools (with no one in them), a small beach you can’t really swim at, a miniature golf course, A ZOO. It was a bit creepy. I see no sign of a hedge maze, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was one.

On our way back we stop to watch a volleyball match at the side of the road. Orange vs Yellow. It seems like the whole town has stopped to watch the match – after around 10 minutes of spectating, we were whooping, clapping and whistling with the locals and men on motorbikes.

We also pass a group of men – perhaps 40 of them – all dressed in black and jogging along the side of the road – SINGING!! It was pretty amazing and made me imagine an Indonesian Friday Night Lights-style sporting team, only I’m pretty sure these guys were soldiers. Which could also make for a pretty interesting TV show, don’t you think?

Yasin Nostalgia does not let me down in terms of restaurant soundtrack (see: Singapore) – there is a far more upbeat selection of music here. Now, I love golden oldies, but it may surprise you to know that I am also quite partial to Pussycat Dolls, Beyonce and the Bieb. Yasin Nostalgia just keeps the hits coming, even playing Doves and Kid Cudi over breakfast. My kinda place.

After 2 nights, we decide it’s time to move on and experience a leetle beet of luxury, so we get into a rickety old bus and head to the ‘Bintan Resorts’ part of the island.