The travel bug which bit me gave me a wanderlust that will kill me if I don’t feed it at least once a month until I figure out how to feel like on a holiday every single day for the rest of my life. It’s a curse I love having and I will be forever miserable if I will not give in.
And for the first time I am writing halfheartedly. It took me some time to decide that yes, I will share this soul finding experience. I know I have to be fair because the place is amazing and it deserves to be made known.
I am currently at Bintan Laguna Resort and Restaurant, Trikora Beach, Tanjung Pinang, Bintan Island, Indonesia. How I got here? I am not sure. Only Wikipedia knows the place and no blogger has ever written about this. (Well, I am assuming as there was no further information about the place unlike Bali or Jakarta.) Off the beaten path places, I love.
Cristy, my American travel buddy, and I originally planned on trying Batam Island. Online images looked good but reviews weren’t. And my friends said nothing much to do nor see, and it’s Singapore expensive. We were still willing to try though. Plans only changed one day before the day we left KL when we were booking hotels online and checking routes. I saw Tanjung Pinang on the map and the backpacker in me felt that everything will be better there since it was far and I haven’t heard nor read anything about it.
How we got here:
Travel time and cost: (Take advantage of the free hotel brekkie and the food in Indonesia is cheap. This was split to two.)
Bus Fair to and from Johor: 68MYR (15USD)
Ferry to and from Tanjung Pinang: 202MYR (45USD)
Cab fare to and from the pier 20MYR (4USD)
Groceries (beer, bread, chips, etc) 259,000 IDR (19.44USD)
Lunch at Bintan Spa 200,000 IDR (15.02USD)
Bill from the hotel (another night stay, food and beer for 5 days) 705,900 IDR (53USD)
Hotel (4 days) 180 MYR (40USD)
We took the bus from TBS bus terminal in KL to Johor Barhu for about 4 and half hours at 34 MYR. We hailed a cab to bring us to Berjaya Waterfront Pier at 10 MYR. (Please haggle with the driver as they will not hesitate to rip you off and some will not use their meter). We were after the last ferry trip at 5PM that will bring us to Tanjung Pinang. There are only three ferry schedules to here (9am, 1pm and 3pm) and takes about three hours and costs 101 MYR one-way; 159 MYR two-way.
We reached Tanjung Pinang Pier at around 8PM and hailed a cab at 50,000 Indonesian Rupiah to bring us to the hotel in Tanjung Pinang town proper. This driver also offered to bring us to Trikora beach for 250,000 Indonesian Rupiah or 25 SGD and gave me his calling card when I declined.
Our mistake: No need to book a hotel and stay in the town proper. There’s nothing to see. Everything closes at 8PM. No nightlife, no one speaks English and nowhere to eat. Wiki said there is a bar named Dope so we went to try but it was closed.
This was a total waste. We suggest head straight to Trikora Beach instead. Cabbies will of course try to rip you off offering to bring there at 25SGD. But I have read in WikiTravel that it shouldn’t be more than 150,000 Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) for one way trip. Haggle, haggle, haggle and negotiate.
We were then brought to the hostel we booked via Agoda. 45MYR. This never failed to crack me up because I just checked out of The Hilton Hotel in KL then checked in to Shangrila Hotel, the budget traveler version. They didn’t charge me for calling a mobile number and extra black coffee so I love them. These little things are big thing for me because I remember the hotel I stayed at in Ho Chi Minh City, they charged me for calling the hotel landline I booked in Hanoi. For a budget hotel, I will still give them a good review in Agoda. The receptionist, even struggling to speak English, was extra helpful, friendly and has this genuine sweet smile plastered on her face the entire time we were talking.
Our check out time was nearing and I haven’t figured out how to go to Trikora Beach the local way. I’ve consulted Wikitravel again but he said there are buses however, driver don’t speak nor understand English. But since there are two of us traveling now and we can just split the cab fare, we thought that it will be okay to take the cab.
After breakfast and whilst having coffee, I asked the café manager how to get to Trikora Beach. He then told me to call the resort and asked if they provide transfers from the city. I called and I was told that they do but 250,000 IDR. I told him what I’ve read and he said 150,000 IDR is fine. I didn’t give him any confirmation yet hoping I will still be able to find a cheaper alternative. Check out time came and I haven’t figured it out yet and I was a little stressed out because I still need to use the hotel’s WIFI as there is no WIFI on this island. Few minutes later, a smashing new car arrived and there came out a limping man by the name of Akwang. He was the guy I have spoken with over the phone and turned out as the owner too. Men I was so happy and thankful. What did I do to be this lucky? It is really the little things that matter. He is really cool. We talked on our way to his resort and when I told him I need beer and some stuff, he happily drove us to a grocery store because the resort is really far from the town thus more expensive.
Then we reached the resort. OH MY GOD! Just OH MY GOD! Paradise is an understatement. To be honest, 45MYR (10 USD) per night is so little price to pay for a place like this. This is priceless. To be honest, at 45MYR, I am not expecting anything at all that is why we only booked 2 nights. I was even hesitant because the room doesn’t have airconditioner which is the only thing I want for my accommodation when I am traveling. I don’t mind bringing my own toiletries. I don’t travel light anyway.
As I scan the entire place, it took quite a few moments for everything to sink in. I was in awe. I am in awe. The place is so peaceful and beautiful. Far from the overly commercialized Bali I have seen.
Akwang told us it is low season so not a lot of guests are here. We have the resort to ourselves.
We met a local couple who checked in for the day. We enjoyed chit chatting over chips and Bintang, their local beer. They are a lovely and nice couple who even if they were here to spend quality time together, took time to walk with us by the beach and do some crazy jump shots. We exchanged contact details, said goodbye with a promise that when they visit KL, we will show them around.
I think I am catching a flu. So this is how it feels to sleep in cabana by the sea with cool sea breeze blowing 24/7 non-stop. I remember asking for extra blanket before I slept but it wasn’t enough. It was really cold and nothing beats natural air cooler. Shame I only have bikinis and sundresses. Good job girl!
Today, we will just beach bum. No WIFI. No distraction. Social media detox. Goodbye harsh real world. At least for few days.
I said I will run but thanks to the default bed weather, I was only able to manage to run in my dreams. I have packed my trainers and running clothes too. Looks like I will bring them back home unscathed.
So after breakfast, we changed to our bikinis, slathered on some sunblock, put on our sunglasses and prepared to take tons of selfies as promised and sunbathe the entire day. #certifiedbeachbums
True enough. We have the beach and the resort to ourselves.
But before the day ends, we met a Chinese solo traveler. I know I will like her that instant. No more further explanation needed because she is just like me: low maintenance, crazy, fun and brave woman not to mention, loves beer too. =)
So we had beer over dinner, exchange cool solo travel adventures and we free-loaded her data. Damn! We were like vampires with such blood thirst. I tried to control not sucking all her data but I almost wasn’t able to fight it. I just reminded myself, detox girl, detox! Social media detox. Real world detox. You have to be ready when you face the real world you’re always running away from. Be patient until the time comes that you have created a world no need to escape from. Dreams do come true. Just work hard and stay focused. Yeah, I am talking to myself again. I am playing my cheerleader again. No one else will.
Okay. I am losing it. I have lost track of the day, date and time. This is the best holiday I ever have. Well, so far. (I have left my heart in Laos and will still write about it) and by now, my body has well-adjusted to the cool weather.
Today is beach bumming and selfie day 2. If I can only make a living out of it. lol
So Cristy, Rice and I, AKA The Three Blonde girls, after taking breakkie, went to start the day at the beach. We walked far north under the sweltering harmful rays of the sun, took selfies, picked up shells for presents, took more selfies and decided to walk to the next beach which took about an hour and a half. We were so hungry and thirsty when we arrived at the resort’s pricey restaurant. We ordered food and beer and enjoyed the wifi before the server got problem. (It’s only now that I realized that we just had breakfast when we left our resort.) After lunch, we decided to rest for almost an hour then head back to our resort. It was already low tide so the walking time was only cut to 15 minutes to our surprise.
This is our last night. We all will check out tomorrow. I am out here with a badly sunburnt, red and itchy skin, trying to enjoy what is remaining before we head back to reality. I now know that no internet connection works well for me. I feel at ease, so connected to nature and in tuned with myself. I hear my tummy growl when it’s hungry, I sleep when I feel like it, no stress; nothing at all. The peaceful sound of ocean wave is more than enough. (Did I just see two rats kissing? I know. This place is perfect for honeymooners.) I don’t mind doing this again. I don’t mind doing this every month at all. Even though the lack of internet connection will make Cristy run out of her wits in no time, we decided to extend for another night. We both love this place so much. Even Rice, the Chinese girl, would love to cancel her Singapore trip to stay longer. I can’t blame her. We all agreed on coming back here and that made me feel the need to figure out how to buy that parcel of land across this resort. I will work hard for it and for now, one thing is for sure, I have found a hiding place I was hesitant to share. So if This Village Girl just vanished into thin air one day, check Tanjung Pinang. =)