If there is one thing I really miss about the Philippines (other than the glorious food), it has to be the beach and the countryside.
Any excuse to head to the beach and I will (almost always) say yes.
So when MkSurf8 invited to take a weekend trip to Bintan, I just had to say yes. He just had his first anniv at the new workplace and the weekend trip was the celebration of sorts.
Also joining the trip were RKGreg (who flew in from Manila! Wooohoo!), Chris and Pg Boy.
Fifty minutes away from Singapore is a happy place on earth.
Because of the excitement to head out of Singapore and to be at the beach, I woke up ahead of my alarm on Saturday. Being the morning person, I was tasked to give the Keows and Chris a wakeup call. Hehe!
Around 7AM, we met at the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. An hour later, we were boarding one of the vessels of Bintan Resort Ferries.
The trip didn't seem to take that long. Except for RKGreg who was just as wide awake as I was, the other three guys seemed to have fallen asleep.
Upon arrival at the Bintan terminal, we headed to immigration where the clearance almost took an hour because there were only four or five immigration officers who had to attend to the long queue of guestss for the weekend.
Once we were all cleared, we boarded a bus that took us to our home for the weekend - the Angsana Bintan Resort and Spa.
Days before the weekend, I already checked out the website when MkSurf8 told us which resort he booked for the weekend. The photos definitely made me wish it was already the weekend. Haha!
When I was reading up on reviews about the Angsana, I saw a number of previous guests complaining about this and that. However, as soon as we alighted from the shuttle bus, the first thing that came to mind when I saw the lobby was "Wow! This is awesome." There were some comments about how the hotel lobby had no A/C and blah blah blah. Uhm, hello. If I remember correctly Shangri-la Mactan does not have A/C at the lobby as well. It's all part of the tropical island feel that they want guests to experience, I suppose.
We headed to one of the comfy couches just after reception where a friendly lady with a warm smile welcomed us and took care of our check-in. The usual check-in time was at 3PM, but we asked if we could do an early check-in. She told us she'll get back to us. With hours to kill, we decided to change into (ready for) swim clothes, dropped our bags at the concierge, and explore the resort.
From the reception and the main lobby, there is a short flight of stairs that leads to the Lotus Cafe, which then leads to the pool. I really thought the cafe was nicely done. The interiors looked very elegant, but not too loud. If you go further, it leads to the spa I think which had beautiful Indonesian decors to welcome spa guests.
By 12 noon, we were told that the room was ready. Wooohooo! Major plus points for Angsana for that. By then, Chris, Pg Boy and RKGreg had already enjoyed the pool. MkSurf8 and I were just on the lounge chairs chillaxing.
In the afternoon, Pg Boy and I headed to Pasar Oleh Oleh for a massage. Pasar Oleh Oleh is a small village for tourists. There one will find massage places, cafes, souvenir stores. The area can do a bit more of marketing. There were hardly any tourists. It makes me wonder how the businesses are surviving.
Around 2PM, RKGreg, MkSurf8 and Chris joined us for lunch at Cafe Helo Helo where we had lunch. I read about the cafe/restau and I thought we should give it a try. The food was okay. It's quite expensive though. By expensive, I mean it's the same price as Singapore. We didn't even have to buy local currency. We just used either SGD to pay for things. Prices at shops were either in SGD or USD anyway.
From Pasar Oleh Oleh, we headed back to the resort and spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening just hanging at the beach.
For dinner, we went for the buffet at the Lotus Cafe. The spread had a good mix of some Western and traditional Indonesian food. The satays, in particular, were really great. I was one happy boy as I enjoyed the different kinds of satay. I can't remember how many sticks of seafood and chicken satay I had. Haha!
Stuffed from the dinner, we headed back to the room and spent the night watching X-Men with RKGreg's deadly mixed drinks. Hehe!
To be continued...