Easter in Bintan, Indonesia

I am married to Mr. Unpredictable so from no Easter weekend plans on a Thursday at 7pm, we were booked with a hotel and ferry ticket for Bintan at 8:30 pm. Whew! The planner in me, where art thou? Although it keeps me sane to always have a trusty plan, I have to give it to Gel to always keep me on my toes, always surprised on what’s going to happen next. I guess that makes life a little more exciting. 🙂

Given the spontaneity of this trip, we didn’t have a lot of choices. Luckily, we found Bintan in Indonesia. For people in Singapore, this serves as a quick getaway from the bustling metropolis. It is a tropical destination only 45-minute ferry ride away from SG to Bintan’s sandy beaches.

One can book a ferry ride with Bintan Resort Ferries through their website. The terminal is located at Tanah Merah. From Tanah Merah MRT, board bus 35 and alight at the last stop at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. Fares can be seen below:

From Bintan Resort Ferries Website as of April 2014

From Bintan Resort Ferries Website as of April 2014

Us, getting a little seasick but not letting it show

Us, getting a little seasick but not letting it show

Remember that it still is an Indonesian territory so make sure to bring the Important Documents Required for Immigration Clearance:

  • International Passport (require minimum 6 months validity from date of travel)
  • VISA if required.
  • Embarkation Card
  • Boarding Pass
Disembarkation Card. Very important! Lookeeee, it's the first time ever that I placed this occupation: Housewife! :)

Disembarkation Card. Very important! Lookeeee, it’s the first time ever that I placed this occupation: Housewife! 🙂

Given its proximity to Singapore, it is really marketed to Singaporean tourists. This is why most hotels and shops accept Singapore dollars. However, we made sure we had rupiah so we changed at least 50 SGD when we arrived at the terminal. 

The road to Serumpun. Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

The road to Serumpun. Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

There are a lot of posh resorts in Bintan like Nirwana Gardens and Banyan Tree but since it was a peak season, our choices were down to a few. Serumpun Padi Mas Resort is located at Trikora beach, about 45-minutes to an hour away from the terminal. We paid 115.38 SGD for a 3D/2N stay inclusive of breakfast. Quite a cheap one but it also means to not put your hopes up! It had the very basic things:

  • a queen sized bed with not so comfy sheets
  • a television (the box and not the flat one) with local channels only
  • an A/C (thank God)
  • a shower but no hot water
  • no refrigerator

We arrived around 5pm already so we didn’t get to see the beach anymore. We just had dinner inside the resort. They had this canteen but I should warn you that eating there can be a problem. There are way too many pesky insects! Good thing the food was okay. I actually liked the Ayam Penyet (smashed chicken). We also made a new friend in the person of Andreas, a German national who is currently on a 3-month business trip in Singapore. Of course, we encouraged him to go to Boracay!

Ayam Penyet and Nasi Goreng plus this view

Ayam Penyet and Nasi Goreng plus this view

Hello there Serumpun Padi!

Hello there Serumpun Padi!

A girl from the tropics will always search for sand and sea.

A girl from the tropics will always search for sand and sea.

The stretch of beach

The stretch of beach

An afternoon by the beach

An afternoon by the beach

We spent the following day by the beach. Good thing our new found friend Andreas was able to reserve a hut for us. I must tell you, the beach is just okay. I’m pretty hard to please because I am from the Philippines. We have so many beautiful, pristine and immaculate beaches at home so I can’t help but compare. The sand here in Bintan is not that white nor is it powedery-fine. However, being based in Singapore, this is the closest I’ve got to a natural beach (Sentosa, I am looking at you). 

What made the trip fun was getting to know a person who lives halfway across the world from you. His life, his culture is so different from us. I actually found him really nice and proper but he said a lot of Germans are deemed rude since they are very forward. He is a small town boy who actually made it big in the city (Munich) and now the world. I’ve always dreamed to be a small town girl to conquer the world. 

During dinner, we wanted to try other restaurants since the choices at the canteen inside the resort were quite few. Since Andreas rented a car, we were able to drive and search for a restaurant to eat. However, there were not too many options. We were on the road for a good 30 minutes to an hour, it was kind of dark and creepy and we were losing hope when we saw this nicely lit hotel. We tried our luck and voila! We were in for a buffet for just 20 SGD! Steal! 🙂 

Smiles on our faces because we ate to our hearts' content

Smiles on our faces because we ate to our hearts’ content

We weren’t able to do a lot of things but when you reach the terminal, you can grab a Bintan Resorts Destination Guide to see all the attractions you can do. In brief, these are:

  1. Tanjung Uban Explorer – See the seaside fishing village life
  2. South Bintan Heritage Tour – Visit a little Chinese fishing settlement
  3. Sri Bintan Kampung Eco Tour – Explore traditional Indonesian village
  4. Power Paintball 
  5. Reservoir Park for picnics and non-motorised water sports
  6. Mangrove Discovery Tour
  7. Jumbo Park – Home of 7 Sumatran elephants where you can go for a ride, feed them or watch them perform.
  8. Spa
  9. Golf
  10. Flying Fox 
  11. ATV
  12. Snorkelling
  13. Water Sports
  14. Gunung Bintan Adventure Trek

It is also best to rent a car so you can tour the island at your own pace. Here are some Private Transportation Services:

 

I think Bintan is being groomed to be a tourism spot for Indonesia since the spending power of the nearby Singapore is just too good to pass. Lagoi Bay Development is still on going but you may see the grand master plan here. A new international airport is also in the works so in a few year’s time, I won’t be surprised if Bintan becomes Indonesia’s next Bali. 

Bum Days in the Park

It’s been a month since I packed my bags and stayed here in Singapore to join my husband. He is homesick like a puppy while I am having the time of my life! Haha what an irony. I guess it’s because he’s brushing with real life – work and the pressure of a one-income household in the world’s most expensive city while I am living a dreamy Betty Crocker one. Not in my wildest dreams have I ever thought that there will be days like this. A far cry from how my days were before of deadlines, meetings, brainstorming and presentation decks. This is my zen. This is actually me stopping to smell the roses.

From where I stand

From where I stand

My favorite place to chill is at Bedok Reservoir which is a leisurely 2-minute walk from our place. The shoreline where a jogging path lies is a 4.3km stretch. Its gravel pathway makes it a preferred spot for runners. I am no Sporty Spice but I actually found it better. Seems like you’re bouncing versus the hard thug of running on concrete pavements.  Imagine me running (or shall I say walking) on this path? Kids playing around, dogs being walked and adults flying their RC planes are normal sights here. That’s why I can probably stay here for an hour and just go people-watching.

4.3 kilometers for a sedentary like me? WOAH.

4.3 kilometers for a sedentary like me? WOAH.

Bedok Reservoir is also a venue to water sports activities like wakeboarding, sailing, fishing, canoeing and kayaking. Too bad, I wasn’t able to try any since I, the domestic diva, need to cook and feed the husband. Oftentimes, I’d pass by here on my way to do the grocery at the nearby Sheng Shiong. During late afternoons, I see a lot of guys fishing and it’s surprising that they can catch fish! I was just too shy to interview them but I wanted to!

Gone fishing

Gone fishing

The view of the reservoir reaching the sky is quite a relaxing one. Water really has a calming effect. However, when I tell my SG-based friends that I love hanging out here, they get shocked. The stigma of this place is far from the rainbows and butterflies it is to me. Apparently, this place has been a site of numerous suicides both successful and failed attempts. There’s also a story of a floating body found at the reservoir causing alarm for nearby residents about the quality of their water. Apart from these, the spooky stories are quite prevalent too. Yet, I still treat this as a beautiful place because, look. It really is.

Small stage in a cosmic arena

Small stage in a cosmic arena

There's always a lifeline if you need help.

There’s always a lifeline if you need help.

Calaguas, Camarines Norte: The road (and sea) to paradise

markngo:

Almost a year ago, we went on a 10-hour bus and 2-hour boat ride to experience paradise. 🙂

GelLovesEu: This is it!

A month after our wedding, the reality of marriage is sinking in. From the mundane things – sunog na tocino, 1st attempt at sinigang, plato shopping at Ikea dahil wala kaming pag-aari dito sa SG to the big things like decisions to be made about our future. But one thing’s for sure, it can only be great!  

From our family and friends, to our suppliers who have been nothing but awesome, ang galing niyong lahat!

Church: San Antonio De Padua
Officiating Priest: Father Elso Nalangan
Preparation and Reception: The Hills At Silang
Catering: Neil’s Kitchen
Photo, Video and Photo Booth: Mark de Guzman Wedding Photography and Films
Secondary Photography: Manny and April Photography
Couturier: Mitch Desunia Haute Couture
Hair and Make-Up: Jen Delica
Florist: Floral Artist by Joel Faller
Lights and Sounds: Jsminasoundsystem
On the Day Coordination: Events Plus c/o Rea Brolagda
Couple’s Area Styling: Scentacreations Eventstyling
Bridal Car: Laguna LoveDub Bridal Car
Invitation Layout and Copy: Mark Ngo and Denise Nicole Oyog
Monogram: Bleps Dapo
DIY Bouquet, Wrist Corsage and Boutonnieres: Geli P. Visenio
Ring and Coin Pillows: Partycraftessentials
Wedding Rings: Odhes Garcia
Guest Souvenirs: Catherine FabreoCarla Pineda and Becky Santos
Secondary Groom/Ever Reliable Driver, Taga-Buhat at Lahat na: Jondy Viray
Principal Sponsors and Entourage 
Reception Host: Joy Siy
Lector and Commentator: Sol Romero and Ani Hila
Pre-Wedding Meals and Lechon: Josie San Miguel and family
Band: Rhoderick Taino
Bridesmaids Kit: Katchacanvas
Save-the-Date Audio Recording: Butch Tayao
Honeymoon Accommodation: AYANA Resort and Spa Bali

So again, we want to thank you for joining us as we celebrate our relationship’s #tagumpay.  All we wanted was a light and fun wedding but you guys blew us away with your love and enthusiasm. Salamat sa pag-iyak at pag-tawa kasama namin  Of course, won’t be possible without God’s endless blessings!  

From the San Miguels,
Gel and Eunice

Domestikits 101

I don’t know how moms do it. To be so caring, so thoughtful, so quick to address the needs of others day in, day out for the rest of their lives? How?

Drum roll! A few days from now, I’ll be celebrating the monthsary of my short but sweet stint as a full-pledged housewife. Never thought it would be possible but I survived this seemingly daunting task of being a domestic diva.

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Thank you to the world wide web. What will we do without you?

From the first time I got hold of that knife to cut vegetables and cook sinigang with a lot of help from the internet, the days that followed felt like a breeze. One dish led to another and now I feel like I can do anything! Haha! Kidding!

Of course sometimes sweeping the floor, doing the laundry can still be such a drag but you’ll be amazed how your system can cope up so fast that soon enough, chores become like clockwork.

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My hatest chore: folding and sorting the clothes

There are days when I feel like WTF am I doing here? But definitely, the days when I am thankful to the Lord that I get to have this break outnumber those little bursts of boredom and insanity. Hmmm… If I think about it, I don’t really get bored haha! Still got my hands full and it’s not as if I just sit around the whole day ‘cause I have to make sure the house is clean and there’s food to feed the working husband.

Though it seems easy (and fun), I am still in awe how wives/mothers do it like it’s second nature to them. I only have Gel who’s a fully functional adult who I can ask to fry the spring rolls if I feel like it. I’m not even forced to wake up in the morning to prepare his breakfast because the night owl in me just won’t let me. Still a long way to go before I can be a Martha Stewart but I guess I’m off to a good start, right? 🙂