There are many things that are much cooler when done mid-air. Tiny shots of spirits, or s*x (not guilty), for instance. Cooler than both those though is booking your next trip whilst somewhere 30,000 ft above India. Hello 21st Century, you have finally done what you are for and brought wifi to the sky where it was most naturally belongs. 21st Century: you have made your own lovechild with the Neolithic era, Ryanair, look ridiculous for the times they insist that the entire plane turns off their blooming digital watches for take off, for Christs sake. So last Tuesday, I’m minding my own beeswax on the way to my new home in Singapore. Instagramming views like this and whatnot. And doing other important internet things that I need the internet for. And actually getting excited for my first weekend in Singz. But nay; ’twas not to be.
Instead, a link from the expat-newbie-to-Singapore whatsapp group appeared, representing a new plan. Was I in or out? IN. B-IN-tan. IN-donesia. Fate.
So off we trooped as a merry lawyer gang towards the island. Here are the highlights:
1. The beach is actually beautiful: a tropical paradise complete with an almost deserted, white sandy beach with turquoise water. None of us were expecting it to be so awesome. Frankly, it all seemed too easy to be so perfect and I’m a sucker for a well placed palm tree against a clear blue sky. Besides all that: there’s an elephant!
The hotel, for £50 a night, is a marvel. No, you won’t get to see much of the ‘real’ Indonesia (you get picked up by a Nirwana shuttle bus straight from the ferry port which drives you 20 minutes along a primarily exclusive driveway to the self-contained resort) but you will like the infinity pool facing the sea, the amazing views and the working air-cons in the rooms. If you get cabin fever from all that fresh sea air, you can hop in a taxi and explore the island more thoroughly. Two girls in the group were this intrepidly inclined and went to see the floating villages, mangroves and seafood markets. Meanwhile the others and I were happy enjoying the sunloungers and Tiger beers by the sea. Something for everyone, as they say. In addition, you can get the shuttle bus to the lovely seafood restaurant nearby, which is on stilts somewhere over the ocean and where you can all pick your crab and fish literally straight from the sea and have a delicious medley of Indonesian delicacies all for approx. £25 per person.
3. The ease. Get in a taxi (10 mins), get on a ferry (50 mins). Arrive before you’ve even left home due to time difference. Easy as. OK, so it is a tad longer because of check-in times, but the point is that it’s so freakin’ peasy. Anyone that lives in, or is visiting, Singapore could easily pop along for a day trip or an over-nighter, like we did, absolutely stress free. You should book in advance though if you have a specific time you want to set sail, as they do sell out. To my glee, they had already run out of the economy fare tickets for the way there, so we simply had to get ’emerald class’ (and if you have a spare tenner it’s definitely worth the upgrade).
4. The company. I went with roughly 20 people that I had met the day before, at best, and it was great. We had tunes, chats and a shed load of duty free spirits and not a drop of mixer. Dreamy.
5. My serve, in beach volleyball that is, could apparently send the Brazilian Olympic team home in shame. I was, of course, terrible at the rest of the game, and my arm is now bent backwards and arthritic.
Considering it is easier to get to Bintan from Singapore than to get to the Isle of White from London, we were all very impressed. You can tick off a new country, get a tan and take a heap of exotic photos to show granny, all for approx. £120. I would definitely go back to the island, even the same hotel, maybe taking any visitors I have to Singapore, without a jot of disappointment.
For a first weekend, earmarked for unpacking and settling in, Singapore has already shown me up. Looks like I’m in for a travel-ly 6 months guys, and it looks like you’ll have to wanderjealust (copyright(joking)) reading about it.
COMING UP: Garden Beats ‘electronic picnic festival’
Hotel website: Nirwana Resort Hotel
Bintan ferry website: BRF Ferries (near the airport)