I wanted to feel the sand on my feet again so I decided to go away for the weekend.
I got my sand and sunrise this summer!
Plus, I’ve said it before; June will never pass me by without seeing the beach one more time. Summer has arrived!
I decided to stay at Nirwana Gardens Resort
, Bintan Indonesia for an overnight stay doing that much-needed R&R. I made my reservations online and found a lesser deal because it also happens to be school holidays in Singapore. The resort decided to throw in some promotions during the months of June for students and families who want to get away for a while.
Once my reservation was confirmed, I booked my ferry ticket as well which is a MUST. To book tickets for Bintan, click Bintan Ferries
As a passenger of Bintan Ferries, we have to check-in not later than 40 minutes before boarding time or else your seat will be given to someone else. To get there, head to Tanah Merah Interchange. Take exit B and to the nearest bus stop. You need to take bus 35 which will take you about 6 bus stops for you to arrive at the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. When travelling by MRT and bus, make sure you give yourself ample time so as not to be delayed.
Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal is small, nice and clean. Just go straight to Bintan Ferries Terminal counter to get your boarding pass, customs form and arrival/departure card.
I wasn’t sure if I need to exchange money to Rupiah. But I’ve read on blogs that the resort do accept in SGD currency. So, I trusted my instincts and just say there’s “Always the first time experience” if anything gets fucked up. And the blog writers were right. No need rupiah. SG dollars, charge to room or credit cards, CAN!
While seated inside the boat, I noticed a sign saying about Bintan Cultural Festival happening around 8-19 June. I was just in time before the festivities end.
Takes 55 minutes to earn another stamp on your passport!
Philippines passport holders needs no visa entering Indonesia so no need to pay. Go straight up to the immigration and be ready with a smile. Make sure you have your customs declaration form and arrival/departure card filled out at the boat and before going through immigration. If you are a work pass holder in SG, insert the card in your passport, too. It will save you the hassle of explaining your visit in Indonesia being a Filipino that you are.
Once cleared with immigration, just walk up to the Nirwana Gardens attendant. There’s a signage so you won’t really miss out. Just confirm your reservation with them and they will direct you to the resort bus. There’s few minutes wait at the hotel transport bus while other guests gets cleared with immigration.
So, I’m early for check-in. Check-in time is at 3PM and my room is not yet ready. I decided to have lunch at the ala carte restaurant near the pool of which they say is less expensive.
True enough, I ordered coke $4 and Spaghetti Bolognese for $15. My total bill is $19.36. But a meal like this in Singapore will not cost you more than $10.
Buffet lunch is $23++ is also served at the indoor restaurant. Lunch is composed of oriental cuisines. I’m scared what the ++ sign would be. So you know why I gave this a miss.
So far so good. No rain and I wanted to go swimming right away. I have to go and get a room first. Cable TV is working, air-conditioning, hot shower, tub but no bath towels. I called for it twice but was only delivered the next morning to my room. Boo!
There aren’t that many people swimming in the beach. I don’t think they ever do. Maybe it’s because of the oil spill that happened long time ago. But the sand definitely felt great.
There are many activities around the resort. Take your pick.
Keep in mind that when you arrive in Bintan, it’s one hour late from Singapore time.
The following day, breakfast is ready! And it’s all okay to my taste. Well, at least what I’ve chosen from the buffet. The veggies were looking somewhat disappointing so I passed on that. Since my breakfast is for two, I loaded up, makes up for the missed dinner. They don’t have a lot of choices in the menu and I have been warned that it’s truly expensive. So, I’m happy with the complimentary breakfast for TWO. LOL!
I wanted to go swimming in the pool after breakfast. That’s when I realized that it’s an hour late in Indonesia and I’ve kept SG time since arrival. Swimming pool opens only at 8AM and closes shop at 9PM.
The sun came out but only for a few hours and then came rain again. So long as it stops during my way back to SG, I’m okay with it.
There were downtimes that I’ve experienced and I was thinking about getting one of the resorts tour packages around Bintan. But it is so expensive. The tour will cost me more than half of what I paid for my room for a nights stay. There is a cheaper rate but by a few dollar difference only. A few who have tried it before wrote that one can skip the tour around Bintan. I’m still curious.
It’s been a relaxing weekend. No hassle and just let the mind float on nothingness. I can’t do anything about the expenses involved because that’s how it is when you travel alone.
Alone time is good. I get to write about my weekend this long.
My expenses during the trip:
Nirwana Gardens Standard Room for 2 days 1 night stay Queen size bed booked in advance: $168.
Ferry Transfer round trip ticket booked in advance: $67
Lunch Meals for two days: 1. Spaghetti Bolognese: $19.36 – not recommended 2. Fruit platter for lunch: $9.68
3. Potato Chips: $3!!!! Buy your own while in SG if you want to. The hotel won’t mind.
Breakfast: inclusive of room rate for 2 persons
Dinner: skipped it, pfft!
Heading back to Bintan Terminal, get to the ticketing counter first and get your boarding pass. It’s Sunday so the line for departure is awfully long. There’s major standing in line and walking because there are no seats in the terminal.
You have to clear with immigration upon entry. No hassle since I’m a work pass holder. I don’t see anyone having a hard time so that’s good news for would-be vacationers.
When heading back to Singapore, if you are not a work pass holder, fill out the arrival/departure card again before clearing Singapore immigration again. Once done, just walk back to the bus stop where you stopped when you arrived from Tanah Merah station. Take the same bus 35, it will take about 7 stops and then you reach Tanah Merah station again.