13 September 2009
One thing that is missing about living here in Singapore is the absence of a decent beach to swim around. I have always been a fan of the beach ever since I was a kid. I have lots of good memories of my dad taking us, the whole family plus our grandparents, to the beach during special occasions such as birthdays. For me, just being in the beach doing nothing can be very relaxing.
In Singapore, the closest thing to a beach is Sentosa and the one in East Coast Park. Please don’t get me wrong as they are decent beaches; swimming there however is something that I cannot really do as I just don’t feel comfortable in seeing huge ships 200 meters from the shore. And we are talking here about not just a couple of ships but dozens of them, either it passes by or it is docked in the sea.
What we do usually to have a weekend fix of the sun and the sand is to go out of Singapore and ride a ferry towards this small island in Indonesia called Bintan. Unlike most people from Singapore who would opt to be stay in the area known as Bintan Resorts, we prefer to stay in Trikora Beach – an area famous amongst backpackers.
Getting to Bintan is easy, as there are several trips coming from the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal in Singapore. We are usually in the terminal before the break of dawn for us to take the first trip to Tanjung Pinang at 8:50. As of our last visit, there were 3 Ferry Operators: WaveMaster, Penguin and Falcon, which provide their service from Singapore to Tanjung Pinang and vice versa. The return ticket is affordable at around 50 SGD inclusive of the terminal fee in Singapore. The ferry ride is approximately two hours.
The immigration in Bintan can sometimes be a pain as there are only a couple of counters open and all the passengers have to queue around a room with no air-condition. Upon heading out of the terminal area, hordes of touts will offer you either a room or transportation. It is best to just turn all of them down politely with a smile and head towards the exit area. From there you can easily hire a taxi for less than 150,000 IDR for a trip to Trikora Beach.
Getting from Tanjung Pinang to Trikora Beach is not a quick one; it is usually more than an hour drive. There is nothing much to see along the way except the Indonesian countryside.
Our destination is Shady Shack, a bunch of rustic beachside cottages in Trikora Beach owned by an Indonesian man named Lobo. It didn’t take much problem pointing out our destination, as most taxi drivers know Lobo. Whenever we are there, we always ask our driver to bring us back to Tanjung Pinang the following day, as there are not much taxis plying around the area.
Shady Shack is an off the beaten path accommodation where you can enjoy a laid back lifestyle and relax at beaches of Bintan. There are eight cottages all in all in Shady Shack, each of them come with your very own toilet and your very own veranda. There are no aircon here; instead what it can offer is a very refreshing wind from the sea. Needless to say, this was really going back to the basics in every sense of the word. The rate here starts at 25 SGD per cottage and comes with breakfast for two persons.
The family of Lobo can take of your food requirements at a very affordable price. If memory serves me right, it was around 2 SGD per meal and 1 SGD for a cold drink or a hot coffee. You definitely cannot eat a meal with drinks with this amount if you prefer to stay in the Bintan Resorts area.
One of the things I really appreciate whenever I stay in Shady Shack is the atmosphere wherein you can feel that you are very much relaxed. No one is conscious of the time when you are staying in this place; instead you just lounge around in your idle time perhaps with a good book in your hand and a beer in another, eat whenever you feel like eating, drink whenever you are thirsty or dip in the waters whenever it gets a bit too hot. What I enjoy doing the most though is sleeping by the veranda with the sea breeze humming a lullaby for me.
Living in Singapore comes with a lot of perks but sometimes there is definitely a need to just get out and stay out from a fast paced city life. Trikora Beach and the cottages of Mister Lobo has become our decompression chamber wherever we wanted to experience a quick weekend that is definitely back to basic.
Teluk Bakau Mengkurus,
Pantai Trikora, km 41
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