Nikoi Island 2017 Day 2 – First Time Fishing and Home Sweet Home

Sunday morning started with a cloudy morning. The lack of curtains made the room bright even as early as 530am. I was woken up by my body clock and spent some time in bed writing up the happenings (not much in fact) the day earlier and even had time to wash the milk bottle and the utensils that I missed out washing the night before.

As mommy and K laid sound asleep, I decided to explore the island by myself, walking around barefooted like an islander. Proceeded past the usual building of the bar and then past the bigger villas, meant for families and further through a forest to the swimming pool. Dipped my foot in the slightly chilly water and took a couple of photos before heading back to the main beach. Took in the powdery sand with gentle turquoise waters view and returned to our villa, to find mommy and K downstairs, awake already.

Forest walk path to the swimming pool
Swimming pool near the shore
Swimming pool panoramic
Lounge beds near swimming pool
Entrance to swimming pool

Bad news was, K was having a fever. Worse news was, we forgotten to bring the paracetamol and we had to return home today, one day shorter than the planned. Obviously this meant that we had to forgo the SGD480 per night room plus ferry tickets to be paid for changing of time. What a bummer.

Went to the reception to borrow a comb and thermometer but they didn’t have at that time so I returned to the villa and together with mommy and K, we went to the dinning place to have our breakfast.

One set of Indonesian and one western, plus K had a bowl of honey stars, out of a choice of 4 giant glass jars. I ordered omelette, tomato and sausage and they delivered more than one plate of omelette, a mistake that they admitted later on. For Indonesian, there was some curry flavoured stuff, some kueh lapis and donuts. There was also toast with butter and a fruit platter to finish off. Fruit juice and coffee were the drinks. Very filling.

Jars of cereal
Indonesian breakfast
Indonesian main breakfast
Omelette with sausage and tomato
Hash brown with cheese omelette

We broke the bad news to the staff when they asked how we wanted our lunch. The orders were changed to just rice and some bread so that we could take those away. The staff helped to make arrangements for our sudden need to depart and managed to find the ferry arrangements. We were then due to leave on the 1pm boat from the island, checking our at 1230pm.

Wanted to try fishing and so we proceeded to where the makeshift fishing rods were and asked the staff at the bar for some fish baits. The staff came back with the squid fish bait and showed us how to attach to the hook. Walked to the pier and started to fish. As soon as the bait went under the surface of the water, we could feel the rod shaking as fishes attacked the bait. Then as I picked up the rod, we saw a fish trying to shake itself off the hook. We caught a fish!

Turquoise water near the jetty
Fishing rods
Staff helping to put bait on the hook
Fish in the water
Caught a fish!

Quickly took a few photos to mark this momentous event when we caught a fish and then tried to remove the fish so as to release it back into the waters. Tried a few more baits later only to find the bait totally eaten without catching any fishes. I guessed they learnt.
As we were trying to lure the fish, I noticed something fell into the water making a splash. I asked if mommy had dropped something, like her handphone and it was! It slipped from her pocket when she sat down. I immediately informed one of the staff who was on the pier and he quickly jumped into the water and attempted to retrieve it. Through the clear waters, I directed him to the location and he got it back for us.

We returned back to the villa after returning the bait to the bar. Mommy put her handphone into the bag of uncooked rice that we have packed for the trip, initially meant as dinner for K. Since the kitchen cooked for K, we didn’t use it.

While mommy cooked soup for K, I did whatever packing there was. Then we went over to the reception to ask for the staff who helped us retrieve and handphone and gave him a small appreciation of SGD50. Later we visited the kids club for a while and K tried the old free house which he despised after climbing a little and went over to the new but not yet opened tree house to take the swing and cross the bridge. Mommy took some time off to explore the island later joined us at the kids club.

Kids club old treehouse
New tree house
Flying fox from the new tree house

Back at the villa, K started to have lunch first and so I returned to pick up the meals which was already ready at the bar. After k finished his lunch, both mommy and I quickly took turns for a quick bath before the resort staff came to pick up the luggage.

Another view of the beach
Panoramic of the beach

We did our checkout at the same bar, mommy paying the meals for SGD200ish, a price mommy found steep which I thought was expected since it was quite delicious and supply was a monopoly. We also had to pay for the transfer that didn’t come with the hotel booking and it was another SGD200ish. We waited until it was time to go and proceeded to walk to the other jetty, as it had left choppy waters there. Other than us, a couple of other families were also leaving the island. Boarded the fast craft and not long later, we were waving goodbye to the staff on the pier and the boat sped across the waters, creating water splashes that interested the kids seated at the back.

View of mainland Bintan

K was not as active as he was, probably due to the fever and also nearing afternoon nap time but he didn’t puke. 20mins later, we were at the same private pier and onboard the MPV by ourselves, each families getting their own. While on the road, K fell asleep real quickly and both his parents follow suit soon after.

The journey back to the terminal was uneventful and as the car stopped for us to disembark, K woke up. One hour of nap time wasn’t enough, evidently as his activity level stayed low. We went to the ticketing counter and mommy paid additional SGD78 for the change in tickets. The economy option was an additional SGD60 so it was not a bad deal to just settle for the Emerald, in return for priority embarkation and disembarkation, lounge use with free drinks and more comfy seats.

Emerald class tickets

After using the restroom, getting a free drink and getting online with the free slow WiFi, we were called to board the ferry. There was no need to rush since we had allocated seats and sat comfortably, except that my chair was automatically in inclined position upon resting my weight on it. Got a free drink onboard as well. K though constantly being sponged by us was enjoying the early bits of the onboard show of Alvin and the chipmunks (again, patience too short to last the entire movie). And before we knew it we were disembarking, going through immigration and one of the first few in line and waiting for the luggage on the small belt. Carpark fees was SGD42ish.

Trip was a nice return to nature, a getaway true to its name. While physically we were away from the day to day familiarity in the form of electronics and online games (no Pogo monsters on the island) that created time for bonding, such as fishing and playing sand. However, as unpredictable as life itself, the trip was abruptly shortened due to a fever and we weren’t prepared like we were used to, having forgotten to bring along our paracetamol, a lot of money spent wasted and value of traveling time under utilized. Nikoi Island could have been fun, evidently family oriented as observed by the number of families there but expensive due to its exclusivity. Our boy may have been too young to enjoy it all, and we would probably not be back anytime soon, considering other more convenient places available.

Nikoi Island 2017 Day 1 – Arrival in Nikoi Island – experience of private island

The weekend getaway started with a feverish morning originating from a sore throat. Coupled with a lack of precheck on the boarding timing, we started to move fast when we knew from the email booking that we needed to be there 1.5rs before our 1110am departure.

Quickly I continued to pack the last minute items while mommy cooked the lunch to be packed for the journey to Nikoi Island. We were all set to move by 910am and drove about half an hour to Tanah Merah ferry terminal. Parked at carpark A, we went to check in behind a long line of people checking in for the Bintan Resort Ferries. I quickly went over to the forex to exchange SGD50 at rate of IDR9400 for 1SGD before we getting our tickets and checking in the luggage at the next counter, without additional charge.

Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal
Bintan Resort Ferries

We proceeded to go through the checks and immigration which was quick and entered a crowded waiting area with snaking queues for boarding. We had about an hour left to boarding and so we went to Killiney for breakfast, sat at one of the few tables that weren’t cleaned up, probably because of the crazy amount of people there. People sure loved to cruise out of Singapore on a weekend.

Killiney at departure gate

This was a different experience we had since our last trip with K as we had booked the Emerald class and had a separate lounge to sit in and did not have the problem of looking for space to sit. As K was almost 3, we didn’t think that we had to pay that much more for space and settled with joisting for space, like the rest of the public.

Mommy took the job of ordering food while I kept K company at the table with his new Lightning McQueen toy. He had an episode of wanting to go to toilet to take a dump that I had to leave the bags at the table quickly as mommy was still in queue but when we arrived at the toilet bowl, he said no more.

After our breakfast of toast with kaya and butter accompanied with the boost of caffeine from the coffee, mommy went to line up while K and I went to sit at the waiting area seats. It was indeed a good strategy as we were one of the first few to board and had the chance to sit right in front where we could see where the ferry was heading and the giant screen in front.

Line forming
Boarding the ferry

The seas were pretty calm thankfully, reducing the numbers of up and downs, and K had drank up a bottle of milk. There were puke bags available and I was having it on standby for fear of puking incident. We didn’t have to use it although he managed to burp instead of puke. Alvin and the chipmunks were on TV for that short ride to Bintan island and K took the last 10mins of the ferry ride walking around the vessel.

Front view in the ferry
Deli inside the ferry

After disembarking, we realized that we were going to queue for a while with so many people in queue, much unlike the last time in Emerald class where they had the priority to get off first. Luckily for us, there was an express option for people going to Nikoi Island as a lady staff stood with a sign to Nikoi Island brought us to the front of the queue of immigrations and even waited on our behalf at the belt for our checked in luggage while we go through the security checks. We had the chance to use the lounge for free mineral water and restroom before our ongoing drive, which was meant for the Emerald class. This was not a bad deal.

Bintan terminal
Nikoi island VIP transfer
Bintan Executive lounge entrance
Inside Bintan ferry lounge

It was a seamless transfer as we were handed over to the driver whom brought us to a MPV for our 1hr drive to the next jetty. Having given K his smelly smelly, he soon fell asleep on the 1hr car ride (when he didn’t on the ferry as the smelly smelly was inside the luggage and he needed that to go to sleep). I took the opportunity to catch some shut eye since I was busy with K on the ferry whereas mommy had her rest on board already. The car, as far as I knew, went through uninteresting areas of vegetation and small villages made up of sparsely spreaded short concrete houses before hitting the coast. I had my data roaming on, as I had subscribed the night earlier, with the concern that there was no WiFi on Nikoi Island. The data roam package wasn’t overly expensive as I had initially thought it to be, 3gB for 30days usage for SGD30, and since we have another trip at the end of the month to Hong Kong, we could still utilize it. I was looking forward to some Pokémon Go action, but was seriously disappointed with the lack of gyms and pokestops being few and far between.

Our private transport to the Nikoi Ferry

Not long before we drove into a private boat pier. K woke and was a little dazed while I quickly used the restroom before boarding a big speedboat, 20mins trip to our final destination. The speedboat went quickly on the water, going past some floating houses before powering through the small waves. K was ok throughout and we disembarked with a lovely welcoming sight of the white sandy beach.

Cempedak private ferry
Toilet at the private jetty
Private ferry to Nikoi
Fishermen fishing while being away from the shore
Floating houses seen on the way to Nikoi
View of the beach from the ferry
Arriving at Nikoi

The staff immediately escorted us to the bar where we had a cold towel and a welcome drink and did the check in and getting information on what was available in this tiny private island. K had the liberty to go around playing sand (it was almost everywhere) and we proceeded to the lunch area afterwards.

Bar for check in and drinks
Nikki island map
Giant clam shells

Mommy didn’t booked the full board, as it was quite expensive, about SGD100 per person per day and was expecting to order a la carte but there wasn’t such options. We had to pay the set meals option anyway since there were no other restaurants around. The lunch consisting of appetizer and main course of fish which was very tasty, and definitely of a restaurant standard. There were however many flying insects that went around, something expected when staying close to nature. We had also informed on what we wanted to have for dinner if we didn’t want what was offered on the menu, and they could make adjustments. They could even prepare for K something different and we ordered steamed fish, broccoli and rice for him, thus reducing the need to cook.

The dining area
Appetizer made of chicken and vegetables
Fish and vermicelli
Mango sticky rice
Interesting wooden fan

We were escorted back to our villa and it was a double storey open concept villa with 2 toilets. The ground floor was totally opened without any doors, had its own hanging bed and sun decks and another bed shed facing the sea while the second floor had another toilet, a balcony, 2 side beds and the main bed in the middle. It was simple yet luxurious. There weren’t any TVs and air conditioning and the electricity was powered by solar. But there was WiFi, pretty strong one and it was throughout the island.

Path to the door less villa
Our villa
Staircase up to second floor
Ground floor toilet
View from the villa ground level
Side bed
Bedroom toilet
Sink at the main bathroom
Room balcony

We spent pretty much of the time in the villa, K lazing around at all the beds there were, especially liking the hanging one. I seen a large monitor lizard lurking as it headed towards the sea. K then proceeded to play sand as we had brought the scoops and shapes and he made a mess of himself throwing sand everywhere. There wasn’t a telephone (totally forgotten that the staff could been reached via Whatsapp) and so I had to walk to the bar to request of ice so as to have them placed in the ice box to keep some of the vegetables that we brought cool.

Giant monitor lizard

The second floor was particularly unsafe for kids and we had to keep a watchful eye on him. The balconies and the side walls were low and falling was possible if kids climb over them or could slip if they got too close. We kept reminding K to stay away from the balcony.

He spent the remaining daylight hours playing his Lightning McQueen toy, preference over going to the Kids club which I had the chance to pop by to see when I was out looking for ice but there wasn’t any activity ongoing then (next activity was treasure hunt). That we went to bath for K, a little challenging with only the rain shower that didn’t have a high water pressure and trying to get rid of the fine sand in his hair.

Kids club
Schedule of activities
Kids’ Club
Tennis court
Lounge area from the bar

Mommy cooked some soup for K before taking a bath when K suddenly had to pee, and peed in his pants before we could get to the toilet. Gave him a quick wash before putting on diapers for him and then we went out for dinner.

It was only 630pm Bintan time and it was already dark. We brought along a hand torch from the room and because there weren’t any street lamps, the paths were lighted by oil torches but wasn’t bright enough. The hand torch helped and we made our way to the dining place at no time.

Cloudy sunset

Dinner was served and again the food didn’t disappoint, only grouse was the black pepper on my medium well was a little too much for my throat to bear. K had his broccoli and fish mixed with the soup mommy cooked and mommy had chicken fillet that was more that she could finish. We ended the dinner with strawberry ice cream dessert, K didn’t like it surprisingly.

Dinner prepared for K
Chicken on bread
Black pepper tenderloin
Strawberry icecream

We went over to the beach where there was supposedly a bon fire happening where kids could go over there to heat up their mashmellows but then it started to drizzle, disappointingly. We borrowed a huge umbrella and proceeded to the kids club where there was a movie screening happening at 730pm. Kids could then gathered in front of the screens on giant bean bags. We sat there for a while but K wasn’t that interested and we headed back to the villa after some 20mins.

Kung Fu panda at kids club

Turn down service was done for our villa where the mosquito nets were set up and the mosquito coil burnt. I didn’t really felt the threat of mosquitoes the whole time I was here though. The night routine of cleaning up pots and pans followed by bathing. K again bumped his head against the wooden rounded railings around the villa while losing his balance when jumping on a pillow.

I went over to the bar to get some hot water as the flask cover was broken and we couldn’t boil any. The issue was immediately resolved and housekeeping brought a new flask over, minutes after I arrived back at the villa. It was initially hard to get to sleep as it felt a little warm, even with a small fan just above our bed, within the mosquito net. Then before we knew, we were all snoozing.

Escape to Nikoi Island November 2017

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Nikoi Island 2017:

Total duration 2D1N
Nikoi Island is in the 1hr ahead of Singapore. Ferry time is 1hr on Bintan Resort Ferries from Singapore to Bintan, land transfer of 1hr drive followed by a speed boat transfer of 20mins. Return is the same in reverse.

Ferry from Singapore to Bintan at 1110am, arriving at 1110am in Bintan. Return ferry from Bintan to Singapore is at 335pm and arriving in Singapore at 535pm.

Day 1 – Arrival in Nikoi Island
Day 2 – First time fishing and Home Sweet Home

This trip was planned as a getaway birthday trip for me. It was initially intended to be a 3D2N private island resort experience but was cut short due to my kid getting a fever and we absentmindedly left the paracetamol at home.

Budget – Expensive, made worse by forgoing one night stay.

As this was a private island, what would you expect? Accommodations were comfy but modest but they are all villas and nothing less. There were just one restaurant serving fine dining cuisine that was delicious no doubt, but without choice, one had to full board SGD100-ish a day. Had to booked an urgent boat on Emerald class which increased the costs further and the private land transfer from jetty to jetty cost money too.

Complexity – Easy

Since it was all integrated, what came with the price was the convenience and the exclusivity of private travel (except for the boat transfer to the island). The short cut to the front of the queue at the immigrations was awesome!