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.

Bintan 2015 Day 3 – Home Sweet Home

We woke up even later than the previous day. As we arrived at the restaurant, we hurriedly got enough food before the staff started to pack up the buffet table.

We checked out late (as wife was still busy) even though it was unavailable. Thankfully there weren’t any calls to chase us. We went back to the same library to settle  the bill and that’s when we gave displeased feedback in which they provided a free transfer back to the terminal. As we boarded the private car, the driver handed to us the boarding tickets that was handled by the resort as part of their customer service. The drive back was very different from the first, as the driver sped to the terminal.

Unbelievable amount of baggage.
Unbelievable amount of baggage.
Private transfer vehicle.
Private transfer vehicle.

As we arrived at the ferry terminal, there was already a long line queuing to get through immigrations. We proceeded to the counter in front of Bintan lounge just beside the long queue and was pleasantly surprised to find that Emerald class tickets holders just need to check in their baggage at this counter and to top it all, the staff will take care of the passport stamping as well. All we need to do was to relax at one of their table within the lounge and drink the free hot drinks (Lipton tea bags etc) and wait for the delivery of the passport and the call for boarding. Definitely a plus point for passengers with baby as it removed the hassles of queuing ang crowding with the rest of the passengers. Jr. was not sleeping but wasn’t fussy either and so all was fine, even though the lounge was a tad bit crowded and slightly noisy though it looked bigger than the one in Tenah Merah. Similarly, it was a direct boarding from the lounge concept and the walk to the ferry is very much closer compared to the one at Tenah Merah. The ferry trip home was eventless.

Bintan Lounge.
Bintan Lounge.
Within the lounge.
Within the lounge.
Good bye Bintan!
Good bye Bintan!

While at the arrival hall, it was manageable as knowing the efficiency of our immigrations officers, we got through pretty quickly. There was a duty free shop and I picked myself one vodka, having met the criteria of overseas travel beyond 48 hrs. After picking up luggage, we had to go through a Xray scanner and that’s when it was a messy. I had to removed all the things in my pockets (handphone, wallet, keys, etc) and at the same time manage the 4 bags onto the Xray and queue to get through the body scanner. The timing was misaligned as my personal belongings went through the scanner first and for a short time, I was concerned that these would be taken away by someone else if I didn’t watch out for it. Fortunately, it was there after I reached the other side.

Packed everything into the car that was parked for 2 days already and drove back, paying just about $44 for the parking fees.

This trip was a first for us, and an easy one since it was only mostly a overseas staycation. However, I didn’t enjoy the trip since there was so much limitations to
where and when we could go and what we can do. These limitations were mostly from 2 contributions, the baby and the wife.

With the baby, you will be already tied down by his needs, such as sleeping and feeding. It really depends on the baby’s ability to adapt, and if he is able to sleep anywhere and anytime, that would give you flexibility in your travel. For feeding, preparations are important and if managed well, you get more flexibility as well.

With the wife, it depends on whether the baby is breastfeeding mainly or on formula milk. With formula, there are no limitations except for the amount of warm water to bring. But breastfeeding wifes present the most challenge to the flexibility of the trip. Because on top of meeting the baby feeding needs, there are also the need to express milk and keep them frozen. This cannot be done without a freezer, portable pumps and portable keep-it-cold bags. On top of that, if the wife does not breast feed and/or carry out milk expression in public places, then you are more or less confined to the room for certain period of the time. Other than that. there are some who require “hot compression” in order not prevent breast engorgement. This only meant more time was required to be stuck in the room, with me taking care of Jr. and my wife taking care of herself.

Unless there is a drastic change to the current routine, this trip proved to me that it was just too challenging to go on another trip. Looked like we just had to wait it out before resuming our travels.