Saturday, May 1, 2010

Singapore Day 5: Banyan Tree Bintan Island

We stayed at Banyan Tree resort Bintan Island for 2 nights. Anymore than that & you'll find Greg & Nee washing plates & slave-waitering on the island for 14 years. Hmmm, interesting thought though.

This was the restaurant that we went to for our daily breakfast.

Breakfast was included in our package & we'd take our time so that by the time we finish, it'd last us the whole afternoon. If you didn't know what that was, it's a Malaysian thing.

The spread here was excellent. Obviously they do not scrimp. I can't imagine them scrimping cos we paid top US Dollars for these.

Though a lot of it are not in the pictures, there were fresh juices for breakfast. And we're not talking about the bottled or syrupy ones that you'd get for hotel breakfast. These were freshly squeezed papayas, oranges, grapefruits and so on. And the amazing thing was the free flow champagne for breakfast. We didn't try. Can't imagine getting tipsy at 9am in the morning.

Eggs are their specialty on the menu item. Usually you'd get them cooked in three different ways, daily, straight from the kitchen to the table. Really something to enjoy.

After packing it in, we went exploring the surroundings & the beach.

This was the infinity pool.

As I've mentioned it before, Banyan Tree doesn't have much of a beach, at least from this vantage point. It was more like a short stretch of sand.

There's a power point which stood up from the rocks on the upper left section of this photo. That's where we almost had a romantic candlelit outdoor dinner for two on the rocks with the crashing waves. For USD99/person, they could make it a really romantic experience I suppose. But for USD99/person, they'd better make sure that it is.

We decided against it cos as romantic as it sounded, it depended on how windy/rainy the night was. Can't equate wet hair & hair-in-the-face to romance. But highly recommendable if you go during the non-moonsoon season. Especially if you're just married!

After conquering the beach, we took a shuttle down to a small 'market' called Pasar Oleh-Oleh. It wasn't much & it certainly wasn't authentic, more like a commercial pit stop/trap with shops catering to tourists selling food, spa-massage & Polo T-shirts. Yes, Polo T-shirts were everywhere on this island somehow. In this little market itself, it had 2-3 shops selling the same Polo Ts, and they're like almost opposite each other.

It's at this little market that we begin to feel the pressure of being in Indonesia, 'agents' bombarded us with tour packages, taxi rides & spa-massage packages. And you couldn't tell if you were about to be conned. And if you decline, they'd stare at you from the tip of your hair down to your toe nails. It felt like we were back in Johor Wild Wild West.

But we had time to kill cos we sort of missed the bus & decided to try out  one of the foot massage packages. The 'agent' walked us through the back of the market, & through the resorts staff quarters, & we emerged into another commercial 'centre' with about two blocks of commercial shoplots & a food court. And there we experienced our very first foot reflexology.

No polished smiles, just sincere ones & super-duper hands-of-steel foot massage. I screamed & Nee screamed & we both felt like crying & laughing at the same time. And this place was cheap, about S$20 each for one hour of pain.

Dinner back at the resort was at another one of their restaurants. This was more Thai fushion.

Banyan Tree's complimentary birthday cake for Nee which was an excellent double chocolate.

That night I didn't have to pay for the singing. The waiters came out in full force & belted an Indonesian-accented Happy Birthday song.

That night Nee got her birthday wish, & I, got the double chocolate delight. It was an excellent cake. And believe me, when I say it's excellent, it's excellent.

This was our very first 5-star & beyond resort holiday. It came with a price, but with the price also came great service. In the end, it left us with a memorable experience of what being grossly rich felt like. It also left me with empty pockets & a realisation of how small our Ringgit was.

Next post: Our Taiwan trip!

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