But we made it through! The weather worked in my favor for two of the days… it poured rain, so Dagny didn’t experience her usual urge to play outside. And the cable company seemed to be on my side for those two days as well, airing a Tom & Jerry marathon that kept Dags glued to the TV. I’m convinced those doctors who say children shouldn’t watch any television before the age of five don’t have any children of their own. I don’t know what I would have done without Tom and Jerry. I have half a mind to name my future children after them.
Okay, so my week wasn’t exactly fun, and like I said, Brad was in China for five days. I don’t think there’s a person out there who returns from a business trip to China saying, “Wow, that was fantastic! The smog in Shanghai was so revitalizing!” That said, we decided we were due for a long weekend getaway in Bintan, an Indonesian island with gorgeous white sand beaches. We were told it’s Indonesia's family-friendly version of Bali.
The weekend starts out with a ferry trip to the island (another reason it’s such a popular destination here… you don’t need to fly!). I was a little nervous as we approached the boat, what with the crew lining the gangplank so my baby and I don’t get pitched into the bay while the ferry rocks violently side to side in front of me. I’m not much of a water person. Or a roller coaster person. I’m not even a big fan of turning around too fast. This was going to be interesting.
For the most part, the ride was fine. And it was pretty cool heading out of Singapore, passing between freight ships that were like floating cities towering above us. It was only a 55-minute trip to Bintan, and the water there was sheltered and calm compared to the port we left.
Following a bumpy, windy bus ride (I’m imagining a margarita and a couple of Advil waiting for me at check-in by this point) we arrived at Bintan Lagoon Resort! We were greeted at the lobby entrance by Indonesian dancers and drummers.
We wanted to get a picture of Dagny with the dancers, but she was a little freaked out (can you tell?). I suggested Brad sit with her on his lap. I don't think the words were entirely out of my mouth before he was eagerly plopping himself down between these two! Way to take one for the team.
Bintan Lagoon Resort. Not too shabby.
Our room. Dagny LOVED the couch/guest bed in the corner, and turned it into her own gymnastics mat.
The view from our balcony. When your daughter sacks out at 7:00pm, you realize balconies with nice views are an absolute MUST on vacation.
Dinner our first night was a lot of fun. We attended a buffet with seemingly endless amounts of Indonesian and Asian food, but it was set up a little differently than buffets in the States. In the center of our table was a heating element with a large bowl of spicy soup broth on top of it. The soup is kept at a rolling boil, and you pick raw and uncooked items from the buffet and cook them to your liking at your own table. Most cooking is done this way here, where all the food is cooked in one giant pot. Well, Brad and I had a blast playing chef! I think it’s best to approach meals like this the same way you would approach a Play-Dough kitchen as a child… you just have to give yourself over to being adventurous and view it as a great big vat of experimental fun! There was a lot of stuff to choose from (whole eggs, prawns, noodles, fish balls, crab legs, anchovies, fish strips… the list goes on), most of which was delicious but some of it was a fight to swallow. I think the highlight of our dinner was watching Dagny try chopsticks for the first time, entirely of her own will. Actually, it was just a chopstick (singular), which she stabbed at her food with, and when none of it stuck, she molded her rice in a ball around the end and stuck it in her mouth. I wish I had a picture of the pensive look on that little one’s face as she tried to make sense of it all!
Another difference between restaurants in Asia and the US is how loud the atmosphere is here. Meals in Asia are typically large family events and are far from formal. For the most part, people are seated at round tables to make conversation easier. And there is no need to feel self-conscious at any point during your meal—even if you’re making a mess with your chopsticks, sweat’s dripping off your face because most restaurants are open-air and the majority of the food is incredibly spicy, and your place setting and lap are covered in prawn and crab shells—just take a deep breath and look around you… and you’ll find most tables are a bit of a mess, and no one really cares. And the locals understand their way of life is different and a little difficult for Westerners, so you’ll find they give you a lot of credit and encouraging smiles just for trying their food, using their chopsticks, and saying “Hello” and “Thank you” in Chinese.
Now, besides most meals only coming with a set of chopsticks and a porcelain spoon, I’ve found shellfish a bit of a challenge to eat here—they all arrive with their shell on (yes, even fried prawns, which sort of makes me wonder what the point of all the delicious batter is if I just have to peel it off?). I find I eat a lot less here than at home, because it takes me quite a while to actually get my food in my mouth! What still blows my mind to this day is to watch locals put a crab claw or entire prawn in their mouth, chew it up with teeth that must be part iron, and then spit out the little pieces of shell. I’m not that hardcore yet.
Most of our second day was spent at the pool and the beach. The pool had a swim-up bar… need I explain further? Kinda funny: I ordered a margarita, and had to explain to the bartender how to make it. He didn’t have any margarita mix, so he used fresh squeezed limejuice (yummy!) and finished it off with a splash of vodka. Ummm, okaaay. It was actually pretty good, and I’m still surprised I didn’t fall off my stool and drown in the water once I finished it.
Who's that sexy chick?
Dagny made friends with these two girls at the pool. They were so cute together! A fantastic lesson that friendship can transcend language barriers (since these girls only knew Chinese and Dagny only knows baby Venutian). They played for over an hour, and put flowers in her hair (and my hair, too).
Beaches here (in both Indonesia and Singapore) amaze me… they are completely empty during the day! Asians tend to think Americans are a little nutty for wanting to sit out in the excruciating heat while toasting their skin a gorgeous shade of cancer.
After a fun day of playing in the pool and on the sand, this one is all tired out.
Aaaand... about two minutes later on the way back to the room.
Following a brief nap, Dagny was ready for an extended evening on the beach. There was a little "party" our hotel was hosting on the sand, with a DJ and fire dancers. We got a nice spot right by the water. Yeah, that's a sippy cup of milk in the picture... this is how we roll.
Dags LOVED the beach party! At one point she stood up and started dancing, which is basically just deep knee bends and arm waving. Brad and I call it the "Hot Potato In My Diaper" dance.
View of the ocean.
This is the life.
"OMGoodness gracious! That guy should NOT be wearing a Speedo, Mommy!"
After three gorgeous days on Bintan, it was time to go home. And we were all ready. When you're advised not to drink from the taps, it turns out you can be charged ridiculous amounts of money for bottled water ($10/bottle, in fact). After a few days, staying hydrated starts to break the bank!
All "funned" out.