Wednesday 16 December 2015

Bintan Exploration

The final installment of our Bintan vacation comes on... 

We explored options to head out of the resort and the only way out was by taxi or rental car. There was no free or paid shuttle bus service to bring you out. Pasar Oleh Oleh, a little shopping village which I googled to be nearby has closed down.

Instead, a new 'mall' standing nearby is Plaza Lagoi, about a 15 minutes drive from the resort. But don't expect much if you're visiting anytime soon. It opened its doors early this year with only a few shops up and running. A touristy attraction, so not any much cheap deals in there.

Plaza Lagoi

We were firmed about getting out of the resort since no other activities appealed to us. We opted to rent a car out for 8 hours. Their rate goes bi-hourly. We were initially skeptical about car rental as none of us knew the roads, no GPS and no idea of how traffic would be like. Worries uncalled, we found that their rental car comes with a driver. 8 hours, a 7-seater car and a driver at $120. We paid and zoomed off. Quite fast and furious with our assigned driver.

After a touch and go at Plaza Lagoi, we requested to roam the heart of Bintan, Tanjung Pinang. About a 90 minutes from the resort. Along the way, our driver did a short stopover at a temple, Vihara Avalokitesvara Graha. I stayed in the car as Js were sleeping, while the rest stepped out for some sightseeing.

Place of worship

We continued our journey to Tanjung Pinang after a short stop. City where we caught glimpses of the local bustling life. If shopping is on your mind, this place unlikely to please you. Or perhaps, my shopping mode wasn't on. Prices were cheaper and there was quite a large number of Chinese population. So yeap, some shop owners can communicate in Mandarin. 

We did some street walking and whacked food from the street stalls. Went for the hot food just to be sure our tummies could handle them. We tried some peanut pancake which was surprisingly delicious. Seemed to have defined the taste of simplicity and authenticity. $0.40 per piece. Only.

Fruits, peanut pancake etc

We stopped by another stall that sells fried finger food. Oh yes, spotted goreng pisang (Fried banana fritter). Hot and cripsy! $0.30 per 3 pieces. It's been such a long time I last ate it in Singapore. Nowhere quite seen now.

Food galore
So what we had needed to do with our food desire, was to pull off a piece of newspaper they've neatly prepared and pick out our wants on it. They will sum it up and bag it for you. How do you view this? I had never really like laying food on newspaper, so this was quite an interesting 'idea'. We followed along. How did I begin to appreciate NEA for regulating food hygiene in Singapore?!!

Life there may be a little backward, looking like the days of 1950s or 60s. Simple and delightful, with nothing fanciful or luxurious. I tried defining simple joy to Js while walking down the streets. It was an eye opener for us, as travelling has always been modern and beautifully exciting for us. The World for exploration is endlessly huge.

The street

We strolled for about an hour before meeting up with our driver again. Though the setting up of night food stalls were almost  visible, we decided to move off with our initial plan of kelong seafood dinner. Before moving off, our driver asked if we were keen in batik clothes. Looking at some spare time left to dinner, we agreed. We were brought to the nearby, Tanjung Pinang mall to shop. You might enjoy some shopping in this 2 storey mall. We didn't explore much as the first storey caught most of our time. Js got shoes, while I bought slippers. Bata seems cheaper in there.

There were also fast food, supermarket and some kids entertainment in the mall.

Batik section at Tanjung Pinang mall

We were genuinely ready for dinner after some slight shopping. The tummy calls and off to kelong we go! But then, though I had a kelong in mind, we were counter offered another by the driver. Aah, it flashed my mind that he might benefit from bringing some customers there. Oh well, we are always kind and sometimes, obliging. We found he could get his meal free at the kelong he recommended, when we asked him to join us for dinner. 
Fresh seafood

After about 30 minutes drive, we landed at Ciu Yong Seafood. We had much reservation about the restaurant, we doubted much on price and transparency. It was also empty and quiet at our time of arrival. Arriving after the sun set didn't help, its surrounding was near pitch dark. Nonetheless, we were hungry and needed food.

The food tasted pretty average with a few excellent dishes. Seafood is undoubtedly fresh as it came straight from the water. We had some good fresh prawns and a Garoupa fish which was a little over steamed, else it would be perfect. We ordered huge cockles with sambal (their sambal is spicily awesome), but a pity it was overcooked.

Top left to right: welcome coconut, squid, hot plate tofu. Bottom left to right: Cereal prawns, huge cockles, Garoupa

Total bill
It was most uncomfortable when we saw no prices on its menu, we had to asked the price before ordering. Glad that they initiated to checked our orders with written prices before sending into the kitchen for preparation. So our 'million' dollar rupiah meal ended up to be about $140. Not exactly a cheap deal for an outskirt kelong.

Perhaps, it might be more comforting to visit when the sun is still beaming. I'm sure it has quite a spectacular view around it. 

The meal filled us and summed up our day. We were brought to one final stop near our resort to get layers cakes, or kueh lapis. Not a regret, because they were so good! We bought the original and coffee layers, which I heart the coffee flavour very much. A unique taste indeed. Other local products like luwak coffee can be found there too.

So yeap, our adventure ended that night. And we were all ready for check out the next day.

Bintan layers cake
Shop house of kota sebong block 907 No.2 (near Pujasera Lagoi)
Lagoi - Bintan resort

Previous post on Bintan Lagoon: 
Bintan Lagoon Resort -  Villa Stay
Bintan Lagoon Resort - Exploring with kids

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