Weekend in Bintan

Posted by on Aug 7, 2014 in beach, Travel | 0 comments

After months of wanting to do an out of the country (Singapore) getaway, we finally made it! We spent the weekend in Bintan, Indonesia last 22-23rd of February 2014.

Miyet made the online reservations to the hotel, Nirwana Resort Hotel, and the roundtrip ferry tickets. Our three main objectives in going to Bintan were: (1) to enjoy the beach, (2) get a massage, and (3) pig out on seafood.

We all met at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal just before 10AM. We were all excited and happy to leave and relax in another place.

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At Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. Goodbye Singapore

 

The ferry ride from Tanah Merah to Bintan was approximately 55 minutes.  It wasn’t an easy and enjoyable ride that noon.  The sea was raging and unforgiving.  Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating  but it was like a roller coaster ride.  The captain warned us that due to the monsoon, most of us may experience sea sickness.  The crew went around distributing barf bags.  And after only fifteen minutes, I was throwing up already.  I was nauseous the whole ride.  Everyone was.  The sound of people throwing up around you made it worse.  I think I vomited at least three times.  By the end of the ride, everyone was pale and looking sick except Jen.  She’s a tough one!  She occupied herself with watching whatever the TV was showing.  I didn’t have the energy to stand-up and get out of the ferry but I have to.  I need fresh air!

 

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After the 55 minute ferry ride, we reached Bintan Ferry Terminal. Welcome!!

And to make ourselves feel better, a group selfie was in order. We may not look like it but we really weren’t feeling very well.  We headed to the immigration after (there’s no other place to go to!).  Some of the visitors were sitting on the floor or leaning for support while queuing.  Some looked like they will turn into zombies anytime soon.  Was I imagining too much? Hehehe..

From the immigration, we just had our bags checked at the customs and went to look for our shuttle bus.  There were staff from Nirwana Hotel who directed passengers to where the bus was located.  On our way out, there were about 10-15 people handing out flyers.  I suggest you grab every flyer that you can.  They were a big help!  We were able to check what this small island has to offer and compare the prices.

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Nirwana Resort Hotel facade

The bus ride from the ferry station to the resort was about 10 minutes.  By the time we reached the resort, Jen and I were able to decide on which spa to book.

As we enter the hotel, we were welcomed by the hotel staff with iced lemongrass tea.  It was refreshing!  Just the right kind of drink to soothe our sick tummy.  We were directed to the front desk to check our reservation but we were not allowed to check-in just yet.  We were asked to return at 3pm to check-in.  While waiting, we found a restroom to change our shirts and freshen up.  We walked around the pool area too to check out the premises.

We returned to the hotel lobby to plan our itinerary.  We still have about 2 hours to kill before we can rest in our rooms.  We decided to try the archery and ATV.  The activity area was a short walking distance from the hotel lobby but the scorching heat of the sun made it like it was a 21km walk.

First stop, archery. For the price of S$10 each, we were given 25 arrows to use. No time limit.

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Archery

We enjoyed archery. The uncle in charge was very helpful and patient as well. He briefed us on how to properly load the bow with an arrow and how to aim.  He was also more than willing to take our photos while we pose and while we were busy shooting arrows.

I’d like to think that for a first timer, I did a pretty good job. Hehehe.

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Bull’s eye! I think.

After archery, we tried their ATV (all-terrain vehicle). We paid S$20 for 20 rounds. It was a nice experience. Looking at the track, it looks like it’s easy and you just have to go in circles but once you’re driving the ATV, it can be tiring. Be prepared to eat some dust though, literally.

After both activities, feeling tired and looking dirty, we were finally allowed to check-in. It was a two bed room and we just asked for an extra bed. The room was clean. The lights and air con were all working just fine. I didn’t like their TV set though, quite old.

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Twin bed room with extra bed.

After a few minutes of resting and making sure that no spec of dust was left in our skin, we planned how we’ll spend the rest of the night. We wanted to do some night swimming after dinner but decided to get a massage instead.

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The other half of our bedroom

More checking out of the pool and beach while killing time for the sunset and dinner.

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Infinity pool

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Lonely beach

We were just in time to capture the beautiful sunset just outside The Kelong Seafood Restaurant. The panoramic view of the South China Sea was breathtaking.

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Sunset

Since one of our objectives was to feast on seafood, we ordered deep fried (buttered) crab, sotong celery, and calamari.  The servings were huge and they were cheap!

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Dinner at Kelong Seafood Restaurant

After our sumptuous dinner, we were fetched by a SUV to bring us to the spa place. It was quite a long ride. Not knowing where our destination was, we were scared but still managed to joke about being kidnapped. It was 9PM and we did not inform our hotel that we’ll be out for a spa. That was a mistake.

But nothing to worry because we arrived safely and enjoyed our body massage and scrub. Some of us even fell asleep during the massage. The tiring ATV ride was forgotten after. The staff were all polite and nice. They gave us something to drink before we left and the receptionist even recommended a shop where my friend bought some ginger tea. We were sent back to our hotel safe and sound.

Once inside the room, we almost didn’t talk to each other and just decided to sleep. The massage helped us relax and sleep like babies.

The next day, I woke-up early hoping to catch the sunrise but to my disappointment, sunrise was not visible from where we were. So I just walked along the beach and went around to take pictures. It was freaking cold and windy.

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A walk along the beach at 6AM

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Hotel view from the pool (1)

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Hotel view from the pool (2)

After breakfast, we went for an early morning swim. Good thing the pool wasn’t crowded yet.

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Early morning swim.

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The Beach!

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My jumpshot. It has to be this small.

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After our beach photoshoot. Feeling models.

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Look! I wasn’t aware that there was a couple kissing.

We wanted to stay longer but we have to face reality sooner than we hoped for. Before riding the ferry, we made sure that we take an anti-seasick medicine and it worked! It was very effective that we haven’t reached the ferry terminal yet but we were groggy and sleepy already. The ride home was better than expected.

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Calm waters on our way back to Singapore. Goodbye Bintan!

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Back in Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, Singapore

It was a memorable and relaxing weekend that we all enjoyed. We will definitely return to Bintan.

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Stronger

Posted by on Aug 4, 2014 in From The Heart | 0 comments

I’m an Overseas Filipino Worker in Singapore. I’ve been here for almost six years already.

If there’s one thing I constantly pray for, aside from health and safety, it’s inner strength. I need it more than anything else to survive each passing day here.

I don’t have relatives here and I don’t live with any friends. At work, I have my boss who comes every now and then. No one else. I spend most of my days alone. The only person I can rely to the most is myself.

So yeah, I need strength to get by. I need it to see the brighter things in life. I need it to always be positive and to choose happiness.

Coming home to an empty room is not very easy. The only thing waiting for you to come back home is your bed. Nothing else.

Aside from that, I’m also used to eating out alone. I have no problem with getting a table just for one. Unlike before, I don’t feel sorry for myself anymore.

I used to cry every single time that I pray for strength but lately, with what’s happening, I can say that God has answered my prayers and with experiences, I’ve become stronger. Thank you.

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Disappointing Dinner

Posted by on Jan 3, 2014 in Blogging, Experiences, Food | 0 comments

It’s a Friday night and I thought of rewarding myself for being pretty productive than usual at work. I decided to try this Japanese restaurant at Bukit Panjang Plaza since I had to meet someone there to collect some office documents.

The place is called Osaka Ohsho. It’s not very crowded and the inside looked cozy. I checked out their menu and apparently, their specialty is Gyoza. I noticed that most of their set menu comes with at least three pieces of Gyoza. Okay, I’ll try it out.

I asked for a table for one. Others may find it weird but I’m used to eating alone. I have no one to drag around in this foreign country. I was ushered to a small table near the entrance to their kitchen area. After looking carefully at the menu, I filled out their order form and handed it to the waiter.

I ordered for their Fry Mix Set and a Japanese peach juice. The waiters and waitresses around were very attentive and accommodating. Or perhaps they were just stationed near my table. I’m not so sure, but they were polite too.

After about 8-10 minutes, my food arrived. It looked appetizing but I wasn’t tempted to take a photo. I was hungry and all I wanted to do was to finish everything ASAP. The fry mix set had 3 pieces of ebi tempura, 3 pieces of fried chicken, some shredded cabbage, a tartar sauce (I think), a bowl of rice, a bowl of soup, and 3 pieces of their Gyoza.

The soup was good. I was surprised that they didn’t serve the usual miso soup that Japanese restos would usually serve. Instead it was a clear yet tasty soup with a little bit of egg. I don’t really like eating eggs but since the soup itself is delicious, I could hardly taste the egg. I even burned my tongue and palate. I guess I was too excited to finish the soup or maybe I was just hungry.

The fried chicken was just okay. The meat inside was kind of pinkish still but it didn’t have any bad after taste. I am very picky and, should I say, sensitive when it comes to how well a chicken is cooked. I cannot eat pinkish or half-cooked chicken meat. But since this one looked deep fried and there were no funny smell or taste, I still managed to eat them. Actually, I did taste it’s ginger flavor.

The very disappointing part of the meal was when I took my first bite on the ebi tempura. It tasted funny. The texture of the prawn was kinda yucky. I scrutinized one piece and noticed that the prawn was half cooked. No, I couldn’t eat it. I checked out the other piece and it’s the same. I wanted to return them and ask them to fry it again but I was afraid they might spit on it or serve me with a dirty one. I just put it aside while trying to shake off the taste from my first bite. So disappointing!

Good thing their Gyoza was really yummy. It was cooked just right and it wasn’t too salty as compared to what I’ve tasted from other Jap restos.

While paying for my bill at the cashier, I saw the auntie who cleared my table looking at my leftover tempura. Well, what can I do. I just couldn’t take it.

I don’t think I’ll eat there again. Or maybe, I won’t order the same set meal next time.

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Riviera by Bakerzin

Posted by on Sep 2, 2013 in Food | 0 comments

Riviera by maantaj

Riviera, a photo by maantaj on Flickr.

Another spin of the Italian sponge cake (genoise), this time with almond, topped with cherry mousse and Iranian pistachio cream custard, sprayed with a delicate layer of red chocolate.

This piece of cake is very soft and melts in your mouth easily. It’s not too sweet but one can taste the rich cherry and pistachio flavor.

I’m not sure if it goes well with coffee or tea though.

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Baking Plans

Posted by on Aug 19, 2013 in Blogging, Food | 0 comments

 

I haven’t baked anything for a very long time.  The last time I prepared a banana bread was early 2000′s, I think.  I actually love baking.  I started baking at an early age, probably when I was around 13.  I started with making macaroons. Not the now so popular french macaron type but the ones with desiccated / shredded coconut.  I used to call it the gold crown because of its  color and shape. (Below is a photo so you can see how it differs from macarons.)

macaroons, coocnut

image borrowed from http://sweetandsaucy.wordpress.com/

My mom taught me how to bake them using a very small oven toaster.  At that age, I feel like a professional chef and I would pretend to be having a baking show while mixing the ingredients. Yes, complete with a voice-over like Nigella Lawson or Gordon Ramsay, if you may.

After mastering macaroons, I started baking banana cakes. It’s quite different than making macaroons and I’m not sure if it’s still considered baking even if I used simmering water to cook instead of the traditional oven.  Nonetheless, my mom and brothers really liked my finished product. The pans always go empty. ^_^

Now that I’ve seen a lot of my friends bake cookies and cakes, I’d like to give it a try again and start with easy recipes. My Facebook wall or Instagram feed gets flooded with their photos, it’s so hard to resist.

Perhaps I’ll see if I can still make yummy macaroons and banana bread…I still remember the ingredients and methods by heart anyway.  After which, I’d like to try something quick to prepare but still yummy like a recipe of an easy to make shortbread I found online a while back.

Shortbread doesn’t require hard to find ingredients nor does one need elaborate preparation.  Since I consider myself a beginner when it comes to baking, this should be the perfect recipe to start with.

I can even bring some to work for tea and coffee break.  Or store the rest for midnight snack while I stay up late.  Does it taste great with milk? (I’m sure it does.)

Now, I’m off to the kitchen.

 

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Cheesecake Fantasy

Posted by on Aug 12, 2013 in Food | 0 comments

As I’ve mentioned in my previous entry, I will come back to Cold Stone and try their Cheesecake Fantasy. So, here it is!

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Cold Stone Creamery’s Cheesecake Fantasy

It is cheesecake ice cream, graham cracker pie crust, blueberry and strawberries.

I’m the type who cannot get enough of anything cheese (flavored). So when I ordered this, I was kind of expecting that the ice cream would be bursting with cheese flavor. But it didn’t. The blueberries and strawberries were also overpowering the ice cream that it ended up with just a hint of cheese and a burst of berries.

Satisfactory.

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