Travel Log — Clubmed Bintan

Same old same old peppered with some magical moments

My family and I are not the most adventurous of people. We seek comfort in the familiar. Travel options are also very limited for families like ours (i.e. adults travelling with little children).

Hence, in a very unadventurous and predictable manner, we journeyed once again, to the island of Bintan back into the friendly embrace of Clubmed.

Yes, it is our second visit within the lapse of one year and I am not sure if that is something to be proud of.

A year ago, our unexperienced family of three journeyed bright eyed and bushy tailed to the island of Bintan. The ferry ride there was to say the least, immensely traumatic for the three of us.

Both my husband and son experienced severe sea sickness on the hour’s long ferry ride and had emptied their gastric contents on board; The smaller one directly on yours truly.

When we set foot on Bintan, freshly scented with the smell of baby regurgitation, we were already completely spent. The rocky journey through customs swept us with a sense of irritation. Instead of a relaxing holiday, we felt like we were on reality TV – ‘Survivor’.

In was in this mood when Ghazo, the assistant manager of Clubmed, welcomed us to ‘PARADISE’. In response, we gazed back placidly with pained smiles.

Fortunately for us, one year on, things were much better. In anticipation of our old enemy (i.e. travel sickness), we made sure to consume travel sickness pills/lollipops prior to ferry boarding. We also mentally prepared ourselves for the rocky journey through Bintan customs and found ourselves still fairly energetic upon arrival at the Clubmed village.

Already acquainted with the locations and schedules of the village, we were spared the enthusiastic introduction by the GO.

To make things better, we were also given a room that was of closer proximity to the reception area. This made things more convenient for our family.

My son, Benedict, had already crossed the 2 years mark and was now able to participate in the Clubmed Petite program (i.e. full day child care). Indeed, as expected, he was not well adjusted. However, it did give us a couple of hours away from him each day and that was all the time we needed to relax and enjoy the holiday.

With Benedict happily playing at Clubmed Petite, we were given a brief moment of peace to read and sip Virgin Chi Chis.
Cloudy day at the beach — perfect for the suburban sun-fearing housewife

On the second day of our of stay, we decided to visit the beach as family.

It was a cloudy day and high tide. The shallow waters extended beyond the shoreline for a good fifteen metres. One could venture into the waters for a good distance and still have the water at ankle’s depth. It was amazing.

Of course, being the ‘risk-taker’ that I was, I took the liberty of venturing an additional five metres forwards and had the waters reaching up to my thighs.

Then the first wave came forth. Indeed, the waves were not spectacular but they were big enough to form substantial rolls in the water.

The tiny rolls of waves drifted towards me and crashed gently into small pools of white foam. I tried to catch the foam with my hands but they disappeared before I could contain them within my palms.

I became acutely aware of how crisp and green the water was. Not the sickly algae green that one might expect from polluted waters. This is a translucent jade green that is all at once beautiful and fragile.

I turned around to catch a glimpse of the distant silhouette of my husband and child. Indeed they were beautiful but in that instant, my mind was enraptured by the beauty of the waters. I held both beauties in my mind and felt a great relief descent upon me.

In that moment, it did not matter if I was on that beach a hundred or even a thousand years ago. That was a beauty that was everlasting and unchanging. It is a beauty that I had the privilege of savouring in that precious moment.

I looked ahead at the men and women who have ventured even deeper into the waters and were almost fully submerged. They too waited in anticipation for each drifting wave, eager to be swept up and down involuntarily by the warm waters.

I vowed to be one of them on future visits, to perhaps even devote an entire day to carefree drifting.

Breakfast at the dining area. Benedict looks ambivalent at the prospects of being left at Clubmed Petite once more.

In line with Clubmed’s French heritage, the dinners at the village require a smart casual dress code.

If you have watched ‘Chef’s table’ on Netflix, you will have a faint understanding of the manner of dining to be expected.

It is definitely not the Singaporean hotel-style dining where diners load each plate with innumerable selections of food.

Instead, during the food selection process, one is greeted with a variety of stations each serving delicately plated dishes. My recommendation for you is to collect a plate at a time and savour it slowly.

When you are done with one plate, collect another. There is no need to collect a multitude of plates at one time. That will only crowd up the table and muddle the dining experience.

Also, simple red and white wines are complementary so if you are eager to try out food and wine pairings, this is a good opportunity.

Remember, when it comes to dinner, it is quality versus quantity.

On this visit I discovered how delicious an apple martini is.

I also discovered how vodka messes with my mental state. For a good hour after that fateful mid-afternoon martini, I was swept by a strong sense of malaise, verging on depression.

I observed it and described it to my husband. He mentioned that it was an expected physiological response to alcohol. Yes, due to my very light weight consumption of alcohol on a daily basis (i.e. zero), I had become unfamiliar with the effects of inebriation.

It was in this temporary state of malaise and inebriation that I plucked up sufficient courage (or foolhardiness) to approach a troop of seven monkeys whilst carrying Benedict in my arms.

As I walked towards them, a monkey advanced enthusiastically towards me, grabbed my ankle and began to scale mount Denise. I was terrified.

Fortunately for me, with some gentle coaxing from my husband, I was relieved of my warm-hearted primate friend.

I hope that this travel log has been interesting to you. If you wish to visit Clubmed Bintan soon, I am certain that once your expectations are managed, you will have a great time.

Do remember to limit your food and alcohol consumption so that you can stay alert and happy enough to enjoy the activities. God bless!

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Counsellor, Writer (Christianity, Children’s short stories)

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