Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Simple Lunch Buffet @ Bintan Cabana Beach Resort

When i reached Bintan Cabana at 11.30am local time, my stomach was already protesting of hunger. But lunch, included in my groupon package, will only start from 12 noon onwards.

Disappointment greeted me when i saw the limited variety of food for the buffet lunch - barely less than five types of simple dishes, excluding rice, soup and fruits.

Damn, i don't even feel motivated to eat!

Taking a sip, i was amazed the thick soup that counts mushrooms, eggs and tender spring onion bulbs as its ingredients tasted just like shark's fin soup!

Guaranteed to be a healthier version that sits well with opponents of shark finning. Not that it matters to me since i feel that eating meat, regardless of what they are, is already an act of cruelty.

This fried vegetable didn't look appetising, the crust was soft and i admit there was a vague taste of flour but the insides were moist and actually tasted quite alright.

Eggs always enhance my appetite and the perfectly cooked chilli padi omelette did just that! Frankly, a bit of numbing hot chilli padi makes a lot of difference.

The chickens that were sacrificed to become the deep fried chicken must be really health conscious. Every piece was lean and did not appear to be oily!

My perky ears caught the conversation between a customer and the service personnel; apparently the chickens were not caged up and ran around freely in the kampongs.

Judging from my above review, there was no reason why i should not take additional servings.

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For my review on Bintan Cabana Beach Resort, please click HERE.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Bintan Cabana Beach Resort Review @ Bintan Island, Indonesia

Truthfully, I wasn't expecting much when i booked for a 2 days 1 night stay at Bintan Cabana beach resort in Bintan island via Groupon.sg.

But I badly needed a holiday after the stressful period at work and the deal of S$190 for two persons (includes ferry, accomodation, breakfast, lunch and dinner) proved to be too irresistible!

Anyway, it's always good to visit a new place (can blog mah) and although i have been to Batam Island countless times, this visit made it only my second time to Bintan.

The layout of the resort works in a weird way where a main road divides the resort into two areas. This imposing structure is the entrance to where i stay whereas the main entry point of the resort is disappointingly dowdy.

Most room types are classified under the villa or chalet category.

My coupon only provisioned for a pathetic clubhouse accommodation that is the furthest from the main road! In case you are under the impression that it is fifteen minutes by foot, i would like to clarify that a leisurely walk to the entrance took me three to five minutes.

Room was cozy enough for me. Note the words "for me" as i am not known to be very picky with overseas accommodation.

I would be fine so long it has a clean bed, a private shower and a working television. Oh yes, it must be fully air-conditioned; evidence of a true blue Singaporean!

Open concept reception, lobby and restaurant - all located in one place.

The plain yet main building housing the lobby, restaurants and reception. As you can see from the picture, there are more rooms available on the second floor.

However, you would not regret the spectacular scenery from the restaurant that borders the sea!

This panoramic view is worth the one hour drive from the ferry terminal. Many patrons would just pull a chair, order a drink, enjoy the scenery and take in the gentle sea breeze.

When asked on the differences between Bintan and Batam (since they are next to each other), the answers from many are straightforward; Batam for shopping and Bintan for beaches.

I totally agree!

At least from what i experienced in Bintan Cabana! The beach was spotlessly clean, the weather was fabulous and walking under such conditions is plain mental relaxation.

I should have brought along a Lesley Pearse book and read it under this small, wooden gazebo facing the sea!

The rocky terrain nearby is a beautiful photography spot and you see a lot more beachgoers in that area than anywhere else.

Even timid Alex took the challenge to climb up this sloping rock that is accessible using a secret passageway!

If he can do it, so can i (how could i bloody lose to the scaredy cat)!!! I was caught by surprise as there lies a small yet nostalgic fishing village (in the background) so well hidden by the rocks!

In this resort, there is a chance for you to walk far out into the sea. Just wait for the low tide when the seabed is exposed for at least a few hundred meters!

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Shuttle service to town is available at a nominal fee of S$10 for adults and if you prefer to travel on your own, you can also rent a car or motorbike. There is also a free shuttle to its partner resort - Bintan Agro Beach Resort which has more facilities and allows exciting sea sports activities.

Room rates and contact details for Bintan Cabana if you prefer to buy direct.

Personally, i am already looking forward to my next visit of relaxation and fireworks.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Play Fireworks in nearby Bintan Island - Something You Can Never Do in Singapore

Coming from a country where fireworks are off-limits to general public unless with a permit from the relevant authority, the above rack display in a mini-mart of a beach resort in Bintan (Indonesia) attracted my curiousity instantaneously!

Since it is the period of celebration (being Chinese New Year) and Alex had never played with fireworks, we decided to purchase and try out two types of fireworks at night; Pluto (at 200,000 rupiah or S$28) and ThunderClap (at 250,000 rupiah or S$35).

It's obvious from the clear plastic packaging that Pluto has four rockets. For ThunderClap, it was indicated as 20 pcs on the box but it would be more accurate to say 20 packs as each pack has 3 mini rockets!

Before we began this unprecedented journey (at least for Alex since i did play with fireworks in my youth), there is one very important item required to get this going.

A pack of cigarettes that cost me S$3.

Just in case you thought i am going to smoke, i would like to assure you that it is definitely not the case! I have quitted casual smoking for ten years and have no intention to retake the smelly butt.

The purpose of the lighted cigarette butt is simple - we need it to light the fireworks. Matchsticks and lighters are of no use when you are facing the sea breeze and no one in their right mind will bring incense sticks on holidays!

This is yet another important component - stick this into the sand so that it can act as a launch pit for the rockets. You may stick the rocket in the sand (i did initially) but it may fail to take off into the sky. Safety is the key word here.

These are the minor injuries i got as 'presents' from playing fireworks that day.

Lighting these consumer fireworks is an easy chore although caution must be exercised in order not to hurt bystanders and yourself. For example, don't hold the fireworks in your hand!!!!

Step back at least one or two meters after the wick starts to sparkle.

Watch in amazement as it successfully shoots into the black, starry sky! Oops, i spotted a safety issue here; don't place those new, unused fireworks so near to the launching pad!

The burst from these consumer fireworks was definitely not comparable to those we catch on television but the exhilaration of firing them yourself is confirmed to be more fulfilling. And exciting!

Even scaredy-cat Alex gave it a few tries! And no doubt, he counts this part of the overseas trip as his most memorable.

This was me launching the ThunderClap which was named due to the irritating loud noise and bright spark emitted at the end. It was cheaper although not as fun and as beautiful as Pluto.

For a more entertaining experience, buy the 'wonderful' at an estimated cost of almost S$60! Only a one-time action is necessary; lighting it.

49 shots would follow shortly, each with a different effect that would mesmerise any young Singapore kid. I would strongly recommend this for families with younger children.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Chop Hean Kuan Dim Sum (点心包饺) @ People's Park Hawker Centre

Despite having a main meal, our dear Alex wanted something small as a snack; for those who don't know him well, snacking is one of Alex's favourite activities!

He didn't need to search far as there is a dim sum stall just a few tables away from where we sat. Anyway, he started raving non-stop about the seafood dumpling he bought that it gave me no choice but to take a tiny bite.

Let's put it this way - it was awesome enough for me to take a special trip down to Chinatown six days later just to have the seafood dumpling and try the others items the stall have for sale.

Seafood Dumpling
(海鲜饺)
The generous filling was peppered with bits of crab sticks that tasted extremely sweet - as in sweet freshness of seafood. Add in the thin crust that cackled with every bite and i guess you don't need much imagination why i enjoyed it so much!

Chives Dumpling
(韭菜饺)
Although a notch lower than the steamed ones from Ho Kee Pau, this is still no weakling. Filled with juicy minced pork and a lower proportion of chives, this would likely attract customers who detest too much chives in their food or simply love fried products.

Lo Mai Kai
(糯米鸡)
I know - it does look like dog food, specifically from the popular (and expensive) caesar brand. Thankfully, this was for human consumption as i would not have minded a second helping!

The essence of chicken had seeped into the glutinous rice, resulting in a full flavour experience not commonly seen in many places while the chicken meat was minced and molded into a patty that was tender to the bite without tasting overly sweet.

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Location
People's Park Complex Food Centre,
Block 32, #01-1018, New Market Road
(Exit C from Chinatown MRT Station)

Price
Seafood Dumpling - S$0.80
Chives Dumpling - S$0.80
Lo Mai Kai - S$1.80

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