Indonesia – Bintan, Tanjong Pinang, 21 February 2005

The morning was crazy, Angela messaged me at like 7.50am in the morning, making me (who have yet to leave the house) think that the meeting time was at 8am, throwing me into a frenzied panic. Thankfully, it was at 8.30am, and I was the last person to be on time, arriving at 8.29am. Evidently, being punctual isn’t a Singaporean virtue, since there were only around 10 people who were on time, out of the 50 people who were supposed to go, which gives it 20%? It is a very pathetic percentage by any counts. I doubt God wonders why Singapore actually needs to have a courtesy campaign, since it’s people don’t actually understand this concept at all.

The boat ride was actually pretty rough. I don’t usually get motion sickness, but 45min into the boat ride, I really started feeling rather sick, that I had to get up, and go to the deck of the boat for some fresh air, which thankfully did help, or I’ll be the one puking buckets.

Reaching Bintan (tanjong pinang), we had to take another small boat that had was to bring us to a small island that was owned by the sultan. Legend has it that one particular sultan, who really loved his wife, gave the island to her as a gift. And because it was HER island, she decided she wanted to live there, and well, guess what? The sultan actually uprooted himself to live with her… Hmm…

When we first arrived on that little island, I thought I was back in Indochina once again, there were those motorcycles whizzing past, tooting their honks, and also tututs whizzing around. That was pretty cool actually, though my tour round the island was conducted on foot. Oh well, oh well.Right at the doorstep of the island, is the mosque of the island. I figure it’s probably a royal mosque of sorts, yellow and green in colour. Over there, the tour guide was trying to explain something to the group about the architecture (Dutch and some other country’s influence) and origins of the Mosque, but well, with my limited Bahasa, I didn’t catch the story, and left it to Jinyin to take notes, and conveniently made myself part of the photography crew. Okay, it wasn’t fair, but erm, it was too hot? L.A.M.E.

After the mosque, we were brought to another yellow and green building with chinese-looking architecture which housed the royal graves. And because I was wearing my hard to tie boots, I decided not to visit the graves housed within the building, but just snap pictures of the graves that were on the outside. Turns out that those with the yellow scarves tied round the tombs are actually royal tombs.

Next on the itinerary was the old administrative centre of that place, which was yet another yellow and green building. Architecturally, the building plan actually resembles European castles, with a central building and two turrets to the sides. One of the ‘turrets’ had a well, and functioned as a shower room, while the second ‘turret’ had a toilet with a key-shaped hole. The sewage was supposed to naturally drain out, how convenient!

After the short tour of the island, we took the small boat back to the main island of Tanjong Pinang, to head for what we all looked forward to– lunch, because we were all hungry, and for some of us, a ‘modern’ toilet at that moment would be God sent. Lunch was a wee bit disappointing, because I was seriously seriously hoping for traditional Indonesian fare along the lines of Sanur, but well, I guess one will have to make do.

A plastic flower and tea packing factory was the next site to be visited. Although we were given the liberties to interview the workers, it was still hard to overcome the psychological barrier and actually talk to them, after all, I’ve always hated bugging people, much less distract from their work, which no doubt had some quota involved. However, from whatever little I could gather, it must be hard work for the people, because they have to work hard to meet daily quotas for only around SGD 4 a day. Thankfully, they don’t work very long hours, or I would feel worse for them.

Singaporeans being Singaporeans managed to find things to buy anyway. You would think that people wouldn’t have much to buy from a factory as such, but guess what, the queue was so long that there was actually a delay at the factory. Should I be surprised? Consequently, when we went to the second factory, it was already closed. However, the ibus still had a field day buying all the various kerupuks from the stall. Together, the bahasa people actually swept quite a few shelves clean. I’m impressed, very impressed.

Last stop was an air-conditioned shopping mall. This is a two storey thing that was opened two years ago is the largest thing that they have in Tanjong Pinang. But basically, it was enough for both girls and guys to run wild. It’s amazing how people can find things to do at a 2 storey mall, e.g. washing their hair. Gasp! Many shopped till they forgot dinner and had to starve till they reached Singapore, tsk tsk.

Journey back on ferry was on exactly the same ferry that we came by. This time round, because we were so late, they didn’t exactly have many seats left. Although it was just as rough, I took to it better than the journey to Bintan, whew!

Pulau Penyakat

Boat to Pulau Penyekat

Pulau Penyakat

 

Some of the transportation in Pulau Penyekat

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