Arrival at T. Pinang
The ferry approach was a little different than I remembered, but the arrival terminal and all were the same as when I departed here two years ago. I remember thinking then that my ferry ticket was over-priced compared to my original entry through Batam, but this time my ride on the Penguin was even pricier. Anyway, like clockwork, the taxi drivers and scam artists came out to greet me. I managed to fend off some of the less helpful sorts in favor of a guy named Natt. I could never figure out why he was so helpful, but Natt was a good companion for my couple days in Bintan.
Bukit Burbinga Cottages
There are not a lot of places that I have had the luxury of visiting twice in my travels. I have stayed at the same place in Bangkok a couple times, and also done the same scene in Istanbul twice. Like both of those cities, I think that Bintan, or rather Singapore and the Riau Archipeligo, are good jumping-off points for various travels. I am not sure, however, if Trikora beach in Bintan is worthy of being my preferred lodging destination in the area. It is not easy to get to, since the taxi ride out costs as much or more than the five-dollar bungalow itself. And the cottages are quite rundown, being built long ago and never getting running water or modern conveniences. And the beach itself is not so clean and the water can be up to 1km away in low-tide thanks to the extremely shallow runout. BUT, I still chose this place to hide-out for a couple days. I stayed just 100m down from the Yasin bungalow that I used two years earlier. Again, it was just me and the bugs, dogs, and a few local people.
View this QTVR Panorama Image of Trikora Beach(205K)
Typical of a new solo journey, I felt a bit lonely and disheartened at first. I think I have resolved before not to travel alone for long periods, but it is always enticing because of the freedom and flexibility. Anyway, during my couple days in Bintan, I was tempted to return to more familiar ground. But the challenge of going through with my planned journey overpowered my urge to spend the time back in Tokyo with my girlfriend. I think the main problem with solo travel in a place like this is not the absence of a close friend to talk to, but the lack of anyone to talk to at all. The only other foreign people that I saw on Bintan were a couple German tourists, who had reportedly lost a computer and camera on their entry and were preoccupied with recovering the items. Otherwise, I was surrounded by people who were only interested as far as Hello Mister, and Where You Go? Just a general warning on travel bordom.
Things to Do
So, apart from covering loads of reading that I had brought along, I accomplished a few simple things in Bintan. I got some malaria pills for a few pennies, whereas the first set cost me 25USD at home. I am still not clear about what medication is effective here (see discussion of malaria treatments, but the local apotik carried only the Bayer version of chloroquin, as opposed to the mefloquin that I got at home. I figured out the basic operation of the Pelni boats (see next chapter). And I realized that this island is bigger than I thought. There is a bit to see her, in the form of a boat ride up the Snake River. Or a general walk around T. Pinang. And there is plenty of undeveloped sort of jungle, though it doesn't seem that anyone would really trek around in it. And the whole interaction with Singapore in terms of the formal high-class resorts in the north, and the prostitution (see prior travel) in the south is quite fascinating. It is a nice intro of things to come on my adventure.