Singapore is definitely an Island
Trip Start Dec 29, 2009
14Trip End May 13, 2010
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First, our ferry was delayed about an hour. It was to leave at 6:20pm, and it was recommended to be there an hour earlierhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esplanade_-_Theatres_on_the_Bay
It was a lot of fun, but it took some people over an hour to get there using public transit during rush hour. Therefore, to be safe, we left around 4:15 and took a taxi to get to the ferry terminal. We ended up having no trouble getting there, arriving around 5 and having to wait until 7:20 to leave. The ferry itself was rather small, and the waters were a little bumpy. As such, there was an excess of seasickness on the ride over. I didn’t get sick myself, but it wasn’t easy. The boat rocked a lot on the bottom and the sounds of others were nauseating in themselves.
Once we landed in Tanjung Pinang, customs were easy. It was just a simple Visa-on-Arrival fee and a walk through a metal detector. The ferry terminal was practically shut down when we arrived and everywhere was dark. It was kind of creepy walking out into a completely foreign pier and being rushed into taxis in a dark parking lot to be driven an hour to our hostel. Don’t worry here-I had arranged for us to be picked up, so there was a representative from the hostel who showed us where to go. This was very helpful, as the drivers themselves didn’t seem to speak English
The car ride itself was another adventure. Each taxi had 6 people in it on bench seats with no seatbelts. I held onto the overhead handle the whole way. The roads here are a spectacle in themselves. They have paved roads with lines, but the drivers seem to pay little attention to them, driving in the middle of the road until a car or moped wants to pass in the opposite direction. The other spectacle is the abundance of mopeds. This is by far the preferred method of transportation on the island. You will find that the Indonesians will turn a moped into a family car, riding up to 4 people and baggage on a two-seater. The mopeds also follow the same rules as the cars, driving in and out of the lines, in between cars, and around other motorbikes. Most of the ride was uneventful, just darkness on either side of the road, but every once in a while we would run into markets that were lit up and bustling and what appeared to be a carnival with people on microphones and something being played on a portable screen.
We arrived at the hostel around 10pm and found that others from NUS had been there for almost the whole day and were having a great time. We had 3 rooms for the twelve of us. I stayed in a room by the water on the second floor of what could be considered a traditional hotel
Saturday morning I woke up around 7am Indonesian time, which was about the same time as the sun was coming up. It was really beautiful in the morning. I could see the water from my room, and the sea breeze was really refreshing. The day was very relaxed and consisted of traveling from the actual hostel to surrounding/ sister resorts to go wading in the water, laze around, and explore. Trikora is a fishing town and so almost everywhere we went were kelongs and boats. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelong)
We actually met one of the locals and spent about a half hour trying to communicate through sand writing and pictionary. It was somewhat unsuccessful, but we gathered that he was the one that cut up the fish once the fishermen brought in their load from the sea. Each net catches about 30kg of fish/squid/sea creatures. This could be terribly wrong… but it’s the closest I could guess.
I wanted to go swimming out into the water, because the water felt so good, except the threat of stonefish freaked me out a bit, so I didn’t go very farhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonefish)
When the tide started going out we went to the other resort to have lunch. The coolest thing I saw all weekend was the kite surfing. Apparently, the area we were in was very popular for these surfers because the water was shallow for a great distance and thus calm, but it was super windy. I wish I could have tried it, but they weren’t renting boards, only those people who brought their own could go out. I was very disappointed by this. They had other water sports such as snorkeling, banana boat rides, kayaking, etc… however, at the best time to go out there was a whirlpool occurring in the deeper water, so they weren’t sending any boats out until it died down. It just so happened that around 1:30pm the low tide comes, and stays until 8 or so at night. The low tide wasn’t just 10/20 feet difference, it was a good ¼ mile out, so that also meant that boats weren’t going out. It was an interesting sight. I am not complaining at all, as I ended up lying in a beach chair for a while just enjoying the view, spent some time in the pool to cool off, played some volleyball and Frisbee, and thoroughly enjoyed my day.
Sunday morning, we left to head back to Tanjung Pinang to walk around the city before our ferry left for Singapore
When we got to Tanjung Pinang, it looked much more like a city than when we arrived. The streets were narrow and most people were on mopeds, but there were definite markets, stores, hotels, restaurants, and temples everywhere. The markets were the most interesting, full of produce I had never seen before, spices I couldn’t identify, and dried fish I would never eat. They did have some dried leaves and dried bananas that were quite good, but those were the only items I was adventurous enough to try
I know this entry was very long for a very short trip, but it was filled with a lot of new experiences for me that I thought deserved explanation. My first time on such a small ferry, first time in a place where I couldn’t drink the water, first time staying in a hostel, first time organizing such a trip, first trip out of Singapore, first time seeing a truly poor lifestyle, first time to Indonesia, etc… The only other tidbit I want to add is about the ferry ride back
I hope the title of this entry makes a little more sense now. Singapore is not anything like the surrounding areas. (so far as I can tell) And I can say that I'm glad I am residing here, and only visiting everywhere else.