Our current time zone: GMT +8 (We're home in Singapore!)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Nothing In Pictures

Yups, nothing.

Cos since we pretty much did nothing significant except live very normally for five days in Thailand. So..... there's nothing to blog about!

From the start, this was especially planned to be a very uneventful trip. I had just spent the last 4.5 months since returning to work rushing out some majorly major projects and was pooped to the bone when the work finally wrapped up in mid-July. All I really really really wanted to do after that was to sleep.

Sleep on the plane.
Sleep in bed.
Sleep on the deckchair by the pool.
Sleep on the deckchair on the beach.
Sleep on the massage bed in the spa.

Yeah, basically I just went to Thailand to sleep around. Er, with the husband. Only the husband.

Ko Samui is, of course, notorious for its all-night-long Full Moon parties on Ko Phangan, where up to 12,000 (and that's only for the low season) people gather on the beach and get raving high. I think it would have just given me a raging headache. Okay, I'll just admit it here then: I'm OLD and SUPER unhip! Bah.

Flights to Ko Samui on Bangkok Airways (the only airline that flies direct from Singapore) cost $400 per person, inclusive of taxes. Nope, not cheap. But until more airlines operate a direct route between our two islands, it's not going to get any cheaper. And especially not from end-July onwards, as it builds up towards the peak tourist season for Thailand.

Through a contact in the travel trade, we got wind of a fantastic deal at the Nora Buri Resort & Spa, located along Chaweng beach, just minutes from the airport. "Minutes from the airport" was a key factor in deciding on our choice of accommodation. We had had enough of 8-hour self-drives and 20-hour bus rides on our Americas trip, and just wanted to get to our hotel room as quickly as possible (no, not because we couldn't wait to tear each other's.... oh wait, there are kids who read our blog. Sorry mums and dads!)

The Resort was having a "buy 1 night, get 1 night free" offer, with free airport transfers, daily breakfast, one free dinner, free WiFi and spa discounts, and no limit to the number of free nights! Furthermore, we asked nicely and got upgraded to A PRIVATE POOL VILLA! *jumps up and down* It worked out to about S$100 per night for both of us, in a newly opened luxury resort. Awesome.

So, here is five days of pure nothingness in pictures:

View of the resort from The Barge restaurant

Chaweng Beach at low tide, as seen from our villa

My private pool

His private playground

Villa interior

At the spa at the Nora Buri Hotel in Chaweng town

Enjoying my daily slew of Thai treats: body massage, foot massage, pedicure - all for a few Singapore dollars each

Taking advantage of the free daily shuttles into Chaweng town for lunch

Cheap (but not very nice) Thai food in a simple eatery

Whacking a Samurai pork burger at Maccers in town

Wood-fired pizza and ice-cold local beer

Complimentary candlelight set dinner at the resort's Thai restaurant. It was very good.

When we got lazy to walk to the restaurant - room service!

My pickings from the breakfast buffet on our last day in Ko Samui - a vain attempt to be healthy

The quaint, rustic check-in counter at Ko Samui Airport

The little outdooor pedestrian mall, lined with shops and cafes, that leads passengers from the main terminal to our gate to board the flight

The departure lounge

And if you're reading this.... wow, you've made it through this really boring post about our nothing trip!

Okay, the next post will be better. I promise.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

BIN There, TAN That

What's there not to love about Bintan island?

Helloooooo tropics!

All it offers is a taste of the simple, idyllic island life for the few days that you are there. For us, having just returned from a freezing Northern California and chilly, crowded Hong Kong in January, this little Indonesian island was h-e-a-v-e-n.

A shady character in shades being shaded by the shade

We were in Bintan with my extended family for a few days in mid-February. My mum had booked the usual corporate chalet at the Bintan Lagoon Resort (BLR). "Chalet" is a bit of a misnomer - it's actually a private pool villa, big enough to house 16 people in four rooms, a huge garden, barbecue pit, and even comes with its own buggy for getting around the resort. And it has a seaview, even though it's one street removed from the beachfront.

Surf's up - and so is the red flag. No swimming in the danger zone!

There's loads of stuff to do on Bintan, albeit expensive stuff. The usual offerings include golf, spas, jet skiing, boogie boards, and at the BLR's entertainment centre there's ping pong, foosball, Wii and PS3 games, pool and billiards and a game arcade. We had a quick and violent game of paintball, which left painful red welts on my skin. Seven months on, I still haven't sought revenge on my brother for hitting me square on the neck yet. Now that he's escaped to Copenhagen for the next six months, I'll probably have to give up the thought of ever getting back at him.

Sunny island days are best spent outdoors. My cousins took their kids (or rather, the kids dragged their parents) on an ATV adventure into the (semi) wilderness.

Menacing biker dudes

Cute biker chicks - especially the little one!

After throwing up all that sand along the beach, they came back in for a breather and joined the older folk around the mahjong table. Pong ah!

For once, Josh gives complete concentration to Chinese words

For me, backpacking for ten months throughout the Americas hasn't changed a thing - my favourite holiday activity is still lazing on a poolside deckchair, in front of the beach, enjoying the sun and seabreeze. In warm.tropical.weather. It felt nice to have left the cold Northern winter far, far, behind!

My favourite spot at Bintan Lagoon Resort

We have been coming to Bintan for quite a few years now. But what finally struck me on this particular trip was the grandeur of the resort lobby. "Grandeur" may be exaggerating it a bit, but having been subjected to the bare basics in American motel chains and budget hostels for almost a year, our standards of luxury have been redefined. Arriving by bus at the resort, to a resounding welcome by dancers and musicians, and to be served an ice-cold lemongrass drink, was akin to VIP treatment for us. The only nice hotels I recall staying at on the trip was the Hilton in Las Vegas and Doubletree Suites in Times Square, New York City. But American hotels pale in comparison to quality resorts in Southeast Asia (except maybe when it comes to giving out free warm chocolate chip cookies which Doubletree Suites did really well at.)

Megan enjoying a sunset swim

And when night falls, the dinner table fills up with home-cooked local food, like my mum's nasi lemak and beef rendang. And when you haven't eaten home-cooked local food for months at a stretch, chowing down in this humble villa beats visiting an expensive restaurant by miles (or kilometres, since we're back in Asia and on the metric system.)

Snapping the food before it gets all snapped up

It's now September. How time flies. Maybe it's time for another trip back to Bintan!

(P.S. As you have now realised, our GO blog will continue to live on, beyond our Journey of a Lifetime. For now, it's going to be sporadic at best, as and when we make short trips overseas. How far we go is probably limited to Asia for now, given our depleted traveling resources and the return of the cold Northern winter. Nevertheless, stay tuned!

And if you're wondering how we're getting along our other life journeys, you can check out our blogs on MaybeBaby - we're star bloggers! Okay, just two of the few other star bloggers I Love Children picked to blog. But there's good stuff there to read too, we promise.)

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