Saturday, October 2, 2010

Bintan, yet again!

Josh zig-zagging his way up a steep hill

Nothing to do with male body fluids

but a brand of cement named, "3 circles or rings"

There are so many places in the world to explore and so little time to see them all. Therefore, it is rare for me to re-visit a place unless it is exceptional.

Bintan qualifies. The roads are quiet enough but are sufficiently challenging with "nice" hills, breath-taking rides along Trikora Beach sleepy fishing villages, abundance of value for money resorts and of course, great seafood. No wonder Jan Boonstra considers Bintan one of his favourite Riau island to explore on a bike.

6 of us went this time for a 2 night 3 day sojourn. Mike, Kevin and I the old birds with TW, Steven and Joshua - newbies who bravely joined us. I was told the video on our last trip had some influence. It was a classic case of never believing everything you see on the internet as they found out later. Struggling through some of the tough climbs, they wondered what they got themselves into but we were delighted they came along to share the joys and pain! Bintan is certainly not your usual Park Connector excursion.

Pic courtesy from TW

Our ride to Ocean Bay Resort started normally until 1 hour into the journey, a thunderstorm came without warning and soaked us thoroughly.

Getting cooled that way after being baked by the sun was a blessing and we strangely enjoyed it. Our support vehicle told us of a brand new short cut which we foolishly agreed to try only to discover the punishing hills that laid in ambush for us. Yes, it was shorter distance wise but it winded us and by the time we reached the coastal road of Trikora, our tongues were hanging and legs soft like tofu, in addition to getting drenched by the monsoon.

It was always special to stay at Ocean Bay Resort as Tracy the Manager and her staff take exceptional care of us. Each of us had single rooms as the resort was quiet on the weekday and they made the extra effort to ensure the seafood was a culinary experience at each meal. It was a pepper crabs, steamed garoupa, prawns, squid, shellfish, scallop galore and every meal had 6 dishes at least!

The kelong itself is quite big and riding around the long and narrow corridors instead of walking was thrilling and a tad scary.

We enjoyed sitting around talking (mainly about foldies, what else?) and watching the sun set and the stars appearing one by one. Kevin took out his i-Pad and we had fun identifying each star.

Being out in the sea on stilts and enjoying the cool evening breezes with new found friends, while admiring our foldies, must truly be one life's greatest pleasures.

On the second day, we headed out to Tanjong Pinang, the capital city of Bintan for some good Nasi Padang and spa. It was a 70km round trip but worth it as we ate the most delicious local fare (17 course lunch), saw the impressive morning catch of the returning fishing fleet

and felt the kneading of skilled and healing hands on our tired legs. It was also exhilarating to cycle back pitch dark in the night.

The return ride proved to be enjoyable in the morning but most torturing when noon came. It must have hit 35c and we were glad we took the long way back, avoiding those cruel hills of the new shortcut. Still, it was tough work and at one stage, I was so overheated I had to pour cold water on my helmet. No wonder the Tour de Bintan attracts so many racers each year for its challenging route! On the flats, we drafted each other and this is easier with foldies as our smaller wheels enabled us to stay closer. 28-32km/h was achieved without too much effort.

It was a real joy to cover the 200km distance on my Bike Friday Tikit save for one stage while I was flying at 40km/h downhill and the road disintegrated into loose gravel.

That caught me by surprise and the small 16" front wheel went into a deadly weave! I turned pale white and mustered whatever little skill I had to stabilise the bike. Call it sheer good luck or I believe is divine intervention, I lived to tell the tale unscathed! Moments like these remind me clearly of God's graciousness, protection and amazing love for all of us*.
I'm not sure if I will go back to Bintan but there is talk about doing some night riding on this beautiful island. I won't be surprised if I see myself there, yet again.

*He ordered his angels to guard you wherever you go. If you stumble, they'll catch you; their job is to keep you from falling. Psalm 91:11,12

More pics of the trip here from my friend TW.


ChrisW said...

someone looks positively delirious with the magical balancing plates of nasi padang !

Taiwoon said...

hi AL, It was a pleasure meeting u, talking about life and bikes.... learning all the tricks to climb hill...Zig zaging.. it works..not pretty but it works! Yah, will never forget the gravel hill which we both rolled down! see u soon!

nancarrow said...

Hi Chip,

Obviously your brains have been fried if you think that all that sweaty exertion is FUN!! The scenery looked good - especially the food...xx

STTENNIS said...

Hi Brother Al! Very nice blog indeed! It was my first ride outside of Singapore and it turned out to be the tough but also the most memorable one. I look forward to join you guys soon on yet another adventure!! Take care and God Bless All Cyclists in the World!!!

Oldyonfoldy said...

Hi TW, Indeed I was so glad we ALL survived that gravel hill ordeal.

Hi ST, it was great you enjoyed yourself and yes, do join us for the next ride. Tough = unforgettable! :)

Taiwoon said...

u wouldn't believe how much amazement when I told my friends we just went riding around Bintan on Foldies.. I just tell them.. can one.. one crank at a time!