|Made it to Singapore and Cass was waiting for me soooo good to see her and so nice to get a really good hug. Settled into our hotel the Santa Grande in Chinatown - nice place - an old Chinese opera house with a tiny room but two beds and a good bathroom and very convenient.
We only had one day so used it to explore Orchard Road, the Marina area and of course Raffles, but we agreed that the best bit was Arab Street with quirky little shops - not a big area but interesting.
The ferry ride to Bintan Island was just an hour but of course it is a different country so had to do the whole immigration and customs bit.
The resort is beautiful big with nice pools and restaurants but quite expensive and there is no where you can just walk to - no village and no actual town. We did get a shuttle to the nearest place that we thought may have some interesting areas but just a few tourist shops. The food here is in high Aust prices the buffet tonight would.have cost close to $50 each and my cup of tea last night was $5.00.
The hotel has been a hive of activity as it is the main place for people involved in the Tour de Bintan- bikes everywhere and last night they had their big dinner - we went to another hotel for ours. So Lycra has been the big item.
Our last full day we did a tour of the island. An interesting fishing village and a fishing resort where the rooms are on a jetty out over the water. Fish are penned for easy access for selling and guests can hire a line for an hour and pretty well be guaranteed a catch. Most Singaporeans and Malays stay there I doubt they see many westerners. The main city on the island is pretty unspectacular - it has the usual shops and arcades for local goods and no tourist areas which makes a nice change for Indonesia - we had lunch included in our tour and were taken to a place that obviously does weddings as it was either still set up from he previous day or being prepared for another event. A huge room with tables of ten and we were the only people,eating there - kind of weird. The island is about twice the size of Singapore and a large portion of the north is owned by a Singapore group and houses 9 resorts - you go though a gated security nearer Tanjun Pinjung there were a couple of resorts catering to more local trade and much cheaper. Our big complaint where we are staying at the Nirwana Hotel is the cost of the food and the fact that you can't go to local eateries.
So the end has come flying out tomorrow and home on Wednesday - 9 months gone!