With the promise of rejuvenation and new ferries for classier and faster, vacationing in Bintan, Indonesia, has never been more alluring.
When you’re nerves are frayed and you’re at the edge of your wits, an hour of travel can indubitably grate on your sanity. Bintan, the island-refuge from urban living, seems so far although websites and brochures tell you that it’s just a short one-hour ride. As if heeding the distress call of wearied corporate warriors and frequent travelers, the seemingly agonizing 60 minutes have been reduced to 45 minutes with the launch of new ferries by Bintan Resort Ferries Pte Ltd (BRF).
Named after two prominent queens in Malay Srivijaya history, Wan Seri Beni and Wan Sendari, the two ferries were formally introduced to the world in a naming ceremony by Mrs. Kay Iswaran, wife of Mr. S Iswaran, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Education, Singapore, and Ibu Aida Ismeth, wife of Bapak Ismeth Abdullah, Governor of Riau Islands Province, Indonesia. The naming ceremony was held in Bintan, Indonesia last June 22.
Damen Shipyards Gorinchem undertook the construction of Wan Seri Beni and Wan Sendari, which now cruise at faster speed of more than 37 knots compared to the rest of BRF’s ferries that clock speed at only 28 knots. The Dutch ship maker also fitted the new ferries with the latest wave interception hardware, a program that helps to reduce excessive rocking of the ferries by maintaining stability during choppy or high waves, relieving the fear of a bout of motion sickness among travelers whose sea legs are far from sturdy.
Ferries Wan Seri Beni and Wan Sendari join the fleet of ferries operated by BRF that include 306-seater Indera Bupala and 280-seater Arung Mendara. (Photo courtesy of BRF)
Each ferry features two decks and a total seating capacity of 300 seats of which 243 seats are reserved for the Economy Class and the remaining 57 for the newly formed seating category called Emerald Class situated on the upper deck. Travelers booked at the Emerald Class are treated to cushy leather seats and the express immigration processing, as someone will attend to it while they wait at the Bintan Executive Lounge.
Other new features of the ferries include a dedicated luggage compartment, state-of-the-art bridge equipment and night vision capabilities.
Investment in the two ferries reached a total of S$31million, which, according to BG (Ret) Chin Chow Yoon, Chairman. BRF and Executive Chairman of Bintan Resorts International, “reflects (the) commitment towards growing and developing Bintan Resorts as an attractive tourist and investment destination. These ferries build on the numerous new initiatives that we have undertaken to date to attract and support new investments, particularly our Lagoi Bay Development…With these new ferries, visitors can enjoy a complete Bintan experience from the moment they step foot on the ferry where they travel in comfort and enjoy a smooth, hassle-free immigration and custom clearance in Bintan.”
Bintan Resorts has recently put in new infrastructure and amenities on the island that include a reservoir part, new dining and recreation outlets in the township and a resort center.
The new Emerald Class features comfortable leather seats and exclusive access to the al fresco lounge.
(Photo courtesy of BRF)
WHAT TO DO IN BINTAN
While most of the travelers prefer to just laze under the sun with a book and a drink, there are still some energetic tourists who want to do a walkabout the island. Shoppers can head to Pasar Oleh-Oleh in the township to browse through the souvenir gift market that feature Indonesian artifacts and batik wear, and enjoy a repast of the local cuisine at three of the restaurants operating in the area. Spa-goers, on the other hand, can slip for a Balinese massage or facial at either the Aura Spa or Kintamani Spa. Across Pasar Oleh-Oleh is Kampoeng Lagoi, which, similarly to the former, features several F&B outlets, retails shops, a games arcade, the Aroma Day Spa and a newly opened wine and tapas bar, Café Tempo.
Tours are not lacking and there are several to choose from:
*South Bintan Heritage Tour – This tour offers a glimpse of Riau-Indonesian history, culture and heritage. The full-day tour starts with a water ride from Sungei Anchilai across Bintan Bay to Senggarang, the Chinese fishing settlement. This is followed by a visit to Pulau Penyengat, which features the royal tomb where the early rulers of the archipelago are interred as well as the Royal Mosque that is said to have been built using egg white. The last stop is at Tanjung Pinang, the capital city of Bintan.
* Sri Bintan Kampung Tour – This eco-tour gives participants an idea of traditional Indonesian kampung (Indonesian word for village) life in Sri Bintan where they see first-hand women weaving pandan leaves into usable products and the one and only blacksmith fashioning agricultural tools from scrap metal.
* Mangrove Discovery Tour – This one-hour and 30-min eco-tour treats people to the rice and varied fauna and flora of Bintan’s mangrove while gliding through the waters in a motorized sampan. Its night counterpart is the one-hour Night Fireflies tour through Sebong River with only the stars and fireflies illuminating the way.
*Gunung Bintan Adventure Trek – This four-hour eco-tour cum trekking adventure tests the mettle of all participants who take on the challenge of reaching the highest peak in Bintan, which is 340 meters high. The hike begins from the village of Enau, up the natural trail, a stop at the hidden Princess Pool and ends at Bekapur Village.
* Traditional Fishing Tour – Go out with the fishermen on a sampan and see how they cast catch crabs and fishes from traditional fish traps made from bamboo or wire from Sebong River.
The trip to Bintan just got shorter so pack your bags for rejuvenation in paradise.
Ferry Ticket Rates
|ECONOMY CLASS||Peak PeriodCounter Rate||Off-Peak Counter Rate(Mondays – Thursdays) **|
|Adult 1-way Sing – Bintan||$29.10||$23.60|
|Adult 1-way Bintan – Sing||$34.10||$28.60|
|Child 1-way Sing – Bintan||$23.60||$19.60|
|Child 1-way Bintan – Sing||$28.60||$24.60|
|EMERALD CLASS||Peak PeriodCounter Rate||Off-Peak Counter Rate(Mondays – Thursdays) **|
|Adult 1-way Sing – Bintan||$47.10||$41.60|
|Adult 1-way Bintan – Sing||$52.10||$46.60|
|Child 1-way Sing – Bintan||$28.60||$24.60|
|Child 1-way Bintan – Sing||$33.60||$29.60|
* Rates are in S$ and are correct as of posting (June 2009).
** Excludes eve of public holiday and public holiday
Bintan Resort Ferries
50 Tanah Merah Ferry Road #01-21 Singapore 498833
Tel: (65) 6542 4369
Citizens of the countries listed below are granted visa-free entry while others whose country doesn’t appear on the list can avail of the visa upon arrival.