Rustic spots, cheap seafood, quaint sights - discovering the Bintan less travelled
To many Singaporeans, the Indonesian islands of Batam and Bintan are all about beaches, massages and seafood. But a three-day trip to both places, each within 45 minutes of Singapore by ferry, uncovered a less-travelled, fun side.
It is in Bintan that I meet restaurant cashier Rudi Lim, 32, who graciously invites me, a stranger, to his modest house, which sits in a forest, surrounded by fruit trees such as rambutan and mango, and is accessed by a dirt trail. It is a world away from the air-conditioned comfort of Bintan's beach resorts that most Singaporeans are familiar with.
Still, I have also come to Bintan to stuff my face on fresh, cheap seafood, get a massage and generally have a good time.
One of the more memorable sights I see in Bintan: Tian Shang Miao at Tanjung Pinang. Once the home of the Chinese captain Chiao Chen in 1811, the roots and branches of a banyan tree have entwined themselves around it, supporting it.