Tropical glamping experience complete with mozzie bites

Reporter Janice Tai gives glamping a shot.
Reporter Janice Tai gives glamping a shot.PHOTO: JANICE TAI

The last time I slept outdoors in a tent was 18 years ago. It was during a Primary 5 camp and I recall sleeping on the dank ground as rain pelted down noisily on the thin film of canvas sheet above.

The wind carried with it the smell of dingy toilets, which we had to equip with our own toilet paper. But I opted to risk dying of dehydration than combat the post-traumatic stress of using those over-subscribed toilets.

Once I was back home, I gratefully slipped between the soft sheets and slept for 20 hours straight.

I have since avoided anything that vaguely needs to be pitched, though the nature lover in me has continued to seek the great outdoors via road trips and picnics.

So when a glamping provider asked me if I wanted to give the experience a try, I stopped: Dare I give those portable tents another chance? If "premium linen" sheets were involved, why not?

It was a breeze to check into the $150-a-night "room" by the water's edge. Ms Lydia Chia, 34, had set up one of her bell tents for a friend and me next to a breakwater at East Coast Park last Friday. Only areas D and G are allowed for camping.

It was dreamy with the setting sun glittering and reflected in the rolling waves as a gentle breeze rocked the tent and the hammock next to it.

We were given a number code to unlock the padlock and access the tent. We found nine pillows, two single air mattresses, three blankets, two cushion seats, a star- shaped lamp, candles, a picnic basket and an icebox.

At dusk, I left alone on my bicycle for the food centre nearby to get a takeaway. We had our dinner later under the stars and towering trees.

I imagined nodding off to the sound of waves crashing on the shore, while staying snug in bed.

But I forgot about the tropical heat and humidity.

Duvets were thrown off and the beds pushed to the edge of the tent. All the flaps that could be opened were opened but the air was still. The cosy "Mongolian yurt" had become a mini-convection oven for this city slicker.

Desperate, I tried to sleep outside on the mat with little protection and ravenous mosquitoes attacked. The spot was scenic but puddles provided ample glamping opportunities for insects.

Ms Chia said she used to offer her guests air-conditioning but they complained the whirring noise overwhelmed the sound of the waves.

A fitful night of sleep and 20 mosquito bites later, I awoke to the glare of the rising sun and fishermen casting their nets.

To complete the glamping experience, we decided to have breakfast delivered to our "doorstep". The address that the puzzled fast-food delivery boy received that morning: white tent in East Coast Park area G.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 01, 2017, with the headline 'Tropical glamping experience complete with mozzie bites'. Print Edition | Subscribe