When you’re biking week after week on Singapore roads, things can get quite monotonous. So for the long weekend, the team organised a ride in Bintan.
How different is Bintan from Singapore? The roads are less busy with fewer vehicles, and those that are on the road are less impatient. Kids will also cheer you on from their homes, schools, or even by the roadside. Life moves at a slower pace. The scenery isn’t exactly postcard-perfect, but there are little bits scattered around to distract you from the pain. Yes, the pain that a never-ending series of inclines and descents will inflict on you.
But how does one even get put together a ride on Bintan?
First, you need to book tickets here. There’s an option to add on a bike. Make sure you select that.
Second, you’ll need to figure out what route you want to take. Try looking at the Bintan Triathlon or Metaman sprint course for inspiration.
Third, you may also want to hire a car and driver as a support vehicle. We had one with us, and it was great to be able to dump all our bags in the minivan, accessible whenever we needed to. Madi, our driver, held the rear in case anyone had mechanical issues, got lost or had to stop for whatever reason. He even sped ahead to junctions to help do some traffic control so we could turn safely. Having someone around in a support car really makes a difference. Wonder how we can get Madi to come to Singapore to support our weekly rides…
Ended off the ride at Nirwana with a quick dip in the pool and lunch. A shower has never felt so good…
The 2-way ferry ticket on economy class costs $70. Bringing your bike along will add $20 more. A driver for half a day will set you back about $150. Parking at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal starts at $1.07/hour.
Hydrate. Bintan has very little shelter in the form of trees and tall buildings. This means getting continually scorched by the sun. Either bring your own water, or buy chilled bottles from shops along the way.
Bring rupiah. Singapore dollars aren’t accepted anymore, unlike my previous visits to Bintan some years ago.
Steer clear of the restaurant on the upper floor of Nirwana, just outside the main reception area. Food was passable at best. Understaffed, everything took forever to arrive, apart from the bill. Saw a croissant passed off as Panini, the worst Aglio Olio ever, and my Philly Cheese Steak took forever and a day to arrive. The restaurant downstairs that serves a buffet (no waiting!) cost 360k rupiah, 5k less than what we eventually paid per head. Hear the food at Mayang Sari (2km from Nirwana?) is great too.
Get to the Bintan ferry terminal at least an hour before your boarding time. They have only one baggage check-in counter, and one counter to check your boarding pass. Front row seats give you legroom. If that fails, aisle seats let you stretch out one leg at least. Just don’t trip anyone. And if you’re so inclined, they serve beer on the ferry for carbo (re)loading.
More pics to come when the team photog uploads them.