Who would have thought that the best birthday celebration would be in one of Indonesia’s islands, tucked away from civilisation? Well, there’s electricity (only at night) and water (brought in through a pipe, diameter no bigger than 3cm). When I came back from the trip, I posted My 23rd Birthday in a nutshell. I was so overwhelmed by the whole experience that…I didn’t really get down to specific details. So, here goes!
I knew we’re going to have fun. These huge-ass mushrooms were a sign! I believe they represent my three friends and I. This was in Singapore, while waiting to board the ferry.
The happy birthday girl, on her impromptu trip, with three friends, no idea what she’ll be experiencing in Bintan.
I must admit, upon reaching the place, I was shocked. Before the trip, one of my friends said, “it’s back to basics” and that the place is like a kampung (village). I thought it’s like the villages of distant relatives in Penang, Malaysia. Little did I know that Shady Shack is a backpackers-style accommodation.
After supper, we headed to the beach. Mind you, the place is far from civilisation, there were no lights at all, and it was super dark. Scary dark. Not because I’m afraid of ghosts or zombies, but I was more intimidated of the possibility of dangerous living creatures under the sea. Those thoughts faded away quickly when friends surprised me with a cake!
So that was what the delay was all about! On the way to Shady Shack from the ferry terminal, we went to a mall to get some supplies like tidbits, etc. Two of them went missing, saying they searched for the toilet. I thought that was weird…I mean there are signs in the mall! Anyway, they lied to get me a birthday cake, how thoughtful!
The slices of cake managed to stay afloat, but some seawater made their way in. That made a cool flavour for a birthday cake – chocolate and seawater. We ate the cake under the stars, in the sea. I couldn’t be happier! Then came the next surprise – bonfire!
You can ask the owner Pak (Sir/Uncle) Lobo for this. We had fun just sitting around and chatting, accompanied by the gentle sea breeze from Trikora beach and hugged by the comforting heat from the fire, not forgetting the millions of stars dancing above us! It’s not that I have never seen stars, but there were really A LOT of them in Bintan! Singapore is too bright, the stars just don’t seem to appear.
Caught the sunrise the next morning. Too bad, the sky was a bit cloudy. I watched this from the second floor of the shack.
My friends were busy sleeping. One woke up, then joined the rest in dreamland again. So I went to check the place out. We arrived in the evening yesterday, so I had no sense of how the entire area looks like.
Ahhh more shacks! These simple shacks look so peaceful by the beach, especially when fringed with little plants all around. Didn’t want to miss the sunrise, so I went back to the beach; besides, I can always check those shacks out later.
All that’s left from the bonfire last night…
Ahh… The clouds made way for the sun. Thank you, dear clouds. You made the birthday girl happy!
Last night, we heard a dog barking non-stop. Being in a dark area with a wild dog is not funny. Thank goodness, we were already in the shack when it came closer to us.
I was alone by the beach, watching the sunrise, and couldn’t be happier and more contented than ever.
This is the view of the two-storey shacks from the beach.
Pretty flowers like this line the shacks.
The main area where backpackers are welcome. It’s like the lobby, we have our meals here, too. Pak Lobo and family hang out here with their friends who come over often.
I felt like basking in the sun or sprawl in the sea. So I went back in to get my bikini and changed in this simple yet sweet bathroom cum toilet. There is no flushing system or shower head, but it’s a really decent bathroom. (In 2011, shower heads have been attached to the pipe.)
Yes, anyone can peep through while you’re taking a shower, but don’t worry, there are no perverts. The only ones around are probably rats. Hahaha! Simple stairs leading to the upper part of the shack. Easier to climb up, a tad harder to get down.
I am ready to partyyyyyyyyy!
Before I could skip merrily to the beach, I saw curious eyes…
I decided to talk to the kids and found out what they were up to.
Guess what’s in the bottle!
The kids ran around, chased after butterflies and caged them in the bottle! Poor butterflies sank all the way to the bottom, while some flapped crazily. When the need arises, they’d squeeze their tiny fingers through the bottle’s nozzle and pinch the butterflies out by the wings. Ouch!
They shared the love…
After hanging out with them, I went to the beach. The kids kept asking what I wanted to do…they followed me, everyone except the youngest one. It was low tide, so we went all the way into the horizon, but the water was still below my knee level, perfect! Friends woke up and joined us. The kids were so funny, bubbly, naive and really a joy to be around with. We gave each other nicknames, shared stories, etc. Thanks to the wonderful low tide, we were lying down right in the middle of the ocean, on the beautiful seabed. It was once in a lifetime experience!
I learnt so much from them! The twins were skillful. They caught two clownfishes with their bare hands! That was how far we went into the sea… I never thought I would enjoy low tides as much as this!
The small one was barely 1cm. It was really small! The bigger one is small enough to fit through the bottle’s nozzle. From afar, the smaller clownfish could not even be spotted. The boys have Superman’s eyes! And yes, where else would they keep it…
Don’t worry, I talked to them into letting those poor fishes go. One of my hobbies is to collect seashells. Fret not, I love the environment… I only collect what I need… Not sweep the whole beach clean… I’m a responsible traveller, I swear!
The boys taught me how to see…
What exactly was I looking at?
Very, very tiny shells. If the kids didn’t highlight these, I would have never noticed them.
So this is Trikora beach during low tide. The further you go, there are no corals or stones or even shells at all! It was really a blessing to be there during low tide!
It’s time for breakfast. While waiting for food to be served, we took pictures. Bella is quite a shy girl.
Simple breakfast. They serve “basic” food like rice and Mee Goreng (fried noodles) but to be safe, let Pak Lobo know what you want to eat the day before, so they can prepare ahead.
Look who joined us for breakfast!
One of the twins climbed a tree, which snowballed into something…bigger…and fun-er!
Jeez! That is one huge grasshopper!
I wish I could bring the seashells home… Well, time to say goodbye…
It was hard to leave. The kids’ eyes were teary, and so did ours. We can only stay for a night, as we are all working the next day. Started the day with sunrise and now, sunset – perfect!
It was really a fun trip, I have never felt happier in my life. This is certainly the best birthday celebration ever! I was surrounded with life’s simple pleasures and nature. I seriously never thought I could find joy, peace, and love in a simple place like this. I don’t need parties in clubs, expensive alcohol, loud music, etc. All I had was a slice of chocolate cake lightly dipped in seawater, millions of stars, a bonfire, sunrise, sunset, and lovable kids and friends. Thank you ladies, for making it happen. Love you!