Happy New Year of the Dragon! Zac and I decided to spend some of our precious holiday time together in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. As usual, we didn’t plan in too much detail, but one place we did pre-book into was Mutiara Beach Guesthouse…. and man, was it worth it!
Sitting at the ferry terminal in Singapore, I have to admit that I was a little hesitant. We were surrounded by ads for resorts, golf courses and spas – not our idea of a quiet holiday. The other tourists on the boat were decked out in their Ralph Lauren polo shirts and designer shoes. Many of them were checking in golf sticks. The TV on the boat boasted packages for families and spa treatments. It did not look good.
However, the smooth 50-minute ferry trip was followed by a 50-minute taxi ride on Bintan Island, where we were soon out of the ‘resort zone’ and dense greenery, local houses and flashes of crystal blue water whizzed past the window.
We were greeted with smiles and a welcome coconut drink! We were shown to our ‘Pondok Pavillion’, where we would spend the next six nights. The pavillion had a double mattress, covered with a mosquito net, and a simple table of supplies. The shared bathroom was behind the building. It also had an amazing balcony, where we spent most of our days.
The hospitality of the guesthouse was incredible. The staff did everything they could to make our stay comfortable. They follow the ‘slow food’ movement, so everything is totally fresh, and if they don’t have it today, you don’t get it. So, no old food or microwaves. Bliss.
The highlight for me was definitely the breakfasts… an amazing combination of crepe, banana, coconut, cinnamon, sugar and lime juice, topped off with a yummy cup of tea (maybe Rooibos tea? or something similar, at least). I will definitely be adding this to the weekend breakfast menu, as a pikelet alternative!
And even though you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, there’s a massage spa built next door along the river. We had a beautiful aromatherapy massage amongst the mangroves.
The guesthouse also had lots of activities on offer: sports, snorkelling, hiring of bikes, motorbikes, cars, etc. My pregnant belly, however, urged me to spend my days walking along the beach, taking photographs, swimming and just absorbing the clean air and sunshine. Phew! Life’s tough!
Everyone we met (and there really weren’t many people around – see above pic!) was so welcoming and friendly. Children on the beach waved, men building boats from coconut palms grinned as we wandered past and even the local dogs came and said hi.
I would not hesitate to return when I’m next in need of total relaxation.