Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Telunas - day 1

29 January 2016

"So where do you want to go for our 9th wedding anniversary?" Viv asked me.

I gaped at him. Though we do try to go for a short getaway for our anniversaries, we had just come back from a 3-week vacation in India. I also knew that it was a busy time for him at work because of his upcoming business trip to the US. 

"We are going somewhere??" I asked.

"Yeah, why not? We should." He said. 

So we discussed and decided that we could possibly go somewhere we didn't have to fly to, somewhere nearby, just for the weekend. 

Now it was up to me to find a suitable place to go to. The only places accessible by ferry that I knew of were Bintan and Batam in Indonesia, and we had seen both. Viv was okay with the idea of going to Bintan again, but I hate repeating holiday spots because the world is too big and life is too short. So I told him I'd find something - a new place.

And then I got to work. Googling and checking with my mommy groups gave me a few options, of which I liked Telunas, a tiny island in Indonesia the most. We'd have to take a ferry and then a boat to get there, but we would be there in about 3 hours. The place itself looked absolutely heavenly. I found some reviews of the place and everyone who went there was simply raving about it. 

Viv checked out my shortlisted places and agreed that Telunas looked the best, even though it was much more expensive than the others. Even for Telunas, there were two options - the no-frills and more economical Telunas beach resort, which is a part of the mainland, and the more scenic and luxurious Telunas private island, which was a 5-minute boat ride away from the mainland. 

We decided to treat ourselves and picked the private island. We quickly got the bookings done and started counting down. Finally, it was Friday the 29th January and we set off. Xena was super excited, mainly because her parents were being such badasses by making her miss school on a Friday! 

Excited holiday-makers waiting for a taxi to take them to the ferry terminal

Some drama happened with the taxi as well. We were running a little late and there were simply no available cabs. We couldn't even get one when we tried to book. So Viv decided to try Uber. We quickly got one, but we had to take the surge price option. So for a trip from our place to the ferry terminal, which would have been about 15 bucks, came up to... 50 bucks! I don't think I've ever taken a 50-dollar ride in Singapore. So that was a bummer, but then if something goes wrong at the beginning of the vacation, you know the rest of it would be smooth sailing. 

At the ferry terminal, Xena checks out the next few holiday destinations.

Waiting for her kaya toast at the ferry terminal 

Finally, we were in the ferry! 

The ferry to Batam was actually quite empty. I suppose it was just a few weeks into the start of the school term so most people were already done with their holidays. We even managed to get a kind of family booth on the second level. 

Xena and Viv in the family booth

Lots of snacks and an hour later, we had reached Sekupang ferry terminal in Batam. Staff from Telunas greeted us there and our luggage was bundled off in a van. We could either take a taxi to the jetty or walk. We decided to walk, as did the rest of the group going to Telunas. 

You could tell from the switch in the type of boats that we were no longer in Singapore. 

Xena looking at fish as we waited for our boat

The boat that took us to Telunas was a Malay-style fishing boat, but motorised. The top was partially covered possibly to protect against rain, splashing seawater and also the sun. I couldn't imagine taking a 90-min ride on an open fishing boat in the middle of the day! 

Family selfie in the boat

Soon, we were out on open waters. 

We made sure Xena kept her life jacket on the entire time. 

We were given bottles of water and a snack box for the ride, which consisted of a sandwich, some fruits and some buns and cakes. Everyone around us was quite friendly and there were also a few kids who were Xena's age. 

Xena was not keen on anything in the snack box, but then she saw a 1-year-old devour a giant apple so she suddenly got real competitive!

She also wanted to lean over and put her hand in the water like the other kids were. I let her do it, but held on to her tightly.

One of the boatmen sat in front of the boat, and I wondered what his role was. Look out for glaciers? But I did see him making signs every now and then, possibly to the guy at the back who was steering the boat. Xena asked me who 'that uncle' was and I told her he was a boatman. "Mama," she exclaimed, "Boatman is like Batman!" 

The boat ride was about 90 minutes, and the view got more and more scenic as time went on. 

The entire ride and comfortable and scenic, but the best was at the end. As we approached Telunas private island, we got a peek at the beautiful sea villas lining the beach. 

Google had not lied. Telunas private island, was, indeed, a heavenly sight. I really, really regretted not taking the DSLR along. 

The boat was going to drop us off and then head to the other side - the Telunas beach. We said good bye to the people who were headed to that side and disembarked.

There goes our boat! It suddenly dawned on me how the only way out of this place was by boat. It thrilled and excited me to no end!

We were welcomed by the Telunas staff, waiting for us on the jetty with cool towels and an amazing pineapple-cucumber drink. 

The beach was being cleaned of seaweed when we arrived.

Viv and Xena walking up to the Grand Lounge

One of the staff members was attached to our family as our guide for the duration of our stay. She told us all about the activities, the meals and answered all our questions. The cook discussed Viv's vegetarian meals with him. "Beef okay?" He asked. "Errr... No. Beef not okay, chicken not okay, seafood not okay. Only eggs and dairy okay." We told him. He wrote it all down in his notebook and told us he would do his best.

While we were talking to the guide, Xena had been... err... redecorating our welcome drinks.

Their website had said that we could take our own wine and they'd be happy to chill it for us. Viv had taken a bottle of Moscato along and they chilled it after labeling it with his name. The dining area had a cupboard with toys and board games that kids could play with if the parents wanted a more leisurely meal. 

Our guide leads the way to our sea villa.

There are only 15 villas on the entire island, and they're in the sea! 

The villas were supported by pillars, which looked scarily wooden from a distance, but to our relief, turned out to be made of concrete. 

The villa turned out to be huge. It was 90 sq metres in area, with a living room, a main bedroom, a bathroom and a spacious balcony. 

The living room

Platters of fresh fruit were laid out on the coffee table.

The main bedroom

The decorations in the villa had price tags at the bottom and you could buy them if you liked them. 

There was a small study table, and a hot/cold water dispenser next to it. 

All the furniture in the villas are made of recycled boatwood, giving it a very characteristic look.

The sprawling balcony -- my favourite part of the villa!

The balcony overlooking the ocean offered a 180-degree view, and yet each villa was completely private from the neighbours.

Xena chills at the balcony.

The living room ceiling was so high, there was a ladder leading up to the loft with two kiddy beds and two bean bags. The ladder was very steep, but the lower rungs are removable for safety if you have extremely adventurous kids. 

Xena and Viv immediately went up to explore. 

Xena got one of the bean bags down for her use. 

I went up to explore too.

The beds in the loft were quite big.

View of the living room from the loft

Every now and then, I'd remind myself that we were staying over water. There were intentional gaps in the floorboard to give you a peek of the water. 

I kept going from room to room, feeling rather delighted. I couldn't believe there was a place like this on earth. The song 'yeh kya jagah hai doston' was playing in my head, but the happy version. I was surprised I'd not heard much about Telunas before. By the way, there was some network coverage but no Internet at all! They had provided each villa with a kindle instead, preloaded with information about the resort, the activities available, as well as a collection of classic literature.

I took a relaxing hot shower (the bathroom had a rain shower!), while Xena got busy with the platter of fruits. There was no air-conditioning, but it was cool because of the sea breeze. Viv put Xena down for her afternoon nap, while I made notes for Hopscotch to the sounds of a gentle drizzle. After a while, even I lay down next to them and caught a quick cat nap.

When Xena woke up, it was still raining. She wanted to use the hot water dispenser and make herself a cup of Milo, so I let her do it with some assistance. It was cool and breezy so she pulled a towel out and covered herself with it. Then she plonked herself on her bean bag with her cup of Milo.

She looked so much like a grown up sipping on coffee on a rainy afternoon that I just had to take this photo.

Ah... she knows...

... and there comes the chuckle which happens whenever I take photos of her secretly.

At the balcony during the drizzle

We had plans to go kayaking and then chilling in the infinity pool, so those went for a toss because of the rain. Armed with the resort's giant umbrella (they were so giant, you needed two straps to close them instead of one!), we headed to the Grand Lounge for a while, playing jenga and talking to the resort staff about the next day's activities.

Xena playing jenga (Cheating! Two hands!)

Yeah, it was balanced like this at some point when it was my turn. No wonder I lost. 

This is how it was for Viv during round 2...

...but he still managed to find a way, and won... again! Grrr...

Xena was thrilled to have discovered a bouncy ball...

 ...and bounced all over the lounge. 

The Grand Lounge furniture was also made of boatwood...

...including this bench, which was literally half a boat!

View of the villas from the Grand Lounge

Pitter patter raindrops on the infinity pool

There were chalkboards listing the menu for each meal, which got us really excited! 

Another board listed the activities for the next few days.

The rain had now mellowed down to a slight drizzle, so we went for a short walk along the beach. 

 The island was surrounded by mangrove trees, with their characteristic aerial roots. 

Check out the roots sticking out of the sand. We looked all over for mudskippers but couldn't spot any. (That was to change the next day!)

Xena on the rocks

The sand was extremely soft and our feet sunk in it easily. Xena had a fun time trying to make deep impressions in the sand. 

The sand was so soft, it served as the perfect umbrella-holder!

Viv and Xena in the middle of a beachside jumping activity

Heading back to the villa to get ready for dinner 

We decided to dress up because it was our anniversary after all. (And yes, this was Xena's idea of 'dress up'. You simply can't argue with an almost-5-year-old about outfit choices.)

It was a beautiful evening. 

We went to the lounge area where the meals were served. We were deciding where to sit when Viv pointed to the jetty and said, "How about there?"

"HUH??" I went.

And then I saw it. On the jetty was a small table with two regular chairs and a high chair, set up for a candle-light anniversary dinner! Viv was grinning. I was stumped! It was a real surprise. I'd never imagined he'd do that. 

The staff were grinning too. It was also probably the first time they had set up a romantic candle light dinner that included a high chair! It was awesome.

So we went over and took our seats and the staff came to serve us our appetisers. Viv asked them if they could bring our wine over and they did, in a bucket of ice. Ah, that explained why he'd insisted that we take the Moscato along. 

The ladies at dinner

Cheers! (It was very breezy and Xena was feeling cold so Viv ran to the villa to fetch her jacket.)

We watched sunset from our dinner table.

It got dark pretty quickly, and the staff lit four kerosene lamps on the jetty. 

I asked Viv to tell me everything from the beginning but he wouldn't. He kept saying he'd tell me later. Soon we were in the midst of a nice 3-course dinner. It was extremely dark by then so I don't have any photos of the very yummy food.

And then they brought in a cake with candles on it! I was totally not expecting that! 

Btw, why does this remind me of Mr. Potato Head?

Viv told me that's why he wasn't telling me anything about how he'd planned the whole surprise because the cake part hadn't happened. The lady who got our cake had a tough time lighting the candles on the cake because it was so breezy, but finally with three pairs of cupped hands, we managed to light them. We quickly asked Xena to blow them out and she did. It turned out to be a nice blackforest cake. Of course, we couldn't finish it after such a heavy meal, so we asked the staff to share it with us. 

The clouds had dispersed and now we could see a clear sky with gazillions of twinkling stars and all sorts of constellations. It was Xena's first time seeing so many bright stars because we simple don't get that in Singapore -- call it city lights or too many clouds. 

The resort had an Orion 130ST telescope and one of their staff members set it up for us to take a closer look at the stars. It was amazing how many they were. 

Of course, when I tried to take a photo on my sad little phone, one little bright spot is all I got. Venus, perhaps?

Then we got home and put Xena to sleep, and then played an anniversary game -- we each listed 10 good things about the other, and 5 areas of improvement. It was a very romantic and yet, fruitful discussion.

What a great, great day. Happy 9th anniversary, Viv, and here's hoping to many many many more!

Click here for Telunas - Day 2!



Post a Comment

<< Home