Our entire family is spending the weekend in Bintan, and when I say entire family, I mean all fourteen of us: mom, dad, my wife and I, my three kids, my two maids, my younger brother and his two little girls, my youngest brother and his fiance.
We had to book a school bus (the one that takes Faith to her special school, my mom is really pals with the driver), to take all of us to Tanah Merah Ferry Point. Making sure we did not lose kids or luggage was a real challenge.
Mom, in true form, misplaced her bag of food in our mad rush to board, but the ferry staff located her mobile tuckshop just before the ferry left.
The posters advertising Bintan proclaim that the resort is just 45 minutes away from Singapore via ferry. What they don't say is that you will spend 30 minutes of that 45 minutes puking your guts out and/or calming your kids who are puking their guts out too and bawling in their discomfort.
The monsoon season was probably a bad time for us to go on a ferry ride. Isaac threw up and then thankfully fell asleep. Joy mercilously merlioned, twice, all over her Ah Sok, my youngest brother, who foolishly brought her to the front of the lurching ferry. Faith was very upset, and threw up twice, crying and screaming as she experienced her first seasickness.
My younger brother's two kids, little troopers that they are, did not get seasick at all.
The choppy waters made most of the other passengers seasick too, and the captain of the ferry took pains to ensure his men gave out as many barf bags as needed.
And when we were reaching the Bintan ferry terminal, the captain cheerfully announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, you will be pleased to know that we're 5 minutes from calm waters."
"Too late," my mom and I said out loud, in unison. And then we laughed as we cleaned up the mess on my kids.
But the longest 45-minute ferry ride of our lives was quickly forgotten when we reached the hotel. The kids ran to the beach to play in the sand after a hearty lunch for fourteen, by the sea.
The suites we got were facing the sea, and when we first checked in, the wife just sat in the living room, facing the balcony, soaking in the view.
"I can sit here forever, man," she said, as the sounds of the sea and the smell of the burning aromatherapy oils filled our room.
We had to take extra care of Faith because the railings along the corridors and room balcony were rather low and she likes to climb over these things. Outside we held her hand firmly, because she had the tendency to bolt, especially when she sees pools.
We then went swimming after the beach sand time. I had a great time watching Faith swim towards me in the deep pool, in her own swimming style. I moved further and further back from the wall to see how far she could go, and she made it quite far, though she screamed her disapproval when I made her swim too far. One day when my six-year-old can speak, it might be easier to teach her proper swimming techniques.
The kids then had their afternoon nap, so the wife and I, with my youngest brother and his fiance, wondered around the resort, to check out the spa services, and to try the obstacle course in the deserted Outdoor Adventure area. Then it was time for a little afternoon coffee.
It was a tranquil moment in our short madcap three-generation vacation.