We got back late Thursday night from our 11 days overseas. To say we were impressed with our choice of vacation would be an understatement. It was a terrific holiday. There are only a couple of small things I would consider changing: trim the resort phase of the trip from seven days to five, extend the city/cultural phase by another couple of days, and do the air travel overnight.
Club Med is like McDonald’s. Not because it’s cheap and nasty, but because they use the same formula at any Club Med venue no matter where you are around the world. It will always seem familiar, friendly and comfortable. When we went to Club Med Lindeman, Fraser was not yet one, so we didn’t have any use of the kids clubs or babysitting options. We spent a lot of time in the room reading books and napping while Fraser napped. And because it was high Summer in the tropical Queensland heat, there was a lot of napping. This time things were different. We prepaid for Lincoln to spend some time in Petit Club, and Fraser’s kids club was included in the cost.
Fraser, our sometimes shy and scaredy-cat six-year-old learned how to swing on the trapeze, walk on the tightrope, performed on stage most nights and begged to go to kids club at opening time so he could do archery with the others. Lincoln went fish feeding, swam in the mini club pool, did craft and napped in the Petit Club, so that we could go snorkelling, play squash, swim at the beach, and enjoy a quiet lunch with a glass of wine. Everybody wins.
Floating along in the clear warm water of the South China Sea, especially while it was raining, was definitely my favourite thing to do. We had rain most days. The kind you get in the equatorial region—a moderate rainfall around lunch time for an hour or two. Enough to relieve some of the stifling humidity and revive the mood for the afternoon.
Club Med, Bintan Island was definitely good value. The staff are friendly, the food and drink is non-stop, the kids had fun, and we checked out with barely anything left to pay.
A week later we hopped on the ferry back to Singapore. It’s not a large country. Indeed, it’s a small island of only around 700km sq. and if you go up high enough in one of the tall buildings you can even see Bintan Island. It’s a busy port often with more than 800 ships waiting to dock. Most times we looked out from the beach of Club Med we could easily see at last half a dozen ships on the horizon.
On our first night there we met up with an ex-pat friend who moved there ten years ago. He took us out to the New Asia and City Space bars of the Swissotel-Stamford. We had views of all Singapore as the sun set, while the kids were looked after by Chinese babysitter Fung-Ping. We finished off our first Singaporean night with a chili mud crab down on Tiong Bahru Rd. It’s a messy, but tasty, affair. There was crab in my hair and the sauce is to die for. We went through three rounds of fried buns soaking it all up. When people say “awesomesauce”, that’s what I think of—chili mud crab. Saucesome!
It’s hard to compete with an evening like that but we came close over the remaining few days. We walked the shopping strip on Orchard Rd, saw the Night Safari, went to the new Universal Studios and checked out the Science Centre. Thank you to those people who recommended I buy tickets in advance for Universal because it was indeed sold out on the day. We were there from opening to closing time and were on the go the whole day. We saw almost every show, rode almost every rollercoaster (the super-big one isn’t opened yet) and hoofed it around in the sticky heat for 9 hours. The waiting areas for rides and shows were a boon, providing cool relief and shelter from the sun. I must say, I had no objection to queuing up even though the queues weren’t too long, anyway. There are adequate bathroom and eating facilities and bubblers everywhere so they have really planned well—catering for us easy heat-stroking anglos very nicely.
Matt and I discovered, to our joy, that both boys love the rollercoaster. As soon as we finished a ride, Lincoln would pull the safety bar right back down and say “again”. By the end of they day, when we were the last remaining people, the attendants would allow us to just stay on the ride and not have to go back around through the entry gates again. Lincoln was like a little celebrity with his lily-white skin and rosy cheeks. He got smiles everywhere and was requested several times to be photographed. (He declined by hiding behind my legs.)
I couldn’t have wished for better little travelling companions. They surprised me with how well they coped with busy days, lots of walking, heat, air travel and late nights.
I’m looking forward to our next adventure.