Thursday, 5 February 2015

Surviving Bintan with 6 kids

This travel post is written by June who blogs at mamawearpapashirt. She visited Bintan Lagoon Resort with her husband and her petite travellers, V (6 years), J (4 years), and baby J (1 year) in January 2015.  This holiday is suitable for families with young children, who are travelling with friends or extended family.
Three young families took the leap to bring all their kids along to a weekend getaway at Bintan Lagoon Resort. Yup, six adults and six kids under six years old (the youngest being only 5 months old). And guess what, we all survived to tell the tale.

What helped to make it possible? Read on to find out...

1. The beach
January still falls under the monsoon season, so the waves were still pretty strong during the time we were there. Still, the kids had their fair share of fun on the sand. They also found a natural pool of sorts surrounded by large rocks, where little fishies could be found swimming. This was just off the main waters, so the kids felt safe enough to splash about here.

Beach holidays are one of the best kind of holidays for kids, as long as they are not averse to sand and sun. The best part about this beach is that it houses a lovely restaurant called Rice (more details below!) so you can re-fuel immediately after a good run and splashabout.

2. The kid-friendly pool (and nearby amenities)
We spent the best portion of the mornings with the kids in the pool. The depth was shallow enough for both V and J to wade and play in safely.

Just beside this pool is a cafe, a playroom that has simple toys and activities for children, as well as a batik painting shop. V enjoyed painting the details of her own batik cloth to bring home. J enjoyed it for a whole of 5 minutes, before running off to play in the water again.

There are some toy cars and bikes for rent, and baby J couldn't help but try to clamber into those!

3. The spacious villa
We booked a nice 4-bedroom villa that was located within walking distance to both the kid pool and the beach. But if any of us felt lazy, we also had our very own 4-seater buggy to get ourselves around. (At maximum squeeze, I think we had 4 adults and 3-4 kids in there at one time!)

The bedrooms are air-conditioned, well-maintained and comfortable. We parked our two older ones in one bedroom with a queen-sized bed, and baby J slept with us on our bed. (The hardest part was getting the kids to stop playing with one another and go to bed, as you can imagine.)

The villa came with a fully equipped kitchen and BBQ pit, so technically you could whip up your own breakfast, lunch, and dinner there throughout your stay. But because we were ferrying so many kids, none of us felt we could manage to ship in that much food and meat, so we only brought breakfast items like oats, bread, sardines, and snacks. I also brought a small portion of fish, brown rice, ikan bilis, corn and carrots, to cook lunch and dinner for baby J.

If we ever make our way there again, I'll be sure to bring my own meats and seafood, so we can BBQ! (You can also hire BBQ experts to do the cooking, by the way, if getting hot and sweaty while feeling hunger pangs isn't quite your thing.)

4. F&B
I mentioned Rice above, this lovely large restaurant by the sea that serves pretty solid steaks, seafood, chicken wings, and fried rice. For dinner, the restaurant gives complimentary bread rolls and sundried tomato paste for dipping, and these worked well for us hungry holiday-makers with equally hungry kids who enjoy bread.

So we basically ate here for most of our meals because the location (by the beach) worked for the kids and the food worked for us all.

There was one night when we took a ride out to the Nirwana Gardens resort to chomp at the kelong restaurant there. The food was mighty awesome, well worth the 30-40 minute ride to and fro.

During one meal, our friends actually had to carry a toddler and a baby (in the Ergo carrier) who were both fast asleep. It would have been nice if one of us had lugged a pram along for such moments. But hey, most parents are well-trained to be able to carry a child and eat at the same time. It's a God-given superpower for parents! *wink*

So there, we made it - 6 adults, 6 kids, and no hired help. Some nights we even managed to gather and do silly things like put on facial masks and play card games. Quite a feat, if you ask me. Sure, it isn't the most relaxing of trips. But seeing the kids play and have fun together made it all worth it.

Hot tips:
1: If you're travelling to one of the Indonesian islands during the monsoon season, be prepared for rough seas. On our trip out of Singapore, almost everyone except the most seasoned sea-farer (and baby Josh who was thankfully sound asleep) was throwing up into the sick bags on board! Thankfully we had a much better ride home! 
2: The upside of heading to Bintan during the monsoon season is that it's much less crowded and you get to enjoy much improved service overall as a result. Also, we hardly had an issue with mozzies and those darned flies that tend to swarm around you during the hotter months? Well, I didn't see any at all!    

What is your most challenging / adventurous trip with kids? Do share with us in the comments below!

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