After checking all the boxes on a car rental form that I couldn’t read, we squeezed into an older blue van that had a slightly moldy pong. Ten years of wet swimming shorts draining into the seats, I surmised. Well, it was the cheapest rental we could find (at US$120/day!) and Japan just isn’t set up for a family of seven. So we take what we can get.
After four years in Bangkok, we had pretty much exhausted all the nearby weekend getaways. We had toured the aquarium in Suphanburi, fed farm animals in Nakhon Nayok, taken the train to Samut Songkhram, did a jungle hike in Khao Yai, hit the beaches in Hua Hin and Pattaya, cruised the rivers of Kanchanaburi and chilled out on Koh Samet.
The world is discovering what Singaporeans have known for decades: nearby Bintan Island, in Indonesia, boasts incredible beaches, surprising wildlife, world-class golf and an expanding assortment of resorts to suit all budgets.
When kayaking along Bintan’s extraordinary coastline of sculpted boulders, coral-ringed islands, thick jungle and hidden coves, it seems impossible to believe that one of the world’s most densely populated countries – Singapore – is just over the horizon, a 45-minute ferry ride away.