The young travellers impressed. They created our joint packing list, and were partners throughout the trip.
We loved exclusivity at Bintan SpaVilla. Because we were there on weekdays, we were one of four groups in a resort that had about 20+ villas. Mostly cannonballs in the pool, giggles in the jacuzzi, lounging at the bar/resto, picnics in the balcony, watching the tides come and go, and sipping on giant coconuts. I felt for that couple who couldn't properly make out al fresco because my kids were all over the pool and the jacuzzi. The little ones did give me permission to scoot off for an hour at the spa (bliss!), and I managed to convince them to go to the Mangrove Forest and Fishing Village for a sunset tour.
Always been fascinated with mangroves -- biologically complex ecosystem, a crossroad where ocean, freshwater, and land meet. It is earth's nursery ground for fishes, and houses an assortment of things that include crabs that can climb trees, and sea apples that are not quite edible to humans.
Our tour guide was Aidil, a storyteller at heart. He spoke of the hard life of fisherfolk, of $3 a day living, unless you can get an education. A way of life, where the men fish, and the women do everything else -- including gather drinking water by paddling their boats, jars and buckets in hand, to a freshwater well. He shared his fondness for 'kelongs,' and I loved the tidbit about how the best catch is always on moonless nights. Local freedivers can hold their breath for more than 3 minutes and come up with fish in hand. They are virtually humanoid fish themselves.
Beyond the privileged lifestyle of resort holidays, I hope some of the stories from that afternoon resonated with my little companions. The stories are not new, and are quite similar to those of my birthplace. They serve as a reminder of how fortunate we are, as well as a call to action. While I'm happy with the time to connect, I kept on thinking I should sign us up for a child-friendly volunteer trip soon.
|Gosh. Life's tough for a 4 year old...|
|BRF Ferry to Bintan|
|Splashin' good time|
|Wooden walkway on stilts to the boat|
|Scared, but soldiering on|
|Sea apples, A mangrove forest monkey favorite|
|Tide is out!|
|Walking towards the "island"|
|While I was at the spa|
|See you again, coconuts!|