Thursday, October 15, 2009 ;
2:25 PM
We went for a short trip to Bintan after we arrived in Sg from Tianjin.

It was a long-awaited vacation because before that we were frantically packing up in Tianjin and had no time for the boys. We told them to wait patiently. So they had to occupy themselves throughout the time we were packing - about 3 weeks at least.

For me, it was a wonderful break... Because back in Sg, I had to unpack and had to set up home too.

We were back in Sg on the 2nd of Sept. We left for Bintan on the 9th. We stayed at the Club Med resort, mainly cos we wanted couple time. We needed some romance and some alone time, before the baby arrives next year to bring our family life to a whole new level of what "hectic" means. Knowing and being mentally prepared for what lies ahead, we wanted to enjoy time between just the 2 of us, and also as a family of 4, before it becomes 5. The boys will have significantly less attention from me too, once baby arrives.

You might think if we wanted couple time, we could've just left the kids with our parents for some babysitting since we're back in Sg. But the feeling is very different. With my parents or in laws, there'd be this nagging worry that they cannot cope with the energy and hyperactivity of my kids. Because we know they might be tired out, we become more rushed in planning our events in our day. We are also just a phone call away from the kids and our parents. Their calls to us can be very disruptive if we wanted a romantic mood. Thus, it often ends up with our date being not a very relaxed and ideal one.

At Club Med, the GOs (genteel organisers, in French, can't rem how to spell) in charge of the kids are well-trained and full of energy. They lead the kids in so many activities throughout the day. With them having so much fun, there is no worry or guilt left in us parents and we can have all the quiet, peace, fun and romance we want. How lovely. Best of all, it is free, or rather included in the package price if the kids are between 4 and 11 years old. And mine fall nicely in this range now (before this year, they were still too young to be independent and happy on their own). For kids below 4, they have infant care and a petit club, but you have to pay extra for that.

And it's just a short 45min ferry ride away:

A giant chess board.

Learning how to make ketupats with coconut leaves from the Indonesian staff there:

Pinata time. ds2 got an unproportionately large portion of the loot because he was lucky enough to hit it when it was already kind of weakened by the older kids. haha. He's seen in this pic on a GO's lap. He's like that, always liking to be cuddled by others, which is why he always gets the most hugs from others, even strangers.

At lunch time, we went to peek at them and see what they were eating. They were enjoying themselves so much with their friends and GOs.

In one day, they get 2 swim sessions. One in the mini pool beside the Kids Club, and one in the main pool within Club Med. This is the main pool and they were playing Marco Polo when we chanced upon them with our mocktails. Both ds love pool time, they were shrieking with laughter the whole time in the pool! This was in the afternoon.

This mini pool has some fun slides. This is in the morning. They also have scheduled beach time where they play games on the beach and build sandcastles. ds1 had archery lessons but ds2 was too young for that (6 yrs and above for archery). He had ball games instead.

I don't know how, but the GOs also packed in story time, art and craft and a quieter Movie time in the period right after lunch. The kids said they watched Ant Bully. Several times when I met them around the Village, I would ask if they wanted me to sign them out (parents can sign them in at 9am in the morning and sign them out anytime. Programmes are held from 9am to 9pm). They always said NO! Wow...

Then at night, after dinner, they were sooooo tired out, they just lay on the bed, sipped their mocktails and watched Cartoon Network. I'd be frantically washing their swim wear and using the hair dryer to dry those (and their hats, which they also soaked up, I wonder why!) so they can use those again for the next day's kids' club activities. Dh had the privilege of enjoying all the Ben 10 shows with them.

And this is the first time the kids had a room to themselves. Previously, they always shared the same room and we'd add a bed or have 2 double beds in one room cos they were younger, and ds2 was still nursing.

So this time, Dh and I had our own room! Such a comfortable and spacious arrangement. And the kids were surprisingly receptive to that, sleeping soundly throughout the night.

I watched Korean dramas on the Korean cable channel at night. :-)

Food was very very good at Club Med. The 3 main meals had all kinds of cuisine (international buffet) and in between, there was all-day snacking at various snack bars and drinks at even more bars/ huts throughout the resort. The kids love samosa, that was something new we found out.

Of course, they enjoyed trying to order different mocktails everyday for the 5 days. Sipping drinks from a tall glass with a piece of cut fruit just made them feel very grown-up, I guess. I always went for Coke with lemon, after trying a few mocktails. Ironically, I find the mocktails too sweet, when I know Coke has the same or more amount of sugar. Maybe I just like the fizz.

And oh man, it was so sinful for the kids. After every heavy main meal, they would choose to have ice cream for their dessert. That meant they had about 10 ice creams by the end of the trip (fortunately they don't serve ice cream at breakfast!). I was secretly amazed that they didn't fall sick with all the sugar and junk food they consumed.

Dh on the other hand, wacked all the seafood. As you know, we had been starved of fresh seafood in Tianjin for a year. Upon seeing the large clams, mussels, crayfish, fish, crabs at every meal, Dh had many many helpings of whatever he liked. I think this plate showed the 3rd crayfish serving he had, and a huge and by-now-empty clam shell.

After 2 days of Kids' Club, the kids missed us and us them. So I actually had them for the 3rd day which was kind of rainy. And I was tired from golfing, archery and walking so much with Dh (either I was very unfit, or I conveniently blamed my pregnancy). So I offered to have the kids with me while Dh went windsurfing and snorkelling. (by the way, all such activities were free, and included in the package, a terrific deal, in our opinion)

We walked along the beach, played in the sea waves, pretended to sail....

This shows Dh going out with the group of snorkellers. They went to a coral reef area further out from the northern part of Bintan Island. Dh enjoyed the snorkelling and saw many creatures, but he got sick on the boat itself. It was the rocking motion of the boat, right after being in the water that caught him unawares. I was glad I didn't go cos I hate to be sick in front of others (ie strangers). Dh said he threw up over the edge of the boat as they were nearing shore already, and he at once saw all the fish swim to whatever he threw out!!!

In the afternoon, we went wading in the tide pools that formed as the tide went out. There were literally millions and millions of fish! There were coral fish, those colourful banded ones, and normal rock-coloured fish. Long ones, thin ones, fat ones, rounded ones. So many types. It was lovely to wade amongst the fish. Here's Dh admiring the fish/ crabs/ seaweed, even though his berms were soaked through.

On the first day, I didn't dress appropriately for wading and I only had this pair of loose (kind of maternity) berms. So I sat on the rocks with my lemon coke glass and sipped, while enjoying the breeze and watching to see what else Dh can find.

The 2nd day onwards, I wore my maternity swimwear, and it was so much fun. We saw such a diversity of flora and fauna! Some slug, sea cucumber and brittle star.

On the 2nd day, it was really nice and romantic, just me and Dh strolling along the beach, wading in the pools. After that, we included the kids in our evenings forays cos there was just so much we wanted to show them. We discovered so much and just had to share everything with them! The first time, initially ds2 was very disgusted with the slimy seaweed. He hated the feeling on his feet. Yet we cannot let him walk with his sandals because all the rocks were very slippery and sandals do not have the same good grip as our own feet.

It was so funny that I had to snap this pic. He sulked and sat on a rock and refused to budge at first, whining about the seaweed and how disgusting and yuckky it felt. Even his hands, he refused to touch anything, in case he accidentally touched some seaweed. haha.

After some time, after hearing our delightful exclaiming when we continuously found beautiful fish, crabs, prawns or saw different colourful sea stars, he was sufficiently intrigued to venture out with us. But note how he still perpetually checked his feet to see if he would step on more seaweed? It was so funny. ds1 doesn't care about such things, thankfully. If I had 2 whiny sons, it would be tougher to get them to join in. Only one, and he would feel left out soon enough and want to join us.

Beautiful limpets on the rocks.

Teaching the kids to be very very still while waiting for the crabs to emerge from their burrows. Because I wanted them to see how the crabs filter feed through the sand. I told them how amazing it was to see the crabs pick through the nutrients from the sand and "spit" out the sand in little balls. Which is why there are so many cute balls of sand around all the tiny holes where the crabs live in.

They are so active it took a long time before they really learnt what it meant to be really still. Finally we were able to see many many many crabs crawling all around us and feeding happily. But every little slight movement from the kids would send all the hundreds scuttling right back into the holes. Dh and I sometimes yelled in frustration at the kids. However, it was a good start. They'd grow better at this, and then we can go to Pulau Hantu with Mary and gang, and look at the beautiful fiddler crabs there.

We were so fortunate that during our stay, a batch of baby turtles were hatching from their eggs at the beach! The Club Med turtle sanctuary staff had built a protective hut over the turtle laying sites they found, so that the eggs won't be preyed upon or harmed before they hatched.

After they hatched, the staff placed the baby turtles all in pails and brought them much nearer the shore (huh, playing cheat??) to ensure as many of the baby turtles survived their journey back to the sea as possible.

Of course we had to be part of the crowd to observe this special moment.

Some babies were the fittest survivors. Once out of the pail, they instinctively turned around (the pail was lain down with the exit pointing away from the shore) and waddled towards the sea. They are so smart.

And so cute!!

The person in charge, guarding over the weakest ones who were kind of lost in their direction sense at first. My kids preferred to encourage the underdogs as well, instead of cheering those who reached the sea first. So they stayed behind with these last few babies, who were still floundering around.

Hopefully these turtles who eventually found their way, will be able to survive their odds in the big open sea as well!

In order not to affect the turtles' journey, the crowd of curious human onlookers had to stay out of their "zone". So everyone was obediently watching from the sides.

It was a wonderful vacation!

This could be our last Club Med outing for some time. Because I tend towards extended nursing, I think baby would be kind of stuck to me till she's at least 2-3yrs old? If so, it would defeat the purpose of couple time that Club Med offers for us. We'd just take our normal family vacations.

This Dec would be another family trip as we drive up to Malaysia's Desaru to attend the church camp, and perhaps extend the trip to elsewhere in Malaysia.

After that, it'd depend on how the kids settle into their new schools, how the baby is, before we plan our next vacation. :-)

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

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