Monday, February 01, 2016

Renting a Car in Bintan (Indonesia) and Rubber and Pineapple Plantations

I managed to convinced the family to sneak out of the resort and visit traditional Bintan island. Because Bintan Resort is very remote from the rest of Bintan civilisation, one would need a car to go around the island, visit the sights and the capital city—Tanjung Pinang.

On the road in Bintan. The roads here in Bintan island for the most part were quite good. Everyone goes around here with the trusted motorcycle.

This is how a pineapple looks like before being harvested. Isn't it grand?

Trivia: Did you know that the primary mode of transportation in Bintan is a motorcycle? Because cars are expensive, they do everything with a motorcycle instead. Some families even have 2 motorcycles; one for the father and one for the mother. There are also no buses going to the north of the island.

Car Rental and our Driver

We rented the car on site via our hotel. In order to make sure of car availability, they advised us to book at least a day in advance, which we did. The rental prices seem to be the same all over Bintan Resort. We compared this with the prices at the car rental office in the ferry terminal and they were quite similar. It is important to note that all car rental companies in Bintan Resort does not allow self driving. Their rental service, and which is a rule they uphold, comes with the driver.

Maybe it is different if you rent in, say, Tanjung Pinang?

Nevertheless, I really tried to get away with the driver but they were very strict with this. In the end I was quite happy and a bit relieved. Our driver was very helpful and polite, he was also very knowledgeable about the island, its history, the sights and its people. He knew where to bring us and what to show. He had lots of stories to tell!

The going prices of taxi service and car / bus rental in Bintan, which includes a driver. We took the 8 hours rental, afternoon to evening. Prices of course are in Indonesian Rupiah.

This is our route for the day roadtrip:

It takes about 1.5 hours to get to the capital city, Tanjun Pinang, which is also the capital of the province (Riau Islands). The sights we saw were mostly along the road or not too far from the main road. Use the + and - signs to zoom in and out the map.

We started the road trip with OK weather.

And then suddenly it changed. Luckily in Asia the rain spells are rather short and after half an hour we were back on dry land.

The driver told us that Bintan is less populated than neighbouring sister island Batam. He said that many years ago the government introduced a livelihood program enticing Indonesians to come and live here and take on the business of planting rubber trees. The catch? They become landowners in return. This is literally getting free land for a few hectares. Nice!

The driver and his family are one of the grant owners of this program. You see, the rubber industry is huge and quite important in Indonesia.

A thing we also learned is that there are many snakes in the island (yikes!) which is the reason why lemongrass are planted near houses so that snakes don’t come near. There were in fact lemongrass planted outside the porch of our hotel room in Bintan Lagoon Golf & Beach Resort. My mom noticed it and now we have an explanation. Snakes do not like brushing their skin against the spiky lemongrass leaves so they stay away. Now you know. Take note.

This is a local resort which most locals in Bintan go to, said our driver. There is no swimming pool here. You just get a hut with nice nature views.

Locals hanging out on the side streets.

Everyone relies on their motorcycle in getting around the island

Rubber Tree Plantations

Our first stop is a rubber tree plantation. We had pre-conceived ideas of what a rubber tree would look like—huge, dark, massive and monstrous-looking with ugly roots all over the place. Wrong. A rubber tree is actually a thin, light colour and quite neat tree. We didn’t expect this, haha!

Our driver told us that every morning people collect latex from the bark of the rubber tree and once it reaches a certain volume they sell it to the government. The latex is the white juice which later turns gummy and become rubber.

This is the rubber tree and this is what rubber looks like, well after it has dried. The juice of the rubber (which is called latex) is often white. When it is exposed to air and time, it turns yellowish brown like in the picture.

Pineapple Plantations

Then our next stop are the pineapple plantations. We have seen how pineapples are grown before so this was not really something special but my mom was game to check out the fruits, and I managed to take some nice pictures of her doing the inspection.

SisterJ and Myrhh however didn’t show much interest with the plantations. But my mom, dad and moi were quite entertained with this learning excursion. We are also beginning to like our driver who has more to offer than just chauffeuring us around =)

My mom inspecting the pineapples.

My parents having a discussion with our very knowledgeable driver.

We thought this is a cassava plant.

This is the pineapple fruit on its early stages. It looks like a flower.

Our next stop is a Chinese temple but that would be my next post.

Travel Period: November 2015
Destination: Bintan Island, Indonesia

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

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