Riau Islands Ride. Day 2. Batam to Bintan pt 2

It’s a full-on downpour now.

I take shelter by the roadside; in a shabby little 6 feet by 6 feet bus shelter, a pre-election handout perhaps by the Golkar Democratic Party. Musn’t forget their generosity. Well, you can’t even if you want to. The wall is totally painted over with the party’s logo.

The rain eases up a bit, and I take to the road again. But soon, it pours again. I find another shelter – the front porch of an abandoned hut. This time I have to wait it out a little longer. In the cool, clammy afternoon air, I doze off….

When I awake, the time worries me a little. I haven’t made much progress and it looks like the rest of the day will be wet, wet, wet. I decide that if I still want that beer and setting sun, I have to go. Like now.

The road doesn’t cease undulating, and the wretched sky doesn’t cease retching its bowels. Just before I turn a corner and see a little sundry shop/cafe, the heavens heave out another deluge and all I can do is sprint towards the welcome shelter.

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It’s time to take five; and a bottle of Pocari Sweat, and a couple of buns filled with sweet grated coconut. The food cheers me up a bit. Food always does. Just as suddenly, the rains slows to a light drizzle.

I push off once again, and I miss the left-turn to Trikora. By 11 kms.

That’s what the 3 Malay men taking shelter in a Chinese temple tell me. I could go back, they said. Or I could take another road through a kampong further ahead. “It not that good, and full of potholes’, one of them points out. Between riding back 11kms over an unceasingly undulating road and one that’s potholed, I choose the bad road, of course.

I ride through some very rustic kampongs. The potholes and mudholes are pretty big, too. I ride around most of them without any problems. Just to be sure, I ask for confirmation at a little grocery store that I’m headed in the right direction. The makciks at the store are amused at seeing a cycle tourer in such a remote place.

After a while, I’m finally on the main road. All I have to do now is ride another 7kms or so and relief will be at hand – a cold bottle of Bintang beer.1-P1120434

The road is now hugging the coast. Except for a small town, it’s sparsely populated, as an idyllic island should be. It’s still drizzling, but the evening sun is peeking out through the clouds, shining bright in the final hours of the day.

As I roll down from the crest of the final climb of the day, I’m greeted by the entrance statement of Ocean Bay Resort. A joyful whoop, and I ride in – all the way to the reception, and all the way along the kelong boardwalk over the water to my room about 100 metres out to sea.

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As I reach my room, I look up and see a full rainbow, arcing magnificently over the horizon, from sea to shining sea. I’m stupefied. I’d been deluged by endless rain throughout the day but now, in just one fleeting moment, all is well again.

One can only give thanks, with a grateful heart.

I don’t unpack just yet. I just sit on the porch … basking in the glory of His handiwork; the sea softly lapping below me, the sea dotted with little islands all around me, and the wind gently blowing away the day’s wet misery.

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With the setting the sun slipping over the horizon, I enjoy my bottle of Bintang beer, and seafood fried rice with a couple of fried eggs. It’s a quiet time for the resort. I am the only other guest apart from 2 elderly Chinese couples.

Once upon a time, Ocean Bay Resort was the toast of many Singaporeans (and Singaporean cycle-tourers) looking for respite from their busy, ultra-modern, island-living. It’s a bit rundown now, but still, it’s a charming little place. Just don’t expect room service and air-con.

Tomorrow, I will be doing a lot of nothing, one whole day of it. The day after, I will ride about 35kms to the port at Tg Pinang on the south-western part of the island. Alvin and and his friends will be coming in on the ferry from Tanah Merah, Singapore.

I’m looking forward to meeting them.

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