Cheap + Beautiful = Bintan

Posted: August 4, 2008    Categories: Indonesia

I’m on the island of Bintan. The internet connection isn’t fast, but it works. I really enjoy the place I’m staying at. I’m staying in a wooden bungalow about 10 feet from the water’s edge. The view is amazing. Lots of little islands are right off the coast.

The cost of everything in Indonesia is so much cheaper than Singapore it is amazing. (and I think Singapore is cheap compared to Australia) I’m really surprised that more people don’t come here. Given the price and proximity to Singapore, I would have thought it would be packed with people. This would seem like a natural attraction for backpackers.

A can of beer here is about US$1.80, and that is at a hotel bar. I’m sure it is even cheaper if you went to a store. A case of beer in the outback near Uluru was US$60 (24 cans). It is even more expensive in Singapore because of the high alcohol taxes. My bungalow is US$13 a night, which is one of the cheapest places I’ve stayed on my trip. Its a single too, so I don’t have to share it with anyone.

The Indonesian currency has a lot of zeros. The exchange rate is 10,000 rupiah to the US Dollar, and the smallest bill is 1,000 rupiah. That means you basically have a wallet full of dimes. I did see some coins during my previous swing through Java/Bali, but they aren’t that common.

I got a cab from the ferry terminal to the place I was staying. As usual, the cab driver had an ulterior motive in trying to sell you something. In this case, he was trying to serve as a pimp. He had photos of girls on his cell phone and kept showing them to me. I’m sure that will only get worse in Thailand.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Bintan became the next big backpacker destination. It has the two biggest selling points of cost and access.

Well, I have to go have lunch and I have an active day ahead of me of doing nothing.

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