Cheap + Beautiful = Bintan

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.

9 thoughts on “Cheap + Beautiful = Bintan”

  1. Hi Gary,

    this post and links by a friend who gets around might be useful as you head north and west:

  2. I usually send spare change and small notes home as souvenirs. I’m have money from four countries on me: Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

  3. Gary, how about a blog post on what you do with the leftover bills, coins, etc. from all the countries you’ve been to? I’ve only been to a few countries, but I have French Francs (from the 80s), Yen and Yuan still, as mementos.

    Do you keep 40 countries’ worth of change with you, ship it back to America with your hard drive, give it away, what?

  4. You think that’s cheap, wait til you get to Laos. In several places (Although not LP & Vientiane) I had rooms to myself for US$5, and beer was I think US$1

  5. 1. Is the beer good though? I don’t drink, so it doesn’t matter to me, and now that I think about it, cheap beer never stopped most travelers anyway.
    2. What phone did you get?
    3. I’m guessing you’re still able to get by just fine with English?

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