Nikoi Island – Leaving Paradise

Beach Bar

Beach Bar

Leaving Nikoi Island is a very sad event.  It doesn’t take a long time but it is a time when you just want to cry.  You have to leave paradise and return to the big city.  I could have easily spent an extra 2 days on Nikoi Island, but to be honest, my pocket book was going to hurt from the moment I paid my bill and I would be feeling it for a few weeks to come.  Nikoi Island is not a cheap place to visit but it was worth every rupiah and I would gladly head back again when I have the time and money.  Actually, as I was leaving, I learned that there is a sister island to Nikoi Island that is reserved for couples only, so I might actually try that island instead.  I couldn’t get all of the information but from what I could tell, it is for couples only, but you might have to reserve the entire island rather than just one villa.  If I ever have a chance, I’ll definitely give it a try, and knowing me and the Saviour’s love of racing and F1, we do have a very strong chance of going back to the Bintan area in the future.

Spare Villa on Nikoi Island

Spare Villa on Nikoi Island

The day you check out, you spend a lot of time just relaxing.  I tended to wake up early as the sun is so bright in your room.  There isn’t a lot to do as your simple room lends itself to helping you pack very quickly.  I took a quick dip in the sea for a last time and then proceeded to pack up and just relax.  Most people will enjoy a final breakfast before checking out at 11am.  I went to check out at 11am at the Beach Bar, but I was told that I could have waited until 2pm to check out.  I also learned that porter service is complimentary on the island and I brought my bag to the bar for no real reason.  It was okay though as I ended up just relaxing for about 30 minutes at the bar before being moved to a temporary house.  There are a couple of temporary houses in the back of the facility, behind the play area for kids.  They seem more alike dormitories for the staff than anything else, but it was suitable for what we needed.  The view was terrible as all you could see was a tennis court.  The cool ocean breeze was also non-existent but since I was just using it as a stopover for the afternoon, I had no problems with it.  I ended up heading straight to the Sunset Bar/Lounge to relax for an hour before lunch.  I had a somewhat late lunch at 1pm before taking a final shower at 2pm.  The porter was waiting for us at 2:30 when we headed to the Beach Bar to check-out for real.

Sunset Bar/Lounge (Waiting to Leave Paradise)

Sunset Bar/Lounge (Waiting to Leave Paradise)

The Beach Bar is used for both check-in and out purposes.  It is probably the only place where visa payments are available.  At the 11am check-out time, most of the people leaving the island left.  I had a chance to listen to them and for the most part, people were really happy.  You have the option to pay in Singapore Dollars, but if you pay by credit card, you must pay by Indonesian Rupiah.  I was listening to one person complain that the exchange rate was terrible.  My final bill, including alcohol and taxes, was 857.89SGD.  Using a simple program to check the rates, it came to 7,904,612.11IDR (67,667JPY).  In Indonesian Rupiah, the bill was 7,806,799IDR, or 847.27SGD, or 66,829JPY; a difference of 800 yen, in favour of the Indonesian Rupiah.  The person complaining about the exchange rate was saying the rate was a difference of 20% and he said it was “too much”.  He was trying to find a way that he could get Singaporean Dollars at the ferry terminal to pay in cash.  In the end, he ended up paying the bill by credit card and I had a little fear in my stomach due to his complaints.  I just couldn’t fathom the island trying to rip off their customers.  With such great service, I felt sorry for the staff as they really couldn’t do anything about it.  I could only imagine that they used the wrong rate, made a mistake, or just didn’t understand how things work.  It almost ruined the last day, but I put it behind me quickly and went back to enjoying the island.

Local Wildlife on Nikoi Island

Local Wildlife on Nikoi Island

When you check-out, the process itself is pretty simple.  They pull out a printed receipt that shows what you ordered and what you ate.  You are also shown the receipts from the bar that shows what you drank, and knowing me and the Savior, we drank enough to have fun, but not go crazy.  Once you confirm what you ordered and what you had, you proceed to pay which is really simple.  Pay in cash, Singapore Dollars, or pay by credit, in Indonesian Rupiah.  After that, you just wait by the bar for your ferry time.  I departed on the 3pm ferry which meant that after checking out, I had a couple minutes to just enjoy the island.  Since I was the only one checking out at that time, we didn’t have to rush.  Once we headed to the ferry, we were escorted to the boat and made a little small talk with the workers.  We talked a little and I learned that Nikoi Island has a new sister island that just finished.  I couldn’t understand the name that I was told as the Indonesian accents aren’t the easiest to understand.  I couldn’t catch exactly where the island is, but from what I was told, it sounds perfect.  It is a simple island, similar in size, but restricted to couples only, or you have to reserve the entire island.  If I went there, there would be no kids, unlike Nikoi which allows families.  I don’t mind families though but sometimes it is fun to be alone without any kids.  Thankfully my trip had only a few kids and there was a small group of ladies having a small outing together.  Nothing could have ruined this trip.

Nikoi Island - Main Pier

Nikoi Island – Main Pier

When I got to the ferry pier, I was surprised to see a lot of the workers heading back to Bintan Island.  I was talking a little about why they were heading out.  It turned out that it was their day off.  They usually get one day off a week to have fun and see their families.  It is a necessary thing so they can relax.  It used to be a few days once a month and I was told that was too difficult.  Travelling back to Bintan Island was nice but bittersweet.  I was sad to be leaving Nikoi and the service was getting worse from there.  It wasn’t bad service but after being waited on hand and foot, it was tough to get back into the regular lifestyle.  I would no longer be a king in paradise.  Thankfully the workers were really kind and friendly so they helped me with my bag to the car and then I had the nice drive back to the ferry terminal.  The driver on the way back was friendlier and helpful in telling me about Bintan Island a bit more.  I saw what I thought was a mosque but was actually a college.  It was only used a couple times a year for a big college festival of sorts.  I’m not too sure to be honest, again language barrier, but it was a huge place.  I also learned that Bintan itself is growing nicely and recently they are getting electricity to all of the homes on the island.  It takes time but the tourism industry is helping a lot.  At the ferry terminal, we were the first to arrive and I was completely lost as to what to do.  I felt very Japanese as I couldn’t really do anything by myself.  I was expecting someone to help us.  It turns out that I had to check-in for my ferry by myself before I could do anything.  After getting my boarding pass, I had to head to the VIP lounge where they proceeded to get me processed.  They handled my visa processing again, this time to depart, as well as to check my luggage in.  Then, I had over an hour to just relax in the lounge.  From there, we were boarded first and my trip had pretty much ended.

Nikoi Island

Nikoi Island

Back in Singapore, my trip was finally over, but there were a few things I needed to do.  I had to pass through immigration again, which was pretty easy.  Simple stamp and I was done.  I then had to get my bag, which was straight forward.  Next, I had a security check.  I was surprised I had to go through a metal detector and x-ray scanner again, but that’s how things are done at the ferry terminal.  Compared to Changi Airport, the ferry terminal is a lot more stringent.  The next step was getting a taxi.  Taxis in Singapore aren’t too expensive but the ferry terminal had poor taxi service, especially at night.  It took 20 minutes to get a taxi and there was a long line of people.  We could have splurged a little and paid for a “Limousine Taxi”.  It’s basically just an SUV and they probably charge an extra 20%.  Not a huge amount compared to the prices in Japan, but still not cheap.  In hindsight, the amount of time saved could have been worth it, but the taxis were coming in at a slow, but steady rate.  Once on the taxi, things were done and my vacation in paradise was over.  I can’t wait to go back again, but I don’t know when I’ll be going back again.  Maybe I’ll be back in 5-10 years, maybe sooner!

Nikoi Island – Leaving Paradise is part of a series on Nikoi Island.  To read more about Nikoi Island, follow the links below:

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