Now and Forever: Bintang

Posted on: March 17, 2009

The time spent in Bintan was the best time of my life.
To add, one of, the best times.
It was no walk on the beach, but amazingly, I survived. Well, satisfied and renewed.

Day 1
Ah! It all started with the groupings. I ended up with a bunch of crazy and wild kids. Melvin, Nat, Xin Ying and such. Random-ity, here I come!

In the beginning, I was constantly reminding myself, “Be open, take a step forward, initiate.” Never once did I tell myself to let loose and have fun. Never. Thankfully, it swung the other way and my oh my was I surprised at the results.

The ferry ride to Bintan was tormenting, to say the least. I struggled to nod off, but the ferry was furiously bobbing in the choppy waters for a period. I was starting to doubt the supposed promise of stability in the lower deck, the section of the ferry where I was sitting in. My breakfast was busy churning along with my innards. Do not vomit. Do not.

At last, we reached the shores of Bintan. It was pouring. So as not to dampen my jacket, I ended up making a wild chase for the shelter of the ferry terminal. Again, thank lord for my non-slip soles. Otherwise, I’ll be kissing the slippery wet ground.

Joined a queue to get my passport stamped and proceeded to join another queue to have my bags inspected. I felt violated I say, violated!

Anyway, with that over, my team and I stood in a slightly dispersed huddle and waited for the bus to the resort. There was some confusion here and there, which resulted in a couple of us lugging our luggages up the bus. (By right, the conciege was supposed to haul our luggages to the resort for us.)

What a pleasant day for sleeping in, Nat said. With the rain lapping against the window pane, I drifted off to sleep once more.

That oddly reminded me of my time in Korea. Ah, that 5-hour bus ride…

Amid the gloomy weather, we all seemed rather perky upon arriving at the resort. Hey, who could resist the welcome drink (of lemongrass, lemon and tea)? Before we knew it, a sign propped up on a podium read, “The Absorbent Mind Private Lunch”.

Oh no they didn’t.

To say the least, I felt underdressed.

From the moment we walked into the dining area, I was blown away. The fusion of music playing in the background (songs of today!), white tablecloths, prom-like setting (cited from Nat) and possibly a wedding banquet outlook was breathtaking. Hah, the view indoors was better than the outdoors.

Oh, did I also mention we had our meals buffet-style?

Frankly, the reason why I felt so strongly about our dining arrangements was that, it was nothing like I expected. What I had expected was a simple function room, no tables, chairs or anything. In a corner, there would be stacks of meal boxes. This would go on for 4 days and that I will be eating cross-legged, on the floor, and hunched over my meal box.

Lunch was around an hour. Typical. Got out of the refined dining area as soon as we arrived. Now, that was when I thought such dining arrangements was set for our welcome meal, and that would be all. I was to be proven wrong.

Lessons ensued. There, we received the first wave of Leadership Training 101: Have a sense of urgency at all times. That got our team sprinting to a venue, a spot in a room from whereever we were before whenever we could. Sprinting. Managable. So far.

Team was later named Jaywalkers.

In the spirit of team-building, we played games that built team confidence, stronger bonds between members and such. The purpose of the games were not apparent in the beginning. However, as I further immersed myself into the training, everything began to make sense…

Before dinner, we were made to design a large name tag for ourselves. This instantly reminded me of the last lesson of CATS (Creativity and Applied Thinking Skills, an IS module I took for the NPP). Indeed, it was headed towards that familiar exercise in CATS.

Basically, all we had to do was pen our acknowledgements (well regards, praise, etc.) to anybody in the room, through Post-It notes. After which the Post-Its will be slapped onto the acknowledged person’s name tag. Viola!

Spent the next 15 minutes or so walking, brisk-walking and running around the room stamping Post-Its on name tags.

Ching! (The sound of two steel forks clanging together to form a ‘X’) Dinner time! We were led back to the same function room where we had our Private Lunch. Still, I was not convinced we were having such an impeccable feast for every meal.

Sat a the table with the entire group. We were less energetic than before, but we pulled through dinner.

Our first dinner was also our first meal that we experienced our first dip in morale.

Once dinner came to a close, it was time for our written assessment. This was to carry on for the following 2 days of camp. The written assessments were a must. Fun aside, I warned myself that the leadership course was graded.

With a stern expression, I scribbled my reflections (theme for our written assessment) on paper. In hindsight, our written assessments were not that daunting after all.

Sorting out my mixed platter of emotions, I trekked my way back to room 3023 with Nat.

Room 3023 was… DIVINE. (Drum roll) Said reaction exists because I am often deprived of staying in luxury resorts. Hence, I rarely travel.

The room was equipped with 2 single beds, 1 mattress (although we were supposed to quad-share), a lovely television which was hooked up to cable, a bathroom with a bathtub and all those fancy hotel decorations. I was in heaven. Thing is, we did not have anything in our refrigerator (lest we purchase anything. Payment procedures are ever so troublesome upon check-out.). Plus, none of my roommates touched the sachets of coffee and creamer. Guess we were not lucky enough to savour complimentary instant coffee.

My first night was spent in the lobby. A pleasant, tranquil area in the resort. Until we invaded it.

I hung out with a couple of my Business Communication mates, some others and nearly fell asleep as I was siting too comfortably. Comfort aside,  I was feeling rather drained from the day’s training. Thus I was stoning while a game was Monopoly (thanks to Austin, we had a brand new version of Monopoly: Ngee Ann (Mono) Poly. ROFL!) played before me. As I clung on to my dear pack of UNO cards, my eyelids grew heavier…

Slept at 23:18 hours.

Day 2
Woke up at 06:35 hours.

By 07:30 hours, I was down at an open field, awaiting for the start of our morning activities.

Frankly,  I should have wore sunblock. The sun was at its peak, radiating unforgiving heatwaves and shining right into my very eyes. Scorching, blistering and warm.

Energised by barely cooked scrambled eggs, dhal curry, pork bacon (i frowned upon this as our meals were supposed to be halal), fried noodles, a bowl of fruit cocktail, a chicken frank and 4 glasses of milk. Yes, you heard me right. 4 glasses. Go calcium!

The first and most significant activity of the day was Tug-of-War. Jaywalkers was in Set B, up against 4 other teams. All I can say is that tugging the rope required endurance, commitment, determination and strategy. Thanks to it, my team became stronger and united. We also crowned Tobias the Man of the Year. To which he screamed like a girl and all of us had a good laugh over that.

Soon after, “Team support, team support, team support” reverberated in my head.

Lunch was loud as usual. Jaywalkers ain’t illegal for nothin’.

More activities ensued.

To top off the day’s training, our team sat down to speak our minds. We dealt with our discomforts with one another, defused any explosive confessions and ended with, “It’s nothing personal.” Ironically, all was done with the scenic view of the resort from a balcony at the lobby as our backdrop.

When we thought the worst was over… The nightmare has just begun.

In the last activity, we had to boldly get under the skin of others. How?
Each of us were to rank our top 3 and bottom 3 members. Inclusive of reasons.

Luckily, dinner was next.

Conversed with our facilitator, found out plenty of juicy insights and felt the soreness from completing 175 squats.

All hail Jaywalkers for setting the record of completing the most  squats in a day!
If there is any consolation, we will graduate from the program with thighs of steel. Yes to toning!

The day ended with a weighty written assessment.

Both thrilled and anxious, I strolled back to room 3023. The next day was practical assessment day yet that night was the second night of camp. The end of NPP was drawing near.

At 10:30 hours, I was filling room 2011 with laughter. Then I was also tempted into hunger by the smell of cup noodles. No to a grumbling stomach.

Slept at 12:15 hours.

Day 3
D-Day; Decision Day.

Started the day with Yoga (yay to Yoga!). Also, we prided ourselves in following the ground rules we laid.
The morning workout rounded up with a jog by the beach.
Speaking of which, it had been half a year since I ran. It was no wonder how my heart nearly gave up on me. Eeek, weak stamina.

Breakfast was Kema (curried beef with frozen mixed vegetables), fried noodles, turkey bacon, a bowl of fruit cocktail (geez for missing out on the cubes of red dragonfruit), a glass of watermelon juice (which tasted weird, I swear), and 3 glasses of milk.

First group activity: Throwing hoops! Simple as it might sound, the activity was mix of squatting, running, silence, cheering and counting out loud.

After which we had a group bonding session. An hour and a half of Truth or Truth. These are my confessions…

I will definitely miss every bit of Jaywalkers.

Lunch was not spared by Jaywalkers, especially when Womaniser boomed through the speakers of the room. Womaniser, woman-womaniser, you’re  a womaniser/Oh, womaniser, oh, you’re a womaniser baby/You, you-you are, you, you-you are/Womaniser, womaniser, womaniser…

Thank goodness for the hyperactivity, we pulled through the practical assessments. Although we won one out of four, the process of it was priceless. Then, I truly understood the essence of teamwork.

Hah! Dinner got me dancing. For a moment, most people who knew me before the camp thought I was influenced by the bunch of wild kids in my team. Nuh nuh. P-p-p-poker face, p-p-poker face…

Our final written assessment was such a relief. Phew! Thrilled, I left the dining area with a little souvenir from the kind Student Affairs staff of Ngee Ann and headed back to my room, ready to waste the night away.

Well, not getting drunk but close to.

By 10:30 hours, I was seeking my Business Communication mates. In the midst of being hopeless lost, I met Yanbao while craddling my box of Oreo cookies and a bag of Hot and Spicy Calbee chips. I felt like a pageant contestant of all sorts.

Finally, my UNO cards came into use (before Jasper stole them) and I was laughing endlessly before a crowd filled room 2022. If I annoyed anyone with my nonsense, I will be damned.

… Just when I thought I said all I could say, I was caught in another round of Truth or Truth. Due to sensitive nature of the abovementioned matter, I will not be discussing so.

The night ended at 01:59 hours.

Day 4
Our day off!

I rose at 07:30 hours, sat around, prepped and was at the breakfast table at 08:30ish hours. Ate a skimpy breakfast of 2 pancakes, a scoop of masala curry and 2 glasses of milk as I swam after the meal.

To which I became tan as a brick. Unknowingly.

At 11:30 hours, the entire DPA cohort checked out of the resort, savoured our farewell drink (of lemon, lemongrass and tea. This time, I swallowed a shred of lemongrass.) and bid goodbye to the resort for good. Off we went to Pasar Oleh Oleh.

Now, spectacularly, despite being named Pasar Oleh Oleh, it was far from a market. To my disbelief (as well as to many), there were boutiques and shop lots that were properly aligned and refurnished; some of which were air-conditioned.

Nothing like I had imagined.

How put-off I was at its commerical value. Hence, I refrained from buying anything at all and sat down for costly lunch. Chendol in a glass and mixed rice.

The pasar rounded up our trip to Bintang, with all I spent being 10 dollars. Not a cent more.

The ferry ride home was nauseating, to say the least. Managed to steady myself to play 2 full rounds of UNO before arriving back in Sunny Singapore.

Home, sweet home.

Note: Thanks Jaywalkers for the wonderful time at Bintang. Love to all of those who were by my side. Remember, we’re all in this together!


1 Response to "Now and Forever: Bintang"

you write really well! I can really picture all those memory in my mind again. HAHA!

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