Our mum-and-kids trip to Club Med Bintan

Posted by ~Summer~ on August 03, 2023
in ,

I had been wanting to do a mum-and-kids vacation for some time and was very excited and thankful that we got the opportunity to do it at the end of last year.

This being the first time that I brought four kids abroad with me on my own, I was secretly confident yet also a little nervous because anything can happen on a trip and without the hubby there to protect and guide us, I knew I needed to step up my game.

So I chose a destination that wasn't too costly since we didn't need to fly, was all-inclusive meaning our meals, accommodation and entertainment were all settled, and somewhere where I had extra eyes to help me keep an eye on the kids and make sure they wouldn't get lost. The choice was straightforward - Club Med Bintan, woohoo!

Here's sharing all about our trip, including the memorable moments and fun highlights. If you are feeling half-hearted about whether to bring the kids on a solo parenting holiday or not, my advice is don't think too much, just go for it! Everything will work out in the end and the beautiful memories will be yours to keep.

A Rocky Start

After bidding farewell to the hubby at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, the kids and I were left to fend on our own and it was an exhilarating feeling for me as we checked in and waited for our turn to board the ferry. 

The 1-hour ferry ride turned out to be quite an eventful journey after all. Guess why? Well, the toddler started crying non-stop soon after we departed and it was the kind that could not be soothed. I tried to give him snacks and feed him breast milk but when it all failed, I had to carry him to walk around, take a look out of the window, distract him in the loo and just try to make ourselves less of a nuisance with his incessant crying. 

It turned out that he was feeling seasick and so halfway through the journey, he puked big time and I wasn't in time to catch it so the vomit went all over him, myself, the baby carrier and even our socks and shoes. Eeewwww. I know. We were all wet and smelly for the second half of the journey but thankfully the boy seemed to feel better at this point. 

The queue at the custom was long as expected and so we had to queue up while all drenched in vomit and the toddler only wanted to be carried instead of walk. Slowly but surely, we crossed the customs and the first thing we did was to retrieve our luggage so I could get some spare clothes. Alas the toilet was a distance away so I popped over to the Club Med check-in counter to get ourselves checked in first. The staff told me that the shuttle bus would not go off so soon as they were expecting more guests so he told me to feel free to head to the loo. I mean, I didn't want us to dirty their bus too, right? So I brought Ansel with me to change out of our smelly clothes. But by the time we got back, the bus had left without us!!! Yup. Oh dear oh no.

The rest of the kids started to grumble about the long wait but thankfully, the staff had it all worked out. They told us not to worry as they arranged a private transfer for us. Woohoo! Yeap, we went into a car and had our own private chauffeur who drove us to Club Med and we arrived at the same time as the shuttle did. Phew.

So despite the rocky start, we still made it to our destination safely and that was all that mattered to me. We kept our spirits high, enjoyed the warm towels and welcome drinks, went for a good lunch and took some time to relax while waiting for our rooms to be ready. 

Taking it Easy

For this trip, I reminded myself to take things more leisurely and enjoy what each day had to offer. We didn't have a packed itinerary, we decided what to do or where to go spontaneously and I also made sure I didn't get too uptight about taking videos and photos since it wasn't a sponsored trip. Sure, I wanted to capture the moments for our own keepsake but at least I wasn't feeling stressed about it but instead enjoyed filming. It's a different feeling, you know what I mean?

Right after we checked into our rooms, I asked the kids if they wanted to go for the activities, take a hike or go to the beach. The past me would have gotten them changed and ushered them out of the room because it was a short trip and every minute mattered. This time round, we decided to instead just idle in our room and I managed to connect the TV to our Netflix so we chose to huddle on the bed and watch a Jackie Chan movie.

Yup, I guess our preferences, routines and way of doing things might differ a little as we grow up and our mindsets and outlook on life shift over time. What will never change for me is that no matter what we do, we stay together as a family.

After the movie, the kids decided they wanted to the beach so I said "Sure, let's go!" and off we went. While the elder ones tried catching fish, the toddler and I sat on the loungers to enjoy a satay, a bread and a drink before we went near the sea to enjoy the feeing of waves lapping at our feet. This was the kind of idyllic life that felt like a dream come true and even if it was only for three days, I was deeply thankful.

Food Galore

One thing that we enjoy most about every Club Med trip is..... the endless buffets and sumptuous food! We actually looked forward to every meal and enjoyed the dining experience. I loved seeing what surprise was on the menu each time while the kids loved the idea of being able to walk around to pick out their own food. Well, they basically ate pasta, udon, fruits and ice cream every time and likely didn't make the cost of their stay worthwhile since they are not seafood fans. But they were happy and seeing their beaming faces made me happy too.

This was the first time we managed to stay for a poolside buffet too and it was mad awesome! I loved how the chefs practically shifted the whole kitchen out and we were able to have an outdoor buffet in the moonlight. Some of the dishes were really yummy like we had Peking duck and grilled lamb chop. The kids also loved the milkshakes and the mocktails and would have more than one each at every meal. Haha. I know I know, a little too sweet but hey we were on vacation, right?

Another thing they super loved was the ice cream! Haha. Yup, this Mama kept one eye closed since I love ice cream too and it isn't always that you get to enjoy a delicious scoop of ice cream after every meal. It was something they looked forward to and Ansel was especially happy because it was such a treat for him. I loved the other desserts like cakes and puffs too but for my kids, nothing beats ice cream.

Achieving Milestones

Every overseas trip also involves achieving milestones and seeing the kids grow up. 

For our Club Med trips, the trapeze is always a highlight for the kids and they look forward to trying it out every morning with the Mini Club. I always think it is quite a daring feat as the trapeze is really high and even climbing up the tall ladder takes courage. It is no wonder some kids give it a miss or just give up halfway and that is nothing to be ashamed of.

I remember Angel's first try and it took me lots of coaxing and persuasion before she was willing to get up there. I cheered for her each step of the way and I could sense that she was feeling nervous and apprehensive. The moment she took her first step out and swang across, I felt so much pride and was so happy for her. As for Ariel, she is more of a daredevil and it didn't take much persuasion but I knew she was feeling anxious on her first try too. Kids have to be at least aged four to try but hey, four is still a very tender age and perfectly okay to feel fearful, right?

As for this trip, it was the first time Asher was allowed to go up since our last visit was in 2019 and he wasn't four yet at that time. I kind of assumed he would need more assurance and coaxing as he tends to be more scared when it comes to this kind of things like roller coasters. I wouldn't even be surprised if he chose to kick up a fuss and refused to try at all.

But lo and behold, he decided to do it and it didn't even take me much to talk him into trying. He just said he wanted Ariel to go first so he could see how she did it and there he went, right after her. He climbed up the tall ladder - which was scary to me because it was so high and all you had was a harness - and made it to the platform. On his first swing, he even tried to mimic what Ariel did and that was to put his feet up onto the bar and turned himself upside down. While he was scared to let go of his hands, it was so awesome for a first attempt already.

On his next attempt, HE DID IT! He let go of his hands, stayed upside down and even did a back flip too. Hooray! It was amazing to watch and he gave a big, wide smile the moment he came down. And he told me "I thought I cannot do it but because Mama you kept telling me I can so I tried. And I did it!" Awwww. That was such a wonderful thing to hear and so sweet of him to give me credit for it too.

As for myself, I always love challenging myself on the trapeze too and it is just so coincidental that every time I can make it for the session, it is always raining and I will have to do the indoor one. This happened during our last couple of trips too. The thing is maybe it is fated as I do prefer doing the stationary trapeze since the outdoor one might scare me due to the height. The staff told me the stationary one is actually harder as you require more strength to do the poses and haul yourself up but that's what makes it fun too, right?

So I challenged myself to do a few poses this time round and I must say they aren't as easy as they look. Is it a milestone for me on a personal level too? Definitely.

Respecting Wishes

For those who don't know yet. when you visit Club Med, the kids can join the clubs and have fun in the activities. The Baby Club for 4 to 23 months old and Petit Club for 2 to 3 years old come at extra cost but they basically function like a childcare service and parents can feel free to leave the kids there so they can have alone time. The Mini Club is for kids aged 4 to 10 and the Teen Club is for those aged 11 to 17 - these two are already included in your package. 

My kids have joined the Mini Club before and it is fun as you can get to play with kids your age and do things like archery, swimming, craft, movie and games together with the GOs who look after the kids. They have even put on a show before and the girls danced on stage for all the guests who were there. 

This time, Asher and Ariel only wanted to go for a couple of activities with the Mini Club and as always, they prefer to eat lunch with us instead of with the other kids. So I let them choose what they wanted and made sure to pick them up and sign them out on time.

As for Angel, she refused to join the Teen Club at all as she felt she would be awkward and she is not exactly the kind who likes to socialise and make new friends. I did ask her to at least try and go take a look before dismissing it totally but she was adamant about it and said she had made up her mind. So I learnt to respect their desires and preferences instead of trying to force my way. All I want is for my kids to have a pleasant trip and if she feels happier staying with me and Ansel 24/7 (I didn't sign him up for the Petit Club as I didn't want to incur the cost and I didn't think he would want to be separated from me too), then so it shall be.

Angel and I did join a family activity while Ariel and Asher were playing and two of us made a DIY dreamcatcher together. Looks quite pretty, right? I think this is the kind of memory that will stay etched in our minds and hopefully we will all look back on this trip with fondness years down the road.

Venturing Out

We decided to be bold and went for an excursion on our second last day. Yup, we booked a cab to take us to one of our favourite places to visit - Safari Lagoi! I knew this place would delight the kids and since Ansel had never been here, I didn't want to give up on the opportunity to do so. No venture, no gain, right? So I reminded the kids to stay close together and to look out for each other since I only had a pair of eyes and hands.

One memorable incident was that I lost my ATM card while withdrawing money to pay for the cab. Haha. Oops. It was a blunder on my part as I only remembered to take the cash but forgot to take the card in time and it was 'eaten up' by the machine. The Club Med staff made a check with the bank and I was told that no one would be coming down to the machine before our departure so they would not be able to return it to me. So I had to get my bank to cancel that card and issue a new one but I guess it wasn't that much of a hassle after all. I just wanted us to have a good excursion and be back safely.

Animal Encounters

The most fun part of Safari Lagoi was that we got to feed the animals! We paid for a basket of food including bananas, carrots, vegetables, pellets and chicken. The kids were very happy and dashed to the rabbit's enclosure because they really love bunnies. So they fed them and even got to pat and carry them too. We also fed the deer who were really tame and allowed us to stroke them on the head too.

Moving onto more exotic animals, we also fed a giant tortoise who loved the carrot and a small crocodile who was very swift in biting the piece of chicken we dropped in. These are experiences to remember so I made sure I got it on camera for the kids too - scroll down for the video of our highlights, yeah?

The hubby and I brought the kids here a couple of times before and our first visit was when the girls were still young, like aged two and five or so. Time flies and I'm now promoted to a mum of four! Yup, it still feels a little surreal at times but I am so grateful that we are where we are today.

The park also features a handful of photo taking spots so we made sure we snapped some shots for keepsake. We used to climb up this komodo dragon statue and slid down the grass slope so we did the same thing this time too - and got our pants all dirty. Haha. My favourite is the floral heart shape structure with the Safari Lagoi logo in the background and the kids were kind as to accommodate my request to take a few family shots here.

The highlights of the visit would be how we got to touch and feed an elephant, stroke and caress a python, as well as hold up and and pat an owl. The kids were ecstatic to get to interact and get up close with these animal friends and I know that these were memories that we would hold dear in our hearts. The elephant feeding was included as part of our package when we bought the food and we topped up a a token fee for the owl and python (If I don't remember wrongly, it's about SGD$5 each). What surprised me was that the staff was very helpful in helping us to take the pictures and even helped to video when I requested too. These are really precious memories so thank you very much!

Spectacular Shows

Back at the resort, we also enjoyed the nightly shows very much and always made sure we got a good seat after the dinner. The show included acrobatics, dance, humour, sports and sometimes kids' performances too. The highlight show for our visit this time round had to be the one at the poolside where the circus team performed feats right above the swimming pool and the rest of the GOs entertained us with lots of dancing and singing too.

Family Bonding

A vacation is always a good way for the family to come together to bond. I deeply appreciated being able to spend three nights with my kids away from home and we were together almost every minute of the day. Sure, the sibling bickers are inevitable and I am pretty sure I nagged like a broken record but the truth is we are still a closely-knitted family and the ties that bond us will never be broken or replaced.

I also loved that the kids got to spend so much time playing and laughing together because the truth is as they grow up, they will spend less time at home as they form their own circle of friends. I want them to be able to pursue that yet I also hope they will always remember to make time for family. So while we can still travel, explore and go sightseeing as a family, I will cherish every trip and try my best to make the most of it.

Go with the Flow

Like I mentioned just now, we took things quite spontaneously this time round and it felt kind of fun doing it. For instance, we were swimming in the big pool at Level 1 and I happened to ask a GO if we could go to the kids' pool at the Mini Club. She checked the schedule and said if the club was not using it, we could go ahead and so we made our way there. Indeed, it was empty, woohoo! There was a not-very-slippery slide that we had to push each other down, a wading pool with water toys for Ansel, and a shallow pool where the older kids and I played catching and dodgeball and laughed to our hearts' content. We were the only family there and the kids loved that I got into the pool to play with them, run around and be wild instead of just watching or filming them.

We also made our way to the Sports Centre and tried out archery, badminton, basketball, tennis and squash. Yes, a lot of sports, I know! But it was fun to just try them out even if we are not good at the sport and we spent that afternoon getting ourselves all sweaty but happy.

We also joined in the all the late night activities including dancing, beach party, a family-friendly 'casino' night with no real money involved, as well as all the games too. Yup, we were always one of the last families to return to our rooms and it seems to have become our family tradition on cruises and in Club Med. But my kids, and myself too, really love a good party and it's nice that we can play games, have fun and enjoy a drink or two before calling it a night. Our last night was spent at a beach party as we danced on the sand, did cartwheels, sang, played limbo rock and just had fun.

Our last activity before we left the resort was a game of mini golf! The funny thing is there was no equipment available as the staff had already kept them and it was not time for the next session yet. I couldn't find anyone for me to ask if we could borrow a golf ball and club and anyway, we were rushing for time and had less than half an hour to spare. With a stroke of luck, I remembered that I had a small little ball in my bag as Ansel had put it inside when we left home so all that was missing was a golf club.

I was about to go look for a branch or something when suddenly I thought of something better and that was.... my selfie stick! It is a foldable one which can be elongated and guess what, the handle can be opened up so that the stick resembled a club! Haha. Not bad, right? So with our own ball and stick, we had a most fun and unique session of mini golf and it just goes to show that sometimes going with the flow might be a good thing after all.

A Promise To Return

That marks the end of our fun-filled and most enjoyable 4D3N trip and I must say we were all a little reluctant to return to reality. Haha. The kids and I said that we all hope to come back again someday and I know we will, just that we need to save up the money first. This has been such a lovely and terrific mum-and-kids holiday experience for us and I am so glad we did it. Perhaps we should venture even further the next time round? Well, we'll see. 

To my dearest kids, I hope this trip has been as fun for you as it was for me and that you enjoyed every moment of it. It is a blessing to be able to travel, explore and have fun and we are very fortunate that we can do so from time to time, even if it is to nearby countries only. Remember that we need to count our blessings and have a grateful heart in life. Please know that Papa and Mama love you very much, you are our gems and we will always love exploring new places with you, trying out new experiences with you, making fond memories with you and simply being with you. 

Check out all our activity highlights in Club Med Bintan in the video below. It took me long to compile everything but these are precious memories and I am thankful we have them to look back upon. The kids love watching it these days!

Till the next trip!


Post a Comment

Yoohoo, thanks so much for reading my blog and leaving your comment! I am feeling the love! (^.^)