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You never know how important insurance is until you need it. After dislocating my elbow, I subsequently made 4 visits in 5 days to clinics and hospitals. It’s amazing how fast medical bills can accumulate. I’m lucky that I did not require surgery or hospitalization, or else I’m sure my medical bills would have been many times higher. I made my travel insurance claim and thankfully, NTUC Income was fast and efficient in processing my claim. One month after I dislocated my elbow, I’ll be receiving their cheque soon for all medical expenses incurred!

Breakdown of medical bill :

After I got back to Singapore, that very evening I went to a clinic to see a GP for him to take a look at my elbow. He bandaged my elbow, gave me some painkillers and wrote a referral to Alexandra Hospital (AH) Accident & Emergency (A&E) department.

Total cost = $58

Took a cab to Alexandra Hospital, which unfortunately could not be claimed. Upon registration at A&E, payment of $75 was made. Doctors looked at my elbow, took some x-rays, and concluded my elbow is fine (no fractures) and in the correct position. Referred me to an orthopedic.

Total cost = $58 + $75 = $133

Two days later, I went to a GP to clean my elbow and change my bandage. Prescribed a round of anti-inflamation medicine to keep the swelling down. Bill came up to $52.

Total cost = $58 + $75 + $52 = $185

Another two days later, had my orthopedic appointment at AH, and paid another $31 after government’s subsidy.

Grand total = $58 + $75 + $52 + $31 = $216

Needless to say, I will definitely continue to buy Travel Insurance when going overseas. If you’re not doing so, you might want to consider it =)

Edit : Shan’s Photos For Nikoi Island @ Flickr

Last days of our vacations are typically quiet affairs. Awoke to the sweet lullaby of the gentle rain as it drenched the whole of Nikoi Island. The first drops of rainfall we’ve seen in daytime in our 4 days here at Nikoi, a blessing considering the screwed up weather back in Singapore.

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Final round of packing before we headed for our daily dose of  eggs, bacon and juice. Our ferry departure was at 2pm, which meant we had to leave Nikoi at 11am. (30-minutes boat ride to Kawal, 1-hour car ride to ferry terminal) As we returned from breakfast, Suhud and two other staff were already waiting at our beach house. Concluded with a final round of checks and made our way to Yogi’s Bar while they helped to carry our luggage.

Quite a number of guests leaving the island today! Must have been 14 people or something? Settled our bills which came up to a grand total of S$97.20, since almost everything (food, accommodation and transfers) was already pre-paid. Conspicuously included was an item named Hand Therapy for S$25. That was the cost of the treatment for my dislocated elbow which I had asked Mansud to include in our bills. Bid our goodbyes as we boarded the speedboat, with Suhud mischievously holding on to his elbow. Yeah, I’ll remember that.

Well, what do you know? It began to drizzle as we stepped into our car, and the rain came down hard as our car zipped through Bintan. It was a huge, mega-rain that pounded the island. Somehow, we realized how lucky we are seeing how we’ve come to take so many things for granted.

Rain or shine, these kids make their way to school which are like, freaking far away? To make it worst, most of the time there are no pavements or anything, so their best option is to walk on the road itself. Can anyone spell danger? With the unforgiving rain, we see groups of kids huddled under little huts or shelters as they waited the rain out. The entrances and front-yards of most houses buildings – including schools – were reduced to waterlogged puddles of mud.

So, there we were, in the relative comfort and dryness of our chauffeur-ed car, zipping through the winding roads of Bintan in the horrendous downpour. Our convoy of 4 cars managed to survive low visibility and overtaking maneuvers, finally arriving at the ferry terminal in a little over an hour.

For sure, we’ve found ourselves yet another slice of paradise just a stone’s throw away from Singapore that most people are not aware of. Without a doubt, Nikoi will have a special place rock in my heart.

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Miscellaneous :

  • Photos (excluding Shan’s) taken with Canon PowerShot G10.
  • Nikoi Island booking can be done @ Asia Travel
  • Booking inclusive of accommodation, food (3 meals), transfers.
  • 7-days Visa charges of USD$10 is not applicable to Singapore citizens.
  • Nikoi’s guests are entitled to VIP clearance at customs when arriving at or departing from Bintan even though we are travelling on Economy Class.

Miscellaneous Part II (some things that you might wanna know) :

  • For an open-concept beach house, bugs are inevitable.
  • What you won’t have : tv, air-con, fridge, bath-tub, internet, telephone.
  • What you would have : ipod dock, fan, icebox, rain shower.

Nikoi Island : Relaxed By Nature

Edit : Shan’s Photos For Nikoi Island @ Flickr

Rise and shine! After all the commotion yesterday, I was hoping for a day of peace and quiet. Sadly, no more pictures from me but Shan should be able to provide some!

We decided to have an early breakfast, and so woke up at 7am. My injured arm was causing me quite a bit of inconvenience, though it was nothing I couldn’t live with. Breakfast was similar to yesterday’s, and I got to repeat my horrible story from yesterday to the guests who asked. Likewise, many of Nikoi’s staff showed their concern and asked if I was feeling better today, to which I replied I did.

Found Anne having breakfast with her family, so we went over to thank her again for her help yesterday. Just something I felt I had to do, knowing that she’ll be returning to Singapore today. Exchanged our pleasantries and bid her goodbye.

Headed to the beach where we sat on the sun-loungers under the shade and looked on as other people enjoyed themselves under the sun! “We’ll be back to do all of that!” We told each other!

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Families were having fun kayaking, paddle-boarding or out in the sea sailing with Nikoi’s staff. Kids were playing with sand and/or socializing with other kids. Although kids are usually not our thing, it was still nice to watch. Lazed under the sun for a good one hour and and decided it was time to return to our beach house, where Shan started another round of tanning.

Interestingly, the weather today was even better than yesterday. The sky was totally clear and blue, with little clouds. Hot hot hot! While Shan tanned, I opted to stay in the shade and read on the ‘swinging bed’. Next up was a photography session all around the beach house. Once Shan have the photos ready I’ll either put it up here or link to her Flickr.

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Since our lunch was at 2pm, we washed up and headed to pool area and the wooden boardwalk. (click here to see map) Half expecting to see the spot where my little accident happened yesterday, we were surprised to see that the view from northeastern end of the island looks absolutely beautiful! It was high tide, and water totally covered the rocky white spots that says “access at low tide only”.

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Ordered two cocktails – a Nikoi’s Sunset and a Yogi Coladas. Yogi Coladas was absolutely delicious and a must-try! Lunch was Asian cuisine – fruits, sweet and sour chicken, steamed tofu with broccoli. Once again, easily handled with one hand. Lucky me!

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Perhaps it was the cocktails? Went back to our rooms and had the most wonderful afternoon nap. You would think that in a tropical afternoon, with no air-conditioning and sunny weather, it would have been extremely hot and uncomfortable? Heck, prior to our Nikoi’s experience, we thought so too! Surprisingly, one fan was all it took to make our stay comfortable.

Our last evening at Nikoi was a simple affair. Packed a little and tried to take some sunset photos but the clouds wasn’t helping at all. After dinner, we walked around a bit and admired the starry starry night. Quality time for the both of us =)

Nikoi Island : Relaxed By Nature

Edit : Shan’s Photos For Nikoi Island @ Flickr

It rained last night, with lightning and thunder. It didn’t cause any problems for us since our beach house was in superb condition. Just more bugs I guess? Woke up at 8am, had breakfast at 9am.

Turns out we were among the latest to have breakfast. First was sliced fruits – mango, watermelon and pineapple. Then, they served freshly-made bread and donuts. In addition, we ordered sunny-side up eggs, bacon and sausage. All of this washed down with coffee and watermelon juice! And, there were complimentary milk and cereal which we were too full to even consider eating. Talk about a hearty breakfast eh?

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Hmm. No pictures of the beach house yet? Here you go, starting from our room at the second level. As I’ve mentioned, mostly everything are made of wood as you can see. Even down to the little details like the door lock, the supporting beams and the roof.

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There’s actually a bathroom on the second level, but no pictures of it. A look at what’s located at the first level :

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Finished breakfast and strolled back to our beach house for a little tanning session. The weather was excellent as we lay on our private sun-loungers that were right in front of our beach house. Talk about convenience huh?

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Spent about an hour under the sun with my ipod Touch and a magazine. Decided that was enough for now and went to grab a quick shower before lunch. Lunch at Nikoi is typically Asian cuisine, while dinner is Western. One thing to mention is that you do not get to order your meals here at Nikoi. However, if you do not eat what’s on the menu for the day, you’re free to inform the staff of your preference.

Lunch consisted of beef salad for starters. Main course was steamed rice, Thai-style beef curry and kai lan. And to top it off, mango dessert! Yummy. As usual, we had a little chat with fellow guests during lunch. Headed for a short walk around the island after lunch to burn off all the calories we’re accumulating!

Some sculptures that are found around the island :

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Sandy paths on the island :

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The sun, the sand and the sea :

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Decided to explore the island in the afternoon, and I dislocated my elbow.

Yup, as much as it sucks, it did happen. Shan & I actually walked through the jungle trail from beach house #15 along the east coast of Nikoi, where we emerged at the Mangrove Swamp. (click here to see map) The white dots that says “access at low tide only” are in fact rocky coastal area. During low tide, the rocks would be exposed and we could actually walk along north-east coast. So there we were, where we could already see the wooden boardwalk.

One moment I was standing there, the next I had slipped after stepping on a large piece of rock. I don’t really remember how it happen, it was too fast. Somehow, I must have broken my fall with my right palm. The speed at which it happened must have produced quite a force, popping my right elbow out of its socket. (Trivial : In adults, elbow dislocations are second only to shoulder dislocations in frequency)

Almost immediately after it happened, I knew something was wrong. I looked at my right elbow, and my first thought was “Fracture? Bloody h*ll better not be!” Taking a closer look, I realized the elbow socket looked funny – the usually bony pointed end had a weird concave appearance instead. SH*T! I immediately knew what it was even though it has not happened to me before. Guess you could call it a medic’s instinct.

By now, Shan was understandably rather flustered by the whole incident. My adrenaline was kicking in and truthfully, there was no pain at all, yet. I knew I need to get to a place where I could sit down and get some medical attention, and I told Shan we’ll need to go forward and hopefully the wooden boardwalk is really near and there is freaking somebody there!

Before I continue, let me say that the staff of Nikoi was amazing and I am eternally grateful for all the help they had rendered during my unfortunate accident. Thank you Nikoi! Also, thank you Anne! You’re amazing, and I’m sorry for disrupting your time with your family! Thank you to all the guests of Nikoi who showed your concern!

The wooden boardwalk was indeed very near, and sure enough we caught the attention of a Nikoi’s staff who happened to be stationed at the Pool Bar. I think his name is Sammy? Sorry man, we must have gave you quite a scare. He quickly realized what had happened, and led us to Yogi’s Bar instead. It must have been the central area for handling emergency, and they must have an emergency procedure or something, I told myself.

The truth be told, I wasn’t thinking much by now. All I knew was that I need to get to wherever it is before I start getting light-headed once the adrenalin rush fades. It looks far on the map, but its pretty much a 5-10 minutes walk until we reached Yogi’s bar. I sat down, slightly light-headed by now. I must have drank an entire glass of water. Sheesh, I still have no idea why people in distress always drinks water.

Not sure who was the one, but Yogi definitely attended to me, giving me a blanket and checking with me what actually happened. He also helped to clean a couple of superficial wounds I had suffered along the way.

Now, this is the part that gets interesting. A couple of hours earlier, Shan & I had seen a group of Nikoi’s staff taking a group photo with a Caucasian lady. Each of them was holding a certificate in their hands. While we were puzzled earlier, we were not intrigued enough to find out what it was.

Lucky Me #1 : You are not going to believe this – the Caucasian lady is a first-aid trainer. She had just conducted a few-hours first-aid course on administering first-aid and emergency protocol a few hours earlier. Man, what are the odds of that happening. I had just become a live-demo case for Nikoi Island! And because this training was just conducted, everyone knew what to do and how to react, which meant I was able to get help as soon as possible.

Lucky Me #2 : Apparently, Anne was still on the island! They had gone to get her. Meanwhile, people started appearing out of nowhere and coming forward to take a look at what’s happening. There must have been like 20 people or something? I certainly didn’t know so many people worked on the island.

After a few minutes, Anne came along. I have to say, she is a really amazing lady. From our chats with her, we learnt that she is actually a first-aid and CPR instructor! Before moving to Singapore, her profession was a nurse back in London.

I could pretty much understand everything behind her actions, perhaps due to my basic training as a medic. She was talking to myself and Shan, understanding the situation and at the same time, assuring us and making us comfortable. She was also checking my right arm for blood circulation and my sense of touch. She then helped to ice my elbow area to reduce the swelling, which will help in popping my elbow back into the socket later. After some mis-communications, we finally figured out the plan.

Lucky Me #3 : At that point in time, there was a boat available that was headed for Bintan mainland! People who were on the boats looked more like locals than guests. We’d take a boat to Bintan mainland, where we would consult a traditional massage therapist who can help to pop my elbow back into position.

Lucky Me #4 : The massage therapist lives only 5-minutes from the jetty! The hospital, in comparision, was 45-minutes away. Previously, he had helped Suhud, one of Nikoi’s staff when he fell from a tree and dislocated his elbow. No harm giving it a try, we thought. Anne was nice enough to accompany us, and I was happy to let her as I thought some company would be great for Shan.

I was afraid I might get light-headed and more importantly not wanting to move my injured elbow, I was happy to let them stretcher me. Thus, we began our arduous journey to seek help.  While not deserted, Nikoi isn’t exactly the most accessible of places in Bintan. We back-tracked our journey – meaning we have to take a mini-speedboat, transfer onto a larger boat for a 30-minutes ride to Bintan mainland, then transfer onto a car for a 5-minutes ride to a rainbow-coloured house for treatment. Throughout the journey, every little bump and vibration would set off a tingling sensation if I’m lucky, or a nagging ache if I’m not lucky.

Amazing colours for a house! What can I say? Amazing house for an amazing man. The massage therapist was good! Extremely good! He looked at me and my arm, did a little smile, straightened my arm a little and did his thing in like 5 seconds?! I swear there was no pain, and I think it kind of caught everyone by surprise that it was over so quickly!

He proceeded to give an incredibly painful ointment rub on my arm/elbow, and all I could do was give a mixture of laughter and stuttering while enduring the pain. A quick bandage and it was a done deal. Throughout my whole ‘ordeal’, the wife and young daughter were just sitting there like they’ve seen this a million times. What an experience huh?

“Terima Kasih.” I offered my thanks once again as we left the place. With my elbow back where it should be, I was well enough to walk. Mansud, dressed in his home-clothes, (I guess it might have been his off-day of something? I’m beginning to be embarrassed for troubling so many people) drove us back to the jetty.

Lucky Me #5 : There, Suhud, Anne, Shan and I waited for Tommy, who had joined Nikoi for only 1 month. He has a wonderful smile! He helps with the water sports at Nikoi and that night, the speedboat that they normally use had just been fitted with a new motor (the tiny speedboat was just an ad-hoc measure) and would be driven back to Nikoi!

We got on the speedboat and it whisked us away into the night. It was a surreal experience – over our head was the most beautiful carpet of stars we’ve ever seen. The sky was totally clear and there we were, riding on this speedboat, with Tommy navigating the boat with one hand, using his mobile phone on the other. From time to time, he would use a high-powered torchlight to check ahead to ensure we’re not gonna hit some rocks or anything. Man, I don’t know what to say.. Cool huh?

The return jouney took less time, courtesy of the new motor. Frankly speaking, we weren’t even sure we had reached Nikoi until we felt the boat slowing down. The island was totally shrouded in darkness, except for a lighted torch and a couple of torchlight that Nikoi’s staff were waving to signal to Tommy. Once again, we’ll need to get off the boat at the sandy beach instead of the jetty due to the low tide.

For once, the master-of-surprise (that would be me) was surprised! Once we reached Yogi’s Bar, we thought that finally everything was over. All of a sudden, Nikoi’s staff surrounded us and started singing a birthday song! I think Shan was more suprised than I was, and it was truly unexpected and such a stark contrast to the earlier events that we were kind of lost for words. This certainly put a smile back on our faces! Really appreciated it =) Thanked everyone again and off we went back to our room to take a shower and settle down.

Shall not bore anyone with the mundane details but let’s just say, it’s a b*tch to do anything with a right arm that’s practically useless. My right arm was so sore and weak that it’s literally just hanging by the side or resting in the sling all day. All thanks to Shan that I managed to survive on Nikoi until we left for Singapore. Thanks baby!

Lucky Me #6 : Nikoi’s staff was thoughtful enough to come to our beach house to ask if we wanted to dine at the beach house instead, which I happily accepted. Guess what’s for dinner? Salad, grilled fish with de-shelled prawns and banana cake! Food can’t get any easier to eat than that for an one-armed guy! Phew, no steak, no lamb, no chicken-chop for today.

Amidst all the horror and excitement, I guess I’ve forgotten to mention how good the service at Nikoi is. Everyone is generally friendly and it’s not difficult to find a smile on their faces. Some of the staff may speak limited English but it is not a big problem. Our orders (fruit juices & cocktails) and special requests (to serve fish instead of beef) were right on target without any problems.

I really appreciate their thoughtfulness for the surprise birthday song and their offer (I was in fact going to ask) to serve dinner at my beach house instead. Instead of serving everything at once, he (I think his name was Fitra?) came back an hour later just to bring us our banana cake, which was really nice even though I would not have wanted to trouble him for it.

A nice and quiet dinner to calm our nerves after a hectic and eventful day. We’re happy to just lie on our bed and rest early for the day.

Nikoi Island : Relaxed By Nature

Edit : Shan’s Photos For Nikoi Island @ Flickr

12:30pm – Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. Amazingly, it was a much better experience than the one we had at Seletar Airport. It was fast, and it was efficient. So, where are we going today?

*drum rolls*

Nikoi Island!

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Checking-in went smoothly, and before we knew it, we were on the Wan Seri Beni ferry to Bintan. Drizzled when we were on the way to the ferry terminal, but the weather was clear when we were on the water, which helped ensure a smooth ride.

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The air-conditioned ferry was clean and in surprisingly good condition. Food and drinks are available. Interestingly, most passengers (more than half) are Caucasians. Mr Rabbit’s arm came off for a little while, and we had to scramble around looking for its tiny joint connector -.-” After an one-hour ride, we finally arrived at Bintan Island, Indonesia.

As we left the ferry, we noticed a staff carrying a sign “Nikoi Island”, and we learnt that we can enjoy the privilege of the VIP lounge, where we had express check-in service and our luggage would be retrieved for us while we waited in the lounge. Typically, the VIP lounge is only available to passengers travelling under the Emerald Class, but guests of Nikoi (even though we travelled under Economy Class) have special treatment!

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This was followed by an one-hour ride to the jetty at Kawal if I’m not wrong, located at the eastern coast of Bintan main island. Each group of guests to Nikoi actually had a private car from Indorent. Comfortable and spacious! The chauffeur would take care of the luggage so we can sit back,  relax and enjoy the ride through Bintan main island, taking in the scenery and the lives of the locals.

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At the jetty, we (8 guests in total) hopped on another boat that took 30 minutes to reach Nikoi Island. However, since it was low tide when we reached Nikoi, it meant we had to transfer – again – onto a tiny speedboat that will stop at the shallow beach instead. Time to get our feet wet!

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“Welcome to Nikoi!” Shouted the staff of Nikoi as they helped us off the speedboat. Reception was done at Yogi’s Beach Bar where we were given lemon-grass-ed wet towels and watermelon juice to freshen up. Mansud, Nikoi’s manager, introduced himself to us and gave a simple overview of things at Nikoi Island.

Oh. There was a MEGA spider who lives at Yogi’s Bar. Have fun!

We were then led to our beach house – #13 – and it was huge! Almost everything was made of wood. There are 2 bathrooms – one on the first level, and another on the second level where our room is. Also at the ground level were 2 sun-loungers, a leisure area with chairs and coffee table, massage beds, icebox, outdoor shower and also plenty of space!

Unpacked and made ourselves comfortable, after which we made our way to the ‘restaurant’ at 6pm for our first meal at Nikoi Island. The restaurant is actually the place where they serve your meals, and there are two to choose from. The kitchen is located in a separate area, which we won’t be able to see. Also, the kitchen is strategically surrounded by plants.

One thing about meals is that Nikoi’s staff will always ask you when you’ll like to have your lunch/dinner. One of the few things we ever had to think about while on the island. We were pretty hungry earlier on, having travelled for a couple of hours, so we chose 6pm for our first dinner.

Starter was seafood salad, main course was grilled chicken and lamb. Last of all, brownie for dessert. Well, I wouldn’t say the food was 5-star fantastic, but it certainly was fulfilling and satisfactory. In fact, never once did we feel hungry after dinner on our first night.

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Meals on Nikoi is a communal experience. Each of the two restaurant has a 10-metre long (I think?) dining table, which means you’re very likely to be sitting beside other guests while you’re having your meals. Oh, and you get to put your feet in the sand too!

Among the guests we got to know was a middle-age couple from Holland, who are currently working in Singapore. The guy could have retired, but builds ships for a living! How cool is that? The wife I believe is involved with Friends of the Museums Singapore. We see them everyday, and it was nice getting to know them and for them to share their experiences.

Another couple from Wales had arrived on Saturday,  and we quickly learnt that Nikoi was the second leg of their honeymoon, having previously spent 3 weeks in New Zealand. They were nice and friendly, and very humourous as well! There were others guests whom we’ve managed to talk to on the island, just not as much I suppose.

By now, the pattern is getting obvious huh? Our second resort this year, little or no Asians except for us again. And guess what? We absolutely love it this way! After all, we’re here to get away from Singapore, right?

Popped my one and only surprise for Shan after midnight. Even though I had already given her a birthday present before this trip, I managed to ‘smuggle’ a little present+ birthday card just to surprise her a little ~

Nikoi Island : Relaxed By Nature

28 days to Nikoi!

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