Friday, October 26, 2012

Batu Batu, Tengah Island

Beautiful Sunsets (didn't get around to editing these pictures yet, but still gorgeous!)

A short 2-hour drive from the Woodlands checkpoint on the north side of Singapore and a quick 20-minute boat transfer from Mersing to arrive on this pristine private island in Malaysia.  The beaches are gorgeous, plentiful snorkeling, swimming and kayaking; the food called us back for every meal and the spacious villas were lovely, until the third night when we were moved to a villa unsafe for the children to stay.  Diminishing their claim to be a "family friendly boutique resort" in our minds.

Beautiful Private Beaches

After nightfall, the mosquitoes were out in full force and the Ocean Villa we were moved to was not built to keep the little pests out.  Even securing the mosquito netting around the beds all day long, the little pests found their way in to eat us alive all night.

It was too hot and humid to stay covered throughout the night, but with the bugs biting outside the sheets, we were left with no choice.  If the villa was designed to keep the air-conditioned air inside the villa, instead of letting it all escape through the huge gaps where the wall and roof come together, it would improve the experience quite drastically.  The staff had placed additional table fans in the villa, but they blew the bug netting open to give the little guys a place to enter for their feast.  So, we suffered through a night in an unfinished, not ready for guests, villa and PAID FOR IT!

Island Jetty

I can't say that we hated our entire stay on the island.  The first 2-nights we stayed in a wonderful Beach Villa that did not have the same issues.  The Beach Villa with child sleeping area was amazing!  We had restful sleeps and woke-up to the beautiful beach and relaxing porch.  The only thing missing in this villa was breakfast in bed.

The island itself is an environmentalist dream.  Migrating birds and sea eagles, corals, fish, Sea turtles, crabs - just to name a few of the sea creatures spotted on the island.  We were able to hike around the entire island, as it is quite small and it was amazing (although Little Miss M thought the long hike was something she would never want to do again...Ever!).  Some of the fish spotted, crabs and coral that are all especially visible during low tide are a rare sight for most city dwellers and I was so happy that the children were able to experience the magic of the ocean and spot Sea Urchins, as well. 

Makayla particularly found the little ghost crabs pretty cool when mommy almost stepped on one and it scurried away to hide under a rock.

The nightmare started after the 2nd night, when we were told there was some kind of miscommunication, or computer glitch and we had to shift villas.  It was never clear what happened with our reservation, as different staff including the owner, told us conflicting reports.  We ended up shifting, not thinking too much of it besides the inconvenience, to an Ocean Villa with no child area.  The Ocean view Villa was more of a tree view with a big palm tree blocking the ocean view, but if we looked through the tree, there it was - the beautiful blue-green water of the South China Sea.

Bummer ~ Tree blocking view from Ocean Villa.

This particular Ocean Villa should NEVER have children assigned to it!  Upon entering the villa on stilts built into a cliff side, the stairs are open and there is no landing to enter the villa.  When the doors are opened, the handrail is not accessible and the children had to use the stairs on their bums, very carefully. 

Just a little stressful for parents of toddlers.
The other child disaster waiting to happen was the opposite side door.  The door through the bathroom opens to an outside balcony/deck with no safety side rails.  The flooring is there, but there is nothing around the sides of this high deck.  The door leading out to the area has a wooden latch like the one seen in the above picture to hold the door closed, but easily accessible by toddlers.  There is no additional lock on this door leading to an unfinished deck.  Makes no sense at all to place two small children in this villa.
We asked for a change of villas, but we were told there was nothing else available.  After staying for one very stressful night in this villa, we decided the next morning to leave a day early.  We approached the staff to book a seat on the transfer boat and let them know we wished to leave early, they suddenly came up with 1 or 2 other optional villas!? 
Sorry, too late. Our experience of enjoying the tropical, quiet island has been ruined by this unfinished, unsuitable villa that was irresponsibly assigned to a family with small children.
It is really too bad, because we were truly enjoying the relaxing experience the first 2-nights staying in the lovely Beach Villa that was ready for guests to enjoy and safe for the children.
Playing on beach outside villa the 1st morning.

Lovely porch for morning coffee on the Beach Villa.

Didn't need this mosquito netting, because the beach villa was built correctly and finished for guests.  Still a nice touch :-)

Enormous bathrooms!

Relaxing in the infinity pool.

Riley enjoyed finding cool shells and reef that had washed up.
Wish I would have taken some pictures of the various wildlife on this eco-resort island.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Dancing Bear

Our little dancing bear, didn't do much dancing...

She did enjoy the preparations of getting her hair done, makeup on and snack time.

Getting her baby fine hair put up requires lots of hairspray.

Bear ears and bear nose with glitter eyes.

Where is Kayla and when will this be over?!?!

There she is hiding with her fingers in her mouth as soon as the curtains open.

The other dancing bears and dolls didn't want the curtains to close!  So cute!

The Dancing Bear had streaked makeup from her tears by the end :-( 


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