I showed up on Chelsey's doorstep that morning, in pajamas, red-faced, nose running, and broken. The night before I had been given news that I didn't know what to do with. I had kept it to myself that evening, slept on it, made it a few hours into the day before I realized, "I can't do this alone." Chelsey patiently listened as I wept on her couch and refused every offer of tea, water, cereal, or any other consumable she had. She had literally just said, "Man, I wish we had a few days off to just get away from here," when both of our phones went off with text messages from our employer saying, "The park needs last minute repairs and tests before the opening, all performers have the next 3 days off."
Now, if you know me, you know I'm a planner. I like to have prepared hours, or most often days of research on a vacation spot before I even consider it. But we had heard that lots of our friends had taken little mini-vacations to Bintan, Indonesia and loved it. It's an hour long ferry ride from Singapore and supposedly has spectacular beaches. Chelsey is also a huge "planner" so for us both to look down at our phones and say, "Let's get out of here!" was a big thrill and sort of scary! We looked up maybe 3 hotels in Bintan, picked one and booked our hotel within 45 minutes. We had contacted a few other ladies who wanted to go, but had evening plans so they decided to meet us on the island the next day. I looked at Chelsey and said, "I'll be back in a half hour with a suitcase," and walked back across the street to my apartment.
Because Chelsey and I had previously gone to the island of Batam (near Bintan, but not the same) we just assumed the ferry left from Harbor Front where the other ferry had left. We decided to just grab a cab there and book the ferry on the spot. We rushed to the ferry terminal and said, "Two round trip ferry tickets to Bintan please!" The bored-looking woman behind the counter looked at us blankly and said, "Batam?"
"No, Bintan please." We smiled and were just giddy with the excitement of our impending, spontaneous adventure. The woman stared back at us and said, "There are no ferries to Bintan from here. You have to go to Tanah Merah." So much for spontaneity.
We then had to take another taxi to Tanah Merah, which was NOT close by. And along the way, the taxi seemed to play every 80's or 90's romantic power ballad I've ever heard. Every time a new song came on we literally looked at each other like, "Are you kidding?" Regardless of the mix up, we were on the island of Bintan by nightfall and I couldn't believe I had a friend like Chelsey who would drop everything (and be cool with missing out on three days off of work with her boyfriend) to take my mind off my problem.
The next morning, Lisa, Lauren and Tori joined us and we hit the beach. It was beautiful (aside from the massive amounts of construction to expand the hotel.) The water was too choppy to jet ski, which we wanted to do, so we set up a boat tour for the next day at the mangroves, and decided to just relax on the beach and at the pool the whole day. (From left to right: Tori, Lisa, Chelsey and I)
That night, after a fabulous dinner at a Japanese restaurant on the beach we headed back to our resort to do some karaoke. We got to the karaoke bar and a stylish Asian waif informed us, "Our main room is closed to the public because the prince of Malaysia is having a private party." I was in no position or mood to argue with that so I was thinking, "Okay, what's plan B?" Lisa had a very different opinion (and maybe a little sake in her . . . just a little.)
Lisa explained, "But we are all professional singers! He's gonna want us at this party! Look at us! We are hot and we are all professional singers!" Tori and I shot glances at each other like, "Uhhhh, not quite ALL of us are professional singers, but I guess we are going along with this." I assumed, because of how adamant Lisa was, that it was only moments before someone was going to escort us out of the bar. But the manager came and said, "Okay, we will give you all a private room and let the prince know that you are here and would like to sing for him. Then we will let you know."
We got to our private room and frankly, I forgot all about the prince. My girlfriends filled the karaoke queue up with girl power songs like, "Independent Women," "I Will Survive," and even a Spice Girls song. (Did I mention they are the BEST?) We danced around, drank beer and sake and sang at the top of our lungs; even us "non-singers."
The manager came back in and said, "Okay, the prince of Malaysia would like you to join him in the main room." I started to get nervous at this point! I was certainly not going to sing for the prince and was really hoping that Chelsey, Lisa and Lauren would completely take over in that scenario.
The room was empty accept for three Malaysian gentleman and three Malaysian young women who were all gussied up and very intently texting on their phones. Apparently, they were not adequately entertaining the prince!
The singers in our group picked out some Celine Dion songs and belted their hearts out. The prince was very impressed. Now I felt the pressure to earn my keep, but when I sing karaoke, it is restricted to 80's and 90's old school rap. So, in typical Muroski style, I dropped a little Salt and Pepper on them. I think they were confused, but ultimately impressed.
The next day we woke up early to get our delicious free breakfast buffet, fill some napkins with muffins and banana bread for later and hop in a neon pink van that would take us to the Bintan Mangroves. The tour was breath-taking, and although you would expect a boat tour of trees to be uneventful, you would be mistaken. Our tour guide proceeded to tell us about all the poisonous snakes that reside in the mangroves and up in the trees. As he is telling us this, they STOP THE BOAT as we are underneath a snake curled up asleep draped across some very shaky looking branches. I think we all had slight anxiety attacks during that encounter. We also had the pleasure of seeing monkeys jumping across our watery path from tree to tree.
This is a little video clip I took during the tour. The guide is talking about the venomous snakes and then the different types of monkeys. Yes, Lauren is texting through most of it.
Our tour guide was an Indonesian man who has lived among the mangroves his whole life. He explained that the oxygen given off by the mangroves keeps you young. He actually showed us his identification because none of us could believe he was in his 70's! It was, as my brother would say, an "educational tour" but still very fun. That's us looking in disbelief at his id.
We got back to the hotel and decided to take the later ferry home so we could go back to the beach and relax. I hadn't ever taken a last minute trip like that and I'm so glad I did, even though it was tough most of the time to fully enjoy it because of my emotional state, looking back I had some really wonderful moments and realized that I am surrounded by some pretty awesome ladies out here. Thank goodness they have my back. It makes me feel safe in an otherwise intimidating place.
On a funnier final note, right before we were going to leave to go to the ferry, Chelsey was complaining of a headache from the heat. She popped some Tylenol in her mouth and grabbed a bottle of water out of our tote bag of beverages. As she took a big pull from the bottle and swallowed, her eyes almost popped out of her head! She dove her hand into my bag and grabbed my bottle of water and chugged it down. When she could finally find her voice she croaked, "That was a bottle of vodka that I just washed my pills down with!" We had transferred our duty free vodka to a water bottle in order to get it through security and back to Singapore with us. Unfortunately, we had forgotten to label it.