Make it like Robinson Crusoe on Cempedak and it won’t matter if it’s a Monday or Friday.
off the main ferry and it’s onto dry land crowded with many sandaled feet waiting for their resort holidays to begin. For us, it’s just the beginning of the second leg of the journey. A somnolent ride through the heart of Bintan is accompanied by a cheery Australian voice explaining the island we are about to visit, and the one we are about to leave. As the few buildings eventually give way to more vegetation, the music lulls me to sleep until we reach the next pier.
A family and another couple mill about, waiting for their respective boats. The family on to Nikoi Island, obviously, as no kids are allowed on its newly-opened sister Cempedak Island. We board with the couple, leaving the fussing children and their parents behind. About two-and-a-half hours after leaving the main Bintan jetty, we finally arrive at the domain of barefoot luxury.
The Cempedak trees are long gone—they’re prime material for boatbuilding—but the new owners have been planting saplings all over the island in the hopes that the fruit will once again dot the landscape in a couple of years. For now, much of the natural flora remains largely undisturbed with the resort only occupying a small part of the island. The critically endangered pangolin roams solitary in the forest, the rare silver-leafed monkey swings from the treetops, and the closest living cousin of the dodo bird, the
Each villa is a private abode, and you can wile your day away there, seeing virtually no one except your villa companion or the occasional gardener doing his rounds.
Nicobar pigeon, drops by occasionally on a migratory pit-stop. His extinct cousin lives on in art form, decorating the island’s main bar. If you sweep your sights away from the bird, you can see the Milky Way set against a glittering blanket of stars on a cloudless night as you sip your cocktail.
There’s not much to do on Cempedak except relax. It’s not meant to be an island of things to do; hence, the no-kids stipulation. Each villa is a private abode, and you can wile your day away there, seeing virtually no one except your villa companion or the oc-
1 1. The view from the top deck of the villa. 2. Winding wooden steps and bamboo features to take you through both storeys of the villa. 3. A tiny green for a spot of tanning perhaps?