Travel

Make it like Robin­son Cru­soe on Cempedak and it won’t mat­ter if it’s a Mon­day or Fri­day.

Esquire (Singapore) - - Contents -

Cempedak is­land.

Step

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. 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?

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?

3

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