As you people know I've been complaining about my shitty Bintan trip. Honestly man! That place is a nightmare! So yes, to prevent other people from having similar shitty experiences, I'm going to blog about it, despite the risk of being sued!!
I'm sure there is some clause to protect me though coz I am speaking the truth!!
Here's the typical person's impression of it:
- Relaxing, tropical beach resort away from Singapore
- Cheap and good massages available ala Thailand
- Beautiful sea
- Everything charged in Rupiah, which after money-changing will be like nothing at all! Hahaha!
Actually what it is:
- Beach resort chockful of Singaporeans and stupid Angmohs, so it's almost like being in Sentosa.
- Massages cost more than it does in Singapore, and about 10 times Thailand's price.
- Sea only mediocre - put it on par, if not worse, than Sentosa's. If Langkawi's beach that I went to is a 8/10, Bintan's is a 3/10.
- Everything charged in... EITHER US DOLLARS OR SING DOLLARS. It's almost like being back in Singapore except the service staff can't speak English.
It's fucking farce!
THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO WILL LIKE THE PLACE ARE STUPID WHITE PEOPLE WITH TOO MUCH MONEY I TELL YOU!! * (more on that point later)
Initially, Mike wanted to bring me to Bali for our two-year anniversary, and after my insistence he told me that the trip, which requires a plane flight, will cost him at least $1k, which was a little too extravagant for a weekend getaway, I feel.
So I suggested to him that we go to Bintan, which was only a 40 min ferry ride away, and therefore can save on the plane tickets.
My decision was so wrong.
Nonetheless, ferry tickets and the hotel were booked for almost $800, and I joyously told everyone about it.
To my horror, Gillian and Eekean (Wong) both told me that Bintan's not a good destination at all, and that stupid Eekean even insisted that I change my destination to Batam instead where, I quote her, "There is a freaking shopping centre twice the size of Vivo City!!!".
I told the excitable Wong that I cannot change my destination as I am leaving tomorrow, but I don't think she heard me and continued her persuasion by saying how awesome Batam is compared to Bintan.
I had an ominous foreboding, but Gillian said it's good to have no expectations, so I won't be disappointed.
I had a thoroughly shitty time there**, and to add insult to injury, when I came back Mike saw on his credit card bill that an extra US$327.08 was charged, by the hotel, to his account!!
WTF???! This prompted me to write a complain letter to Angsana Resort, the place we stayed in:
from: Wendy Cheng
date: Wed, Apr 9, 2008 at 4:19 AM
subject: Fraudulent charge of USD $327.08 and Complain Letter
My boyfriend and I recently went to Angsana Resorts to celebrate our 2 year anniversary. However, that appears to be a giant mistake as our stay there was terribly unpleasant.
Not only was everything extremely overpriced, we found that the main purpose of our holiday - the beach, was filled with NUMEROUS tar glops that not only stained and ruined my expensive swimwear and sandals, it was also filled with sand flies, and what I found biting me, leaving a pea-sized amount of blood on my skin: Jungle mosquitoes!
[Digressing, sandfly bites are no joke!! The bite are larger than mosquito bites, and I've heard that the scars DON'T GO AWAY FOR MONTHS! It's totally not worth it to ruin your legs in the long run for a day at the beach!!
AND I TELL YOU, THE MOSQUITO THAT BIT ME WAS SCARY! I seriously thought it was a large fly, and in the semi-darkness I was afraid so I just swept it away. This left a streak of blood on both my sweeping hand and bitten arm, and I screamed for the waiter, who calmly informed me it's not a sandfly but a "jungle mosquito".
Another one bit Mike later and left, as I mentioned, a pea-sized amount of blood on his arm.]
Your massages are stated for either 90 mins and 60 mins. Yet, as your staff informed me after my delibration for the service I wanted, a 60 min massage is actually a 30 min massage, and the other 30 mins is filled with what you people called "Calming Down Time", which apparently involves me paying $25 to sit down and sip a cup of tea. NO THANK YOU.
If it's a 30 min massage, why write 60, unless you are trying to cheat people?
Your brochures are filled with romantic pictures of people dining on seemingly secluded rocks and within floaty chiffon white sheets on the beach.
Calls to your staff confirmed that a meal there would cost around USD$300 (+20% extra) for two people, meaning it will be S$255.60 for each person to dine there for the night.
Needless to say, that amount is ridiculously high as even in Singapore you can get fine-dining for $150.
When asked why it is so expensive, your staff was speechless. When I asked what the food menu involved, your staff supplied helpfully: "Asian Fusion". When asked what "Asian Fusion" exactly involves, they were unable to reply me.
Later, I found out that the rocks/chiffon sheets were MOST DEFINITELY not as secluded as the brochures made them out to be, but situated very near to the Pan Tai Grill, where there were many other people dining.
That, on your part is definitely FALSE ADVERTISING. I pity whichever sucker paid so much for a supposedly romantic dinner where it is not only NOT private, but doubtlessly, filled with biting Sand flies and gigantic mosquitoes.
We then chose to dine at the Pan Tai restaurant, where we spent almost 50 bucks per person eating a "satay buffet", where the most expensive thing served was a minced up chunk of beef on a stick. Sure... there were prawns you say? Yet these prawns were so tiny, they had to be called... baby scrimp. To top it off, the food was not nice at all, and one had to keep fending off mosquitoes and flies throughout the meal.
At the end of our very unhappy trip, we realised that Angsana tried to bill us an extra US$2 for some charity (Green imperative fund or some other rubbish) and we were almost tricked into signing for that but luckily for me, I checked the bill first.
WHAT IS THIS? I did not say I wanted to donate that $1, and not only were we charged once, we were charged TWICE!
I don't mind donating money, but ANGSANA HAS NO RIGHTS TO DECIDE FOR ME WHAT I WANT TO PAY.
When I asked the staff what this rubbish charge is, your staff looked at me and said it is not compulsory and I don't have to pay it. Then why is it in my bill?
When I confirmed that I do not want to donate, your staff gave me a clear look of disdain, as if I am scrooging on a mere $2 that's for charity.
I came to my holiday to enjoy myself, not to be judged by your staff. And it's not that I don't want to donate; it is that Angsana has shown itself to not be trustworthy, so I am not paying an extra cent more than I have to.
Perhaps you think me stingy --- to go on holiday is to indulge. But spending is one thing, and throwing money away on unworthy purchases is another. None of the things in Angsana are priced honestly (hidden charges etc) or reasonably.
A bigger horror awaited us when we reached back home.
Upon checking his credit card transactions, my boyfriend realised that ANGSANA FRAUDULENTLY CHARGED US AN UNKNOWN $327.08 USD for goodness knows what!! Another Angsana-initiated donation to the Green Imperative Fund perhaps?!!
Now, this is a serious issue. We have already paid Asiatravel.com for our room charges, and as seen in the attached jpeg file, the fees very clearly stated we paid $567 including our ferry fees.
We most certainly did NO SPA, NO MASSAGES and NO DINNER ON RANDOM ROCKS, and the most expensive thing we did with Angsana was the Pan Tai Grill - which was paid with cash on the spot.
WHERE DID THIS FEE POP UP FROM?
We already called Bank of America to not let this transaction clear. It is currently still pending.
On your end, please do whatever you should to undo this mistake that caused us much trouble (including several long, expensive phone calls to the US). My boyfriend's name is Michael XXXXX, and we went there last Friday and stayed till Sunday at Room 311 (which coincidentally had ants all over the basin as well as a partially ruined showerhead).
Angsana owes us an explanation and apology, a retracted wrongful billing, as well as compensation for the calls. It is unfortunate that I cannot demand a refund for my entire trip, but sadly to say, even if I could, even the money cannot buy back the horrid time I had there.
If Angsana does not cancel the deceitful charge of US$327.08, I will not let the matter rest and will bring this up to CASE as well as consult my lawyers for further action.
All in all, my experience with Angsana has given me the impression that Angsana goes all out to screw and cheat their customers, and not, like most good companies, strive to provide a service for their clients (and at the same time make us feel that the price we paid is totally justified).
p/s: Perhaps you didn't recognise from the email or the name, but I own xiaxue.blogspot.com, the most popularly read blog in Singapore. My readership is about 20,000 per day. I plan to blog about this entire experience, as well as Angsana's response to my email. I assure you that the blog post will float up every-single-time someone tries to google and see if Bintan/Angsana is a good place to go for a holiday. Which I will clearly communicate that it is a loud NO.
I await impatiently your response,
Dear Ms. Cheng,
Greeting from Bintan Island!
We refer to your email dated on 9 April 2008 regarding your unpleasant experience at Angsana Resort & Spa Bintan.
Kindly be informed that we are looking into your feedbacks and shall keep you informed of the outcome.
Thank you for your feedback and your kind understanding.
Angsana Resort & Spa Bintan
Further to my previous email sent yesterday, I've attached, as proof, photos taken of the ruined footwear and apparel that was caused by the tar pollution that's in abundance all over the beach that's beside Angsana.
There is no sign or warning of this anywhere to be seen to let customers know what they are getting themselves into before they take a frolic at the beach.
In fact, I quote this from your website:
Angsana Resort & Spa Bintan
On the shores of paradise
Nestled on the beautiful white sands of Tanjong Said Bay and overlooking the South China Sea, Angsana Bintan in Indonesia is a heavenly retreat just 45 minutes away from Singapore via high-speed catamaran.
Unfortunately, the sands of the Tanjong Said bay is neither beautiful nor white.
It is, in fact, a dirty grey and speckled with clearly visible globs of tar and little pieces of rubbish.
Here's the cost of the ruined apparel:
1) Aztec Rose Bikini: $99
2) Converse shorts: $40
3) White female slippers: $12.50
4) White male havaiana slippers: $26
I know supposedly tar can be removed using oil or kerosene, but I've tried and it does not work. Besides, why should I try to remove it? It is not my problem that beach you promised to be white and beautiful is not what it claims to be. If there is a warning that tar on the beach will ruin my clothes, then I won't go there at all.
I don't know why is taking you people so long to give me a less than patronising "acknowledgement" reply.
I want to know ASAP that that USD$327.08 will NOT be charged. If it does, I am definitely going to write to all my media contacts, including all those from major newspapers, and they might just do up an article that's titled, "Bintan Resorts - fun or farce?". Sounds catchy, yeah?
from Yohanna Natasaputra
date Thu, Apr 10, 2008 at 6:13 PM
subject Letter from Angsana Bintan
Dear Ms. Cheng,
Greeting from Bintan Island!
Please find letter from Mr. Ridwan Heriyadi, our Executive Assistant Manager, in regards to your feedback which you have shared with us as attached.
Angsana Resort & Spa Bintan
Is it just me or does the letter sound extremely condescending? Little snide remarks about my ignorance about common practice in hotel bookings... That little fucker! I don't expect him to be apologetic but don't give a load of stupid excuses!! Swipe people's cards don't need to inform them for what one meh?!
Dear Mr Ridwan,
1) I did not see any letter or signage regarding the tar. I did, however, see the warning about sand flies, I give you that.
However, it doesn't matter. I feel cheated, because your website advertised highly photoshopped (or cleverly photographed with appropriate lighting) photos of the supposedly white and beautiful beach, which is why I went to Bintan in the first place. Compared to places like Bali, Langkawi, or Phuket, the beach pales - dramatically - in comparison.
False advertising is despicable.
2) My boyfriend's credit card from requested from him by your staff, and we thought she merely took it to verify our bookings.
She made ZERO mention about a security deposit or anything of that sort. How do you expect that not to startle us when we see the account on our bills?
At the end of our trip, nobody told us that this transaction has been canceled. Whenever this happens in other hotels that I've stayed in, they would assure us the transaction did not go through, or tear up the receipt in front of us.
This negligence on your hotel's part caused us much trouble.
3) I HAVE NO INTEREST IN WHAT YOUR GREEN FUND DOES. Whether it saves dying turtles or not is not my business. I'm not interested in participating in it, and I don't wish to see it included in my bill. My clueless boyfriend almost paid up, thinking it's compulsory, and you make your guest face unnecessarily embarrassment should they "opt-out", because they appear stingy.
Why should I have to face this embarrassment? If I wish to donate money, I'd donate on my own accord to my own charity of choice.
If YOUR hotel wishes to donate money, then please... do it without involving your guests, since, doubtlessly, you guys must be ranking in the billions.
4) Thank you for your offer, and I recognize it as an effort to make up for our tragic holiday, but my boyfriend and I have no wish to go back to Bintan, ever again.
I thank you for your time, and will include your reply in my blog entry about my holiday, unless you, too, wish to "opt out" of that.
Clever little line at the end hor!!! Hahaha!!
Anyway, there was no reply from Angsana after this.
But I haven't even finished complaining about my Bintan trip!
Something terribly horrific happened at the beach... :( I had my bag with me, a little clear tote with my camera, phone and wallet in it.
I was prancing in the shallow sea with it, and I put the bag on a high rock that was on the beach so I can freely go deeper into the sea.
2 moments later, a particularly strong wave crashed onto the rock - I know! I'm so stupid! - and the bag was completely filled with the nabeh sea water!!!
It took me a few moments to realise that electronics and water do not go together, and then I completely freaked out.
My phone kept spasming (vibrating, but seemingly, at that moment, it was drowning and struggling with it's last breath) and eventually died. My camera had no reaction - just won't turn one, its diamantes looking stupid on a piece of metal that won't work.
Tragic or what?! So yes, I lost both my phone and camera there, which explains why there aren't any photos! This is not Bintan's fault, but I guess it does add to my dislike for the place...
Another shitty thing about Bintan is the goddamn food prices!!
Eating anything in the hotel is bloody expensive (as explained above), and if you don't want to eat in the hotel, you have to take a cab out to other places, and cabs there are bloody dangerous!!! (Coz dishonest cabbies might rob and harm tourists)
Mike and I decided to eat at a place called the Kelong Restaurant, which was not as mad expensive as our resort's food. It's inside another resort (Nirwana Gardens) and it takes a 20 bus ride to reach there. Kelong Restaurant arranges free shuttle to fetch customers from any of the resorts in Bintan.
Angsana kindly agreed to arrange for the shuttle to bring us there, and told us to come down to the hotel lobby at 6.30pm. (Actually their service is not bad)
We reached at 6.25pm.
Mike and I waited until 6.45 - the hotel staff told us the bus is on its way from Kelong Restaurant, and will arrive soon.
At 7pm, I was mightily irritated, hungry, and have been tortured past my anger endurance!!!
I started to shout my frustration at the hotel staff, and they called Kelong Restaurant, only to be told by KR that the shuttle is not coming anymore!!!!!!
INFURIATING NOT YOU TELL ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
FUCKING ANGRY LA!
These bloody people have no sense of responsibility at all!!!
I was goddamn hungry and I wanted to give these people my money but they don't even want to take it! And I was super pissed off coz I had no bloody alternative because if I don't eat at this Kelong restaurant, I have to eat at the resort which costs at least $30 a meal?!?!
How I craved Singapore, where things were all systematic and capitalism made it such that there will always, always, dependably, be other choices for you if wish (with the exception of TV boardcasting stations) and you can take safe taxis everywhere!
KR's people told the hotel staff (after the staff told them how angry I appeared) that they will send the shuttle and it will reach within 15 minutes.
We had no choice but to wait. I had a good mind to go back to the room and just skip dinner, but Mike was hungry.
In the end, the shuttle came at 7.30pm! Lao niang waited 1 whole hour for them! I won't even bloody wait for Zac Efron for so long ok!! Who they think they are!!! Very pissed off lor!!!
When I reached there I started scolding the supervisor but he can't speak English well and didn't seem to understand half of what I was saying. -_-
He just kept making excuses and saying something about the bus and miscommunication - REASONS WHICH DON'T CONCERN ME!!
When I asked, "How are you going to compensate for my waiting?!" he just kept saying sorry and didn't get the hint at all... double -_-
The meal wasn't bad but still, a seafood meal at JB is about 1/3 of the price we paid. It cost almost $60 for just two of us!!!
In summation, Bintan sucks as a holiday destination, and Langkawi, Bali, Phuket, etc etc... All are better choices!!
The nerve of them to charge so much for stuff still appalls me!!! (Angsana's massage prices. Keep in mind there is 30 mins of "calming down time" included) Can you imagine how bloody little the Indonesian workers must be earning and how much is taken by the hotel? It's disgusting.
I AM NEVER GOING BACK THERE AGAIN!!
* Yes, about stupid white people. They spoil everything for us (smarter people), I tell you! Coming over from countries where the weather is cold, grey, and has absolutely no beach nearby, their idea of paradise is a sunshine-filled beach resort, and they will pay with their arm, leg and newborn for it.
So what if a massage costs USD 90 for 1 hour of pressing by an Indonesian minion who is hired for close to nothing? It's inconsequential because in their country, masseuses are few and far between! I feel so sorry for them, because if they were to take a trip to Phuket/Langkawi instead, they would have had a much better time...
** I don't mean to sound unappreciative because Mike paid good money to make me happy. On the contrary, I feel very very loved because he put in a lot of effort into organising this! Whatever happened there was not his fault and in fact, I guess I only have myself to blame because I chose Bintan over Bali... Oh well. But still, thanks baby!!