Category Archives: Bintan

Quality Family Time in the Mangroves

When I was growing up, my dads favorite way to spend quality time with me (or one of my other sisters) was to take us fishing. Here on Bintan for many families fishing is a daily activity.

Our guide said there are two types of families that fish for a living. There are villages along the river (houses and huts on stilts) where the whole family gets in their fishing boat each day and heads out to catch fish together. Or there are Orang Laut (Sea Gypsies) that are nomadic people that live in small boats. Either way, both make their living by catching fish and shellfish and selling them to local markets and restaurants.

Here is a family going out to fish! My photo is a little blurry because I’m on a boat and because I was waving at this little girl who was waving at me! Notice the man standing to row. I’ve seen this style of rowing in Thailand, Malaysia and going to fishWhen the families fish in the Mangroves they either use stilts or they lay a trap known as bulbus. The fishermen also have a hut. (We called it the fisherman’s clubhouse). This is made out of materials from the mangroves and it stores the fishing traps. Our guide also said it’s a hangout area for the fishermen during the day time. She said it’s dangerous at night because the snakes go inside and you can’t see them!fishermens clubhouseHere’s an example of a python hiding in the rafters of our boat hut!python on the landing dockHere’s another python we saw while we were in the mangroves.pythonI know snakes can swim and I know they can climb trees.  I think if a boat was unavailable I’d most like to fish here on this local dock.  Then I could just focus on snakes coming at me from the feet area and not constantly checking to see if they were dropping down from the roof overhead!fishing dockHere’s another example of a local fishing fishing boatThis is something else to sell besides fish, it’s a Nipah Palm. This large ball is a collection of seeds known as “attap chee” and it’s eaten in local desserts.  The leaves are used for roofing, cigarette paper and the sap is made into an alcoholic beverage.  I thought it looked like something I could buy in Pottery Barn to decorate my house!funny fruitHere I am eating the inside of one of the seeds. It is very very sweet and slightly gummy!debbie eating attap cheeDenise wouldn’t really try it.  But I didn’t tease her because she did eat a silk worm in Cambodia, and I don’t think I’d be willing to try one of those.



One reason I’m glad we moved to Singapore is because I found my fabulous friend Denise.  I have never become such good friends with someone so quickly!  We have so much in common and we think almost exactly alike.  This will be one of those great lifetime friendships; she’s a friend that understands and knows what’s going on in my head, because it’s going on in hers too!

Unfortunately, she is moving away August 5th.  Fortunately, that gave us an excuse for a get away via ferry (it was only one hour) to one of the many islands in Indonesia.Welcome to IndonesiaThe place we stayed at had a fantastic beach and some decent food and snorkeling.  Otherwise it was pretty run down.  We didn’t care, we had a great time!  Our favorite activity (besides staying up late talking) was a tour of the mangroves.Bintan MangroveHere we are on the boat together.debbie & deniseHere’s one of the 7 or 8 yellow banded mangrove snakes we saw.yellow banded mangrove snakeThis was a super cute mud crab.  He digs and lives in holes in the mud.mud crabThis was the coolest monitor lizard we saw.  He was at least 4 feet long!lizardI kept trying to get a photo of this lizards blue tongue, Denise finally got one!lizard tongue outThe mangrove trees have four different types of roots.  Since we were at low tide we got to see them all.  Here is an example of pencil roots.pencil rootsAnd here are ribbon roots.  (Denise thought they looked a little like bacon on its side.  I agree!)ribbon rootsWe also saw stilt roots.stilt rootsNotice how tall these knee roots are compared to Denise!  These mangrove trees like the mix of salt and fresh water and can grow up to 100 feet tall.knee roots behind DeniseWe really liked our boat driver.  He was a great driver and he had a great sense of humor!  His name is Ismail.  (Pronounced “ee-smile”).  He has been a boat driver on mangrove tours for 11 years!EesmileOur guide had only been working on the tour for 6 months.  Her name is Siu Kie (pronounced “see-oo-key”) and she speaks Mandarin, Bahasa and English.  She was born in a city on the southern part of Bintan.  She was very sweet!our guideWhat a great trip!  I can’t wait to go back sometime with Greg!