A Bintan Beach
Shopping, Eating, Shopping, Eating, Sleeping.
Add taxis, top 40 radio stations, and some air conditioning, and it's pretty easy to forget that you're in the tropics.
But you are.
Angie and I were reminded of that fact over the past two weekends, as we did some wandering around this island-state.
What are the tropics?
Well, if you could buy a tropical construction kit, it would include some crystal clear water, a pile of blinding white sand, a tangled mess of greenery, and a humidifier.
You could just drop some of the sand into the water, and turn on the humidifier.
Presto! Instant Tropics, Bintan style.
Bintan is an Indonesian island that is just a 45 minute ferry ride from Singapore. It's bigger than Singapore, and a lot of it looks exactly like the above picture.
Angie and I had this stretch of sand to ourselves for a couple hours. We swam, splashed, teased hermit crabs, and chased fish through the shallow waters.
When we surprised large schools of fish, they would jump out of the water, giving us a show of shiny silver bodies glistening in the sun.
If you had bought the deluxe tropical construction kit, you could build a resort on your pile of sand.
You could fill it with smiling staff, spicy food, a Filipino band, and enough pina coladas to keep me happy for a weekend. You might even build a golf course, just to draw less enlightened folk away from the beach (leaving more room for us!).
But, amazingly enough, there weren't always resorts in the tropics!
It's true. Before the resorts, there were rainforests.
In fact, one 'rainforest' still exists close to downtown Singapore. It's on a hill called Bukit Timah.
It's a nature preserve, filled with ferns, figs, and fat tourists.
To be honest, it's the saddest rainforest I've ever been in. It shows definite signs of being a 'city' jungle.
We could hear traffic from the nearby highway.
A group of young scouts were practicing jungle attack formations, proving that it's never too early to build your paramilitary infrastructure.
The tree leaves were dry and coated with the grime of the city.
And people talked loud enough to ensure that no wildlife would be seen that day.
It is green.
And it does have a few things in common with real jungles.
Like Mosquitoes. Birds. A fair number of really neat trees. A couple of towels worth of sweat. Some vines that make for good "Me Tarzan, You Angie" photos.
And of course.....Monkeys.
It wouldn't be Southeast Asia without these chattering, furry, attention grabbers.
And it wouldn't be a Glenn and Angie trip if they didn't do some Angie-grabbing.
One time, in Bali, a monkey grabbed Angie's shorts in an attempt to climb up her, and almost pulled down the shorts (unfortunately, I was laughing too hard to take a picture).
The second time, a monkey grabbed her breast, and when she pushed him away, he tried to bite her (I got this one on video).
The third time, a monkey sneaked up from behind and grabbed her hair clip.
So, I've come to expect the sound of an Angie scream in the rainforest. I expect to spin around and see Angie in an expression of surprise, as monkeys scatter away from her.
I wasn't disappointed at Bukit Timah.
This time, a monkey raided her daypack and grabbed a bag of pastries from it (as I re-read this passage, it looks like I wrote 'panties', which would be so much more humorous, but untrue. They were just pastries).
Which only proves that in Singapore, despite the malls, the media, and the MRT, it's still a jungle out there.