Far from the madding crowds at Sanchaya Bintan
An island resort nestled in the natural environs of Lagoi Bay, has an instant appeal for city creatures seeking to break the monotony of a daily commute, jostling through a growing sea of people and being part of a routine that is way too predictable.
The getaway to Sanchaya Bintan turned out to be all the more rejuvenating because it did not require much planning. Resting at Sanchaya’s private lounge at the ferry terminal, I could experience the typical “vacation feeling” take over my city weary senses. As I stretched my legs, a Sanchaya Artisan who reminded me of the old British Butlers in Agatha Christie novels, received me, facilitated the immigration process and even provided assistance with check-in baggage, while maintaining stoic distance. Later when at the resort I discovered, not surprisingly, that the artisans had indeed been trained in butler service in England!
The first thing that struck me was that the colonial resort has repeat value since each of its suites offers a different view and stay experience. One can spend a working weekend here, catching up on assignments, writing a book and sorting one’s thoughts. Indeed, one could switch off and just do nothing and be pampered silly, indulging in the relaxing fare on offer. One could be a beach bum and swim and stare into the vast expansive skies, enjoying the magnificent sunrise and sunset and one could also sign up for an exclusive golfing vacation.
The Great House Junior Suite with a sea view was my choice of residence for the two days of leisure that I allowed myself. It is one of the 21 villas and nine suites that the private property is made up of. What made the weekend perfect was that Sanchaya spontaneously catered to my restless nature, that is constantly seeking change and stimuli. So, after a couple of hours of dreamless sleep in the luxurious interiors of the suite, I was beach ready. Lounging on the clear sands, enjoying what was almost like a private beach spot exclusive to me, I headed back to indulge my taste buds digging into a delectable array of salads and appetisers.
Seeing the resort “change colour” in a nice sort of a way, looking different when I checked in the morning with its squeaky clean and pristine look to a more romantic evening hue, swathed in the warmth of subtle lights and aromatic candles was a bonus. What was music to the ears was the sound of birds and gentle lashings of waves. Once I tuned in attentively, I could actually tell if it was high tide or low tide. The waves almost had a language of their own, whispering sweet nothings and expressing urgency, depending on how well I read them.
Spending time in the room was in itself a complete experience. With a small well stocked library, a comfortable sofa and a perfect bedside arrangement, the bookworm in me settled down to read. I was spoilt for choice, given the variety of titles in the genres of literature, fiction, travel and some local books on the island. I was particularly touched by the personalised service and compassionate demeanour of the staff on duty. Being slightly indisposed, I was experiencing a mild bout of an irritating cold which was expertly handled with a local medicine laced with sweet soya sauce and lemon, served after each meal. It worked well. It is now a ritual at home too whenever one wants to give the common flu-like symptoms a cure, right out of grandma’s medicine closet!
Most foodies looking for a wholesome local experience in Bangkok are urged to try their street food. Sitting in Sanchaya Bintan, I was pleasantly surprised to find the Tasanee Grill restaurant specialising in this very genre of food. I braced myself to sample a tempting veggie fare of cheeses, pan fried broccoli and a luscious looking vegetable stew. Subtle use of aromatic herbs and seasonings added a delicious flavour. The sea food section with shrimps, prawns and noodle soups looked impressive too. My meal was made all the more “spicy” with the way it was served in traditional style with Sanchaya artisans (again!) peppering the food trail with little nuggets and stories of where the ingredients were sourced from and what made them special. The Sanchaya, as you gradually discover is a foodie’s delight. From home-made yoghurts and freshly churned butter to slow cooked clay pots with meats of your choice, there is enough to spoil you. One saw families heading out with picnic hampers to the beach and that looked tempting too.
The dining room with its colonial decor was formal and private. I settled for a platter of low salt, low fat salad and wine for dinner and chose to order in a fruit dessert from room service. The day ended on a perfect note, for I was calm, serene and ready to descend to dreamless sleep, giving Freudian dream analysis a break. The agenda for my next day was clear with the spa booked for a series of Thai and Balanese massages followed by sunbathing.
I did not want to think of my return just as yet and make the most of every minute that I had till departure time. Yes, Sanchaya Bintan works slowly on you. It is one of those heady cocktail mixes that takes time to warm up but once it does, it satisfies and lingers, tempting you to return and sample some more.