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Digital Nomads Land – Diary 3

Premium Digital Nomad experience – On the Luxury Island Cempedak 

Cempedak Island is a privately owned luxury resort. Cempedak sits in beautiful clear waters, just a short boat ride off of the coast of Bintan, and under 100 KM from Singapore. So what is it like? Read on… 

Seven days in heaven – Luxury Nomad life at one of Indonesia’s prime destinations. 

It is a small group of travellers that set off from a private jetty on the east side of Bintan island. There is me, of course, along with a couple who have been living in Singapore. With the couple of workers returning to shifts on Cempedak, our motley crew is complete. The chat is relaxed, and the weather is stunning. The crossing is smooth, and the atmosphere on the boat, expectant. As we approach the island, a hush falls. The four 200BHP engines were roaring as we skimmed across the expanse of emerald green water between Bintan and Cempedak, but even they drop their voices to a throaty burble. The boat sits lower in the water as it slows, and the jetty comes into sight. There is a collective “WOW” and then open-mouthed silence. 

Cempedak has a 30m elevation which rises graciously from the white sandy beaches. The hillside is cloaked in dense jungle foliage. The Beaches are lined by enormous smooth grey rocks which adorn the coast like honed and polished jewellery. Along the waterline, we are met by the breathtaking sight of the giant bamboo restaurant, it’s various levels of decking, leading to cosy circular platforms. Each of these intimate dining areas is surrounded by plush benching and butterfly laden trees. We have yet to set foot on dry land, and I am already in love with this place.  

To the right, a footbridge spans an unseen gap to the Dodo bar. From the boat, the Dodo bar rises above the tree line, its incredible spiral roof sitting in gentle harmony with the green foliage. On the end of the jetty are a joyful collection of Cempedak workers who have come to greet the new arrivals. Their smiling faces and excited waving are indicative of the warm, welcoming nature of this incredible place. 

As we disembark, our bags are taken off to our respective villas in one of the islands electric buggies. We are led to to the restaurant. Relaxed and happy diners are already tucking into their second gourmet meal of the day. The timing is no accident. New arrivals are brought across in time for afternoon lunch. Our Guest Relations Manager settles us in. On Arrival, each villa group is provided with an i-pad, from which we can book spa treatments, boat trips, and other activities. We can also use the i-pad to communicate with the guest relations manager, provide feedback, and find out all of the intricacies of the island. 

Our first lunch is easily one of the best meals I have ever eaten. The organic food on Cempedak is world-class. Some of it is grown on the island, and the majority is from the group’s own farm on Bintan Island. Meat is from hand-reared stock. Cempedak’s kitchen produces three sittings a day, and each has three courses. I am really against food waste and am delighted to see that the chefs have developed a five-star menu with sensible portion sizes. I never had a second helping of anything, (although we are offered more after each course. You will not go hungry here). I never once found myself hungry between meals. Nor did I leave the table uncomfortably stuffed. Cempedak has the food absolutely spot on. 

Working as a Digital Nomad on Cempedak Island.

I am the first to say that Cempedak is not really about work. It is about relaxing. It is about finding a peaceful rhythm with yourself and the beautiful surroundings. With that in mind, I decided I should respect the island, and the other guests, and keep my secular activities out of sight. When we are shown to the villa, it becomes apparent that this will not be a problem. The 20 eco-villas on the island are absolutely massive! The main structural elements of the villas are built from bamboo. The supporting uprights are set into concrete pillars, set into the natural bedrock.

My villa is set in the treeline, above the boathouse bar. The Villas are an impressive sight as you approach them. The roof of my new home curves over in a huge arc and the enormous bamboo struts which make up the main structure are comfortably 25cm in diameter. I have never seen anything like this place.

(All images are the property of Cempedak Island).

My time on Cempedak was one of the most relaxing and inspiring weeks I have ever had. The attention to detail in both service and facilities is second to none. Definitely one for your bucket list. I am so glad I had this experience on the island. It will stay with me forever.”

The interior of the villa is no less stunning. The downstairs level is has a spacious luxury washroom with WC, a lounge area, (Open fronted) which leads out onto a sun deck that must be at least 15 metres across. A bamboo spiral staircase twists around to the top floor, which houses a super size double bed, and luxury bathroom. The front looks out across the bay. The entire exterior is surrounded by trees of all kinds. Cicadas hum hypnotically in the foliage, and as I stare in wonder at the view before me, two Hornbills land on the terrace and look at me inquisitively. I have no words.

Each of the 20 villas has the addition of a sizeable private splash pool on its balcony.

I am going to approach the remainder of this article from the perspective of one day. I am a creature of habit, so aside from a few minor details, every day followed a similar pattern. The most important thing for me to do is try to convey to you just how beautiful Cempedak is, and why you absolutely must go. I hope I can do it justice.

A day in the life of the Luxury Nomad

I drift into awake…

OK, I know that you usually drift into sleep, but I am pinching myself to see if I am dreaming. Waking up on Cempedak from a long and restful sleep, I take a deep breath and relax even more. I have not had this feeling in as long as I can remember. For too long, my first thought as I awake has been tied up in some deadline, and the first noise I utter, a sigh. Today, I just am.

5:00 AM. The only sounds are the lapping of waves on the nearby beach, and the gentle sound of our two resident Hornbills chattering to each other. The sun is already rising. We have opted to sleep on the sumptuous bed with the villa screen doors wide open. A cooling breeze washes over me. I have to complete an article for a client, and I know I have plenty of time, but now seems like the right moment to start. I make my way down to the enormous villa balcony and get a filter coffee on with the cafetière and ground coffee provided. 

Wi-Fi is more than adequate here. I fire up my laptop and check emails, look at the latest gig offerings on Upwork and People Per Hour, saving the ones I like the look of for later. Typically, when working at home in the UK, I meander around the internet for hours, frittering away time, procrastinating and putting off starting the day’s tasks. Frankly, this is ridiculous, because I love what I do. I always believed that this procrastination is part of me, but here, I am eager to get writing.

I feel that a large portion of this desire to get on with the jobs in hand is that, on Cempedak, I have deadlines. Not customer deadlines. Self-directed ones. Breakfast in the restaurant is at 8:30 AM – Followed by the nature walk at 9:00 AM. That gives me three and a half hours to get this first article done. The material flows out of me. I finish with half an hour to spare and decide to postpone editing until after the walk. I can then approach editing with fresh eyes.

Breakfast on Cempedak

Every meal on the island, for the entire time I was there, was a revelation. The service is amazing too. Everyone is so friendly and attentive. Just perfect”.

It is a beautiful morning. The sun is well and truly up. I choose to sit in the open under one of the many trees that cosset the restaurant. Courtesy of the warm, attentive staff, a jug of cold water arrives, along with a plate of melon, pineapple, dragon fruit and mango. For the main course, I opt for the Indonesian noodle-based breakfast. I have another cafetière of coffee and survey the sight before me. A few local fishermen are chugging past the island in their motorised “pop-pop” boats. In the distance, a huddle of floating “Kampong” houses are just visible. These bamboo structures are home to the families of fishermen. During the fishing season, they will drift around the islands, creating impromptu communities. I wonder if this was the inspiration for Waterworld? I realise I have not given social media any attention for 12 hours. I don’t care. 

Daily Activity on Cempedak

Every day there is an opportunity to try out a different activity. Today’s event is snorkelling off the reef. There is absolutely no pressure to do anything here, and I opt to edit my article. I have another critical deadline looming; I want to kayak around the island. With that target in mind, I head back to the villa and edit the article in record time. It strikes me that I should set myself reward deadlines all of the time. I am already seeing how much more efficient my working day is, out here on a luxury island. Maybe this will change once I get to Chiang Mai next week. That is next week.

Kayaking around the island is very relaxing. The water is clear to around 20 feet. As I slip through the water, I see all manner of fish. I wonder if I will be lucky enough to see a dolphin or two. It is so peaceful out on the Kayak. I admire the immense forms of the villas rising out of the trees. Looking the other way, fishermen wave, and I can see all the way to Bintan. This really is heaven. It takes 30 minutes for me to row around the island, and during that time, I have two great ideas for my next play, and also some blog ideas for my brother’s new website. These ideas slipped into my head, unannounced. I had nothing to do with it. I filed them away and carried on rowing. I arrive back in plenty of time. Lunch isn’t for at least three hours, so I spoil myself with a half-hour snorkel.

I have a tennis date at 16:30, so I work out that I have two good writing sessions left. I churn out some of my best work in a while for a new client. Again, everything just flows. Time without social media sits at 16 hours. I observe that I have no desire to check Instagram or Twitter. I want to write. I usually am distracting myself from writing. Right now, I can’t think why I do this.

It is time to treat myself to a spa treatment, a short stroll from my villa.

The Spa, as with every other detail on the island, is well thought out. Nestled in the rocks, and flanked by two small, white sandy inlets, the Spa is as near to the sea as you can be without getting wet. The whole experience is divine.

I opt for the signature massage. It is an hour of perfect relaxation and incredible value for money. The backdrop to the experience is the hypnotic lapping of waves and a gentle breeze, which cools my skin. The massage is just what I needed. I feel the last of my anxiety and stress drift off into the sunset.



Other activities to try on Cempedak Island.

There are several water sports available on the island. I am not a qualified diver, so that is out for me. There is a catamaran, laser dinghies, single and double Kayaks, and rock climbing. Most of the activities are free.  

I didn’t get to do the nature walk in the end, as I took a good hour and a half over my breakfast and missed it! The nature walk is a daily activity, but I found the time after breakfast to be ideal for snorkelling. 

The grass tennis court is very high quality, and a croquet lawn sits alongside it. Late afternoon is the perfect time to play tennis. It is surreal to play a grass court, with Hornbills, Sea Eagles and Monitor lizards all watching on! I haven’t played tennis for years. As we hit ball after ball, the sun setting behind us, the Cicadas cheer us on. 

Cempedak’s Dodo Bar is a beautiful space…

Every day at 17:00, the Dodo bar opens. Tonight is stargazing. A huge telescope is set up. A few guests are enjoying their first drink of the evening. I really love the fact that Cempedak is about relaxation and peacefulness. There are never any rowdy moments. Friendly banter, chatter and laughter are all that fill the air. In turn, each pair are invited over to the telescope. The Dodo bar lights are dimmed to stop light pollution. I have never seen the moon up close. I am completely blown away by the detail. Next up is Saturn, and the mighty giant’s rings are as bright as can be. Couples start chatting about what they have seen and the atmosphere lifts.

Drinks flow. Our GRM picks up a guitar and treats us to beautiful acoustic renditions of some old classics. Her voice is incredible. It sets the tone perfectly. Dinner rounds the evening off. I stretch and yawn. I look at my watch and am surprised to see that it is only 22:00. I have written two articles, pitched four more, and eaten some of the best food I have ever eaten. Tomorrow is more of the same.

I could get used to this…

Cempedak and her sister Island Nikoi, are two of the most sought out resorts in Indonesia. Think of Cempedak for intimate groups and couples, and Nikoi for larger groups and families. I am so looking forward to Christmas and New Year on Nikoi. 

Watch this space… 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every member of staff on Cempedak Island for making my stay one of the best experiences I have ever had. The staff are simply amazing. The food was sensational. Thank you all… x