Category Archives: Singapore

Hotel Review: Grand Central Singapore

Finding a Hotel in Singapore is never been an easy affair. Well, unless you have the money to spend, of course. Otherwise, you will be stuck either with small dirty room, location that is far away from city center, or maybe with both.

We were lucky to find Hotel Grand Central, which are neither has dirty room, nor far from city center. Hotel Grand Central is located right behind Concorde Hotel Singapore, just next to the The Istana, official residence of the President of Singapore. It cannot get more closer to the center of Singapore.

The only concern that we have were the rows of KTV and bar lining up just behind the main reception. We were worried that the noise will disrupt our sleep, or worse, our 6 years old boy. It turns out to be untrue. There are no audible sounds as we slept at our 8th floor room.

So, without further ado, lets explore more of Hotel Grand Central.

Bedroom

As mentioned above, the room of Hotel Grand Central is pretty spacious. The bed can conveniently cater for 2 adults and 1 young kid. Each side of the bed has a sidelamp which bright enough to illuminate the room

Bed and Lamp

Room Amenities

Across the bed, there are a desk, with at TV on the wall. The TV didn’t have so much channel. Forget HBO, AXN, Cartoon Network, and any other entertainment channel. The channel on the TV is mostly related to news. However, what it lacks in channels was made up with the ability to access Youtube directly from the TV, using the remote control.

Entrance

Next to the table is the space to put your luggage, and a coffee maker table. This is where things get interesting. Instead of serving complimentary drinking water in plastic bottle, Hotel Grand Central use central drinking water, which is distributed through a panel on the wall right above the coffee making facilities. The water panel are able to dispense hot water, warm water, or cold water. The hot water button is even equipped with child-safe feature. But it is the cold water that is most appreciated in Singapore’s sunny day.

Water Dispenser

Bathroom

One thing that worth to highlight for the en-suite bathroom of Hotel Grand Central Singapore is steel handlebar to help those who has trouble walking or standing. Not only 1, but 2. There are 1 handlebar for the shower area, and another one next to the toilet. These handlebar can be folded to give more space in the bathroom.

Ready for Those in Needs

Aside from the handlebar, the bathroom is equipped with standard amenities like soap, shampoo and hot water. There are no bath tub in the bathroom. However, it has a ceiling shower, my favorite.

Around the Hotel

Our room rate didn’t include breakfast, as we think that the proximity to Orchard Road will allow us to get some food. We are correct. Just across the street, next to Concorde Hotel, there are stalls selling Noodles and Hainamese Rice in the morning.

There are also convenience store located at the corner of Orchard Road, should you need to buy any daily needs. And if you plan to go somewhere further, there are also bus station nearby. As for the train, Somerset MRT station insite Orchard Central is 5 minutes walk away.

Conclusion: A Hotel worth the Price

We were traveling with a young boy, so we are willing to pay a bit more to make sure me, my wife and our son got a good night sleep. For the price of around 110 USD, I think Hotel Grand Central is worth the price. For comparison, a 3-stars hotel in Singapore might charged as much, mostly with smaller room.

There are also swimming pool and gym, which we didn’t have time to use. Again, comparing to other 3-stars hotel, without swimming pool, that charged as much, Hotel Grand Central stands on the top.

Hotel Grand Central can be booked through Agoda.

Disclaimer: I will earn commission which helps to keep this website running. The review however is purely my personal experience, without bias from any commission. Thank you for your support

Nostalgia of First Overseas Trip

By being the closest sovereign country from Jakarta, Indonesia, Singapore has been the destination of overseas trip for many Indonesian live in Jakarta, including myself.

Before the advent of low-cost carrier, overseas trip for Indonesian has been very expensive. In addition to prohibiting airfare, Indonesian need to pay the exit tax each time we went overseas, which added to overall cost. While it wasn’t really out of reach for our middle class family, it was definitely not one of the priorities.

So, my first overseas trip only happened after I graduated, and started working for multinational company. I got a chance to attend a conference in Singapore for my first overseas trip, with all expenses paid by the company.

It was a mixed feeling of happiness and anxiety. With young blood flowed in my vein, I was so happy with the adventure to foreign country. At the same time, I was also anxious of speaking another language than my mother tongue, of finding direction (while google already exist, goggle map was not even in the pipeline), of using foreign currency, any many more.

Singapore Flyers at Night

Of course, over the year, the facade of Singapore has changes significantly. The most notable one is in the Marina Bay area, dominated by Singapore Flyer and Marina Bay Sands. Still, each time the plane touch down at Singapore Changi Airport, it always feel like my younger self going overseas for the first time.

This post is written in response to WordPress Photo Challenge: Nostalgia

Running the Singapore East Coast Part

Stretching 15 km from Marina until close to the Changi Airport, Singapore East Coast Park is heaven for runners. Paved road runs parallel to the coast, one for runners, and another one shared between cyclist and roller-blade. The ocean surf at some part provide much better distraction than the music of my ipod. And the morning sun rays in between lush trees enough to keep me run on and on to complete my first half marathon.

From BetelBox Hostel to East Coast Park

My East Coast Park Singapore run started from BetelBox Hotel at 200 Joo Chiat Road, where we stayed the night before. “People normally started at 6-7am, just before they go to work”, Tony, the owner and innkeeper said the night before. A bit tired from last night venture, I woke up a bit late. Nevertheless, I decided to start the run, as I don’t have to go to work.

From BetelBox to Singapore East Coast Park is approximately 2 km away, along the still deserted Joo Chiat Road. Joo Chiat Road has a nice pacing for pedestrian, like any other road in Singapore. I passed people in running short, coming from the direction of East Coast Park. They must be the one that Tony mention: working people who do the morning jog, and now coming back to go to the office.

There are several hawker center that already open along the Joo Chiat Road. People in business suite are having breakfast, either with friends or reading the morning newspaper. At this stage, I’m tempted to just stop and having breakfast, but decided to continue the run.

Heading for Bedok Jetty

Bedok Jetty, one of the place for people to go fishing, was my planned turn around point. “It is clearly marked, total distance would be 15km”, Tony told me before I start.

The trail along the was very nice & smooth. To the right towards the ocean, there are few people camping. Some just woke up, do some stretching, and get prepared for the day. Also line up towards the coast is Barbecue Pit. My friend told me that Singapore East Coast Park is most favorite place to hang out with friends and setting up Barbecue. It is always packed with people on the weekend.

Weather was nice, with weak breeze of the wind. The big trees provide a nice coverage from the sun.

Bedok Jetty Onward

The sun is quite high when I reach Bedok Jetty. Few hundred meters before, I already considering whether to continue to run half marathon or turn back at Bedok Jetty, making a total of 15 km. Although my feet is still OK, my water supply is running low, thanks to the hot weather. And then come another realization.

Singapore tap water is drinkable. And along the trail, there are plenty of public toilet where you can have tap water from the wash basin. Stopping by at one of the toilet, I refill my drinking bottle, and make up my mind to continue the half marathon journey.

I reach the end of the road at National Sailing Club. Here, the trail for runners ends, and I share the same track with cyclist. Once in a while, I can hear airplane flying low to land at Changi Airport, a sign that I must be pretty close.

Not far from the golf course, my ipod beeps. It is 6.55 miles, half way of my half marathon. And here come the hardest part.

Going Back

It is true when they say that, going out is much easier than coming back. And it is true no matter if you climbing Mount Everest, or simply running a half marathon.

The sun is higher, and the weather has become much warmer. I have enough water to get to the nearest public toilet for refill, but would need more than that to run back: sport drink rich with sugar. A relieve come as the vending machine at National Sailing Club provides sport drinks. A relieve that doesn’t last long, since the machine only accept coins. Refilling my water bottle, I continued retracing my way back to Betel Box.

If one thing that raise my spirits is that, I’m not the only one running at the East Coast Park at this hour. There are quite a number of people running under the bright sun.

Finally, after 2 hours 44 mins after I started, I made it back to the familiar green door of BetelBox Hotel. It was a great run at Singapore East Coast part. I make a mental note to do the run next time with 2 notes: Start earlier, and bring some coins for the vending machine

Betel Box Hostel at Joo Chiat Road, Singapore

I fall in love with this place. We only stayed for merely 2 nights at Betel Box Hostel, Joo Chiat Road, Singapore. But it was love at first sight.

Checking In

“My name is Tony”, the guy behind the reception desk introduce himself. “Let me walk you around and tell you some rules.” Later we know from the news clip on the wall that, he is the proud founder and owner of Betel Box Hostel.

Tony has no problem finding our reservations, which we made through the website http://www.betelbox.com. Payment is made in advance. We are handed over our bed linen and walked to the room

Room

We rented 2 beds in the 20 beds room. Aside from 20 beds, Betel Box also has 16 beds dorm, 8 beds female-only dorm and a 1 private bedroom for 2. All room is equipped with air con, and shared bathroom. Rates information is at their website: http://www.betelbox.com/hostel_rates.htm

Our 20 beds room has 10 double decker beds, 2 hot showers and 1 toilet to be shared among us. There is also a locker room for our luggage (Dimension: 1 feet width x 2 feet depth x 3 feet high). Either brings your own padlock or you can borrow one from the reception.

The room is not pristine clean, but decent enough. You will see a lot of large bag lying around near each bunk, and towels hanging everywhere. Remember to pack your own towel & toiletries.

The Communal Room

Next Tony took us back to the Communal Room, which also host the reception. I must say that, this room is the heart of Betel Box Hostel. It is where traveler meets & share stories over breakfast or can of beer at night.

Here, travelers also look for information through the extensive collection of history and guide books left by former guest. Or if you have your own laptop, wi-fi access is available free of charge.

Around The Hotel

The Joo Chiat road is lined with food and bar. The road to the south is lined with small artisan café, uniquely designed with colors, and serving handcrafted dishes and dessert. Another different food that you will find is hawker center and kopitiam. It would be nice to sit at one of these artisan café or kopitiam if we have more time to spare.

Nearest bus and MRT station is 15 minutes walk away on nice pedestrian walkway. It can be very hot during the day, bring an umbrella and put a lot of sun block.

For other place, ask the staff. They are very knowledgeable not only for places around the hotel, but also places further down the road, and will also help you for transportation.

The Betel Box Backpacker Hostel
200 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427471
Telephone: (65) 6247 7340
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.betelbox.com