Tuesday, August 27, 2013

staycation - Hotel Grand Pacific

I've earlier posted a review on BIG Hotel. The day before, we stayed at Hotel Grand Pacific. Perhaps the stark difference in the two hotels made us so happy with BIG. Hotel Grand Pacific was formerly known as Allson Hotel.

Website - http://www.hotelgrandpacific.com.sg

Address: 101 Victoria St (Bugis/Bras Basah area)

Date of stay: End Aug 2013

Room stayed in: Deluxe, level 7 (28 sqm, from Agoda)

Price: S$160 (before taxes)

Check-in/out time: 14:00 / 11:00 hrs (hotel rejected extension of check-out time)

Facilities (Restaurants, recreation, carparking) - Two restaurants, hotel's own cafe (Sun Cafe) and Ah Yat Abalone seafood restaurant. There is a fitness room and pool, but we did not try any of these. Carpark is at basement but non-complimentary. There are three lifts serving the hotel - speed is tolerable.

What's nearby - Many bookshops at the Bras Basah Complex. Our National Library is just oppposite the main road. It is also closer to Bugis MRT (compared to BIG), avoid the heat by walking in the airconditioned Bugis Junction mall access to the MRT instead. For the party-goers, Chijmes is also within 10 minutes walk.

Transportation options - Bugis MRT (East-West Line). There are also a significant number of public buses plying the main road outside the hotel, however these buses can get very crowded during peak hours. However, the same thing can be said of our trains - so avoid carrying bulky items during peak hours when people are going home or work.

Reception - At level 1. Check-in and out was a breeze. The only (and most annoying) gripe is that they did not inform carparking is not complimentary until i checked out the next morning. By then, the damage has been done.

Room (Bed, TV channel selection, airconditioning, furniture, security) - The entire hotel is in need of refurbishment. As such, the room condition is well kept, however very aged and unable to meet the expectations of people who seen better ones at the same price range. Bed comfort is average.

The hotel is still painfully stuck at the CRT TV age and channel selection is not fantastic.

The furniture is dated (can be downright boring if you do not have a liking for antiques).

There is an electronic safe in the wardrobe. Keycard access is required at the lifts, however not properly restricted to the level we stayed at. We had a problem entering the room after supper, the front desk staff was helpful to settle the matter after few minutes of explanation and self-trial.

Bathroom (Toiletries, Bathtub, Water supply) - Basic toiletries such as shower cap, liquid soap/shampoo were provided. Hairdryer is also provided.

Plumbing were largely fine and water supply was good and hot water stably supplied. We felt however, the bathroom felt more like the ones we used in public wash rooms.

Verdict - We are not coming back anymore. Until there is a major renovation and they re-look their check-out timing and parking policy. It is simply not worth the money spent.

staycation - BIG Hotel

This is the first staycation review. Being a reviewer from a local's standpoint, it may not be so useful to the tourists, but i hope to help everyone who is googling for answers.

Website - http://www.bighotel.com
Address - 200 Middle Road (Bugis/Selegie area)

Date of stay - Aug 2013

Room stayed in - Superior, level 13 (around 12 sqm)

Price - S$125 (before taxes)

Check-in/out time - 15:00 / 12:00 hrs

Hotel facilities (Restaurants, recreation, carparking) - Cafe at B1, pub at L1, multi-storey carpark (note: parking is non-complimentary), 3-lift lobby serving the whole tower.

What's nearby - Immediately below the hotel, there is the Cheers convenience store and a roti-prata coffeeshop. If you're vegetarian, you will love this hotel as there are many vegetarian eateries opposite (Fortune Ctr). Walk a bit more and you can access the two big malls Bugis+ and Bugis Junction that are closer to Bugis MRT. If you are a good walker, you can even walk towards Selegie and start off your Orchard shopping journey from Dhoby Ghaut.

Transportation options - Bugis MRT (East-West Line) or Bras Basah (Circle Line). Both stations are equally rather far if on foot. There will be Bencoolen MRT (Downtime Line Phase III), but that is only ready in 2017.

Reception - The front desk is located at B1. If you carry many items, it makes sense to have the taxi ferry you to the drop-off point at L2 (enter by the carpark). The staff attitude was okay, we were there at 14:00 and she informed us she would only do the registration and provide the keycard at 15:00. Did not find out how punctual they were as we went for a meal at Bugis Junction and returned at 15:45.

Room (Bed, TV channel selection, airconditioning, furniture, security) - This is where we were willing to forgive the lack of complimentary parking and late check-in. The room is small, yet it felt unusually cosy. The bed was put on a raised flooring and felt very comfortable. The only problem, very tall or big sized folks will have a problem here - the bed is not that big, and you would be sleeping facing a wall. Also, the small room means only maximum two big luggage.

Thoughtful luggage compartment below the bed

There is no water boiler in the room - drinking water supply is communal and a quality Zojirushi hot water flask was provided.. We prefer this concept as we can get hot water any-time and keep the water warm longer as opposed to normal boiling flasks. Together with the hot/cold water dispenser, there is also an ice-maker near the lift lobby. It can be a bane if you need a lot of water like me... also if you dislike noise, do request for a room further away from these machines. 

Unfortunately, there is no fridge in the room, and there are no hotel alternatives for this missing item. 

The TV selection is good (forgot the listing), but there are news and entertainment channels. Also, there is video-on-demand. A few movies were available at no cost (at least for our stay). The TV is mounted in front of the bed. 

The furniture is of good quality, the wood was left raw (so were some portions of the walls). There is a small working table with two wall sockets and two USB charging ports, one of them reserved for the Nexus tablet. The Nexus tablet would allow us to control the room lighting wirelessly and surf the Internet.

Airconditioning control is via a Daikin controller. The air blows toward the window, which can get chilly at a moment and somewhat warm next. Not really consistent.

There is an electronic safe below the bed. Keycard access is required at the lifts and only for the floor your room is at. Two keycards were provided for our stay.

Bathroom (Toiletries, Bathtub/Shower, Water supply) - The wash basin is slightly bigger than an aircraft's and located outside the bathroom. There is no bathtub, however the rain shower makes up for this. The water pressure is good and hot water very stable. 

Verdict - If the price is right, we will re-visit this hotel.

Friday, December 16, 2011

recent rail outages

i think if you are reading as a singaporean, you should be very much aware of the train disruptions that plagued mostly SMRT's NSL/EWL and even the newly commissioned Circle Line.

it's interesting to note, NSL/EWL are the nation's core / heavy capacity lines with 6 cars. The CCL was designed as a medium capacity line, that is the reason for 3 cars.

as a layman and touch-and-go public transport enthusiast, i can't comment much on what exactly is wrong that causes all the disruptions. But i feel SMRT has lost much of its focus as a transportation provider which manages the 24 year old core railways that our ex President Ong Teng Cheong worked so hard to push through. Since it is listed in the local stock exchange, their focus in on cost cutting, profit maximisation and growing ancillary revenues, maybe from their shopping xchanges at the various MRT stations.

all these are not wrong, not right. Now that there is possible mismanagement that led to the disruptions today, SMRT has to bring their focus back to their basic purpose - effective and effective transport. Given their state of rail management and public anger today, it might be heading for an overhaul. I hope they can also realise that their bus operations are in dire need of expansion to cope with emergencies. We seen yesterday, there were rail disruptions but alternative means to move on were in bad order - lack of shuttle buses (fyi buses were frantically pulled from feeder services but still not enough), lack of communication.

i don't know how to help SMRT, the PR is not receptive to public's suggestion. I just hope someone with hindsight and foresight can help bring back this operator from its sleep since Miss Saw took over.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

tanjong pagar railway, good bye

i have not gotten the chance to grab a train ride to/from this station this year. Sad it has to go though.

my family and i had much memorable time at this train station. Recall from my childhood days, every year we would take a taxi from Bedok and catch the train at 9am to Kluang. During the new year, the station would be very crowded at the old metallic gate. Onboard the non-airconditioned cabin, we would stand or sit near the door till we reach.

hopefully in time to come, i can have some time to board the train from Woodlands. Meantime, good bye!!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

MACS - Malaysia Automated Clearance System

recently, i have been a frequent traveller to Malaysia. If you frequently get out of our small dot, you will understand the hassle of filling in white cards, no matter which country.

heard that there is a way to avoid this white card problem, if you get into Malaysia via the land checkpoints. The prerequisite is minimum 4 trips a month. Cost wise, RM30 plus a passport size photo. The arrangement is valid for a year. A sticker will be affixed onto the next empty endorsement page.

although i drive in, for the purpose of this application i decided to take 170 instead. For drivers, park nearby the checkpoint and walk in. The 24 hours "one stop centre" that entertains the MACS application is just located behind the counter where white cards are issued to travellers. If you take any bus in and follow the crowd to the arrival hall, you won't miss this OSC. Take an application form, fill it up, then take a queue number and wait.

my experience
the only problem i faced, there were long queues (peak hour) at the hall. I thought since i was applying for MACS, i can bypass these queues. But the lady told me to first chop my passport at counter 17/18 (MACS lane), then u-turn back to OSC to continue the application. Even for MACS lane, the queue was horrible. Anyway, went to queue at 17, but realised the queue was not moving much after a while. Then i went back to tell the lady, she said counter 18 instead. At counter 18, an immigration uncle came over and said the queue was meant for people with special needs, such as elderly and parents carrying their baby. The queue barely moved 10m in 1.5 hrs. Got a little upset, went back to the lady and told her politely that the queue was really taking too long. Then she got her colleague to 'bypass' the chop and process the application straightaway.

within 15 minutes the sticker was ready. But we lost the interest to continue the queue (my partner did not have MACS), and asked for permission to return to SG via a glass door that leads to the Singapore bound bus bays.

i have to say, despite this sour experience due to the slow-moving queues, their staff are generally polite and on-hand to answer any questions. Just speak to them nicely and in simple english, they will return the favour. This was a far cry from the days of the stuffy and tiny passenger checkpoint before 2009. Appreciate their level of customer service, they have come a long way.

for those who are driving, the medium-term link is also up since early this year, no more F1 circuit course (short-term access) leading to the checkpoint anymore.

other links:

Online application portal


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

my grandma...

it has been close to 2 months... i still get reminded of my grandma.

there is a funeral procession opposite my home, the gongs are bringing her to my mind again.

till now i always regret not having to see her before her death. I am very sad.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

political scene seems much alive on internet than now

compared to 2001 and 2006, the Internet is now playing a bigger role in educating our local citizens to be more aware of the political landscape and the effect on our daily lives. Especially citizens born in the 1980s and later. Because it is also this generation that will be impacted from whatever govt policies meted out in the next 5 years.

so a question - would it be a better choice to hold your big ticket purchases (i.e. housing) till the GE is over, because the HDB market would meet an imminent end soon? Or buy now because PAP will soon adjust the 4 room flat price from $400k to $700k? Hmm...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

IPT 2/8

till trying to find out Bedok FCC's way of operating their IPT, because i remembered Maju FCC was way better organised...

should list out the sequence of going for IPT -

1. Check-in camera hp outside camp

2. Park my car at the mscp (it's too small, unlike Maju)

3. IPT inpro at some random counter, which they will only announce when it's ready. Long wait and confusing here if there's IPPT and RT going on at the same time.

4. Collect a particular colour tag (they have yellow, blue, green and red to confuse everyone)

5. For session 1, take the CAT test (IPPT). For session 2 today, i went to the gym to take my body "age".

6. At the end of session, prepare to outpro. The person who owns a particular coloured tag and number, say 01, 11, 21, 31, etc will help to collect the tags from next 9 guys. Return the tags and get the outpro receipt in return.

7. Get out of camp.