holiday

Birthday Staycation: Lloyd’s Inn Singapore

Time really flies when you’re having fun. A few days before my birthday last year, I remember getting duped by two close friends who tricked me into a one-night staycation at Hotel 1929! It was an awesome experience which I still fondly remember today. We started off meeting at a mall before we were supposed to head to our lunch location.

Then,  one of them suddenly mentioned she needed to hand over something to a client. Didn’t find anything suspicious while we were in the cab and even after we reached the hotel….till we three finally adjourned in a cosy hotel room! I remember lots of endless giggles and jumping on the fluffy white bed thereafter. This happened in 2013.DSC03903photo (10)

Like what one of them said, somehow the stars aligned again this year and another staycation opportunity sprung up! I was simply told to pack a set of overnight clothes and my passport. That evening, we enjoyed  2-hrs Mookata dinner and caught up as usual. I began to suspect something was wrong when they didn’t seemed in a rush to catch a ferry/coach. My instincts proved me right! The passport idea was just a fake! Our cab drove right up to an unsuspecting place at Lloyd Rd.

Our city escapade began right here at Lloyd’s Inn.

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(Photo of the old Lloyd’s Inn via here)

Designed by my previous company, FARMWORK, Lloyd’s Inn is a newly refurbished 34-room boutique hotel located in the heart of Somerset area. The photo above shows how the previous Lloyd’s Inn looked like, it was branded as a budget motel in every sense, with few facilities and barely any focus on the design aspects.

We arrived at Lloyd’s Inn at night. These photos were taken by my iPhone during the next day. Upon entering the hotel through a little gate, you’ll be greeted with the modernist style of the building. The decor is minimalist with lots of exposed concrete, accents of black and white and occasional pops of lush greenery.

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We arrived on the night of the soft launch so check-in was pretty smooth and fuss free. I felt the reception lobby really set the tone of the whole hotel – peaceful, calm and clean. While waiting for your rooms to be processed, you can also sit around and browse a selection of Cereal or Kinfolk copies.

This hotel does not boast an impressive array of fancy facilities. At least, it offers guests the comfort of an outdoor garden patio and a mini dipping pool. There’s also a few lounging chairs for you to soak up the holiday sunshine!

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While the lobby is the heart of the hotel, the guest rooms reveal its soul. There are a range of room types for you too choose from, depending on your travel needs and purpose of stay. From the Standard Rooms to the luxe Suite Rooms, the experience and design on the interior remains consistently, refreshingly raw. Our designated room for the night was “The Garden”.

On top of the basic comforts of the standard room, this room features an outdoor garden and a lounge chair. The room size is not too cramped like some other boutique hotels and amenities are adequate for the business traveller or couples. Each room also comes with a light Biscotti snack made from a tie-up with Freshly Baked bakery situated along Killiney Rd. A very thoughtful detail.

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The bathroom also reflects the contemporary nature of the hotel. It’s open concept design of the showering area makes one feel at one with nature. Of course, you can also choose to draw the showering curtains and make the most of your Grohe Rainshower experience. By the time we settled down, it was already 1 or 2am. Unfortunately, our next-door neighbors were making such a din in the room and we barely had a good night’s sleep. I’m wondering if the walls are even soundproof at all…the sound of their of their laughter felt so close to our bed, it was difficult to ignore.

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Guests can also enjoy the complimentary beverages at the hotel’s outdoor pantry. The owners believe that breakfast should be enjoyed at one’s own pace. These are the neighboring homes just across the hotel.

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Later in the morning, we took a quick tour around the hotel and popped by some other type of rooms. I stood in this room quite literally in awe. If i’m not wrong, this room is the “The Reading Room” which will set you back only at approx S$158/night!

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That’s it for our one-night staycation at Lloyd’s Inn! We left this place knowing we’ll definitely be back very soon 🙂 Hope you found this short review useful for your next staycation plan. For bookings and enquiries, please visit:

Lloyd’s Inn Singapore
2 Lloyd Road Singapore S239091
Tel: +65 6737 7309

Retracing my Roots in Hainan (Part I)

Qīngmíng Jié, also known as “Tomb Sweeping Day” is a special occasion observed by some Chinese families. It’s a time for them to visit the gravesite or temples to pay their respects to their ancestors. Unlike Singapore, countries like China, Hong Kong and Taiwan all recognized it as a national holiday with most people taking the day off from work/school to travel to their ancestral grave sites. All these years, my family’s custom simply saw us paying respects to our ancestors at the local temples. This year was different. My parents felt that the time was ripe for my sister and I to trace the legacy of our ancestors and so in April, we booked that flight to sunny Hainan island…

The Arrival

What does being Hainanese really mean? I don’t understand the dialect and neither am I able to speak it. The only Hainanese thing about me is that I like to eat roasted Chicken Rice. But then again, despite its name, I learnt that this popular dish was actually invented by Singaporeans. The closest version is the 文昌鸡 (Wen Chang Chicken) which bears close resemblance in appearance but not in taste. Upon arriving at Haikou (better known as “Coconut City”), we were warmly greeted by three of my distant cousins (met them for the first time!) who took their day off from work to be our ‘guides’. Good weather, checked. The traffic situation in Haikou reminds me of being in Bangkok. Rules here are practiced half-heartedly. Cars and motorbikes cruise in all directions. Ferrying a family of three to four on a motorbike is also normal.

Getting Around Haikou City 

Personally, I feel that Haikou embraces both modern and old vibes. On the modern side, you see modernized architecture, high-rise condominiums, interlining expressways and a couple of shopping complexes. Streets are also lined with a variety of food stalls selling their homegrown fruits – betelnuts, coconuts, jackfruits and lychees. The people’s love for BBQ seafood is also widely seen here. As you drive around at night, bustling night markets and colorful neon lights illuminate the streets. I recall feeling so in tuned with a character in the Chunking Express movie. Never mind that I had to squeeze with four other passengers in the car, the warm glow of the neon lights was simply a sight to behold.

Conversely, much of the old city remains unchanged. Some of the buildings still reflect the colonial influence with tiled roofs “flying” or upturned. Technology adoption here remains slow. The 4-stars hotel which I stayed surprisingly had really poor WiFi signals and zero facilities like the gym or swimming pool. Since smoking is also not prohibited indoors and outdoors, it’s hard to find a spot in Haikou where you can dwell in fresh, clean air.

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photo (2)Culture and Dining 

Throughout the trip, my family really felt the warm hospitality and generosity expressed by my distant Uncle and his wife. To say we were well-fed at every meal is an understatement. I feel that the people in Hainan or traditional Chinese in general enjoy entertaining guests in decent places like restaurants. It’s their way of building and strengthening “关系” – Guanxi or relationships, one of the most powerful elements in Chinese culture. This term expresses the relationship of one person to another, almost like an obligation built overtime by a reciprocation of social exchanges and favors.

By establishing this type of relationship with someone, the other party is implicitly agreeing to be also available to reciprocate when the need arises. After dinner on the first day, an old friend of my Uncle (who was coincidentally dining at the same restaurant) actually foot the dinner bill and joined us for a bit before leaving. I also noticed that most of the table arrangements were already pre-booked by my Uncle’s family. Being surrounded by chatter and laughter while dining in a private room is also a typical ambience throughout the trip.

Hainan people love to eat. The style and taste of cooking is similar to Singapore’s. My only gripe is their habit of not eating rice. Originally, I thought the staple food in China was rice. I love rice! So naturally, I was mentally prepared to see bowls of rice (and lots of steamy xiao long baos) on the table. But no! I kept seeing an assortment of meat, vegetables and tofu dishes. Once again, I said hello to the 文昌鸡 (Wen Chang Chicken) and still no sight of rice! Maybe because everyone assumed there was enough food on the table and rice was not necessary. Everyone but me. So, I courageously signaled to the waitress for a bowl of steamy grain goodness. Ah…now that’s what I’m talking about!

I shall end Part I of my Hainan travel encounters here and leave you with more snapshots of this city. Stay tuned for the highlight of this whole trip in Part II where we’ll escape civilization and travel to Qionghai Village and meet the rest of my distant “Pang” relatives.

Do give this post a “Like” if you enjoyed reading 🙂

(All photos taken by my sister and I)

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Enchanting Moments in Bali

I made it through a whirlwind of eventful happenings. In a blink of an eye, two months of my internship have already passed. A trip to Bali has also ended on a good note. During our time in Bali, we will remember how we were graciously hosted by the locals, other tourists and strangers.

Bali was a picture a minute, a smile everywhere you turned. Each day presented us with endless opportunities to enjoy each other’s company, delve deep into each other’s minds and tolerate with different travelling needs & wants. All the above, we wouldn’t have experienced if not for this trip.

If there’s a chance, I would love to be back again when the weather is cooler and perhaps with a different company. In case you’re visiting this enchanting place, here’s the place where I stayed and some other noteworthy places and things I like to share.

Accomodation: Dewani Villa (Kerobokan) – huge room and off the beaten tracks

Places I recommend:

  • Padang Padang Beach – very popular among surfers ; pristine waters
  • Sukawati Market – selling local produce, handicrafts, clothes, fabrics, shoes (remember to bargain for at least 30-50% lower)
  • Mount Kintamani and Lake – Breathtaking view uphill and downhill when you get close to the crystal clear lake
  • Rock Bar at Ayana Resort – luxurious experience as we caught the sunset while at the bar located at edge of cliffs. Must not be missed!
  • Visit a street stall and try their Babi Guling Rice. It’s essentially roasted pig stuffed with different spices. The whole pig is then carved and served with rice and other dishes.

We couldn’t have conquered all the above without our taxi driver. Initially, we boarded his cab with an intention of only a 1-way trip. Minutes into our journey, we were won over by his opinions of what to eat, do, and see.  Later, we ended up spending an entire day discovering Bali with him. He is Mr Putu Astawan, do connect with him (+6281 23807592) if  you’re looking for skilled and experienced driver to show you around. 12 years in this driving line, we can’t help but trusted him with our travelling needs.