Friday, February 14, 2014

Away to Japan

Will be going to Japan (yes, again...) from 15 Feb to 22 Feb.

This time round, we'll be going to Kansai region (Kyoto/Kinosaki onsen/Osaka).

Will post pics after my return. :)

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Monday, February 10, 2014

5footway.inn (project Boat Quay) Boutique Hostel stay (Singapore)

After having stayed at quite a few hostels during my travels to Japan, I recently had the opportunity to experience hostel stay in my own country, Singapore.

5footway.inn (project Boat Quay) is a boutique hostel located right in the middle of Boat Quay, which is a popular hangout spot with restaurants and pubs, overlooking Singapore river. They have 4 hostels in Singapore at the moment, with 2 located in Chinatown, 1 in Bugis, and 1 in Boat Quay.

To get to 5footway.inn (project Boat Quay) hostel, you can take the MRT to Clarke Quay MRT station along the North-East line. From Clarke Quay station, it is just a short 5mins walk to the hostel.

Alternatively, what I did was I took the MRT to Raffles Place MRT, exited via Exit G, and then walked 5mins to reach the hostel.

It was around 1pm when I reached Boat Quay.
Boat Quay, along Singapore River.
Boat Quay
Found the hostel.
Entrance to the hostel is via this white coloured door.
Comfortable Reception area with 3 desktop computers for hostel guests to use.  Oh, and there's free WiFi too.
Since check-in time is 3pm, therefore I deposited my bag at the hostel and then went out to look for some lunch nearby.

There are many local eateries and restaurants along Boat Quay as well as along the lane just behind Boat Quay.
1 of the local coffee shop located just behind Boat Quay.

 Decided to have my lunch at 1 of the coffeeshop near this weird triangular building. 

My lunch. Fried Kway Teow (Stir fry flat rice noodles). Was good and cheap, S$4.50
After lunch, time to be a tourist. :)

After just a 10mins walk from Boat Quay, I arrived at the Merlion Park.

Asian Civilisations Museum, located just opposite Boat Quay. 
Walking back to hostel.

Boat Quay

Statue of Sir Stamford Raffles. Located just behind Asian Civilisation Museum and opposite Boat Quay.

Riverboat passing by the hostel. :)
Ok, 3pm. Time for check-in. 
There is a S$20 key deposit which will be refunded upon check-out.
 After completing check-in procedures, a hostel staff then led me to my room.  
Corridor to the rooms.
There are shared dormitory rooms as well as private rooms (shared bathroom facilities) in this hostel. 
For my visit, I stayed at a private room.
My room for the night. Hmmm, what's in that white box on the wall?
Oh, there is a light and an electrical outlet.
There are lockers in the room as well. Just need to tap the keycard to unlock it.
Time to take a walk around the hostel.  

Common area.
Located at the top floor is the common area called the Terrace. 
There is also a kitchenette at the Terrace, where there are hot beverages as well as hot/cold water from the dispensers. There is also a common fridge and microwave.
I spent some time relaxing here, reading my e-book with a cup of milo. 
Hot beverage dispenser, and the hot/cold water dispenser.
I love this area which overlooks Singapore River. I could even see Marina Bay Sands from here. 

Female common toilet, located on the same floor as the lobby. There are a total of 6 toilet stalls. 
Female common shower area (5 shower cubicles). Shampoo, body wash and a towel is provided.
4-person shared dormitory room.
Each of the bunk bed has 1 of these too.
In the evening, I decided go to nearby Clarke Quay area for dinner.
 It took me about 7mins to reach there from the hostel. 
Turn left when you exit from the hostel, and you will see this underpass. use the underpass, and walk about 7mins along the Singapore River and you will see Clarke Quay.

Clarke Quay
Shophouses on the left: Clarke Quay. Tall building on the right: Central shopping mall.

Had Tonkatsu for dinner at 1 of the Japanese  restaurants near Clark Quay.
Clark Quay in the evening. Pubs and restaurants.

Time to head back to the hostel.

Back in Boat Quay.

The next morning:
Woke up early around 7am to check out the free breakfast held at the Terrace (from 0630am-1000am). There were breads, jams, kaya and cereals. 
I had some toast with kaya (coconut jam) while enjoying the lovely morning view overlooking the river.

The morning view from the Terrace at around 6:45am.
Since it was still early by the time I'm done with my breakfast, and I didn't want to squeeze in the trains with the morning rush hour crowds, therefore I went back to my room to read my e-book and take a short nap before checking out just before 12noon.

I liked:
- Good location, within walking distance from Raffles Place MRT as well as Clarke Quay MRT. 
- Easy to find food since there are local coffeeshops and restaurants nearby.
- There are at least 3 convenience stores (7-eleven) near the hostel
- Free WiFi
- Free Breakfast
- Free hot beverages
- Nice view from the Terrace

Can be improved:
- I can hear the footsteps of people walking along the corridor from inside my room. It gets pretty hard to nap in the morning, when others are going around heading for breakfast, or to the toilets. Night-times were alright though, and was quiet.

Directions to reach 5footway.inn (project Boat Quay) from Changi Airport:
- From Changi Airport MRT station located at the airport, take the MRT train and alight at Tanah Merah station.
- Transfer to another train (towards Joo Koon direction) at Tanah Merah station, and then alight at Raffles Place MRT.
- From Raffles Place MRT station, go to Exit G and you will find yourself near Singapore River. You will see the row of shophouses (Boat Quay) by the Singapore River where the hostel is located at.

From the hostel, it is easy to get to many popular attractions in Singapore, for example:
- The Merlion Park is just a 10mins walk along the Singapore River. 

- Chinatown is a 15mins walk, or alternatively, you can take the MRT from Clarke Quay station and alight 1 stop later (towards Harbourfront direction) at Chinatown station. Use Exit A.

- Asian Civilisations Museum is just a 5mins walk, located just opposite the Singapore River. 

- Clarke Quay is a 7mins walk away. Just turn left when you come out of the hostel, use the underpass, and then follow the river.

- To get to Singapore Zoo or the Night Safari, take the MRT from Raffles Place MRT (which is about 9mins walk from the hostel) and board the North-South line (towards Jurong East direction) and alight at Ang Mo Kio station. After arriving at Ang Mo Kio station, go to the bus interchange located opposite the station and take the bus number 138 (about 35mins bus journey from Ang Mo Kio) and you will arrive at the Singapore Zoo. (Map)

- To get to Sentosa, just walk to nearby Clarke Quay station and take the MRT on the North-East line (towards Harbourfront direction) and alight at Harbourfront station. At Harbourfront, go up to the 3rd level of Vivocity shopping mall to take the Sentosa Express monorail and you will arrive at Sentosa.

- To get to Changi Airport, walk to nearby Raffles Place MRT station, and board the East-West line (towards Pasir Ris direction) train and alight at Tanah Merah station to transfer to another train in the middle platform (towards Changi Airport direction), and you will arrive at Changi Airport station. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Japan (Oct2013): Day 12 Kyoto.

Day 12 (6/11/13): Kyoto. Then midnight flight back to Singapore.

Day breakdown:
0940 Check out. Deposit luggage at hostel before heading out.
0940-1040 Went Kyoto station to buy 1 day bus pass, and then took subway to Imadegawa station. Then took bus from Imadegawa station to Kitano Tenmangu.
1040-1130 Visited Kitano Tenmangu
1130-1200 Took bus to Ginkaku-ji
1200-1250 Visited Ginkaku-ji
1255-1320 Lunch near Ginkaku-ji
1325-1335 Took bus to near Ichijoji station.
1340-1355 Took photos and had a cup of drink at McDonalds near Ichijoji
1410-1420 Took train from Ichijoji to Demachiyanagi station
1445-1500 Took bus from near Demachiyanagi station to Sanjo.
1500-1620 Walked from Sanjio to Nishiki Market
1620-1635 Took bus from Shijo to Kyoto station.
1915-2035 Took Haruka Express train from Kyoto station to Kansai Airport.

500yen 1 day Kyoto bus pass
250yen subway from Kyoto station to Imadegawa station
900yen Lunch (Tempura donburi)
160yen Bus fare top-up since Ichijoji is just outside the bus pass coverage area.
100yen Fanta grape drink from McDonalds
200yen Train fare from Ichijoji to Demachiyanagi station
147yen Pork skewer from Daimaru basement.
??yen Muffins from bakery
??yen Dinner bento from Kyoto station. (800+yen I believe)

Last day of this trip. Since my flight is near midnight, therefore I still have alot of time for Kyoto today.
Corridor of the hostel (Piece Hostel) where I stayed at 

Nice rooftop terrace area at the Hostel.

Free breakfast at the hostel. 

Makeup/wash basin corner at the ground floor of the hostel.

Shower rooms (ladies side)
 Checked out of the hostel at 09:40am and then deposited my luggage at the hostel before heading out.
First, I had to go to Kyoto station's tourist info office to buy my 1 day Kyoto bus pass (500yen) since I will be taking quite a few bus rides on this day. 

Many shrines in Kyoto is actually more accessible via bus than subways. 
For example, Kiyomizudera, Ginkaku-ji, Kinkaku-ji, Kodaiji...etc.  
It took me about 30mins to walk from Kiyomizu-gojo subway station to Kiyomizudera on my previous visit, but if I'd taken a bus, the nearest bus stop would cut that walking distance down by half.

A single journey onboard the bus costs 220yen (flat rate, within Kyoto city itself). Therefore as long as you are taking more than 3 bus journeys, it is recommended that you get the 1 day bus pass instead. 
More info (as well as bus routes maps):

Today is yet another K-On! anime theme I visited some places which had appeared in the anime.
Kyoto Tower, as seen from just outside Kyoto station.
 My next destination is Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. Many students visit Kitano Tenmangu to pray for success in their studies. This place also appeared on K-On! 
To reach Kitano Tenmangu, I first took subway (I could have taken a longer bus journey from Kyoto station instead though) from Kyoto station to Imadegawa station, and then transferred to a short 10mins bus ride from Imadegawa to Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. I had to remember to use the machine next to the bus driver to "activate" my bus pass when I alight.
1 of the entrances to Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

I always bring along a small booklet to Japan to collect stamp chops like these...

After I'm done visiting Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, it was a 25mins direct bus ride to Ginkaku-ji. 
From the bus stop near Ginkaku-ji, I had to walk about 10mins to reach Ginkaku-ji itself.

Philosopher's Path

Part of Philosopher's Path

There were a number of cafes and shops on the street leading up to Ginkaku-ji.

Collectible postage stamps


Photographers, please note that tripod is not allowed.


Walking up to the viewpoint overlooking Ginkakuji

Too bad I was about 2 weeks too early for autumn foliage in Kyoto.

Leaving Ginkakuji

Looking for lunch

Had lunch here

Tempura donburi. 900yen. Not bad. I was so hungry that I think I finished this in less than 15mins.

came across these on a window display on another cafe while walking to the bus stop.

I then took a short 5mins bus ride from the bus stop near Ginkakuji to Shirakawa Dori to visit some K-On! locations. Since Shirakawa Dori is located just outside of the bus pass coverage area, therefore I had to top up 160yen for this particular bus trip.
First up, is this McDonalds along Shirakawa Dori near Ichijoji station.

Also saw this bus stop along Shirakawa Dori, but can't be sure if it's the same one which appeared in the anime.
Shirakawa Dori, at the junction just before turning into the smaller lane leading up to Ichijoji station.
Walking towards Ichijoji station.
100yen minimart, opposite Ichijoji station.


Ichijoji station.
Ichijoji station.

Took a short train ride from Ichijoji station to Demachiyanagi station.

Train approaching Demachiyanagi station. This station also appeared in K-On!

Stepping stones across the river, next to Demachiyanagi station. 

Took a short 10mins bus ride to Sanjo area.
At the bus stop. Shows which bus is arriving soon.

Sanjo shopping street.

Walking towards Nishiki market. I've visited Nishiki market before actually...but since I had some time and it was just nearby, so I just strolled towards that direction.
came across a Kani Doraku branch 

Nishiki Market. 

Public onsen near Nishiki market.

Went to nearby Daimaru basement food hall to look for some snacks.

Pork skewer. 147yen. Yummy.
From Shijo, I took a bus to Kyoto station. 
I remembered enjoying the plain muffins which I bought from this bakery at Kyoto station basement on 1 of my previous trips. So I ended up here again to buy some muffins.
Had some time to kill, yet feet was I just head back to the hostel and relaxed in the cooling weather at the hostel's rooftop terrace while enjoying a cup of coffee and my muffins for about 1hr before I had to go catch my train to the airport.

Before boarding Haruka Express train, I went to basement food hall at Kyoto station to buy a bento to eat for my dinner during the train ride to the airport.