Archive | 2016

Singapore Trip – Village Hotel Changi & Village Hotel Katong

So in January 2016 I headed down to Singapore for Applehops Beer Bash, celebrating their 2nd anniversary.

Obviously being in Singapore for a few days, I needed somewhere to stay! For the first couple of days I stayed at Village Hotel Changi which is a beautiful peaceful retreat on the North East coast of Singapore (near the airport).

It’s a beautifully breezy area, great for cycling and you can even take a daytrip to Pulau Ubin. It’s a really good choice for Singaporeans looking for a staycation as well as they have activity packages a great buffet lunch and it’s well away from the hustle/bustle of the city.

There’s also a pretty nice food court (famous for nasi lemak) right across the road (Changi Village Hawker Centre).

Someone was excited to get to the hotel of course..

Village Hotel Changi

It was quite a drive to Singapore, as I followed Google maps and for some reason it took some weird arse way to a ferry terminal that I didn’t even know existed..that didn’t have a ferry until 8am the next morning (Tanjung Belungkor).

So yah, we were really glad to be there!

Village Hotel Changi

It’s a nice, bright spacious room with a big comfy bed, a writing desk, a small sofa/seating area, a tv a minifridge and a bathroom with both shower and bathtub (great for a baby).

Village Hotel Changi

The sitting area is especially useful for us, dealing with a rambuntious toddler who we need to sit down sometimes to drink his milk, eat some snacks etc. Overall a pretty child friendly hotel.

Service was really good too.

We had the buffet lunch at the hotel which is quite good value for money and is available every day with a broad variety of local and international delights. All the way from stuff like porridge with all the trimmings.

Village Hotel Changi

Which includes yau char gwai of course – one of Liam’s favourites!

Village Hotel Changi

To Sushi – one of our favourites!

They all have a good mix of other stuff, roast and grilled meats and seafood, pasta, salad and much more.

Village Hotel Changi

The absolute highlight for us at Changi Village was the pool, the main reason we went there, located on the 8th floor with a stunning view of the straits.

Village Hotel Changi

It was super breezy, fresh and totally relaxing – we spent hours up there. Even though it rained, we stayed in the pool anyway! Of course Liam absolutely loved it too, and there was a nice jacuzzi area too with a ledge for him to play on.

Village Hotel Changi

I was literally late for my event because I had too much fun hanging out in the pool haha, was sooo relaxing. Totally recommend it.

Village Hotel Changi

So overall I think Village Hotel Changi is a good spot for a getaway, especially to get out of the city, or as a quick stop-over near the airport. It may be a little far (around 30 mins drive) if you want to do a bunch of stuff in the city – but even then, the pool is kinda worth it!

It also has a nice, convenient spacious car-park which is included in the room price. Important to me as I was driving. Plenty of good food around within walking distance, shops, convenience stores and yes, there are Uber cars around there.

After that we moved to Village Hotel Katong, which is still on the East coast but much further in and nearer to the city.

This is an exceptionally beautiful hotel with a Peranakan influence, it feels rather swanky and is super cool as it’s basically on top of a small shopping Mall (which gives you access to a big grocery store, a few restaurants and hipster coffee).

Village Hotel Katong

The style is a really nice mix of modern slick aesthetics combined with Peranakan zest and details, it’s really, really nice.

You can see the details in the tiles which were placed around the room, like on the luggage stand and in the bathroom.

Village Hotel Katong

Really nice room to hang out in, watch TV, drink some craft beers, wonder downstairs for some Katong Laksa, grab some stuff from the grocery store under the hotel and just chill.

Village Hotel Katong

And yah, Liam found his favourite thing..the telephone haha. He loved the room too.

Village Hotel Katong

Definitely looking forwards to visiting there again!

Village Hotel Katong

Honsetly didn’t stay there long enough to really take it in, I’d love to stay there longer as it’s a nice area and a really beautiful hotel. It does have a small pool at the back, but we didn’t really have time to check it out.

Now I’m feeling like it’s time for another trip to Singapore! I need to pick-up some stuff anyway, check out the newly opened Mikkeller Singapore and well, have a holiday! Probably when we get back from Europe we’ll head back over in June/July.

See yah soon Singapore!

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Singapore Craft Beer: Druggists @ Kallang

Druggists is another legend of the Singapore Craft Beer scene, and one which focuses entirely on draught (no bottles at all). Which is not surprising as it’s from the same owner of The Great Beer Experiment in PasarBella, so they’ve separated out into bottles and draught.

Serving kickass craft beers all year round, with food that pairs beautifully with the brews. There’s nothing more perfect than walking into a restaurant with 23 taps serving kick-ass beers from cult breweries across the world. That’s what we thought and so Druggists will be tapping Mikkeller, TO-OL, Amager, DeStruise, DeMolen, Rooie Dop, Magic Rock, Thornbridge, Prairie Artisan, Birra Del Borgo all year round. Wait, there’s food too- hearty, delicious and curated to pair with these kick-ass beers. Momma would approve.

It’s situated in the Kallang area, or some people might say Jalan Besar, it’s about 4 blocks from the Lavender MRT station – so it’s probably a good idea to Uber there ;).

So, let’s talk about Druggists – they have a very impressive 23 taps which are pretty much always all in use. This gives you a pretty staggering range of beer and almost guarantees something for every palate, all the way from lager/pils up to barrel aged imperial stouts and some pretty nice sours.

For the beer geeks: If you want to order a big stout, order it a few glasses earlier and let it warm up as it’s served way too cold. Also note from my experience, big beers are usually best from the bottle (for some reason?).

Druggists - Singapore Craft Beer

It’s a pretty cool location, very trendy hipster-ish – repurposing a historic building and keeping the original facade and floor tiles intact give it a distinct feel. Less cookie cutter than the average modern, overly sculpted bar. Inspired by Chye Seng Huat maybe?

Druggists is situations in you guessed it, the old Chinese Druggists Association building – which was basically the pharmacists’ association back in the day.

Druggists - Singapore Craft Beer

It has a pretty interesting feel to it, not really like a bar, rather like you’re drinking excellent beer somewhere you aren’t supposed to – which is nice haha. It has the original facade, floor and keeps a very minimal almost kopitiam style inside with marble tables and classic chairs.

Druggists - Singapore Craft Beer

It has the original signboard (of something?) over the door on the inside too, reminiscent of those sifus and their medicine halls in the old kung-fu movies about Wong Fei Hung.

It’s not a huge place, nor is it cramped – there’s a lounge space and quite a bit of outdoor seating too for smokers – but beware it is a popular place and does get busy (especially at weekends).

Druggists - Singapore Craft Beer

Also note, popular kegs can finish really fast – so get there early if there’s something you really want to try.

It has a great range of beers, well served, but slightly on the pricey side. But then the location is very special and you always pay something for that. It’s definitely worth checking out.

When we were there we had:

– Shiga Kogen Sono 10 (Anniversary IPA)
– Thornbridge/Sierra Nevada Twin Peaks
– To Øl Black Ball
– Prairie Bomb! (Very disappointing on draught)
– Buxton Battle Horse

Yah I wonder where the glasses are from?

Druggists - Singapore Craft Beer

And why does The Great Beer Experiment have it’s own nice glasses, but we go there we have to drink from plastic cups? Haha, must be a Singapore thing – Thirsty is down with the plastic cups too.

Facebook: Druggists
Instagram: @druggists_sg
Address: 119 Tyrwhitt Rd, Singapore 207547
Phone: +65 6341 5967
Opening Hours: Tues-Sun: 16:00-00:00
Ratebeer location: Druggists | Singapore – RateBeer

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eForex – Mobile Currency Exchange in Malaysia

So recently I’ve tried out this new app from Merchantrade (the largest money exchange network in Malaysia) called eForex enables mobile currency exchange in Malaysia. The app allows you check live rates and book at that rate from the app itself, you can then pick up the money at one of their branches around KL.

eForex App - Currency Exchange Malaysia

Introduction

The app is designed to make it easier for people who travel frequently for business or leisure to buy currency on the go and pick it up at their convenience, I think it would be especially useful if you needed more than 1 currency type for a trip and wanted to pick it up.

eForex App - Currency Exchange Malaysia

Also if you needed something that’s often out of stock at the regular money changer (like JPY) you can book it using the app.

The main features are:

  • Over 20 preferred currencies to choose from
  • Live currency exchange rates
  • Set favourite currencies
  • Rate alerts notifications
  • Pick up point selector
  • Currency calculator
  • Secure online payments (FPX and MEPS)
  • Browse transaction history
  • Travel reminder

The alert features, booking money etc are only available after signing up for the app.

eForex App Review

The Good

Overall the app can make getting foreign currency arranged convenient and take the stress out of it (Midvalley parking?). Also you don’t have to worry about driving somewhere and them not having the currency you want.

eForex App - Currency Exchange Malaysia

Main positive points for me would be:

  • It’s very convenient to check the current exchange rates even if you aren’t buying currency right now.
  • The app makes getting foreign currency really convenient, especially if the pick-up location is near you or your office and you get get there easily.
  • Rate alert feature is great if you are waiting for a certain currency to drop, or you want to buy it before it gets too expensive.
  • You can set a travel reminder in the app so you can get your currency in time.

The Ok

The rates provided are ok, better than the bank, but the ‘famous’ money-changers in malls are slightly better. I got a marginally better rate at my nearest Tesco as I was shopping there anyway and I didn’t realise the app needed a 3-day window between booking and collection (I wanted to collect the same day or the next day).

eForex App - Currency Exchange Malaysia

Some kind of faster collection as a premium service would be better I think, and delivery would be great too.

The app is quite quick to load and responsive to use, and intuitive in most part.

Other

eForex App - Currency Exchange Malaysia

There are a few minor aspects outside of the core functionality that I’d like to see improved in the app, mainly:

  • Increase the duration in between each session expiry to minimize constant re-login. A sign-up function via Facebook or Google Account would be a cool add-on.
  • Branch search could show adjacent areas ordered by distance from my current location – so when I searched for where I live, it will show the nearest results.
  • A buy/order feature from the favourites screen would be an added advantage.
  • When you go to book currencies, your favourite currencies should be at the top of the list.

It’d also be great if the sign-up was a lot easier, like you only need to enter passport number etc if you want to book currency – then it saves it. Sign-up with Facebook/Google for a faster on-ramp just to use the rate alert features.

I think this would get more people using the app as registered users.

Conclusion

Overall it’s a decent app, with some minor functionality and UX improvements it could be very useful. If you want to check exchange rates often it’s worth a look and they offer decent rates if one of the branches is convenient for you check it out.

The app is available here:

eForex Android
eForex Apple

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Singapore Craft Beer: Smith Street Taps @ Chinatown Complex

What is more fitting in Asia than having draught craft beer in a food court! It doesn’t get much more rustic than that, and that’s what Smith Street Taps delivers – you can have a pint of freshly kegged IPA with your satay and claypot chicken rice.

An all-taps popup beer hawker stall featuring around 10 premium and craft beers on tap in Singapore’s Chinatown.

Smith Street Taps - Singapore

Downside, as with any foodcourt in a tropical country – it’s bloody warm! But then again, it makes the cold beer even better.

Smith Street Taps is a little tricky to find, so allocate a few extra minutes to make your way there. If you Uber or take a Taxi get them to drop you at the Chinatown Complex, then make your way up to the 2nd floor (or 1st for if you’re British) you’ll find the stall at #62.

Smith Street Taps - Singapore

It won’t be too hard to find once you get in the vicinity, just follow the throngs of people drinking high-quality beer in proper glassware and you’ll find it eventually. If you go fairly late, the rest of the food court will be deserted anyway.

They have around 10 taps, which rotate fairly fast – especially if there’s only one keg of something. You might reach there, decide to try something and it’s finished by the time you reach the front of the queue! It’s self service (not table service) obviously, so depending on what just kegged and if it’s near last call – there can be quite a queue.

Smith Street Taps - Singapore

The range of beer is pretty impressive with beers from Japan, Sweden, USA, England, Scotland, Germany and Denmark on tap when I was there. Plus a good variety of styles from fairly light ales and wheats up to eye watering triple IPAs and imperial stouts.

The setup is pretty bare bones, with what is basically a bunch of kegerators with towers on top (2 taps on each fridge), but from what I saw it’s run properly with all connectors, taps and tubes being sanitized during keg changes to prevent contamination (the kind of things that are important to any beer geek worth his salt).

Smith Street Taps - Singapore

As for opening hours, due to the food court regulations it’s not open too late – last call is at 10:15pm and closing is at 10:30pm. So it’s a good spot to head for dinner and a nice beer before heading off somewhere else open a bit later (like Nickledime or Druggists)

Smith Street Taps - Singapore

Overall I had a good experience at Smith Street Taps and would recommend it, good beer served well in a proper Asian environment. It’s a must visit for tourists and a nice option for people from Singapore and Malaysia to have some cheaper food with great beer on draught.

Prices are reasonable, starting all the down at $6 for macro beer (Sapporo) and the rest around around $14-17 for a US Pint – which represents good value for high quality beer.

Smith Street Taps - Singapore

We had a good time there and I look forwards to visiting again. I mainly went because they were closed on my last trip due to Beerfest Asia 2015 preparation and also they kegged their own beer, a session IPA collaboration brew with Hitachino made in Japan and brewed with koji.

Smith Street Taps - Singapore

Thank you Smith Street Taps, I will see you again.

Beers I drank here were:

– Hitachino X Smith Street Sumisu Sutoreeto
– Dugges Two Packed
– Stone Double Bastard Ale
– Tempest Red Eye Flight

Facebook: Smith Street Taps
Twitter: @smithsttaps
Address: 335 Smith Street, #02-062, Chinatown Complex, Singapore 050335
Phone: +65 9430 2750
Opening Hours: 6.30pm-10.30pm Tueday-Saturday
Ratebeer location: Smith Street Taps | Singapore – RateBeer

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Malaysia Cybergames 2015 – Dota 2 and Team Secret!

So Malaysia Cybergames 2015 is a pretty big event, with the main attraction being a personal love of mine – Dota 2. Best game ever! The 3-day event which started on 11th December 2015, attracted 5255 gamers to compete across 4 tournaments for Dota 2, FIFA16, Counter Strike and Street Fighter IV ULTRA, with a total cash prize value of RM300,000 up for grabs.

Malaysia Cybergames 2015 - Dota 2

I dropped by on the last day to check the finals of the Dota 2 tournament between Team SatuDuaTiga (probably the favourites with star player YamateH) against Who2bet who isn’t so high profile, but does have an ex Fnatic player JoHnNy.

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