Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Perak Hotel and Subways in Singapore

For the low-budget traveler who wants to be in the midst of Singapore, with all the sights, smells, and sounds of India, Perak Hotel (formerly Perak Lodge) is a great place to stay. The staff is extremely warm and accommodating. For example, when my roommate and I wanted to check out later than the hours posted, they graciously let us keep our bags in the room until we were ready.

Perak Hotel Staff

The hotel is in the midst of Little India, a truly colorful place to explore. I spent a couple of days, one with my friends and one alone, going through countless small shops selling Indian-style clothing, earrings, and sandals, as well as spices and food. Within a short distance of the hotel are both a mosque and a Hindu temple, which permit visitors. Naturally, there are restaurants all over, and I was able to have Indian food of various kinds for five days in a row!

Perak Hotel StaffAs for the hotel, the rooms were a bit cramped (not large enough to do yoga in), but not uncomfortable. Some of the facilities in our rooms, such as the shower (with water not as hot as it might be) and air conditioner (which was difficult to adjust to a comfortable temperature), were not in the best working condition, but with no major problems.

My roommate was bothered by the noise of the adjoining bars on the weekends, which stayed open until 2 a.m. One apparently was playing Indian music all hours. (They didn't bother me since I live in an apartment on a busy street so am used to noise.) At her request, the staff moved us to a quieter room on the other side.

Interior - Perak HotelBreakfast, with a huge fruit bowl and orange juice, is available in a small pleasant dining area from 7:00 - 10:00 a.m. Besides bread (including whole wheat), jam, peanut butter, honey, and cereal, there are hot dishes, sometimes eggs and sometimes noodles. The coffee and tea are both instant. One morning, at the tables around us, I heard at least 4 different languages being spoken by the various guests!

Had I known the hotel has its own wireless Internet set-up, I would have taken my laptop. It wasn't a problem, though, since less than a block away were at least 3 Internet cafes, charging $3 an hour, so I was able to check on my email. What's more, it was only 3-4 blocks from the subway station, so we could easily get around town, especially since my friend, Kaori, had bought us subway passes that only needed to be tapped at the ticket gate.

The subways in Singapore are so much more spacious than those in Japan, but just as clean. Electronic signs signal when the next train is due to arrive. People are generally courteous, standing at one side to let others off before getting on. For passengers who are standing, there are poles in the center to hold onto, so one can be near the doors and not treading on the toes of those sitting.

There are about 7 subway lines, and with all the escalators and long corridors, some of the stations can be a bit confusing to navigate. However, with a variety of artwork all over, even getting lost in the station can be pleasant.
Kaori in Subway Station

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