Funky, modern, good value accommodation for students and travellers on a budget.
Having spent 5 weeks staying in dorms and hostels in Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand, I needed to treat myself when I arrived in Hong Kong. I needed some space, some privacy and some comfort. Money was getting tight though, so I also needed somewhere that offered all of this but for as little money as possible. After a lot of review reading and price comparison, I found Y-Loft at Youth Square.
Taking up the floors 12, 13 and 14 of the Youth Square building in the Chai Wan district of Hong Kong Island, Y-Loft calls itself a hostel, but really this is a hotel that happens to have a few large dorms. The rest of the rooms are large, private, twin ensuite rooms that are comfortable, clean and funky! If you’re not a fan of bright green and orange, best stay clear of this one.
Every box ticked as far as I’m concerned. Y-Loft was comfortable, clean and modern. On the negative side, a degree of patience (and maybe a degree) is required in getting to and from the building and navigating the building itself, but this problem is almost negated by the hotel’s many positives. In other words, it was worth the hassle. Price wise, Y-Loft was a complete bargain. Book through dedicated hostel booking websites for the best deals.
I’ve never had to write a ‘Where is the Reception?’ section before, but for Y-Loft, it is completely necessary. Finding it for the first time is a nightmare if you don’t do some research beforehand.
I’m assuming that you’ll be traveling to Y-Loft in the MTR. Take the train to Chai Wan, the last stop on the Island Line. Upon alighting, follow the signs for Exit A. Go through the doors into the New Jade Shopping Centre. Pass through the centre, veering right and pass through a second set of doors leading outside. Walk along the footbridge, then take the first right. Look up. That’s Youth Square. Look down again. You’re approaching a bizarre, user-unfriendly entrance to the building. Head straight on by stairs and slopes (not the escalator) and find the lifts. Call any lift and head for floor 12. Upon alighting the lift, turn right. Reception is just around the corner. Phew!
Really? You’re kidding!
Nope. Listen carefully to the instructions given to you by the person on reception about where your room is. This building makes no sense whatsoever.
Y-Loft at Youth Square
238 Chai Wan Road
A cool, comfortable, clean & convenient base for your explorations in the island state.
Searching for somewhere to stay in Singapore actually took longer than I expected. What I was looking for was somewhere that offered me a lot for my restricted budget. My accommodation searches revealed that on the whole, you get what you pay for in Singapore. It seemed the cheaper the place, the less comfort and amenities you got. I quickly learnt that what I needed to find was somewhere that offered value.
Hangout @ Mount Emily had precisely that. A hostel/hotel geared towards young travellers and backpackers who need just a little extra comfort for their money.
If you’re on a tight budget but require a few more home comforts for your money, this is the place for you. Ignore any concerns about the location. It’s really not that far a walk and you’ll be glad of the peace once you get back after being on the go all day. For the money, you could only really expect the hotel to be clean and comfortable. It is, yet you also get free wifi, free breakfast, a funky common room and rooftop terrace to hangout in, helpful staff on call 24 hours a day, big, airy rooms with air-con, laundry facilities and even bikes to hire. What’s not to like? Book far enough ahead, and you could bag yourself one of the biggest bargains Singapore has to offer.
In which Matt shouts at some Japanese people, goes to see Lady Knox and samples some Kiwi ales.
That’s it! I’m sick if this place (Crank Backpackers). There are some Japanese dudes in the room next to mine who won’t shut up. They keep bursting into spontaneous laughter and talking. They were playing music but I banged on their door and told them to stop it. There really is NOTHING in the way of sound proofing here. Windows are single-pane while the walls are as thin as they can be. The doors are ill-fitting, slam loudly and all of them have squeaky hinges and rattly handles. It’s a hostel you can’t sleep in. What’s the point? I am definitely checking out in the morning and finding a room at a motel. There are tonnes to choose from and all the nearby ones have good reviews. For a few quid more than what I’m paying now, I can have a three room suite with digital tv. Due to the geothermal activity in the area, most of the motels offer hot tubs in their units too.
Right, the inconsiderate douche bags next door have been quiet for about 5 minutes now so I’m going to take my chances and try to get some sleep. I’ll tell you what, it’s very therapeutic writing this. I was sitting here stewing before, but it’s good to vent. Goodnight… I hope!
They weren’t too bad. I got to sleep shortly after I wrote that last night.
I’m currently on a bus to Wai-O-Tapu. For some reason, having just picked us all up, the bus waits at the tourist information centre for 15 minutes. A terrible idea. Whinge, whinge, whine.
Back at the bar across the street for my last meal in Rotorua. It feels like it’s the end of my trip even though I’ve still got over a week left. Tomorrow, Iain and Co are due to kindly pick me up to go back to Auckland. But tonight, it’s the last night of my tour of New Zealand. It’s been 3 weeks of variety and fun and amazing views. I will never forget my time here. So I’m celebrating an awesome trip with a glass of Mata, a local beer recommended to me by the friendly guy behind the bar. I ordered a bottled import and he produced three shot glasses and started filling them with local beers and said I couldnt get them at home and I should try them. It’s not bad. A little bit malty for my liking, but it’s okay.
Today, I spent the morning with a few other people from my hostel at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. A barren, unique and colourful landscape awaited us. One lake was luminous lime green, identical to the colour of Mountain Dew. Also, on the way, we stopped off at some awesomely violent, bubbling mud pools and the rather tame, disappointing staged but ultimately enjoyable Lady Knox Geyser. In all it’s been a great day.
In which I get the grumps, meet some Maori people & eat their food and stand in the eggy steam of some more geothermal features.
No climbing. Serge the Ukrainian was too tired for it, which is completely understandable. I don’t know why I wasn’t too tired really. I’m tired now. Trying to sleep but a local bar is insisting on playing music out on the street, or at least keeping it’s doors open. Very inconsiderate. I’m much more unhappy about the inconsideration rather than being kept awake. Even with earplugs, I can hear the music booming and the place’s patrons yelling at one another. I’ll be asking to move rooms in the morning. Honestly, the nerve!
Ten to 3 in the morning and they’re playing The Rivers of fricking Babylon! That’s not funny! That’s just a piss take. Urge to kill rising…
Now theres some idiot sitting outside on a bike or in a noisy stationary vehicle and leaving the engine running. What is the matter with some people?! SWITCH THE DAMN ENGINE OFF OR SOD OFF HOME! I hoping that in five minutes time, the license to irritate the neighbours runs out and I can start trying to get some sleep. What’s the point in having a hostel here if you can’t bloody sleep in it. It’s a valuable lesson learnt on this trip. The saving of staying in hostels is negated by the comfort lost. It’s not worth the saving.
Now… Two minutes to 3 and I dare say, sense has prevailed. The music has stopped. Perhaps a fellow hostel guest went and strangled the DJ. I applaud you sir. Ok, all clear I think. Goodnight Earth!
Well, I’ve been to reception and they’ve moved me to a different room. I have an entire 4 bed dorm room to myself on the opposite side of the building. And very nice it is too.
Anyway, enough whinging. Today, I’ve been to Whakarewarewa, a living Maori village set in a steamy geothermal village. Upon arrival, I was shown around the village by a resident who explained a bit about village life and pointed out some of the more interesting geothermal attractions (the most interesting being a natural pool of crystal clear water that was at a constant 100 degrees Celsius). He then took the group into the performance room where traditional dances and songs were performed. These were brilliant! Then, I went to the village cafe to have a Hāngi lunch, a meal of chicken, pork and vegetables cooked by the geothermal activity alone. Everything was overcooked and the entire meal had a distinct sense of being prepared by a grandmother, but I enjoyed it for its novelty and cultural significance. Then, I went on a nature walk to check out some more geothermal pools and lakes. In all, it was a great excursion and one I highly recommend.
Very comfortable in my new room so far. The tv lounge is just along to corridor so that’s a bit noisy but I fall asleep well enough in front of the tv at home so no concerns.
I came back from the Maori village and had a nap. After that, I popped to the Pak’nSave and got some more fruit. Can’t get enough of the stuff. Let’s hope it continues. Then, on the way back, I turned left instead of right and found myself at Government Gardens, a strange mix of old English bowling greens, a grand museum building and large gaping holes in the ground billowing steam. I stayed and watched the steam blow around in the wind and catch the light of the setting sun. For a short time, I was hypnotised.
Tomorrow, my last day in Rotorua is to be spent at Wai-O-Tapu, another geothermal reserve. This one boasts a full spectrum of colours being produced by the minerals and violent bubbling mud pools. That should take me to lunchtime. Then, who knows. Going back to do some more luging is a distinct possibility.
In which I cough up for a room upgrade and sum up my week in Australia.
Yeah, not going to Blue Mountains today. The weather is atrocious. I’ll go tomorrow. Today might well be another chill-out day. Might head to the Australian Museum for 2pm when there’s a free tour on. That said, I find museums boring on the whole so I might not.
I’ve upgraded to a private room this morning. Sick of staying in dorms. The Korean guy sleeping in the bunk above mine last night snored. It sounded like he was clearing out a drain. The Argentinian guy in the other bunk was nice though. In the tv room now talking to an Italian guy who’s learning English.
After a lovely walk in the Botanic Gardens, I’m now back at the hostel and in a room of my own. And I’m loving it. The bed is massive. I’m going to like it in here the next two nights. All my stuff is spread across the floor as I savour the opportunity to sort everything out. I’m not anti social but I’m much happier in a room of my own.
With just one full day left in Australia, now’s perhaps a good time to have a mind splurge about Sydney. Here goes;
In conclusion, Sydney is dull. It’s been a nice week, but nothing has made me say, “wow!” Nothing! I guess we in Europe are spoilt in terms of interesting cities full of beautiful buildings and amazing sights and delicious food and quirky people. Sydney falls to the wayside by a long, long way. In fact, there is absolutely no comparison.
Off to the Blue Mountains tomorrow. I think. No, it’s definitely happening. Well, we’ll see.
In which I have a horrible night in a dorm and explore Little India & Arab Street.
A rubbish night. After one night in a hostel dorm, I’ve already decided it’s not for me. The light got left on until 2am because not everyone had got back from nights out. The bloke beside me was a grumpy sod who point blank refused to engage in conversation with me. Three times I’ve walked into the room to find him in various states of undress and looking worried. There was bumps and someone erupting in loud night terrors and, well, that’s enough reasons. I value cleanliness, a good nights sleep and my own personal space much more than wealth. The benefits of a lower cost stay is lost completely. Luckily, the hotel staff here are awesome and have moved some bookings around to accommodate me in my own room for the remaining two nights. They even offered me the Internet rate as opposed to the walk-in rate. Ballseye!
This morning, after a heavy tropical shower which forced me and about 40 of my fellow MRT passengers to cower for cover in the local station lobby, I headed for Little India, Singapore’s mostly Indian area. The guide books were right. The smells from the authentically Indian shops are powerful. I happened upon an amazing Hindu temple with people bustling in and out. So, I removed my shoes and socks and joined them. It was very interesting, though it would have been nice if there was someone there to explain what was happening. That said, an interesting and valued experience.
Right now, I’m in Arab Street, the mostly Arab area of the city, finishing a glass of Teh Tarrik. I’ve wanted to try it for a long time. It’s lovely. Surprisingly sweet and refreshing. I really enjoyed watching the cooling process of pouring the tea from a height from one container to another several times in order to cool it. I’ve seen it on tv before, but to see it for real was great. Looking around, I’m the only Caucasian European looking person in the vicinity. It’s obviously very different for me to be the ethnic minority. I feel comfortable with it. No one bats an eyelid. Well, they wouldn’t. This is Singapore, a place where cultures mix well. There’s no animosity, no rivalry. Everyone just gets along. Why can’t the rest of the world be like this.
Right I’m off. They’ve just started playing the birdie song in the cafe. I wish I was kidding.