A trip becomes memorable when you experience something for the first time. For our Singapore trip, instead of staying in a hotel, for a change, we wanted to experience staying in a private room (a room in an apartment). We believed we will have a totally new experience by doing this.
And, our belief didn’t fail. We didn’t want to rent a full house, and deliberately chose a private room. We booked one of the three bedrooms in an apartment. To have even better experience, we chose an apartment in China Town. We negotiated the daily stay rate with the owner/host in Airbnb and booked with the site.
Interesting events unfolded after that.
Apart from a detailed email from the host on how to reach the apartment, there was a note on how to open the door lock.
This is how the process works: There will be a key holder attached to the main door. Once we set the correct 4-digit secret code, the key holder opens. Inside the holder, there will be three keys (for each bedroom renter). A person has to pickup only one key to enter the apartment. While leaving the apartment permanently, we need to keep the key back into the key holder and lock it.
While we were able to successfully execute above process, we found it to be EXTREMELY risky for various obvious reasons. Few are listed below:
- What if the person checked-in before me had taken all keys by mistake
- If the key holder’s 4-digit secret code is not changed frequently, then a person who stayed previously in the apartment can come back and pick up a key to enter
Let us come back to the stay experience. Once we entered the house, there was nobody inside. All lights were switched off. But, only the fan in a semi-closed bedroom was running. We were scared looking at the scene. We were not sure whether anyone is hiding inside the house. We gently knocked the remaining two bedrooms asking if anybody is inside. No sound from either room.
We went inside to our room and locked it. After few minutes, we heard a person speaking in the next room. We again knocked the next bedroom door to ask if anybody is inside. Nobody came out, but this time we were sure somebody was inside.
We refreshed and went out to explore the city. We returned to the apartment at night. We were hesitant to open the main door – because, all scenes that happened in the morning ran inside the mind like a movie. To our surprise, we found two people in the hall’s couch.
We met them. One was a doctor, and other was a mechanical engineer who came to explore the city on his own. We had very interesting conversation about many topics such as the local culture, politics, job industry, arts, travel and more.
In Singapore, a room with a window is expensive. A room with a window is a mini luxury. Even some of the hotels are advertised as “this room has 1 window or this room doesn’t have any window”.
The bedroom we chose was the costliest, because it had a window. Below was the view from the room. We felt the extra dollars were totally worth it.
To get such a view from a hotel room, one has to pay up at least SGD 150 per night. The room we booked in Airbnb was 1/3rd of this price.
Below photos are taken from the apartment’s main door.
The apartment is located in the heart of China Town. So, every time we had to pass by a street that had lot of Chinese restaurants to reach the apartment. The entire street had a pungent smell of meat. A vegetarian might feel very uncomfortable standing there. But, for food lovers, China Town is a food paradise where you can taste all types of Chinese food.
For breakfast, the dimsums served in the restaurants here are extra large in size. They can be compared to the size of a muskmelon. A person eats one full dimsum for breakfast.
At night, we went shopping to the local Chinese stores. Some of the store owners could speak broken English, while some spoke only Mandarin.
Overall, it is because of us choosing to stay at a local house, we could truly get a flavour of the Singapore city and its people.
Interestingly, we didn’t meet the host/owner during our entire stay. And, the owner is not a Singaporean!