20.6.11

Betel nut.. err, BetelBox! - My Singapore Hostel.


200 Joo Chat Road.

Walked way past it. It was so conspicuously situated I totally missed it. Really missed it. Or maybe I wasn’t looking closely enough. But duh! I was. In fact, I was walking turtle-paced along the entire length of that road. Careful to note building numbers, trying to beat the darkness that was slowly settling in. And that’s also despite the backpack that got heavier by the minute.

Finally, I found the right door

But not after going into one of the other hotels to ask where 200 was. So I had to retrace my steps and look for that green door. And now that I was standing right outside of it, I couldn’t get in because it was locked. It’s unlike the usual setting wherein you just walk in and find the front desk. Fortunately, a girl guest was coming in from 711. I didn’t have to use the intercom nor the security box, of which code I din’t have anyway.  

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The BetelBox is a backpackers hostel in the famous Katong and Geylang Serai district of Singapore. It is two traditional Singaporean shop houses combined into one large space. Restored to exacting conservation standards in 2000, the building was originally built in the 1920s and has a communal space that’s half of the entire area of the hostel.

Anton was the staff who was there when I arrived. The only one actually. He’s of chinese descent, a bit tall (anyone beyond my 156 cm tallness is tall for me), in his 50s, plain in his white shirt and pants but friendly, and chinky-eyed. Of course. Haha. After giving my info, passport, etc he went to fetch fresh sheets for me and then gave me the tour.

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Lucky me, there was an available down-below or first-level bunk. 

Whatever you call it. Taking that one, which was on the left division of the 8-bunk mixed dorm room on the third floor.. Have I mentioned it was a mixed dorm? Like mixed.. coed? Hah! My mom would’ve freaked out if I told her. Sorry, I digress. Again. Anyway, I settled down and unpacked. Partly, that is. Put some things in the provided locker and left most in the backpack. 


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The said communal area  was divided into “zones” – a fully equipped kitchen, dining area, lounge (w/ a pool table, lots a books, tv), and internet terminals (each guest is entitled to 30 minutes of free surfing each day).

First night was okay. I din’t get to sleep much. Haha. Despite the fact that I hit the bed early after checking and answering mail. I din’t even lingered in the common area to meet and make friends thinking I gotta get some sleep since I was up for more than 24 hours already.  But I woke up fine. Despite the several times I was woken up. Unintentionally, of course. And as a detailed person, I’m telling all the details.


First, there was this conversation going on the other side of the room between two guys. It was mainly about travel but the side comments were a bit hilarious. I can hear every single word. So I can’t help myself but listen. 

I wasn’t eavesdropping!

Second was when my bunkmate hit the sack. I know he tried his best to be quiet but the bed and his things weren’t cooperating. He was cute by the way. *wink Unfortunately I din’t have the courage to take a pic.

Third, was when the rest of my roommates decided it’s finally time to sleep… err, continue the talk in the bedroom I mean. They weren’t actually too loud. The other guy who’s already on cloud 9 was loud. Ssssnoring!

Fourth time, I got up and showered. It was 4 am.

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The common room was deserted when I came down save for Anton. Still. Tough guy. Since it was too early and breakfast was gonna be served in an hour, I opted to fill my grumbling tummy with some extra spicy Thai noodles. Skipped dinner last night. Uhhh!

With kind Anton’s help, the gaps in my itinerary for that morning was filled. He informed me that if I follow the entire length of Joo Chat Rd, I’d find myself in East Coast Park. Nice!

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I booked my bunk at the BetelBox for just a night but changed my mind. I already cancelled my reservations at some friends’ place so I have to get a hold of my bunk for another night! The thing was, they’re fully booked for the weekend! Blunder!



Once again I inquired when I got back at the hostel. It was a different guy manning the place this time. Younger. Still chinese though. I told him of my problem and he seemed accommodating and told me to have breakfast (again. Haha. He didn’t know I already ate before I left..different from the noodles!) and lounge in the lounge and he’ll see what he can do.

And lucky lucky me! Not fifteen minutes have passed when glasses guy came up to me to inform me that he already booked the very same bunk for me for the night. Hurrah! All I gotta do is pay for it. ☺

Well, so much for a first-timer. 

How about you? Any first-timer stories to tell? Love to hear it!

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