Almost a century ago, the port of Singapore (then known as Nanyang) was bustle with activity as boats from faraway places arrived here bringing people from different walks of life, all around the world in search of their hopes for a better life.
Many migrants paid a hefty price for that passage from poverty to liberty, with only the faith, hope and hard work.
One of those migrants was my great grand mother, my maternal grandpa’s mother.
Leaving behind 4 other children, she made the journey to Singapore with her youngest son in search for a better life.
I could only collect stories recounted by my grandmother and my mother; for my grandpa has lost his power of speech and passed on earlier in my childhood that I had no chance to ever ask him about his stories.
Recently, I came to know about the stories of early Singapore through a geography professor.
His passion were on Singapore street names and he told stories on the earliest religion temples of Singapore.
Upon reaching Singapore, these seafaring migrants stepped into Fuk Tak Chi temple to offer prayers to give thanks for the safe passage at sea to Singapore.
The ride on the boat to freedom was often treacherous; often months on rough seas and poor living conditions in the boat. Thus while many hopeful migrants safely made it through alive, many died in the path to freedom.
Giving thanks to Gods above to be alive and given a chance to seek a better future, these migrants offer their sincere gratitudes to the heavens in these temples upon arrival. I could only imagine the countless numbers of footprints that had pass the doorway of this temple, the hustle and bustle of the temple devotees, the smell of the incense that was burning constantly with devotees arriving everyday.
Eroded by time and space, but what left now only the architecture that stood in evidence of the lives of our forefathers.
I followed the steps of my great grandmother as I stepped into the Fuk Tak Chi, the oldest temple in Singapore. (Note: Tian Hock Keng temple is the oldest functional temple, but not the oldest temple.)
This temple stood along the original shoreline where early migrants first landed; but as Singapore expanded through land filling, it is now a conserved heritage architecture in the heart of the Central Business District and conveniently located just next to Telok Ayer MRT station.
Although it is no longer a functional temple, tracing the footsteps of my great grandmother when she first arrived on the soil in Nanyang was something I had wanted to do in attempts to experience history of my own country as well as to understand my own family history.
That sense of gratitude, the hope and relieve could still be felt in me when I passed through those doors myself.
I knew life then wasn’t as easy as today. We now have the freedom to jet off to different places around the world and arrive in a couple of hours; but to them, it was a ride in terms of life and death.
The Fuk Tak Chi Temple today also serves as a entrance to a new hotel in the city.
The back doors of the temple opens up to a spacious foyer that surrounds by old preserved shop houses and new structures that binds the traditional and the new.
The foyer of the hotel is actually the backyard of the old shop houses and the temple itself, using glass panels above to create an indoor air conditioned lobby, it gave a sense of still connected to the skies. The rough brown and mustard brick walls from the original shop house architecture and the additional steel metal structure gave the foyer an industrial look.
It was pretty interesting as the old traditional meets the new industrial feel.
A welcome greeting with a refreshing drink in red (fruit punch + soda, I think), gives an auspicious beginning of a nice staycation I was invited to.
I had invited fellow blogger, Tiffany Yong along on this staycation.
I took this chance to celebrate her birthday as well as to catch up since we have not met for quite some while.
The AMOY hotel pays homage to the Chinese migrants to Singapore with a ( 百家姓 ) “100 Chinese Family Surnames” theme.
We stayed in the 林 (Lin) suite, by far one of the biggest room in the 37-room hotel.
The unique feature of the hotel is that each room is emblazoned with a Chinese family name on the door in tribute to Singapore’s early migrants who lived around the area.
There are a total of 23 surnames featured in the entire hotel (some replicated with different dialect pronunciations), so if you want to stay in the surname room of your choice, you have to make a request when you book and it is subjected to availability.
While Tiffany’s surname 熊 (Xiong) is not a common surname compared to mine, I had asked the staff the location of my surname so I can have a picture with it!
The exhilaration to find my surname is not something I can describe in words.
Our room was a 2 single-bed room that was pretty spacious compared to the other queen-bed rooms.
There were only 18 queen bed rooms (or double beds, some call it) and the rest were 1 single-bed rooms. I think the suite we were staying may be the only 2 single-bed room in the entire hotel.
Due to the unique layout of the shop houses, no one room layout is the same. I guess that is one of the unique standards of a boutique hotel. Our room was a tricky one to photograph. Even using the camera’s panoramic function didn’t do the room justice.
The room layout is sort of like a U-shape. The main room door is at the small entry way that led up to the corner where the round table stood by the window, then it snakes around to the other side where the bedroom and up the small steps the toilet and the wash basin.
There isn’t a closet but an open wardrobe to hang your clothes. I like that they have thought in detailed the different hangers for different type of clothing apparel. I think women on business trips will like that small touch.
Even in the small boutique hotel, the basics in-room safe, bedroom slippers were available for use.
There is also an iron board and iron hidden away in the cupboard and drawers, ready for use when the need arises. The only item they lack was a bathing robe.
The room design, played on using furnitures and tiny details such as the intricate geometric patterns at the television console to bring out the Chinese chic theme.
The dark wood furniture may not be traditional Chinese, but it definitely brought out the luxurious Shanghai flavour.
The dark wood fixtures makes the main focal point in the room in contrast to the white bedding.
Porcelain items such as the stools by the window and the wash basin highlights the Chinese element in the room.
One thing’s for sure, my forefathers may not wash their faces in such artistic porcelain wash basin.
For once, I do feel like the Empress Dowager. (lol~ Allow me to indulge on my dramatic imagination.)
The room despite the Chinese theme, has all the modern luxuries one is expecting of an hotel.
There is no swimming pool or gym in the facility of the hotel, which is a shame as it would be nice to take a dip in the pool during the two days of fine weather while I was there.
Due to the unique layout of the rooms, space is a luxury.
The shower room, toilet room and the wash basin were all separated and the black tinted glass wall was slightly translucent. Stand too close to the glass wall and you can been seen from shoulders up.
One issue was that the heavy swing door to the shower room.
with the hinges on the left, it smoothly swings inwards, but for a larger person, he/she will have problems closing the door to access the shower.
Swinging the door outwards, there are chances that the glass door will hit the water closet.
In my opinion, the door should hinge on the right so the accessibility was more sensible.
Luckily, Tiffany and I were very comfortable with each other; we even had joked about tinted glass. However, if you were to stay with someone you were less comfortable with, it would be super awkward.
The wash basin is situated outside the toilet and shower, which did made me feel a little handicap.
Usually for me, I do almost all the washing up, cleaning, make-up removal; everything inside the toilet. With this layout, I had to complete my shower first, then head out to the dressing table to finish up.
I thought it would have been much more easier if they just close up the area at the top of the steps, encasing the wash basin and the toilet, because that would somehow make more sense.
However, I guess the danger would be that one may forget they would exit the toilet on a small flight of steps and you definitely don’t want your guests to slip and fall.
Overall, it was an interesting experience just to take a shower.
The Chinese elements continues on to the monogram design on their toiletries, uniting it with pop colours to gives it a modern and hip feel to the vibrant hospitality at AMOY. Even their shower items are infused with Chinese herbs, which is interesting to see so much has been input into the concept at AMOY hotel.
Their efforts to go the distance don’t just stop there.
Upon arriving back to the hotel in the evening, we were surprised that they had a turn-down service for the room and we received this sweet little message from them:
“Run away into your sleep and dream your way to paradise. Good Night!”
Awww.. they are too sweet!
Not only they say goodnight to us in such a heart-warming manner, they also surprised Tiffany when we first arrived!
It made Tiffany felt so special and she loved it!
*psst!* Let AMOY Hotel know when you book with them and they can help you make your loved one feel special too!
Breakfast is a pretty simple fare at AMOY. The foyer only had 3 – 4 tables available so we hadn’t been able to have our breakfast in the sun-lit foyer. However, the friendly staff has offered to bring breakfast to us up to our room. Boy, I felt pampered.
Can’t decide what I really want to eat, I just went to my usual phrase: “a little of everything, please.”(Okay, you may roll your eyes now….)
Having breakfast in room is whole new experience for me. I am used to having breakfast in huge dining halls or restaurants when I stay at a hotel.
Sitting by the shutter windows and having a nice hot cuppa and breakfast with your best friend is pretty refreshing and very relaxing.
Here are some photos of what other rooms may look like.
( All room photos below were provided by AMOY Hotel. Do bear in mind the layout in all the rooms in AMOY is unique and different. )
Note: There are only 18 deluxe double rooms in the 37-room boutique hotel.
- In-room wifi (Tiffany had commented that the wifi speed is pretty strong and stable!)
- Electrical points (Compared to Katong V, this only has one point each hidden behind the side table, and one easily accessible near the round table by the window)
- iPod dock alarm clock
- in-room safe
- iron and iron board
- mini bar (full complimentary)
- Capsule Coffee Machine
- Hot water kettle
- Complimentary Limousine Service from Airport
Unfortunately, this hotel is NOT wheelchair access friendly.
Due to the layout and the make of the conserved shop houses, almost all rooms have steps going up or down to the bed or toilet/bathroom, and the corridors of the hotel are also with steps.
During our stay, I had a problem with the shower taps. There were no hot and cold indication on the showers and after trying for awhile, I decided to shower in cold water instead. Afterwhich, we decided to call the staff members to take a look at the shower taps if the hot water is actually working.
The staff took less than 10 minutes to arrive after receiving our call and subsequently resolved the problem.
AMOY hotel also actively seeks out feedback from all their guests after they have completed their stay.
I had input some feedback to them and in response to my feedback, the hotel guest manager has replied and some improvements were already in progress.
I think this boutique hotel is great for business travellers as it is conveniently located in the central business district.
The China Square area provides a lot of dining and nightlife options during the weekday week and conveniently located opposite Telok Ayer MRT which allows easy access to the entire Singapore island.
We end our staycation with the last stop, making a wish by the wishing well.
One of the staff mentioned that the wishing bowl had helped made her wish come true, so Tiffany and I decided that we will make our heartfelt wishes at the wishing bowl before we left.
I also wish to shout out to the AMOY team!
Apple, April, Jeremy, Lina and Ronald: Thanks for making our stay a wonderful experience!
*All above facts and figures are accurate as of 06 January 2014.
76 Telok Ayer Street
Reservation email: firstname.lastname@example.org
More stories soon~
*Above staycation was sponsored by Quincy Hotel and Far East Hospitality. Please note that although the hotel stay is sponsored, quality of my reviews of hotel are not compromised.*