Travel

Eat, Shop, Read & Startup @ Singapore

It’s been a year since the last time I was in Singapore. That’s why when Betty invited me to try Grand Mercure Roxy Hotel’s menu from their new certified Halal kitchen, I immediately book my schedule. I contacted my friend @Alvin_Yap , asking if there’s any Singapore startup event in November so I can join ’em during my stay. He said, there will be a Founder Institute event by @jpaine  on 8 & 9 November 2010, and I can sneaked in. So, off I go.

Eat.

After some concerns about Volcanic ash, I finally can landed safely at Changi airport. East Coast area still as comfortable as I remembered, so glad to be back to Singapore. After checking-in, I went straight to Feast@Eastrestaurant at the 3rd floor. And the beautiful Sales & Marketing Director of Grand Mercure Singapore, Jennifer Narcis, already there smiling at me. Now, I know instantly that we both starving :D

I really appreciate Grand Mercure effort to make more convenience eating environment for their Muslim customers with their certified HALAL kitchen. They have a full set of delicious dishes that can be ordered straight to their HALAL kitchen. After a while, my cousin Niken joining us for lunch. I had Grilled Grain Fed Lamb Rack Served with Roasted Garlic Mashed, Jennifer had Seafood Skewer, and Niken had Fish & Chips. All fantasticly delicious! To welcome us, Rossi, the restaurant supervisor, even adding the meal portion! -_-; Rossi… please deh ah… can’t you see that we’re all graceful ladies?? Hihihi. Thank you so much Rossi, you’ve been so kind ^-^

I asked Jennifer if I can see the kitchen, and she brought me there to take some pictures. So this is how HALAL kitchen looks like!

Thank you very much Grand Mercure Hotel for having me. Thanks Ibu Jenn, you’re so funny, can’t stop laughing :D Thanks David, I really enjoy our conversation during breakfast. Thanks Betty, hope to see you on my next visit. And last but not least, Kevin Bossino, Grand Mercure General Manager, thanks a lot for taking some of your busy time to say goodbye to me :)

Grand Mercure Roxy Hotel will always be my favorite place to stay in Singapore. It’s affordable for all the amazing facilities & spacious room, located near my favorite East Coast beach, just across Parkway Parade where I can go to my fave bookstore Borders, and the certified Halal kitchen has completed the list. Kisses to all of you!

Grand Mercure Roxy currently offering US$ 1,000 cash back promo room package.

Deluxe Room rate starts from US$138++ (S$188++) and includes:
– International buffet breakfast for 2 persons
– Free city tour on open-top hop on hop off bus
– Unlimited Internet Access
– Discounted Attractions Tickets
– Complimentary airport shuttle from 7am to 2am daily
– A chance to win your hotel fully paid for – up to US$1,000

Click here for more information.

Shop.

I always wanted to visit Little India, and since they’re celebrating Deepavali, I thought this is a perfect time to see the place. What I notice the first time was the cheerful decoration of Deepavali. And because I was walking around alone (Niken has been busy doing her final assignment), I must find someone to take picture of me. God, it was so difficult. Everybody’s walking so fast minding their own business. The tourists got very  skeptical, I guess they’re just being careful. And I ended up asking the police to take picture of me -_-; And she’s ready to fine me because I was walking cross the street when the not-so-look-like-pedestrian-light still glowing red (I swear I didn’t see it and it was a very small path in Little India). But of course I can get away, with my sweet smile and my Indonesian passport (I’m not local, mind you :p). “Next time can not lai this lah,” she said. “Okay, Ma’am. I promise. And now, please tell me, what more can I do in Little India?” I asked her. She started giggling. The scary face melted away. “Nothing. Just walk around. Maybe shopping also can.”

My face was glowing. Shop! So between the smell of sandalwood, the Indian songs from the accessories store, the yellow-red-ish flowers and vegetable sellers, I finally found a market for Sari (Indian traditional dress). They’re all looked so colorful and beautiful. I didn’t buy the dress, I’ll be back for them one day, but I bought several pairs of chic edgy pants. Love ’em!

While walking back to hotel, my memory strongly went to my Amitabh-Bachchan-fan bestfriend, Eel. If she were with me, we’d be dancing thru the Indian songs like mad :D

Read.

I’ve been preparing a new startup company about writing and my business partner asking me to research more about writing at bookstores or library. This is probably one of the best tasks I’ve ever received in my whole life. Love it so much :D

I spent couple of hours at Borders, sitting religiously in front of the writing section, taking notes, and felt stupid when paying bunch of books (I bought 6 books) when I carry my new iPad in the same time (why I didn’t get ebooks instead -_-;). Speaking about the new iPad, yeah, I bought it in Singapore (heard it’s cheaper, and it is cheaper indeed). Bought iPad WiFi + 3G 16GB for 928 SGD.

Anyway… to complete the resources I needed, Niken took me to Singapore National Library @ 8th floor. The library is awesome. Looked a lot like Senayan City Mall :p The books collection is SUPER. I can live there. Build a tent or something. The library is not playing games. They took books seriously. I have a dream that someday Jakarta (or maybe Depok) can be a travel destination for book lovers & writers. Amin, amin.

At this point I have to thank Niken SO MUCH for being there for me and my crazy requests such as Starhub’s MaxMobile prepaid card in the middle of the night :P Good luck with your final assignment ya… *hug*

Startup.

I’ve been actively taking parts in Indonesian startup events in the past few months. Me & friends (@NataliArdianto, @Nuniek, @SaGad) are initiating #StartupLokal monthly event that has been running for almost 8 months now. I also have been taking role as a judge for Sparxup Awards 2010 with a lot of great people in the industry. That’s why I’ve been curious with how everything’s going with  Singapore startups.

I’m so lucky I could sit in Founder Institute class to absorbs precious knowledge about startups and gain insights from fellow founders. For you who’ve just heard about Founder Institute, Silicon Valley-based Founder Institute is a four-month training and mentoring programme for technology entrepreneurs. You can also read about it in Mobile Monday.

The event was held at Microsoft Singapore. I spent time brainstorming with Eugene, from Microsoft SG, about things he wanted to do with Indonesian startups & Phillipines startups (he’s originally from there). Hope could execute something out of our conversation.

When I enter the classroom, there are around 20 creative people inside,  all look tense. I found out from Jeffrey Paine, from Founder Institute, that day they have to pitch their ideas and someone could be cut off from the class. Ow… that explained.

So while I sat there silently, a young man walked in with his wide smile. “Hey… are you new?” He immediately recognized my presence. His name is Bastian Döhling @uum from interesting.org. Other students gazing over their shoulders and start introducing themselves to me. I make some new friends ^-^

I was so curious about the closed-pitching-process, Jeff finally let me in to the board room with the mentors, as an observer. But only for 1 group, he said. Bastian said I should watch their group. So, I was coming inside with his group, the first group. There are 4 of them (Bastian, Matthew, Daniel & Adrian) and they’re pitching their ideas one by one. They all got interesting ideas. And I’m inviting Adrian Tan, to come to the next #StartupLokal event, December 2nd, at Microsoft Jakarta. He said yes :D You guys could meet and exchanging insights with him later.

On the second day of the class, there are 3 mentors speaking, they are Chak Kong Soon (Managing Partner venture catalyst Stream Global), Margaret Manning @margaretmanning (CEO Reading Room) & Roger Yee @rogery33 (serial entrepreneur). They’re all speaking about Revenues, Costs and Profits. Very interesting and inspiring. One of the things I noted from Roger was there are only 2 simple business models: help a customer save money or help a customer make money. *put-thinking-cap*

At dinner break, Bastian give me this book titled, “The Developing World” – how an explosion of creativity from developing countries changing the world and why the developed world has to start paying attention. I haven’t got chance to read the book yet, but from the video at The Developing World website, I know exactly that Indonesian startup is in the right place at the right exciting moment right now. It’s time for us to shine!

When Bastian walked me to the taxi stand, he promised to visit Jakarta soon. Well, you really should, Bastian! We’re the developing world… you and Fredrik should put us in your next book :D

I had an enlightening moment in Singapore. Thanks a lot Jeffrey Paine & Alvin Yap for letting me in :p *group-hug*

One of the FI students asked me, “After you see us, how would you compare this to what’s happened in Jakarta?” And I said, “The excitement, ideas, and all that are pretty much the same. It’s just we’re pretty much walking on our own feet. Our government and local investors are not paying attention yet to Indonesian startups.” But, it’s all process.

All I can say now is… we’re one step closer to get there. Stay creative, stay powerful, keep going! Let’s startup!

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A writer of 30 books. Co-Founder & CMO Storial.co & NulisBuku.com. Initiate StartupLokal, the biggest startup community in Indonesia. Co-Managing Director of Girls in Tech Indonesia.

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