Singapore – on shopping for clothes and cars
I was a bit disappointed with the shopping variety in Singapore’s fashion stores. Singapore, the rising country, that created wealth out of nothing, with no natural resources and limited space, lacks shopping individuality.
Even though it was the countries super sales weeks, walking through Singapore’s malls was not the slightest bit impressive.
Many ageing big malls with store chains I knew from home or England. Some of those buildings were just undergoing major reconstruction. But even the newer ones were ghostly abandoned looking with strange interiors and misplaced passages that made me feel uncomfortable and conveyed coldness in design.
I walked down the acclaimed Orchard shopping strip and returned without a find after my habitual shopping treasure hunt. I missed originality in interior design and clothing. With limited alternative to the haute couture and average pocket chains of globalized standard there was nothing interesting to see or any particular Singaporian fashion style evident. Orchard road lacks shopping charm, its competitive element fails in fashion industry – with unbeatable beau monde leader Japan, the extravagant malls and inventive young designer chic from Thailand or even the just emerging original boutiques from Cambodia. In comparison to the shopping class and character I have seen in Asia so far that was a rather soulless shopping experience.
I did not find it!
The best find was the mall entertainment for kids with educational and fun activities while mum and dad were shopping. The staff did a superb job to keep the little ones occupied with huge dinosaur exhibits, sand box distraction, stage on quizzes and handicraft. Some parents were more engaged than their offspring. It reminded me of the fun times at the pre-school therapy centre I used to work as a speech and language therapist in Cologne/Germany amidst a great team, with less of a financial scope but more commitment instead :)
Or maybe this was the best find. A very unusual napkin dispenser.
Music clip shooting at the Cathay mall with dancing choreography on the moving escalators. Too bad I am not into teeny bands – should have asked about the groups’ name. The front of the building had an original art deco facade, which was the only building structure left from 1939. The main structure – with the island’s first air-conditioned movie theatre equipped with unique arm airs – has been demolished to make way for a very plain mall.
All year round sale at this little store in one of Singapore’s traditional shop houses.
Then there is (famous) Bugis street. A small arcade like passage with mass production merchandise and snacks.
Shopping for cars is an very different matter and interesting process to the outsider: Buying a car in Singapore is reserved for the super well off or a lifetime repayment deal for the average. All cars purchased in Singapore are double the original price because Singapore’s government decided on a 100% (!) import tax for cars. There are many regulations when buying a car. On top of the tax fee, everyone acquiring a car must obtain a ‘certificate of entitlement’ for the car (not to be confused with the obligatory driver’s license), which is an expensive procedure in form of a bidding auction! This certificate is then only valid for 10 years. Then there is the variously coloured license plate procedure which determines when you are allowed to use your car. What a bad deal. But it does keep congestion to a minimum and so far has worked well to maintain traffic flow. Buses are pretty crowded at peek times and it is difficult to work out the timetables and routes but the metro is an easy, cheap and convenient mean of transportation.
I stumbled upon this retro car exhibition in one shopping centre.
|Tomek drove across Europe with his mates on a Volkswagen like that. Except that his friend’s VW was orange.||We have driven similar museum exhibits in Cuba! – which are a common sight there and still used by locals due to Castro’s crazy self reliance politics.|
A fun way to do sight seeing is by riding the hop on hop off bus, especially when time and planning is limited. The double deckers in Singapore have seen better times with out of tune speakers and seriously aged seats, but thinking of the problematic and pricey vehicle regulations I can image that they will be on tourists’ duty for another while. On the bright side, Singapore is so small we took the bus map for sight orientation and walked.