Needless to say, if you’ve read any of my other holiday stories, we got mislaid finding the hotel again, but considering we were just going by feel in a new country it wasn’t too bad.
Along the way I saw a sign that said ‘please closed gate at all times’. I find it really fascinating that Chinese people have such difficulty with the ‘ed’ on the end of words – when they need a d on the end they don’t use one and now they had one when they shouldn’t!!! In Singapore it struck me even more so as English is the official language, so are they taught incorrectly in school? Or are sign-makers not native Singaporeans? Or… (Don’t worry, I’m not perfect either, it’s just something I’ve noticed and it makes me smile.)
We eventually got back to the hotel and went for a swim in the lovely pool and laid on sun chairs, officially to look at brochures, but my eyes were shutting so I confessed rather than fall asleep there and we went back to our room for a shower.
After this we decided to walk to Orchard Road. The valets seemed surprised that we wanted to walk rather than catch a taxi and I’m not sure if that’s because the natives don’t walk or they thought us too old to make the distance but it really wasn’t very far at all. We just walked up Clemenceau Ave, through a little park named Istana and we were there. Orchard Road was most interesting and we saw all the brand names – wow! We decided to go into the Gucci shop to see how the other half lived – felt like giggling as the doorman opened the door and greeted ‘sir’ and ‘madam’ dressed in their Kmart-style clothes! Not many items had prices and we knew that if you needed to ask you couldn’t afford it. We saw a pair of white jeans for $1,700 and a plain black belt for $450; its only embellishment being the gold ‘G’ on the buckle so you can pay a fortune to do their advertising for them. You can always tell how expensive things are by how many, or how few, they have on each shelf anyway so we didn’t need price tags to know about everything else.
We didn’t go in any other expensive shops, just glanced at the names and were so surprised by just how well represented they all were… Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Rolex, Armani, and all the rest, all with their greeters and door openers on hand.
Here’s the tiniest McDonalds I’ve ever seen. It was only a McCafe so not selling burgers etc. but I wonder what his rent is considering it’s on Orchard Road? It’s about twice the length of the width you can see here.
All of the shopping centres in Singapore appeared to be 5 or 6 floors high, again reinforcing to us how much space is at a premium there. In one such centre we saw a Haagen Dazs ice creamery and, as they are famous and we don’t have one in Perth, decided to try their wares. David, in typical David style, pronounces these ‘Haygen Deeaz’. His world is far more fun than the real one. We sat in their restaurant and the waitress brought us a glass of iced water each which was much appreciated and we downed those so fast she bought us a whole bottle instead of just refilling our glasses.
The ice creams were really delicious and we enjoyed the experience very much but they add GST and a service tax on top of the menu price which was a surprise as our GST is included in prices here in Oz. So it cost us S$42 for 2 ice creams! But they were pretty special…
Yes, that is just one. Three tiers of wafers with 6 scoops of ice cream sandwiched between, plus chocolate sauce, strawberry sauce, a few real berries and almond slivers. Drooooollll. The ice cream consisted of 4 different flavours plus 2 fruit sorbets so we had a good variety each to enjoy.
Further along Orchard Road was the most unusual McDonalds I’ve ever seen – not
that I’m an expert as we don’t indulge but I sure felt it was worth photographing…
The sales counter looked a lot like an old railway carriage and was at the bottom, directly under where I stood to take this photo. This picture only shows about a third of the seating area but the whole thing was on about 5 levels with the counter/meal prep ‘carriage’ at the bottom. Pretty neat I thought, and very nice to be in the fresh air in the warm Singapore climate. There was a roof a few floors above as this was at the edge of a shopping centre, but still plenty of fresh air.
To get to ‘the other side’ of Orchard Road we had to go down and through an underpass. There were underpasses or overpasses on all the major roads, many of the overpasses being beautifully decorated with small, flowering bougainvillea plants. But I digress. This one at the corner of Orchard Road and Paterson/Scotts was to be our nemesis on this holiday. All we wanted was to continue on Orchard Road so we went down the escalator, turned some corners – there was no choice in this – up a few steps, followed some signs that meant absolutely nothing to us and found that we were at the doorway for the MRT (their underground). Oh! So we retraced some of our steps and took a different direction after a while, up another escalator and came up… in the exact spot we’d first gone down!!! Completely confused and bewildered we decided we’d probably reached the end of the interesting part of the road anyway so turned around and walked back the way we’d come. Chicken? You betcha!
A couple of things I’ve not mentioned, and should, is that passing some of the smaller shops was a difficult pastime – it was amazing how many shop-holders came out and tried to persuade us to enter their dens. One in particular was a camera shop – having seen the camera case over David’s shoulder the guy leapt into action to sell us a lens we couldn’t live without which would capture a wider view and allegedly pick up a picture in darker circumstances than the one we had. When we asked the price the answer was $399 (all prices for this story are Singapore) which just about bowled us over backwards! We said no and the price got reduced. We said no again and the price was reduced to $200. After a further no he was telling us to make him an offer so I wonder, deeply, about the original price! We extricated ourselves, lens free and still with our wallets intact thank you very much, but wiser for the experience.
The other observation was the only thing that we really did not like one bit about the holiday. You take a footpath the width of 4 people and you’d get 4 people walking towards you and not one of them had any intention whatsoever of moving to one side so you could pass them. The overruling intention seemed to be that they wished you’d simply vaporise out of their way. In Australia if you’re approaching someone on a footpath you both step to the left and miss each other. In the USA, people step to the right, it’s a given. In Singapore they try to plough right through you and we bumped arms more than once with people even though we’d gone single file ourselves. For the most part everyone walked right down the centre of the path and we even had one girl, walking alone, who strode slightly to the left of centre when we were on the left of a path wide enough for 4 people. This happened everywhere for the entire holiday and we really did find it extremely rude. We could only guess that there were so many holiday makers from so many countries that you couldn’t rely on the ‘keep left’ or ‘keep right’ rule and it had all become a mess. It still didn’t excuse them trying to plough right into us though! And to add insult to injury, if we stepped to one side for people, no matter how awkward that made things for us, there was no sign that they’d even noticed you, much less to say thanks.
Anyway, after looking in more shopping centres, but avoiding the ‘half-submerged-lower-floor shop-keeper-accoster’ area we once more crossed the easy underpass at the far end back into Istana Park and sanity.
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