Singapore is shopper’s paradise – and a twisted form of torture for two young travellers who are sick of absolutely every item of clothing in their backpacks. There is a shopping mall on every street corner, and even in the budget backpacker location of our hostel, retail opportunities abound. We’re exercising extreme restraint; any shopping we’re gonna do, we’re saving for Thailand. Still, I do have a pair of sunglasses to replace…
5th Ave? Oxford Street? Bloor Street?
Welcome to all-of-the-above combined, it’s Orchard Street! Our excuse for going shopping instead of being tourists? The rain! We stepped out of our hostel and into a monsoon. With borrowed umbrellas in hand, we ran into the plethora of shopping malls on Orchard, eventually straying from the Louis Vuitton and Gucci circles to the more affordable but still uber trendy shopping centres. It was here that I found a new pair of sunnies. Shopping done for the day, we set off to check out the sights of Singapore.
Chinatown & Colonial District
Now that we’ve left Australaisa and entered Asia proper, I am in culinary heaven. Cheap Asian food stalls are on every corner, and in Chinatown there is a dedicated “Food Street” where hawkers sell dim sum and fried rice and bbq pork for ridiculously cheap prices. Chinatown itself is pretty and clean, with pink paper lanterns strung across the main road and down the side streets. The rain seems to have stripped Chinatown of its normal hustle and bustle (at least according to the Rough Guide we borrowed from the hostel!) but it is still nice to walk around. Again, we have to resist the souvenirs – we can get trinkets for cheap cheap at the Bangkok markets.
We found our way into the Colonial District by happy accident of just walking and talking and ending up where our feet took us. This area epitomizes Singapore: sparkling clean streets and buildings, a jostle of cultures and languages and a mixture of people in business attire and traditional wear. The buildings here are ultra modern; we looked out over the new Arts centre which, with its similarity to the notorious (and smelly) durian fruit, is a paragon of modern architecture. Somehow in a bid to get up the famous Swissotel tower we ended up in yet another shopping mall. We both felt transported back to the UK: Top Shop, River Island and Marks & Spencer, oh my!
The rain finally stopped in the evening. We had dinner in the Little India arcade and strolled around the hundreds of jewelry stores and sari tailors. Little India is the world in technicolour overdrive. Eventually jet lag set in and we headed back to “the Inn Crowd” for some r&r… tomorrow is another day, and another mall awaits, I’m sure.