Orchard Road, Asia’s premiere shopping

Heheh…really? Some of you dear readers might ask.

No. This is not a post of our Singapore series. Rather, it is a deeper dive into an interesting discussion about this so-called iconic shopping belt in the little red dot. Now we know that you dear readers, assuming you came to our sunny island before, would have had Orchard road on the itinerary?

What do you find exciting about this stretch of road?

In the last year, we’ve read and heard about a flurry of reports about how the road can be revitalized. This all suggests that there is something amiss. Perhaps it has lost its allure? Yep. And you also have articles such as this and that postulating the reasons for the decline. Things appear to be getting a little hazy for the strip, like the featured image of this post.

We’ll be honest. That it was actually hard to do a write up about this supposedly famous shopping street. That’s why we were sceptical enough to start this post with a rhetorical question. The ‘fact’ from our view : is that the street has lost its place. In the sense that to us whether this street is iconic, vibrant or not has become irrelevant. Like cities around the world swimming with strip malls even in suburbia, our little red dot has so much of the same in every shopping center.

Even if one is to do some ‘window shopping’, there is probably one just around the corner of an MRT station. And of course we are speaking from the perspective of high dense city living. For those who have visited Singapore, do you think there is anything special about Orchard Road?

How important is shopping to you when you travel?

As Presidential as it gets

Have you shaked hands with your country’s President? Do you even know where you country’s Presidential palace is? Ok for those who live under monarchies (albeit constitutional ones), this may not apply and we are not referring to these relics of institutions. Yes you can read from our language that we live the ideals of a republic free from privileges, accorded to people whose forebears hit ours with a club and subjucated them.

No. Indeed it is with pride we can say that it is here in the little red dot where a person with truly humble background can rise to potentially be our first woman President (elections in September). One who started life helping her parents’ pushcart in her youth, during the poverty stricken times of the little red dot in the 1960s eventually rising to become a lawyer and unionist.

Our little island has come a long way. Short perhaps in time span (52 years) but surely long from the perspective of tribulations along the way. Thus it is with great pleasure to share with you how the Presidential palace of our republic looks like – inside.

Did we get to meet Mr Tony Tan President? Nope. Although he did appear later in the day to join in the festivities taking place within the palace. Yep, the palace turns into a playground for the public on the days it is open. Best of all, it is open to all visitors local or foreign (who have to pay though).

While it is not considered an attraction from our perspective, the days it is open will afford the opportunity to see and imagine how the founding fathers of this little island struggled to build an erstwhile miracle on an island with no resources. We enjoyed our day. It was hot and humid in the open grounds but the atmosphere more than made up for it.

What can you experience while at the Palace? Read more here in our Singapore story on the Istana! Have you shaken hands with your head of state before?

Happy 52nd birthday!

Wow. Living in the western part of our little red dot, we get mini previews of the jets and helicopters flying past almost every weekend when the rehearsals take place for the parade that will be held on our independence day. We call it National Day here in our little red dot.

Singapore_240-animated-flag-gifsOn that day and the many before (and after), flags deck out apartment blocks across our little red dot. Street lamps become adorned with streamers topped by our national coat of arms. And the local parade(s) and neighbourhood get-togethers that take place all over the island will be fun filled activities too!

Fireworks. Of course there will be a beautiful display in the night skies tonight at the Marina bay area. And this year we will have a drone show too. Watch them move in formation as it fortell what the future might hold for little red dotters.

Neighbourhood 7Some people are zealous patriots, others may be a little lukewarm. But for someone who had been living out and about the world before for quite many years and seen a little of what is out there, we are immensely proud of our little red dot. Perhaps arrogant in some ways. But there are many many reasons for that. Come here and see it for yourselves so that we can rub it in your face! LOL.

Ok. Seriously.

NDP Fly pass 8It has taken a long time in our development from third to the first world, yet we are considered a young nation. And indeed we still have a long way to go, such as being a truly first world culture. We are still a cleaned up city as opposed to a clean one. Our driving etiquette can do with some improving. Our mass rapid transit system needs a massive overhaul. But as one school that Mel went to proclaims: The best is yet to be!

How does your country celebrate its independence?

Morning walks at the Chinese & Japanese gardens

Finally!

Yes we have finally come around to posting again about our beloved little red dot. It has been such a long time since the last one. Not quite the Gardens by the Bay, the green of the Chinese and Japanese gardens in the western side of Singapore offers you an entirely different experience. Whereas the gardens at the bay are more about ‘in your face’ impressive, this corner of the little red dot offers more poetic solace.

And that is partly because it is set in the heartlands, our local term for the suburban towns and neighbourhoods where most people live. You’ll need to know that Singapore is more than just the shiny skyscrapers and beautiful glitzy hotels in the CBD area. And that not everyone lives in a nice condo.

Home to the workhorses of the country, it is also the place where you’d see more local inhabitants than tourists, so those travelers out there (hey remember to come get your certifications) will be most delighted you can immerse into local culture. Just remember not to overuse the ‘lah’ when you interact and try to blend in like a local. Heheh.

But most importantly, come for a morning walk when the sun rises and reflections of the ball of fire is rippled in the waters surrounding the gardens. Yes! The gardens are set within a body of water, the Jurong lake. Which serves not just as a water catchment (recall this post?) but also a leisure area where folks can take to the water – not swimming, just canoeing etc. You’ll get a fine for getting into the water…sorry.

Recall that the gardens by the bay have otters? Well guess what these gardens have? You’d be surprised with what you see here in the gardens. Find out more here!

A Chinatown Market By Day

You know we started this attempt to share more about our own “backyard” that is the little red dot…and we had been mulling how we can present the “ethnic enclaves” we have. Try we have and we had not come to post one – yet. What can be better than to acknowledge that someone else does it better than you if you found wonderful content right?

So without ado, we reblog this post by Moony. Btw there are lots of posts in her blog about real life in our country. Not the fancy Marina Bay, Orchard road etc….actual people living actual lives.

Enjoy!

Hear The Flowers Sing

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Despite their transient nature, festive bazaars of any sort can always be distinguished every year by their unconscious regularity. There are the same stands of pussy willows, dyed in all sorts of colours, sitting behind pots of spiral-shaped bamboo coils and cut peach and plum tree branches. There is the same roasted-chestnut vendor standing before his glass-panelled roaster, sending the faint aroma of coffee wafting through the crowd. There are the same intricate red paper cuttings of auspicious Chinese characters, the same fabric plushies of zodiac animals, the same snaking queues for sweetmeats (better known by its Hokkien name bak kwa).

And then there are the details that you notice only after having regularly set foot along the same streets at the same time of year. Along Sago Street this afternoon, I witnessed the vendors kick into high gear at an unexpected visit. “The health department is here,” one…

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National Gallery Singapore

Not exactly free for all, the National Gallery of Singapore does have some sections where even those without tickets may slip in for a view.

Read more here about what you can expect for a half day out at the galleries.

However for those who do not want to pay at all, fear not. There is still a reason to come here – and that’s got to be the rooftop viewing platform. Located on the 6th floor (well the roof…), this platform affords a beautiful view not only of the Padang green in front of the city hall building, but also a panorama of the CDB and the Marina Bay.

You can also enjoy a cuppa while literally watching the world go by.

One more free rooftop view in Singapore brought to your attention. You don’t need to sneak your way to take daredevil shots. There’s an elevator for you!