Monday, June 23, 2008

Singapore : Of Shopping and Hyped Up 小龙包

Last week I had an opportunity to go Singapore for training. My last trip there was during the Lord of The Rings exhibition held at the Singapore Science Centre in May 2004. Having read Ototo-san's recent posts on the 'Faking Lion' (here and here), I really look forward to my trip despite his many 'Singapore Fail' remarks :)

Like any other happy shopaholic-to-be, my 3 colleagues and I planned out our shopping itenary while waiting to board. Upon reaching Singapore and checking into our hotel near Marina Bay, we eagerly stepped out of the hotel only to find that there are no MRT station located near our hotel. Ouch. After asking for directions from the locals, we managed to board a free shuttle bus that lead us to the City Hall MRT station.

First stop - Bugis

Famished, we quickly filled our tummies in the Bugis Junction food court. After that we went ahead with our shopping.

Bugis Junction did something right in which didn't quite work with Chinatown in KL. They also had shoplots and walkways, but those were covered with clear glass ceiling, making it assessible at all times. It was also airconditioned, which makes it very comfortable to walk around the pathways. I thought KL Chinatown was shabbily done, and worse - does not protect all when it rains.

I think we were supposed to head out to the larger Bugis area, but ended up spending a couple of hours at Bugis Junction before heading off to our next destination.

Next stop - Orchard

Orchard Road - Singapore's shopping Mecca. We hit the GAP shop and Isetan at Wisma Atria before heading over to Din Tai Fung for dinner.

Din Tai Fung 鼎泰丰 is supposedly an award-winning Taiwanese restaurant, and - according to the chopstick wrapper - acclaimed by The New York Times as 'one of the World's Top Ten Best Restaurant'. They are famous for their Taiwanese cuisine, particularly the 小笼包 Xiao Long Pao, 拉面 La Mien and 小吃 Xiao Chi. Its popularity soared in Singapore even more after it was patronised by local celebrities. The queue was horrendously long on a weekday, but luckily Bee Choo's brother was already waiting and got us a nice spot at the corner.

The menu in Singapore is quite similar to Dragon-i but less choices.
There's a branch in The Gardens KL but I was surprised how different the menus were as The Gardens serve more casual dining with more sets. I personally thought the Xiao Long Pao were nothing to shout about. Dragon-i is still the best. We were lucky to get 20% off the bill as Bee Choo's brother's friend was working there.

After dinner, we went over to Tangs for quick shopping spree (20 minutes before closing time) and we managed to get a pair of shoes each. Shopaholics united!

The rest of the week days were basically spent in training outside the CBD. By the time we headed back to the hotel, it's dinner time and any extra time was spent inside any shopping mall near Marina Bay.

I visited one of my parent's family friends during one of the days, mainly to meet up with them for dinner and also to pick up Oka-san (she was staying with them for one night). They took us to Grand Shanghai Restaurant at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel.

The Grand Shanghai, true to its name had a very opulent feel to it. Its interior and ambiance is a reminiscence of the glamorous 1940s Shanghainese era, from the lounge sofas right up to the cabaret singer belting out Chinese evergreen tunes. The food was good (for the price you pay, it'd better be!) and we basically had a good time enjoying the music and chit chat. At least the 小龙包 was good.

After dinner, aunty Irene brought us to the Merlion Park. From there we took a boat ride to Clarke Quay, passing by the brightly lit Fullerton Hotel and Boat Quay along the way.

We disembarked at Clarke Quay and took a nice leisurely stroll while observing the restaurants and bars along the area.

Oka-san meant to show me this place called Clinic. It was a bar/restaurant but what made it stand out from the rest is that the interior was decorated as if it was a clinic. There were hospital beds made into couches, and operating light instead of the normal lighting and wheelchairs.

Lots of wheelchairs.

During her first time passing by that place, she thought it was a place for the handicapped to hang out. Little she knew that those were actually chairs until someone stood up right in front of her! Apparently the drinks were served in form of drips but I didn't get to see that except for the display unit. According to Austin, just to dine at Clinic will set one back around SGD100. I guess you pay for the ambiance, but not sure if the food is good or not.

After our training was over, I extended my stay for one more night, but moved out from the hotel to my uncle's place. After dropping our luggage and ate some lovely pastries, we headed out back to Orchard Road, this time with my aunt.

We continued shopping at Tangs, which I think has a great shoes and dress collection. Too bad the outlet at KL is too small and too far. Got myself two dresses while oka-san bought 2 pairs of shoes. We also spent quite a lot of time at the Daniel Yam boutique, in which I managed to secure a cocktail dress from there.

I had to say by shopping at Orchard Road, one is oblivious that the world economy isn't doing so well. Perhaps Singapore had it better than Malaysia and their currency is definitely better than ours.

I mean, who queues up to get into the Louis Vuitton shop in KL? They had to do that at Takashimaya and LV is not even on sale!

A Coach bag costs less than SGD1000, while in KL it is more expensive. Imagine if I earn SGD5,000, as compared to RM5,000. For the same dollar I can definitely afford a Coach, Gucci or LV bag as it is 'cheaper' than say I had to pay in RM. Sigh.

After shopping at Orchard, my aunt brought us to Bishan for more shopping. Bishan is more of a residential area (think Bandar Utama) so the shops there have more discount although they may not be of the latest range. We went home around 9pm. It was a fruitful - albeit tiring - trip.

I departed for Changi airport on Sunday morning. As I admired the beautiful trees planted along the highway, I wonder when will Malaysia ever catch up to be like Singapore? Yeah, they have their kiasu-ness and whatever not, but I give high regard to their public transportation system and security.

Singapore fail?

At least not for me.


lilium said...

WAH!! Seems like a shopping trip more than a training trip and very fruitful too..HAHA!! =)

n i l e e y said...

LOL, of course we did the training as well, which I thought was a great course, but don't wanna talk about work here :p