We’ve had the most amazing day.
The weather didn’t look too promising when we got up, but after the most amazing breakfast ever – remarkable even by Asian top-class hotel standards – the sun was shining in our hearts regardless.
Let’s go and explore the city, shall we?
First stop is Watsons, a favourite from the old Hong Kong days. Throat lozenges are needed and so we can have a quick look around to see what’s what in there.
Well, first of all, isn’t it amusing that whilst we English buy Nivea body lotion with a hint of self tan in it, the ladies here are after “whitening” products. It’s a funny old world, isn’t it?
Of course, there’s no chewing gum here, so there are shelves and shelves of mints.
Let’s go for a familiar package in a rather exotic flavour, shall we?
Anyway, I want to know how the balloons are coming along. Just a bit further along this route we’ll be able to see.
Quite nicely, it seems. There’s a kind of hairnet and a small team are inflating balloons to fill it. I hope someone is keeping count?
The girls are inflating four balloons at a time for the young men to stuff inside, we see.
But look, there’s a pair of feet underneath!
One of the young men is inside there, rearranging balloons – rather claustrophobic, I’d imagine? Rather him than me.
On then through the deserted shopping mall (about 10.30am by now) to the City Hall MRT station. Things are really well signed and we can find our way more easily since we’ve discovered the letters as well as the names. We’re aiming for “G”.
The station is very much like a Japanese station, clean and well signed. We’ll need to buy tickets before we can do anything though.
Now, you didn’t bring your large screen TV with you, did you? I hope not!
Right, 2 day tourist pass in hand, we’re ready to go.
Behave, now. Stand where you’re told and don’t get in the way of people getting off the train.
We’re heading for Orchard station, clearly signed in the train and announced over the loudspeaker. We can’t go wrong.
Ha, first stop Kinokuniya, probably the best bookstore you can imagine – and Jordi, you’d better not get lost in all those magazines! I’ve found one or two bits in the stationery department and am just off to the cashier…
Calamity. My credit card is declined. Have you got an alternative we can use?
Let’s go and get a drink in this cafe and telephone the helpline, shall we?
Hmm…someone might have told me they’d put a block on it on the 16th February because it was used somewhere suspicious (?Australia maybe?) Never mind, we’re sorted and ready to go again, aren’t we?
We’ve been to Singapore several times and when we’ve stayed in an hotel (as opposed to calling in on a ship) we’ve stayed on Orchard Road at the Mandarin, so shall we go and see if it’s changed at all?
But look at that – the Thai restaurant where we enjoyed a really great Thai meal 17 or 18 yeas ago with a very crabby 8 or 9 year old boy who would really have preferred to eat in McDonalds!!
Oh my, look at those shops though – the hotel has disappeared behind them and the entrance is now in a side street. I don’t think there’s anything to interest us here, is there?
Oh, but here’s an art shop! Now we’re talking!
Another small purchase? Surely, I can use these rubber stamps in my travel journal? You can borrow them if you like.
Anyway, it’s getting a bit hot and sticky and we think we might catch the MRT a couple of stops rather than walk, if that’s ok with you? Let’s go to Bugis station.
I wonder if Maggie can guess where we’re headed now?
Can you spot the mosque from yesterday at the end of the street? There are old shophouses here, though some of the roads are wide and the traffic is moving very quickly. Watch your step and don’t get run over.
We were heading for Arab Street and the fabric shops! Now we’re going to have some fun. Tablecloth anyone?
The batiks are pretty even if we don’t really believe they were handpainted.
Every second shop is a fabric shop, mostly selling very elaborately embroidered chiffons and silks for elegant Indian ladies rather than for us. We’ll keep moving along until we spot something.
Hang on….worth stopping here?
I’m looking around here anyway – I know, I can hear you reminding me that I still have some pieces of fabric at home which were bought here all those years ago!
I wonder if someone bought wedding dress fabric here? What do you think?
It’s getting very hot and sticky now, though – let’s get back on the MRT and go back to the hotel on the train, shall we? The airconditioning in the station and on the train will be a relief, I know.
3.15pm already. No wonder we’re feeling a little weary. I’ve got most things on my list but was hoping to get a large bag of star anise somewhere out here. I haven’t spotted a food market, though.
Someone has spotted a sign to a supermarket however, so he will go back and put his feet up whilst we continue shopping, ok? We might sneak another look in that papercraft shop whilst we’re out, but because they don’t allow photographs, we’ll have to keep that quiet.
Hah! No star anise but plenty of Waitrose products on the shelves. What a swizz!
The Mall’s deserted as I head back to our hotel again. Now, don’t get distracted by any of those nail bars, beauty salons and fashion shops, will you?
I promised not to be long and of course, I’ve got to take a look at how the balloons are shaping up. My feet are tired, however, and I’m looking forward to freshening up when I get back to the hotel, which is attached to this mall.
The peace and quiet of the Mandarin Oriental awaits us and we’ll soar in the elevator to the 18th floor – once we get the key card to work, that is. Stick with me and put your feet up for a few minutes whilst I sort out one or two things – we’ll head on out again shortly.