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Mark's World Tour 2007-08

Day 69: Singapore: a shopper's paradise

SINGAPORE | Sunday, 13 January 2008 | Views [781]

Mark looking gnarly

Mark looking gnarly

Sunday 13th January

I had an earlier start to the day, with the aim of making the most of Sunday as Mark was free to spend the day hanging out before going back to work the next day. I took a dip in the pool before making a trip into Orchard Street – the main shopping street in Singapore – for a cooked breakfast (a different take on the usual fry, but still very good). Orchard Street is comparable to Oxford Street in London except for the fact that the shops are better here, the pavements wider, making the place less crowded; there is less traffic; and, most importantly, fewer chavs. I'm a committed opponent to most things related to shopping, but this was the comfortable, exciting face of it.

It also helped that I had identified a few things that I needed to get. We paid a visit to Borders book store, and the chance to browse the shelves here was cool (the lack of decent book stores in India meant that there was fewer choice there). Here, I picked up the guide to SE Asia, so I could plan this stage of the trip better. I was also on the lookout for a PDA-type device that would allow me to update my journal better, and without me having to spend so much time and money in internet centres. India was reasonably cheap for internet access, but I figured it would only get more expensive as the journey progressed. My thinking was that if I was able to pick something up for a reasonable price, it would end up paying for itself, given the money I would save in avoiding internet cafes.

Singapore – like many places in Asia – is excellent for buying the latest electronic goods, and my eye was quickly drawn to the many stores offering the newest computer equipment, MP3s, TVs and cameras. I walked about the Apple store just gawking at the massive screens and chrystal-clear sound systems that customers are able to play about with. Mark had pointed me in the direction of the Funan Digital Mall which, as the name suggests, is a shopping mall specialising in electronics. I had done some research the previous day on PDAs, and set off with the aim of looking for a suitable model that would allow me to do the things I needed it to do.

After a couple of hours, I came across a shop with a mini-PC in the window display and decided to go in and give it a closer look. I had a play with this 'Eee PC', as it is called, made by a company called 'Asus', and immediately went wide-eyed with excitement. I hadn't seen anything like this before: small, lightweight, and it fit all the criteria I was looking for (office tools, wireless internet capability, built-in webcam, and other useful applications, etc.). Plus, it cost just over 200 quid, so was very good value as well.

I met Mark for a coffee and chatted briefly about the deal, and decided to go back to take another look. The sales assistant said that they were going quick (I suppose she would say that), and that in over two weeks they were almost sold out of their initial stock of 300. Only eight remained, so I was going to have to be quick if I was to secure one. I'm not usually an impulse buyer, preferring to do some research before parting with my cash, but there was also the risk that if I stalled then I would lose out on the chance to have this little gem of technology. So, I decided to go for it, buying it there and then, as there didn't seem to be any real risk in buying the thing (provided it worked OK). I was very excited to be the owner of such a cool toy!

We left the shops and wandered about Chinatown for a while, just watching the world go by. We took a cab out to the East Coast district, to a restaurant that Mark has been to few times befor, and there we had a slap-up meal of garlic spinach (even better than the previous night), chilli crab, seabass, fish cakes and fried buns to mop up the tasty sauces. The restaurants always seem to be busy in Singapore, and eating out is one of the most favoured activities for Singaporeans. This night it was particularly heaving, with families out in large numbers for a Sunday night meal together.

It had been another eventful day, so we took a walk to work off our dinner, and then took a taxi back to the flat. We watched some TV and I felt my head getting very heavy and my eyes start to close, so sleep wasn't very far away once I got back. Mark's fiance, Jess, had been in Thailand for the weekend and she came back and we chatted briefly before I turned in for the night.

Tags: Shopping


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