Another Round of Christmas Decoration Photos From Around Singapore

Back in November, I made a post with photos of the Christmas decorations on Orchard Road for this year. Since then, quite a few have been added, but I didn’t get shots of them all.  There’s just too many!  Orchard Road really turns into a sea of lights at this time of the year and helps you to forget about the hot weather and the lack of snow.  It helps get you in the ‘Christmas spirit’.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been snapping photos with my iPhone and camera when I saw things that stood out to me.  Here are a few more decorations from around Singapore:

This giant ball that opens and closes is in Terminal 3 at Changi International Airport.
This is the outside and inside of the Christmas tree in front of Ion Orchard mall on Orchard Road.
These are photos of the Christmas tree at Bugis Junction.  I really love the white and blue combination!
There were a series of dressed up deer characters along Orchard Road (including a creepy one with no eyes).  I had to wait a while, but managed to get this great photo taken!
Oops!  Someone dropped this tree in upside down!  This is at Tampines 1.

These three Christmas trees were walking around Tampines 1 offering up great photo opportunities to shoppers!
I think this will be my last Christmas in Singapore, so I was happy to have the chance to see so many of the decorations.  Christmas isn’t just about decorations, but it really sets the mood, and I’ve never seen it done better.  Bravo Singapore!

2009 Christmas Decorations Along Orchard Road, Singapore

On Saturday night at 7:30 PM the Christmas lights along Orchard Road were officially lit.  I wasn’t there for the ceremony, as I was laid up in the house with a mild case of food poisoning, but we can’t have everything right?  I decided to tough it out and get my butt up to Orchard Road on Sunday evening at least to have a look at this year’s decorations.

Last year the decorations were awesome!  I remember how impressed I was, and how incredible everything looked.  I had never seen such a huge display of Christmas decorations.  I don’t know if anyone does it as big as Singapore does when it comes to setting up lights.  If you’re not familiar with Singapore, Orchard Road is what you would call the ‘Main Street’ of Singapore.  It’s in the heart of the city-state and is home to the biggest, poshest malls Singapore has to offer, carrying brands like Docle & Gabbana, Prada, Lous Vuitton, etc.  It’s a popular place to go, even if you’re not planning on buying anything.  You could literally spend all evening cruising the malls and never go through the same place twice, unless you have to to exit the mall again of course.

Like I said, last year’s decorations were stunning, especially to me, since I’d never seen Orchard Road in all its Christmas glory before.  This year was no less thrilling.  In fact, I think the decorations this year were far more elegant and classy looking than last year’s.  I have no clue if it’s true or not but I have a feeling that the decorations are rotated, and that there’s a stock of them somewhere, so that each year there’s something different.  Who knows?  Maybe there are no ‘repeats’ and the road is decorated with fresh stuff every year?  I have a feeling that this year the planners were really pushing for that classy, elegant look, especially considering the fact that the APEC meeting is happening here in Singapore from the 5th through the 18th (?) of November.  There will be a lot of important political figures in Singapore during those dates, and the city-state has really ‘dressed to impress’.

Before continuing on, you may want to take a quick look at this post to see some of the decorations from 2008.

The photos below aren’t in order, exactly.  I matched some of them up according to decoration type.  We exited the MRT at Dhoby Ghaut Interchange and walked all the way down to Orchard Towers before turning back and using the Orchard MRT station under Ion to go home.

And now, a sample of 2009’s decorations (click for larger image):

The tree in Tampines Mall.  I know that’s not Orchard Road, but just thought I’d throw it in there, since it looks so nice.

Like I said earlier, everything has a real classy, professional, elegant look to it.  I wonder if everything is set out yet, though.  I seem to remember there being more displays last year.  Of course, it’s only early November, so perhaps more will be added as we get closer to Christmas.  We’ll definitely be making another visit to check!  Also, the place was crowded, but it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as when we went last year.  The atmosphere was somewhat subdued as well.  It didn’t feel overly cheerful.  On our next trip down there I think we’ll buy some ice cream and hot chocolate to get more into the spirit of the season. ^_^

I hope you enjoyed the photos!

Christmas Decorations Are Up on Orchard!

Update: Please read THIS article to see samples of the 2009 Christmas Decorations on Orchard.

Last year my wife and I had a great time walking around Orchard Road, looking at all of the Christmas decorations.  Singapore really goes all out when it comes to Christmas and Orchard Road becomes a sort of Winter Wonderland… minus the snow and the crisp breeze that is.  This is still the tropics, after all.  Despite that heat, the sheer number of decorations and how well they’re displayed can help you to forget for a moment that you’re sweating, and put you in the mood for wrapping gifts and drinking hot chocolate.  It’s a great time of year in Singapore!

And, based on my trip down to Orchard Road over the weekend (pictured above), the city isn’t wasting any time in getting things going this year.  We were downtown on October 31st and they were already getting the majority of of the pole and tree mounted decorations in place.  The decor looks like it’s going to be a different theme this year, which is really cool.  It would be boring if they simply set up the same stuff as last year.  In fact, I think the decorations look like they’ll be a lot better than last year’s.  I can’t wait to have a look at them!  I’m not sure if they’re being lit up after dark yet.  They certainly weren’t when we were there, though that might have been because of the storm.  I’m thinking it’s just preparations though, and they’ll get things going around the end of November.

I wanted to take some more photos but we went into Lucky Plaza to eat first and when we were done, it was like the bottom dropped out of the sky.  The thunder was sounding almost right after the lightning flashed and was so loud it was like having iron pots banged together repeatedly about half a foot from my ear.

(How to calculate your distance from a lightning strike using the sound of thunder.)

Here are some pictures of last year’s Christmas decorations:

Ion Mall

When Ion Mall first opened downtown I took a look through it.  Well, it wasn’t exactly when it opened, but it was close.  Maybe a week later.  I came in from the ground level and went up a few floors and poked around a bit, but I wasn’t that impressed.  Most of the stores are high end like Giorgio Armani, and other crap that I don’t care to know the name of.  In other words, it was sterile and just like almost every other mall on Orchard Road.  I didn’t stay long on that trip either.  Besides my lack of interest in what was available, most of the stores were still closed.  They opened the mall to shoppers long before the place was full.

The one thing I did see that interested me while I was walking around was a dragon dance for a store opening.  After I stood around and watched that for a while, I got bored and left.  I was hungry and didn’t see a food court so I was in a bit of a hurry to get to Tampines.  I had a craving for beef pepper rice!

Yesterday (Friday night) I had the chance to go back through Ion, and I was actually a bit impressed.  The place is a lot bigger than I expected and the food court was impressive!

I guess the most impressive thing about the mall is its size.  The first time I went there I was in a bit of hurry and gave the place the brush off after a cursory walk through.  I think part of the problem is that I entered the place from the ground level.  I had no idea just what was lurking below!

This time around my wife and I were coming from Shaw Center so we used the tunnels underground to get into Ion.  We almost got lost but then we saw a sign pointing towards “Jewelry Street” for Ion.  I think that was the name.  We followed it and sure enough it was lined with jewelry stores.  It passed around the turn-styles for the MRT and brought us into Ion Mall itself… on the 4th basement I believe.

Ion is huge underground.  I didn’t even realize we were in a basement at first.  We kept walking and walking and we kept going up more and more escalators and then I realized I saw doors and we were on the ground level.  It was a bit disorienting at first.  By the time we got to the ground floor we’d seen so much that we were ready to leave.

My initial assessment about what type of stores the place has didn’t change.  It’s mostly high end stuff that’s nice to look at, but isn’t really worth buying.  Not in my opinion anyway.  Not to mention that most of what we saw seemed to be overpriced.  I imagine part of that huge gap in prices was due to the rent the stores are paying for those locations but we saw a skin care product that costs 19 USD being sold for 68 SGD.  It would be cheaper to have two of them bought for us in the US and shipped to us than it would be to buy one in Singapore.  Crazy!  So, Ion is nice to spend time in for sightseeing purposes, but I don’t think I’ll do any real shopping there any time soon.

What I was impressed with was the food court.  We were in the mood for some kopi, so I kept an eye out for signs to the food court.  When we found it, we were pleasantly surprised with how classy the place looks given that it’s just a food court.  That’s something I’ve noticed about Singapore though.  They really do food courts right here when it comes to setting a nice atmosphere.  My favorites are the Food Republic at Vivocity, which looks like a street out of a stereotypical back alley ‘Chinatown’ and the Food Republic at the SunTec Convention Center, which looks like a library.  Very cool!  This one had it’s own unique charm though and, as you can see in the photo above, is called the Food Opera.  (Geek moment: The first thing I thought of is the Opera web browser when I saw this sign).

Here are some photos of the place:

I wasn’t really expecting to see deer heads mounted on walls anywhere in Singapore, let alone in a posh mall’s food court.  Hey, thanks!  It reminded me of home.

The food was displayed quite nicely in the stalls.  I love the whole hanging piglet.  That really adds a nice touch!

The seating area is nice.  There are the standard tables and long bench type seats.  The chandeliers were fun!

Scattered around the seating area were various statues of animals.  Kids were playing with them and I saw a few other people posing to have photos taken with them, or taking photos of the statues alone.  Kinda lame when you think about it, but on the other hand I don’t recall ever seeing anything like this in the US.  Not at a food court anyway.

Me playing with the goat.

While we were there we only had kopi.  I had mine iced and my wife took hers hot.  It was pretty good.  It wasn’t too strong or too mild.  We’d already eaten or I’d have tried some of the food there.  I think we’ll go back just for that.  I didn’t see her but while I was in line to get the drinks my wife spotted a lady pushing a cart around selling food items.  She said the lady had chicken feet.

It reminded me of some Chinese restaurants I’d been to in New York City’s Chinatown where a server will come around with a cart and you take what you want from it.  I don’t recall if there was a menu to order from but if you just take from the carts you pay by how many plates you have when you leave.  I can’t remember the name of the place but it was under a bridge I think.  That was about 18 years ago.  Heck, it might not even be there anymore.

In the end, I wasn’t overly impressed with the mall itself, but I’m always happy when I find another set of eating establishments to feast at.

Posted via email from Bradley’s Posterous

A View of Orchard Road From the Lucky Plaza Mall

Orchard Road is the main shopping strip in Singapore and is well maintained by the government to present the best image possible to foreigners who are in the country.  You can find everything from Louis Vuitton to McDonald’s there.

I read an article recently that was talking about counterfeiting in Singapore, and wrote a post about it because I saw it for myself, and it was saying that it is very prevalent, but they keep Orchard clear of it.  Well, as much as possible anyway.  Not that I can blame them for it.  Singapore wants to present the best image possible to tourists, and they want that image to be clean and law abiding.  I guess getting Singapore 100% free of bootleg items is impossible given the nature of the surrounding countries.

Regardless, Orchard Road is filled with malls that are very clean and posh looking, including the new Ion mall that was recently opened.  Lucky Plaza, however, is the ugly kid on the block.  Lucky Plaza is a sort of ‘bargain bin’ mall, with a lot of little shops that have, honestly, cheap looking products.  The whole interior of the mall has sort of a cheap feel to it actually.  It’s also acquired a reputation of being the Filipino mall in Singapore, since a majority of the shops there are run by Filipinos and there are mostly Filipino eateries on the top floor.  There are also quite a few money remitting establishments there.  Money remitters are where people go in Singapore to send money back to their home countries.  It goes without saying that most of the patrons in Lucky Plaza are Filipinos.

Those things together make Lucky Plaza a somewhat undesirable place to visit for most locals.  Adding to that negative reputation is the rumor that a portion of the Filipinas that hang around in the mall are prostitutes.  It could be true.  I don’t know.  That sort of behavior isn’t just limited to Lucky Plaza though.  There’s a rumor that if you go towards the end of Orchard Rd, where it meets Tanglin Rd, there are prostitutes there as well.  So, it looks like the hookers are slowly making their way out of Geylang!

Still, Lucky Plaza’s not that bad a place.  The Filipino food is cheap and good.  You can get products there that aren’t available in many other places in Singapore.  Also, there are imported products from the Philippines, which is probably what initially drew such a predominately Filipino crowd.

And, there’s a nice view from the balcony, as seen in the photos above!

Orchard Central Mall in Singapore

Saturday evening my wife and I were wandering down Orchard Road.  We didn’t have any real goal in mind.  We just wanted to be out of the house for a while and take in the sights.  Orchard Road is usually pretty interesting.  I’ve seen everything from centurions to acrobats to musicians there.

While walking down the road we saw a building that we didn’t recognize.  It looked like a recently renovated, recently opened shopping center.  We decided to check it out.  Sure enough, it was a new mall called Orchard Central.  As we passed through the doors we were handed a brochure.  We were also handed a fairly basic looking map that proved to be rather useless later.

Rather than make our way upstairs inside the building, we used the long escalators that were mounted to the front face of the building.  It was a really neat experience.  Two of the escalators we went up traversed at least four floors nonstop.  Also, there was a plexi-glass shield beside the escalator that came about as high as my head and not much else so we got a great view as we went up.  Adding to the atmosphere there are several observation decks outside the building.  The escalator leading to the roof area was closed.  I suppose it’s not finished yet but I’m interested to go back when it is, if just for the view.

Here are two shots I took from the highest observation deck I could get to:

A view of Orchard Road from a deck at Orchard Central Mall
A view of Orchard Road from a deck at Orchard Central Mall
A view of Orchard Road from a deck at Orchard Central Mall
A view of Orchard Road from a deck at Orchard Central Mall

After reaching the top and taking in the view for a while we moved inside.  The interior of the mall is not at all what I expected.  First off, most of it is still closed and under construction.  I would even say that there are more closed than open stores there.  That’s not a bad thing, I suppose, but it just seems odd.  The second thing that was weird about the mall is that the interior didn’t look like a mall.  My wife was the first to point it out and after she mentioned it, it was pretty obvious to me too.  It looks like the building used to be an office building and the interior was renovated to turn it into mall space.  The hallways were just too oddly placed for it to have been intentional.

Inside Orchard Central Mall
Inside Orchard Central Mall

The other thing we discovered about the mall is that it’s incredibly hard to get around in.  That’s why I mentioned that the map we got at the front door on the 1st floor was practically useless.  If you start from the top down it’s like trying to work your way through a maze full of dead ends and trick passages.  There are places were it feels like there should be a way through and there’s  just a blank wall.  There are other spots where you would think there’s a way to the stairwell, but in front of you is a huge open area that looks 3 floors down.  Oh, or a fake rock climbing wall that spans four stories and causes you to have to backtrack.  We could have taken the elevators all the way down to the first floor, but that wouldn’t have been much fun.  Instead, we went around, by trial and error, until we got tired.  Then we found an elevator and took them to another floor that had escalators, which we then took down to the first floor.  Sounds complicated right?

Besides its crazy interior, there wasn’t much interesting about the mall.  It had a pretty standard selection of stores when we went through it.  There were a few names I didn’t recognize, but they were on all of the shuttered, still under construction stores.  When we go back to get a look off the roof, hopefully they’ll be open too.

A final thought:  I wish there were a First Person Shooter with a stage modeled after this mall’s floorplan.  I mean, look at it.  It even looks like something from an FPS:

Empty area of Orchard Central Mall
Empty area of Orchard Central Mall

Acrobatic Street Performers on Orchard Road

Asian Acrobats on Orchard Road in Singapore
Asian Acrobats on Orchard Road in Singapore

In January I happened to be walking down Orchard Road and I saw a crowd gathering.  There were two girls doing an acrobatics performance for tips.  They were really good, so I pulled out my camera and tried to record some of it.  The lighting was pretty bad since it was late, but this is what I got:

This past Saturday I saw them again, doing another performance on Orchard Road.  I was a bit surprised, but their act is good, so I suppose there’s no reason for them to stop.  This time, it was still early evening so I got out my camera and managed to get some better video this time, as well as the nice photo at the top of this post.

At the end of the second video, you’ll see a man walk up and lean forward.  He was dropping money into a basket.  We decided to chip in too, since the performance was really good and when we dropped our money in we saw that they were doing really well for themselves.  That’s good.  Real Talent should be rewarded.

I hope you enjoy the videos!  Let me know what you think of this pair and their act!