Night Sky Scenes by Spray Paint

Tonight while my wife and I were by the Tampines MRT station I saw this sign and since I have a blog on Blogspot I stopped to check it out.

I spoke to him briefly and he said he had recently returned from a trip to New Zealand and was getting back into painting.  He does his artwork in public to gain free publicity.  He makes paintings using stencils, frisbees, spray paint and a few other odds and ends.  I saw him use a sponge brush and a little scraper looking tool that I don’t know the name of.

The guy’s stuff is pretty good.  I like the designs he chooses to make.  In a way each one is unique, since it’s done by hand.  When I visited his site though, I saw that he makes more than one copy of each and sells it, so if you buy from him your copy won’t be the only one in circulation.  That’s kind of a buzz kill.  Part of the thrill of buying a piece of art is knowing that you have something that’s one of a kind.  On the other hand, the prices are fairly reasonable considering they’re each done by hand.

If you’re interested, here’s a handy link to his site: NightSkyPaintings.

Also, you can watch the video embedded below to watch him create one of his pieces.  It’s not the whole process obviously, but you get to see him lay out the basic parts of the painting and then start on the detail work.  It’s really quite interesting to watch how he does it and the piece he was working on is very nice too.

Cosplay and Dance Routine Mascots at Tampines 1

We were walking out of the Tampines 1 mall to take a shortcut down to the lower level and heard loud music playing and saw a crowd gathering. I ran over to see what was going on and immediately got my camera out. This is kinda weird, and not something I’d ever expected to see going on as a mall promotion. I’m not entirely sure it was the mall they were promoting, though. I saw a Tampines 1 logo on one of their suits, but the wading pool in front of them had a message about renewing energy, so it could have been a mall sponsored energy conservation promotion.

[Update: I found out that the mall has a blog and that these guys are promoting the Amore Living store on the 5th floor, which has an outdoor pool on the roof, as part of their fitness complex.]This second group surely had something to do with a toy store. I quickly took a few pictures. Then a woman asked if I wanted my photo taken with them. She looked like she was wearing a jacket with a business logo on it so I was scared she was going to ask for money. I politely said no and then quickly retreated!

Manpuku Restaurant, Tampines 1 Mall

A few weeks ago I was checking around the new mall in Tampines (Tampines 1) and I saw the entrance to a restaurant called Manpuku.  The entrance area was jam packed with people in line to get in and people ogling the items on display in the window:

I met up with my wife there during her lunch break and while we were walking around together we even got to see the mascot.  At the time we didn’t know what restaurant or store the mascot represented but it was fun anyways.

We both love to go out and eat, and we particularly love Japanese food, so we were excited about going to check this place out.  We finally made a visit to Manpuku today and it was great!

It wasn’t quite what I expected, in a good and interesting way.  As you get to the head of the line a greeter will ask you how many people are in your party and will then pass you a corresponding number of cards that look and act like credit cards.  The waiter will explain that as you walk around inside the restaurant, you pick different foods from the various stalls and the price of the item is charged to your assigned card.  At the end of your meal, you bring the card to the cashier by the exit and settle your bill.

That’s when I realized that Manpuku isn’t simply one restaurant.  It’s a collection of restaurants acting under one name, serving Japanese style food.  In fact, the place reminded me of a big, themed food court, though a very well appointed one.

Here are some photos we took inside Manpuku:

As you can see from the pictures, the interior of Manpuku is pretty big.  It sits at one end of the mall on the 3rd floor and stretches from front to back.  There are at least half a dozen different mini-restaurants inside, offering everything from skillet plates to sushi.

The prices have a wide range from a bit on the high side (a four piece sushi plate at 38 bucks) to the affordable (my pork okas was 9.90).  I saw quite a few dishes I want to try, and I’m looking forward to going back again.  For this trip, we wound up having a sushi set, a dish called pork okas, and a soup that my wife devoured and said was delicious.  I forgot to ask her what it was and she’s asleep now!  Just thinking about it is making me hungry again!

The above picture is the pork okas.  It has strips of pork along with cabbage, onions, and maybe a few other things cooked into an egg omelette.  It’s topped with four different sauces while it’s still on the grill, giving it a nice design that adds a visually pleasing aspect to the tasty dish.
Like I said, the place is great!  We’re looking forward to our next trip.
One special consideration for anyone planning to go there is that the place is busy.  Expect to wait for up to 15 to 20 minutes for your dish to be prepared, and, unless you’re lucky, another 5 to 10 minutes to get a drink.  A good workaround for this is having one person hold the table for you and designating someone else to order and pick-up their food for them.  That way you can leave your food at the table while making trips to get drinks, or other goodies, without having to worry about someone else helping themselves to what you’re going to pay for.

Cosplayers at Tampines 1

I’m not entirely sure what they were advertising, but their outfits were really great, so I took some photos.

Toy Soldier and Toy Maid
Toy Soldier and Toy Maid
Toy Soldier and Toy Maid Routine
Toy Soldier and Toy Maid Routine
Toy Soldier and Toy Maids
Toy Soldier and Toy Maids

They were even acting the part!  They would only move when someone “wound up” the key on their backs and then after a while they would stop again.  It was very fun to watch for a while!

By the way, in that third photo, the guy is totally checking out that girl’s “buttons”!  Ha ha ha!

Tampines 1 Open For Business

Singapore has a heavy shopping culture. Imagine your high school days when you had to wear the right clothes to be part of the “in” crowd. Now imagine that experience on crack. You’ll sort of get the picture. Most of the younger Singaporeans pride themselves on their handbags, mobile phones, shoes or having the newest Mango apparel. They crave the latest and greatest items and pursue the hottest fashion trends. I suppose there’s nothing inherently wrong with the Singaporean love for shopping, but it definitely takes some getting used to. Keeping that in mind, imagine the chaos that surrounds the opening of a new mall, especially one in a prime location.

The mall was packed tight with people and everyone was excited to explore the mall and see all of the new shops. While walking through the mall I saw people of all ages, as if elderly mothers and fathers had been dressed and dragged out of the house for the big event. I also saw quite a few foreigners wandering around, which is highly unusual for an area so far from downtown Singapore. In fact, the people were almost as fascinating and entertaining as the mall itself.

Unfortunately, it seems that there was such a rush to cash in on the excitement and newness factor that the mall was opened before it was completely finished. With the interior of the mall not quite polished, the “Wow” effect wasn’t as great as it could’ve been. For example, the tile flooring was still a bit dusty and the fountain on the bottom floor seemed more like it was leaking than running. While I was walking around the mall I sneezed frequently and I was happy to be able to blow my nose when I got home later.

Besides the incompleteness of the mall itself, not all of the stores were open. In fact, some were still under construction, including the HSBC bank pictured below, which is on the lower level. Hope you brought cash with you, because these ATMs are still down for the count!

Handling all of these minor (and in some cases major) issues, work crews were scattered throughout the mall, hurriedly trying to apply their finishing touches. Still, they did a great job getting the place ready before opening the doors today. Just a week ago I would have said that the mall couldn’t have been opened any earlier than the end of the month, judging by the exterior and what I could see through the windows. They must have been pulling all-nighters to make sure they met their opening deadline, or at least partially met it.

Still, those minor eye sores didn’t detract from the overall appearance of the mall. Have a look at the shot below, which was taken from the top floor near the Petstation store.

The overall effect of the mall and the quality of the decor in the shops is reminiscent of the malls you find along Orchard. When the interior of this mall is actually completed, it should be fantastic!

Also, as a side note, if you take a close look in photo above (click it for a larger image) you’ll see an information panel on the ground floor near the round railing that lists the stores in the mall. Going a step beyond the average poster board, this little marvel is completely touch screen and interactive. Despite its lonely appearance in this photo, every time I tried to get near it there was a mob of people trying to play with it, so I couldn’t really dig into it to see if it went further than just listing locations. It does feature a nifty “You Are Here” arrow though!

One of the special things about Tampines 1 is that the building designers seemed to have recognized peoples’ desire to just hang out at the mall and incorporated it into their building plans. Tampines 1 has multiple outdoor viewing decks that you can relax on. The lower viewing deck offers a very nice, mostly unobstructed view of the Tampines Central area as well. As with the rest of the mall, these areas seemed a bit unfinished, especially in the lack of benches, but there’s definitely potential in these areas for cart vendors and perhaps an outdoor coffee shop.

Also, here’s a shot I took of the Tampines MRT station from the lower viewing deck:

One of the great things about this mall is the variety of stores. I was somewhat concerned that this mall would be just a rehash of what was already available in the two existing malls: Tampines Mall and Century Square. Thankfully, this didn’t turn out to be the case. There are a few stores that seem to have migrated over, Times being the one that sticks out most in my mind. It was a good choice for them to make the move. One of the problems with Century Square and Tampines Mall is that the store spaces were just too small. Tampines 1 is generous with its floor space and Times took advantage of that to bring in a wider variety of books, which will be better for their business in the long run. Like I said, though, there are plenty of new stores, or new to Tampines anyways, and I’m glad that I have one less reason to have to venture all the way down to Orchard just for shopping.

Something my wife and I love to do is eat out at good restaurants. The few that were previously available in the malls in Tampines were starting to get old, so I’m glad to see that there are some new options. Here are some I’m very excited to try in the near future:

This first one is called Manpuku, and is a Japanese food restaurant. In the second photo you can see some of the menu items. The wall to the right of the restaurant entrance is a glass display area that showcases their offerings. It’s really a great way to encourage people to try the food and keep coming back for more.

This second restaurant is called Sushi Tei. Looking into the restaurant, the first thing you’ll notice is the conveyor belt of sushi dishes sliding past the bar. It’s a very entertaining and engaging setup and reminded me of the sushi restaurant located near the gym and pool just a short distance from Century Square. I took a look at the menu and the prices are reasonable for most of the items, though the food at the sushi place by the gym looked better and is better priced. I wish I could remember the name of the place.

There were a few other restaurants I noticed but most of them were generic.

The last place I want to mention is called “teadot”. My wife and I enjoy having tea in the evening sometimes, so I’m excited to try this place out. Coffee Bean and Starbucks serve tea, but more as just an option than with any real focus. “teadot” should be a nice treat, and besides that, look at the furnishings. It would be cool just to sit there.

Overall, Tampines 1 is a fantastic addition to the shopping scene in the Tampines area and I’m sure my wife and I will be spending a lot of time there in the future, window shopping and actually shopping too!

I hope you enjoyed my review of Tampines 1 and I hope you enjoy your first trip there!