Unabashedly, I admit that I've never gone to Singapore. I know, most people will be very generous with snark response to that - saying things like 'Eh, first time in Singapore? LOL'. I'm going to take it with a pinch of salt and shake it off since that's not important - at least now I've been there.
Since both of us hadn't taken the train in the longest time, Ayi and I agreed to board one from KL to Singapore's Keppel Road Station (a.k.a Tanjong Pagar Station). It took us eight hours and needless to say, our butt was sore from the long journey.
The most striking thing about this Lion City was its lush greenery. Despite having a minuscule land size for everything, environmental part was still a major priority. You could see huge trees and shady walkways, up from Woodlands in the north to Jurong in the south. All of the residential buildings looked so livable, be it the flats, condos or the bungalows. I gave my biggest thumb up ever for this.
Our trip here this time was mainly to check out the shopping districts. Universal Studios and Sentosa Island might have to wait for our next visit. First stop: the glamorous, infamous Orchard Road.
The Orchard MRT Station was right below ION Orchard - THE ION Orchard. Man, I was totally spoiled for choice here. The selection was INSANE and some stores were not to be found here in Malaysia. Fashion aficionados should really check out the spacious stores of Dior Homme, Dolce & Gabbana and my personal favorite, DSquared2. Salivate all you want over the goods offered here.
Orchard Road wasn't just about ION Orchard. There were gazillion others of shopping complexes worth visiting such as Wisma Atria, the fabulous Takashimaya in Ngee Ann City (which housed Christian Louboutin), Paragon, Knightsbridge, Mandarin Gallery, Forum, Tangs, Palais Renaissance and of course, Hilton Shopping Gallery.
Hilton Shopping Gallery has got to be my favorite place, offering wide array of stores like Bottega Veneta, Lanvin, Issey Miyake, Louis Vuitton, the quirky store of Comme des Garcons, Marni and many others. The most fabulous part of this place is the Club 21 Men's store where you can find various designer goods over its three levels. Kris van Assche, Alexander McQueen, Givenchy, Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent and Jill Sander - to name a few.
And oh, the price was relatively cheaper here than in Malaysia. For instance, a YSL top cost around 600 bucks (after conversion to ringgit) whereas in KL, the same one cost over 800 bucks. Zara was cheaper too.
I chose to abstain from buying designer goods on my first visit for I afraid I might overspend. Bummer.
On a positive note, I've been acquainted to a new high-street brand called Muji, (thanks Ayi!) originating from Japan like its counterpart, Uniqlo and offered great pieces at great prices. I bought a loose cardigan here (since I can't get my hands off it) and I loved it to bits.
I loved how Singapore paid attention to small details like making sure EVERY single pedestrian button on the traffic lights functioned and providing wide walkways, complete with those jagged slabs for the blind. For Orchard Road, the walkway was extra wide and strolling down the road from one mall to the next was an enjoyable, effortless one.
Since Ayi and I couldn't simply close our eyes and swallow down any food we stumbled into, we chose to head to the nearest mosque and had our lunch there. A cleaner in Mandarin Gallery told us that there were a mosque just beside Paragon but we couldn't see any mosque since we were anticipating something with a glistening dome and some minarets.
No, no. The mosque is a big four or five-story building with multilevel carpark, function rooms and a small eatery at the ground floor - mind you. Okay we were impressed. Just a couple of steps from those posh shopping complexes, you could find this mosque - in this ultra cool area of Orchard. Back in KL, city center was so 'precious' that you couldn't allocate a mosque in the Golden Triangle. If it was not for KLCC, we wouldn't have any mosque in the area.
Ayi enjoying his nasi lemak in al-Falah Mosque
We spent about five hours jumping from one place to another in Orchard proximity before heading to the spanking new Marina Bay Sands. Since the LRT line intended for the shopping complex has yet to be completed, we had to stop at Marina Bay MRT station and walk about 10 minutes before reaching the place.
This expansive shopping mall was a part of the casino and hotel complex under the international brand of Sands. As in any other shopping complexes in Singapore, Marina Bay Sands offered the same expensive designer labels over its three (or four?) levels. Oh, there was an ice rink too near the foodcourt.
At the Marina Bay and Marina Bay SandsOverall, Singapore was really nice to us and so did the Singaporeans we had to stop and ask for direction whenever we got lost. The trains were insanely-efficient and the escalators throughout the city state were FAST - I like it. I hate slow things and slow idiots, which Singapore had none of the both.
Upon reaching KL, we were already thinking of our next plan to return to Singapore. I have my eyes on that YSL t-shirt and more Muji cardigans :)