The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands did not exist when I lived in Singapore - so Kings takes us. The Rockstar shall have his running-squealing-in-new-shopping-center fix here.
There are things you quietly buy for your child and hope no other mum sees you getting (like chocolate), and then there are things like my New Favorite Gift To My Child Because This Makes Me A Good Mother - this spelling game from Mother's Work because Rockstar loves jigsaws, especially the wood ones. And now he can get a little ABC practice in too <too proud>. Like dieting, depending on the "educational-ness" or "wholesome-ness" of your virtuous purchase your conscience and sense of self-worth might afford you more candy or tv. For your child, of course I mean.
But I do recommend a trip to Mother's Work (though I find the name a bit much) on one end of the mall if you happen to be at Shoppes... It's not a big store, but we found that wood ABC jigsaw, some cool shades, inexpensive but trendy fabric bags and - wish I knew about this when Rockstar was in that phase - paper books for babies (as in, chemical free, wipe-clean-able, chew proof). Love the books. If we ever have another child I'm sending Kings down here.
At Beanstro near the water feature, the auntie accompanied by several women of different ages attempts to nab a newly-vacated prime-location table, only to be stopped by a waitress telling her to queue up. A minute later auntie snaps in Putonghua "Miss. WHERE are there other people waiting?" and entourage leaves. I'm dead sure they aren't local, even though I don't hear the telltale Beijing accent. They're also carrying Gucci shopping bags, but markedly not numerous giant ones we see a lot more of in Hong Kong. The Chanel store is quite crowded, but other than that most people are walking about a lot more than they're buying.
When I asked about Ion Orchard, another upscale shopping center that wasn't around 7 years ago, a friend comments a lot of the branded stores are not targeting Singaporeans. Sure enough there's an article in the local papers about Singaporeans spending the least on clothing among the different Asians and Aussies they survey (Hongkies are just behind Aussies as the top spenders, which surprises me; Mainlanders and Malaysians don't feature). Still, there's markedly more Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Chanel walking about today than I remember.
Another friend has a half shop lot in Arcade, Raffles Place (ie predominantly for locals) which she stocks with outlet branded bags and it's thriving. She gave up a full time teaching job and need only open her little shop for about 2 hours a day, taking orders before buying trips which she goes on more and more often. About 70% of her stuff is gone within 2 weeks of her getting back..
I'm not surprised both days I wander over unannounced in between errands and meeting ex colleagues/ friends her shop is always closed. (I like hanging around Raffles Place because I did a lot of errands here and also use Raffles Dental in OUB Center for regular checkups and cleanings because American Dental Group at Prince Building Hong Kong sometimes takes 2-3 weeks before I can get an appointment and having a rockstar means I often risk rescheduling and waiting another 2 or 3 weeks. Not to mention I was told you always need a prelim x-ray (which you don't need in Sing) if you change dentists and the whole bill is several times more than what it would cost at Raffles. As in, my air ticket to fly to Singapore is practically free.. Dental just seems expensive in HK, another friend goes back to Malaysia to get anything done... Ditto pedicures...)
Near my friend's little store, some second hand shops like Hong Kong's Milan Station, taking up a lot more shop space than hers, have opened, and I remember her telling me they're great for her business.
Seeing me, the Beanstro waitress shoots an embarrassed and faintly conspiratorial grin I return purely as a reflex. But Putonghua-speaking auntie is right; there is no queue though 90% of the restaurant is filled, and the prime table next to us remains vacant for at least another 20 minutes before a young local couple are shown to their seats.
Spoilt from Hong Kong restaurants and because Rockstar is falling asleep in Kings' arms, we found the wait for our own table and further wait for someone to take our order just this side of acceptable and after walking over 2 or 3 times to try and put our order in rather than waiting to be served we get looks from the waiters. Probably because we can still pass for local so they're wondering why we're behaving "un-local". They aren't very slow, probably just a tad. But turnover is fast at busy Hong Kong restaurant tables because vacant tables or patrons waiting between orders mean less $$ I guess... We tip for good tables and to sit there longer - interestingly I doubt the service or speed at which we were served would change much if we tipped here...
We get similar from the cabbies; hopping over to a girlfriend's place at Regency Park (which is in prime location off Orchard Road) several times during our stay, 1 out of 3 cabbies we ask actually knows where it is, 1 gets horrendously lost, all still ask if we can instead show the way. The only one who knows how to get to my friend's place without help has been a cabbie for "more than 20 years" and says the Singapore Government has treated cabbies a lot better in the last few years, resulting in an increase in cabs around the city (I note a marked increase in number of cabs from 7 years ago). Then he launches into a lecture about how I should pronounce "Nathan Road" the "Malay" way - "Nuh-thun" (which far as I know is bull because I seem to always remember it's Nathan) because otherwise there is a "Nitan Road" somewhere on the East side, bla bla bla, and I recall a Singy game show that once featured "Who is the Smartest Taxi Driver" where they put all the cabbies there for a round of something like "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" with all the questions.
Kings comments that once, desperate to get a cabbie about to change shift to take him a relatively short but un-walkable distance so he wouldn't be late for the next client meeting, he offered SGD 20 on top of the (several SGD) fare. The driver muttered "Siao!" (meaning 'crazy' in Hokkien) and sped off. (In HK the cabbies would usually phone in that they're ferrying one last passenger before coming in)...
Some cabbies say not a single word to us or even Rockstar who has been insisting on "paying" all our cab fares (I found their ignoring Rockstar quite rude because even the roughest looking cabbies in HK still respond to Rockstar's "thank you" if only to grunt or nod, even if they often say nothing to the parents... Most of the time they say a whole few sentences to him... In all the time we've cabbed back and forth and gotten fleeced and what-not, maybe one has completely ignored Rockstar's "thank you" the way several do in Singy which I was surprised about)...
Well I guess none of the Singy cabbies during our stay try to fleece us though. Sometimes in HK you have to ask for your correct change.
One Singapore cabbie asks politely if he can keep the SGD 0.20 change.