POSTCARD FROM SINGAPORE
A fruitful affair
A ready reckoner for shopping in Orchard Road.
IT is a lovely long street, dotted with leafy trees, wooden seats at strategic intervals, street stalls selling sumptuous finger food. Once the site of nutmeg and pepper plantations, now Orchard Road is dominated by the many mega malls, 30 and still counting, that stand like monoliths.
At best, it’s a smorgasbord of great goodies. At worst, and believe me when I tell you it happens to two out of five Indians visiting the island nation, Orchard Road is a confusing collation of shops selling all sorts of things, great and small.
Shopping being serious business on this island, you need a ready reckoner, a listing that will stretch the SGD as far as it can go, stuff that will have you feeling good about shopping in Singapore.
Let’s start with Forum, which houses the Toys R Us store, a must stop for visitors with kids. The Palais Renaissance further down has Mumbai Se which offers up all our home-grown designers, Rohit Bal, Ranna Gill, Tarun Tahiliani, Satya Paul and most recently, Shobhaa De’s cocktail saris, too. The building also has the Marmalade Pantry in the basement, which really does the best chicken pot pies this side of ye olde England.
The famous bookstore Borders in Wheelock Place is the bookworm’s burrow, with its comfy seating where you can browse through books at leisure before deciding to spring for some titles.
Another old fave is C.K. Tangs, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. Tang’s Studio is by far the best place to acquire great footwear, at fair prices and the household section in the basement holds a perennially popular section of pots, jars, bowls. Do remember that Tang’s offer a five per cent discount to tourists so carry some sort of documentation when you hit this store.
Wisma Atria is the place you need to go for the Japanese departmental store Isetan, as well as Topshop, on the eve of Kate Moss debuting as the latter shop’s star designer.
Lucky Plaza has long been a favourite with Indians for electronic goods but go down to the basement, head towards the McDonald’s outlet and just opposite, you will find a store doing great discounts on skin care. Further down, you will find a smaller store that does fabulous discounts of perfumes; just the place to buy the latest scent or replenish your depleted stocks of old classics.
The Tony Ngee Ann City is very people-friendly for all its magnitude and roster of big-name shops. Head right to Takashimaya, the flagship store and check out the glitzy stores. The central hall in the mall usually has some kind of sale going on, and there are real bargains to be scored here. Takashimaya is also the place to scout great luxury watches.
Quality costs but is sure worth it in the long run. If ever a mall magnified this precept, it is Paragon, with its hushed air, its haute boutiques. This definitely is the place to go if you want to buy YSL, Prada, diamonds from Larry Jewellers, Versace, Zegna.
However, there is Metro for people with pockets not quite as deep, and the Dorothy Perkins range of clothes are lovely and priced fairly easy, too. Paragon also houses one of Singapore ’s best spas, the Andana, on the top floor in beautifully verdant environs.
The Annexe at Heerens is a veritable wonderland of inexpensive costume jewellery and trendy trinkets, as also the mega HMV store, destination’s end, for those scouting music.
Robinsons at Centrepoint,in the centre of Orchard Road, has really cool clothes. Do head to the Mark and Spencer store there, to pick up toiletries, of which the China Garden and the Woodspice range continue to be top draws for Indian women and men respectively. The GAP store with its eternally great-buy blue jeans, is also worth a look-in. Cool off with a herbal tea at the Esprit Café.
Places of sustenance
No shopping on Orchard Road can be done sans sustenance. All the malls have a food court in the basement; be adventurous, try out a kaya toast, some laksa or a dish of hakka noodles with duck. If you’d rather play cautious, go to the closest DeliFrance café and order one of their delicious blueberry tarts, washed down by a wide-mouthed cappuccino. This is basically rejuvenation before you hit the next mall.
Any insider will tell you that shopping is not the be-all and end-all of the Road. After a satisfactory trawl, I recommend a deep foot reflexology session at the Spa Esprit in Paragon. If you can spare the time (and of course you can) book for a facial at Estheva in the Palais Renaissance building; they do a great line in collagen facials.
Singapore has other delightful malls but let’s not go there right now. They aren’t on Orchard Road , you see.