Tag Archives: markets

Singapore Shopping

Singaporeans often joke that shopping is their national sport. With more malls and stalls than pitches and courts and with shops and stores a popular playground for Singaporeans during every tiny window of leisure time, this is easy to believe.

A Singapore Mall
A Singapore Mall

But joking aside, and Singaporeans aside too, the tiny island state is the serious international shoppers’ paradise. Millions of tourists pour through every year, stopping over for a couple of days, or shuttling in from Changi Airport for a few brief hours of retail therapy in Singapore’s 150 fabulous international shopping malls and in its scores of ethnic markets and bazaars.

Probably the best known and the busiest of Singapore’s shopping streets is Orchard Road It also has the highest concentration of international super-centres, among them Wisma Atria, home to the Japanese department sensation Isetan; Centre Point, boasting “sophisticated buys to sporty buys, all time favourites, to the hottest trends off the cat-walks”; time-swallowing Indochine with its convenient bored-man-sitting bar, The Sanctuary; Palais Renaissance, palace of grand marques like DKNY, Etro and Gianni Versace; exotic Far East Plaza; Ngee Ann City with a host of big brand boutiques as well as the brilliant Kinokuniya Bookstore. Last but certainly not least among Orchard Road’s top shops is the wonderful old Singapore institution, Tang’s, in business here since 1932.

Not to be overlooked either are the further-flung centres (or closer in centres, depending on where you’re lodged) Riverside Point, overlooking the river is home to high-fashion and the world’s great names sit side by side. Raffles City, on North Beach Road, Asia’s own British India sells cool confections in soft cottons and colours which smack of Somerset Maugham, the Raj and the Empire, while Debenham’s and Marks and Spencer fly a valiant flag for old mother England. The Peninsula Plaza is the home of the bargain in absolutely everything from jeans to hand-held electric fans. On ill Street, Funan Digital Life Mall’s title speaks for its cybertronic self. At Bugis Junction, between Victoria Street and North Bridge Road, alongside the 3-for-one bins of internationals like Giordano and Dorothy Perkins, refreshingly different local boutiques such as Lver sell beautiful stand-out dresses in fabulous fabrics

For the Marketeer, the bargain hunter, the shopper who has seen the $1000 European designer bag of his/her dreams and seeks its $10 Asian clone, or for those in quest of authentic local treasures, Singapore has a wealth of fascinating bazaars and markets. Bugis Street Bazaar is one of the best. Once the haunt of flamboyant transvestites and famed for its vibrant night scene, it still pulses with life and colour, day and night. Side by side with hawker food stalls, tiny boutiques sell souvenirs of every kind, from incense to indigenous art, designer knock-off bags, shoes and clothes, ethnic Indian, Chinese and Malay outfits as well truly extraordinary creations from bold young local designers. Tucked away in corners are little shrines with fresh offerings of incense, oranges, sweets and garlands of flowers.

Chinatown, south of the river, Little India, beyond Bukit Timah Road in the North West and Kampong Glam in the North east are also rich in bargains, souvenirs of every kind, along with the latest in electronic and digital wizardry. But their real shopping prizes are in their ethnic treasures. In Chinatown you’ll find cheong sams, embroidered slippers and bags, tea sets and tableware. In Little India there are exquisite hand-woven Saris, beautiful brassware, carved wooden furniture, embroidered bed-covers and tablecloths. Kampong Glam has basketry from Borneo, Indonesian wall-hangings, Middle Eastern carpets and silks, exquisite traditional Malay and Peranakan garments as well as antiques from all over the Malay Archepelago. Then, last but not least Kamping Glam’s Arab Street is one of the last of the world’s great fabric centres.

Shopping is not just plentiful it’s painless in Singapore too – no racing to meet closing-time curfews, no parcel-laden, cross-city steeple-chases, there’s always somewhere open to trade, just nearby, or ridiculously easily accessible by MRT. From some hotels, like those down in Marina Bay which connect to the fabulous Suntec City Mall, City Link Mall and Marina Square by skywalk, there’s no need even to tread Singaporean soil to shop. In others, like Raffles, with its own exclusive cluster of exquisite boutiques, selling Jim Thompson Silks, designer jewellery, teas and accoutrements, accessories and designer threads, high-class collectibles and souvenirs of the house, there’s really no need to step outside at all.

Rotorua markets

When Captain Cook discovered the lush pocket of country that stretches back from the coast and wraps around Rotorua, he named it the Bay of Plenty. The name was apt. Everything grows and flourishes here; birds, animals, fish, seafood, forests, gardens and orchards.

Kai Maori at Kuirau Park
Kai Maori at Kuirau Park

For a taste of the rich variety of fare that the region produces today, you don’t have to go far, or wait long.

Stroll down Tutanekai Street on a Thursday evening and you’ll catch the Rotorua night market. Here you’ll find fresh produce, much of it organic, along with wines, juices oils and preserves. Local Chinese, Indian, Italian, French and, of course, Kiwi, chefs take their kitchen to the street, so you can dine or graze according to your fancy. There is food for the outer as well as the inner body, like soaps, scrubs and creams, including those miraculous Rotorua mud-packs and manuka honey moisturisers. Quality crafts and arts are also on sale, so the night market makes for very good souvenir shopping too.

Out behind the bubbling mudpools and steam holes of Kuirau Park, the Rotorua Farmers Market takes place every Saturday morning. It’s a colourful, crowded, vibrant affair, with a carnival feel. Music pounds from a tent selling CDs. Bright coloured kids clothes and souvenir t shirts swing from poles. All kinds of plants and vegetables, including puha, watercress and a great range of Asian greens are lined up and laid out in neat rows. Delicious and irresistible smells fill the air; curry, fried rice, kebabs, crepes, coffee, rewena (bread) and paraoa parai (fried bread) with golden syrup or jam. Local fund raisers hold stalls here too, so you can contribute to a school playground, a community hall or a trip for the modest price of a home-made muffin or beanie.

Both markets offer a chance to taste foods that you won’t necessarily find elsewhere in Rotorua or anywhere for that matter. They also offer a chance to see the abundance of wonderful produce that the beautiful Bay of Plenty yields today. If you’re foodie, don’t miss either of them.

San Telmo

San Telmo is Buenos Aires’s oldest neighbourhood. It was originally the domain of the wealthy but in 1871 a yellow fever epidemic caused them to flee to fresher, uncontaminated ground on the city’s outskirts. Their grand manors were quickly filled by large immigrant families and the area fell from favour.

San Telmo Market
San Telmo Market

Nowadays, San Telmo is one of the most charming and popular quarters of Buenos Aires.  The lovely old houses are still standing, many of them impeccably restored, while others remain shabbily chic. Quaint cafes and restaurants line the narrow streets.  Over the years many “Porteno” artists, musicians and performers have settled and spread their influence through San Telmo. They sketch paint and busk in the streets. There are numerous galleries and studios, as well as a recording company, four museums and a cinema university. Some of Buenos Aires best tango spots are also found here.

But San Telmo’s most interesting corners are to be found in its antique and second hand stores and in its colourful and crowded market – The market building itself is a beauty, with wrought-iron arches and high, vaulted wooden ceilings. It is crammed, literally, with trash and treasure. Everywhere there are glimpses of Buenos Aires’ grand, and not so grand, past lives. Jewellery, china, silverware, religious relics, furniture, toys and books jostle for space with family photographs, tablecloths, rosary beads, statues, holy pictures and suitcases plastered with labels from old Europe. They are all on sale for a song.

In the same building is a produce market as colourful, crowded and cheap as its neighbour.

On Sundays the whole of San Telmo becomes a giant market. The streets are closed to traffic and hundreds of vendors set up booths. Tourists and locals alike pour in from all parts of the city.

A short and fascinating walk from the centre of Buenos Aires , San Telmo is not to be missed.