Singapore Ez-link Card Stickers

My wife and I were looking through some of our old photos together and we happened to see these:

Singapore ez-link card with a Papa Smurf sticker on it.
Singapore ez-link card with a Papa Smurf sticker on it.
Singapore ez-link card with a Garfield sticker on it.
Singapore ez-link card with a Garfield sticker on it.

They’re not just cards with pictures.  I know in the US you can get something like that as a sort of collectible, but these are actually stickers on top of ez-link cards from Singapore.  You see, in Singapore, they use a transit card that’s like a contactless debit card.  You just tap it against a reader and enter the train station or bus.  You don’t even have to take it out of your wallet or purse if you don’t want to, and, because there’s no strip to worry about and they’re not disposable, you can decorate them.  They’re simple and usually don’t expire, as far as I remember.  We wound up turning these in for new ones, when they upgraded their system so that ez-link cards could be used to pay tolls on toll roads in cars as well.  In fact, that might have been when we took these photos, just so we could remember our stickers.

I miss these things, and how much easier they were to use than the MetroCards we get in New York City.  MetroCards seem like a waste to me, because you get one, use it for a while and then it has to be thrown away.  Wouldn’t it be better to just use the same card until you wear it out?  It would definitely be more cost effective.  Of course, switching to a card like this would create a loss of work for whoever makes the current MetroCards.  That’s probably the reason they won’t upgrade.  I understand that it’s important for people to have jobs, but I just get tired of seeing it used as an excuse to halt progress, especially when the upgrade could make life easier and is better for the environment at the same time.

Maybe Laptop Prices in Singapore Weren’t That Good After All?

A long view down an aisle at a Super Walmart.

My aunt’s mother says that if you can’t find it at Walmart, you don’t need it, and you really could live by that.  A Super Walmart has groceries, clothes, electronics, and even car parts and it’s all sold for low, low, sometimes ridiculously low prices.  I remember when I was younger I didn’t like the idea of shopping at Walmart, but that was back before I was spending my own money on the things I wanted to buy.  Now that everything is coming out of my own pocket, I look for good deals over fancy brand labels.

Something Walmart seems to be doing really well at is their laptop pricing.  Have a look:

Laptop prices at a Super Walmart.

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I remember seeing that 278 USD (362 SGD) Acer for sale in Singapore for 600 SGD.  I remember seeing that 298 USD (388 SGD) HP laptop for 800 SGD in Singapore.

Walmart really does have some low prices, and I’m not complaining.

The Sake Inn

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The Sake Inn isn’t actually an inn, though it would be a good name for one with a free sake gimmick.  The Sake Inn is a store in Singapore that sells mostly sake, but it’s also where I picked up the canned drinks I showed in a previous post.  I’ve never actually tried sake before, though I’m interested.  My wife and I bought a bottle of sake from a Spring Kyushu Fair in another mall in Singapore, but never had the opportunity to drink it.  We got busy with packing and wound up giving it away as a gift.  Maybe next time.

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I was impressed with the amount of Japanese goods that were available in Singapore.  Besides sake stores there were Japanese themed bakeries, restaurants and clothing stores, like Uniqlo.  I’m a little disappointed that there isn’t as much available here in the Philippines, but maybe I’m just not looking in the right places yet.  If you’re wondering where in Singapore this sake store is, it’s in the basement of Tampines 1, located right next to the MRT station.

Samurai Car Paint Job

There was a car that was always parked near our place in Singapore that had a really cool paint job on it, consisting of the Japanese rising sun symbol and a samurai.  It’s possible that the owner of the car is Japanese.  I never met him.  It’s probably more likely that the person is just interested in Japanese culture and history.

The paint job was very well done and I liked the style, so I went ahead and took a photo of it.

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Spring Kyushu Fair

These are pictures from the Spring Kyushu Fair held in late March to early April of this year in Singapore.  This is what I meant about being agitated about not having a Japan blog, because I should have posted them then.  This is a bit dated, but I thought it was worth sharing anyway!

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The fair’s banner was hanging in the center section of the Tampines Mall.  Tampines Mall is set up as round levels with an open center.

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This is the view from above, from I think the third floor.  The fair was set up in the middle of the mall and was jam packed with people every single day.

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I was shocked at how expensive these arus melons from Miyazaki were.  If you look at the blue text on the sign you can see that 49 SGD was already the marked down price from their usual 60 SGD.  I think we went on the last day of the fair.  I tried to do a little research on the melon but there’s little available, through Google anyway.  What I did find says that the arus melon is considered “The King of Japanese Fruits” and is highly sought after as a gift for its fragrance, beautifully netted skin and great taste.

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There was a booth selling selections of fine tea.  I kinda wish I’d bought some now that I look at the photo.

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Photos of the crowds and some of the booths.

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A lot of the booths were doing cooking on the spot, like this booth, where a girl was preparing takoyaki balls.

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And what Japan fair would be complete without a booth selling sake?  The sake he was holding was actually really, really good and I wanted a bottle of it but he had already sold out.  He didn’t mind letting me have a few shots from the sample bottle though, which was pretty cool of him.  We wound up getting a sparkling rose sake for my wife, but got so busy with getting ready for our trip to the Philippines at the beginning of May that we we gave it away as a gift instead.

I’m looking forward to visiting another Japan-related Fair.  Hopefully there’ll be one in Manila sometime soon!