Banana Caramel Crème Crêpes

Not much to say here.  I just wanted to share the photos and make you drool!

On Saturday night (yes, that was a busy day for us!) our last stop before heading home was Plaza Singapura (another mall).  On the bottom floor there was a small Japanese Food Fair set up.  Well, that’s what the signs called it, but in reality it was just two stalls.  One was selling sushi and one was selling crêpes.

After eating the sushi (which came with free green tea by the way) I had an urge for something sweet and we tried out one of the Banana Caramel Crème Crêpes.  I took some photos while it was being prepared:

What’s missing from these photos is that the batter was first poored onto a flat black metal pan.  I call it a pan but it had no sides.  Perhaps a reader can give a name for it?  After the ingredients were added it was rolled up into a paper and handed to me like an ice cream cone.

The flavor wasn’t overpowering.  I mean, the crème wasn’t exceptionally sweet.  The flavors all augmented each other well and the final product was delicious!  I could’ve eaten another one by myself after the one we shared!

Orchard Central Mall in Singapore

Saturday evening my wife and I were wandering down Orchard Road.  We didn’t have any real goal in mind.  We just wanted to be out of the house for a while and take in the sights.  Orchard Road is usually pretty interesting.  I’ve seen everything from centurions to acrobats to musicians there.

While walking down the road we saw a building that we didn’t recognize.  It looked like a recently renovated, recently opened shopping center.  We decided to check it out.  Sure enough, it was a new mall called Orchard Central.  As we passed through the doors we were handed a brochure.  We were also handed a fairly basic looking map that proved to be rather useless later.

Rather than make our way upstairs inside the building, we used the long escalators that were mounted to the front face of the building.  It was a really neat experience.  Two of the escalators we went up traversed at least four floors nonstop.  Also, there was a plexi-glass shield beside the escalator that came about as high as my head and not much else so we got a great view as we went up.  Adding to the atmosphere there are several observation decks outside the building.  The escalator leading to the roof area was closed.  I suppose it’s not finished yet but I’m interested to go back when it is, if just for the view.

Here are two shots I took from the highest observation deck I could get to:

A view of Orchard Road from a deck at Orchard Central Mall
A view of Orchard Road from a deck at Orchard Central Mall
A view of Orchard Road from a deck at Orchard Central Mall
A view of Orchard Road from a deck at Orchard Central Mall

After reaching the top and taking in the view for a while we moved inside.  The interior of the mall is not at all what I expected.  First off, most of it is still closed and under construction.  I would even say that there are more closed than open stores there.  That’s not a bad thing, I suppose, but it just seems odd.  The second thing that was weird about the mall is that the interior didn’t look like a mall.  My wife was the first to point it out and after she mentioned it, it was pretty obvious to me too.  It looks like the building used to be an office building and the interior was renovated to turn it into mall space.  The hallways were just too oddly placed for it to have been intentional.

Inside Orchard Central Mall
Inside Orchard Central Mall

The other thing we discovered about the mall is that it’s incredibly hard to get around in.  That’s why I mentioned that the map we got at the front door on the 1st floor was practically useless.  If you start from the top down it’s like trying to work your way through a maze full of dead ends and trick passages.  There are places were it feels like there should be a way through and there’s  just a blank wall.  There are other spots where you would think there’s a way to the stairwell, but in front of you is a huge open area that looks 3 floors down.  Oh, or a fake rock climbing wall that spans four stories and causes you to have to backtrack.  We could have taken the elevators all the way down to the first floor, but that wouldn’t have been much fun.  Instead, we went around, by trial and error, until we got tired.  Then we found an elevator and took them to another floor that had escalators, which we then took down to the first floor.  Sounds complicated right?

Besides its crazy interior, there wasn’t much interesting about the mall.  It had a pretty standard selection of stores when we went through it.  There were a few names I didn’t recognize, but they were on all of the shuttered, still under construction stores.  When we go back to get a look off the roof, hopefully they’ll be open too.

A final thought:  I wish there were a First Person Shooter with a stage modeled after this mall’s floorplan.  I mean, look at it.  It even looks like something from an FPS:

Empty area of Orchard Central Mall
Empty area of Orchard Central Mall

Shopping in Singapore

One of the things you might often here myself or my wife saying as we walk along the aisles in a store or supermarket is “It costs how much?!” One of the hardest things for me to get used to is the difference in the value of the currency. So, costs initially seem high to me on first glance. Often, after I take the time to pull out my phone and check the conversion rate, it’s not as bad as I had thought. Sometimes it’s still priced higher than what I’m used to, but you also have to consider import fees. On top of that, there’s a 7% GST (goods and services tax).

Sometimes though, I just can’t figure out where the difference in cost is going. Sometimes I think it’s just a matter of merchants overcharging because they can. It’s as if anything that even hints of luxury here, whether it be a pair of Asics (225 SGD?) or a pair of jeans (120 SGD?), gets a hefty price tag put on it.

One way to get around this is to keep an eye out for sales. This is also one way I’ve determined that ‘normal’ prices are often too high. The sales will often price items at 50% or more below the normal price. Now, you know that even if there is a sale, the company still wants to make a profit, and if they can make a profit at 50 – 60% off, then the ‘normal’ price is a bit steep. That’s fine. That’s just how it is here. It just teaches you something, and that’s to keep an eye on flyers and make sure you know when there’s going to be a sale on an item you’ve had your eye on.

So, when you’re walking around in Singapore, don’t go nuts when you see the prices. Remember the conversion rates, remember the import fees, and remember to wait for the sales.

Despite knowing all that, sometimes I’m still shocked, like when I saw these cereal prices:

And it’s not just the Cheerios. Have a look at some of the other items along the shelves in this photo:

As much as I love them, I’m not going to pay over 10 bucks for a box of plain Cheerios. I mean, they weren’t even Honey Nut Cheerios. Don’t these go for about 3.50 or 4 dollars a box in the US? I decided to be reasonable and I got the 5 dollar box of Capt’n Crunch instead. That’s a decent price, and the stuff is good!

Kipling Bags

While my wife and I were out today, we had to pass through Vivocity Mall. The monorail going to Sentosa Island departs from there. Since we were there anyway, we decided to stop by the Kipling store to have a look at the bags. My wife has been talking about wanting a new Kipling bag for almost a year. The last one she had was ruined when battery acid got on it.

So, we took a look inside, and, thankfully, almost everything was on sale. It’s the Great Singapore Sale right now! So, she found a bag she liked and while she was posing in the mirror I went ahead and browsed around a bit myself. I saw the one on the right and liked it and decided I should get one as well.

In the end, my wife wound up paying for both of the bags, as a gift, since I was covering the costs of our outing to Sentosa.

If you’re not familiar with Kipling, they’re a really good brand. Also, each bag comes with a monkey attached to it, like you can see in the photo. Each monkey has a tag on it with a name. My wife’s bag, on the left, has a monkey named Lorena (scary right?). My bag has a monkey named Clotilde on it. Sounds like some sort of heavily muscled Norse woman to me.

Regardless, the bags are nice. They’re made of a good quality and should last us for quite a few years. I want more!

Counterfeit Goods in Singapore

Prior to just a few weeks ago, I had no idea there was a counterfeit goods market in Singapore at all.  During my trip to Kuala Lumpur I saw plenty of counterfeit goods that looked great.  When I used to think of counterfeit, or “bootleg” items, I always thought of cheap quality, or of something that didn’t look quite right.  The things we saw in Kuala Lumpur were near matches though.  You wouldn’t be able to tell they were fake at all.  The same could be said of most of the counterfeit items I saw in the Philippines.

Shortly after returning from Kuala Lumpur I stumbled across an article on a blog that was talking about how large the counterfeit goods market is in Singapore.  I can’t remember the link for it anymore, though I did find another site called “Havocscope: Global Illicit Markets Indexes” that had the value of the counterfeit market in Singapore pegged at $136.2 million dollars.  Who knew?

According to the article I’d originally read, the Singapore government does its best to keep counterfeit items out of stores that are in the downtown, touristy areas.  It stated that most counterfeit items are found in the outlying areas.

Now, I’m not entirely sure that what this guy is selling is counterfeit, but the slim, plastic packaging wrapping those DVDs looks very familiar.  I’ve seen a lot of counterfeit DVD stalls in Kuala Lumpur and especially in the Philippines.  I wasn’t really surprised that he had them, or that he was selling them.  What shocked me was that this guy was selling them by the Citibank at Tampines MRT station, along a crowded area where people transferring from the bus to the train pass through.  That seems a little dangerous for him.

What do you think?