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?

3 Days in Kuala Lumpur: Part 8: Jalan Petaling’s Night Time Street Fair

During the day, Jalan Petaling is already a busy place. It’s packed with tourists and locals as well as people trying to make sales on everything from PS3s to bootleg DVDs. As you walk down the street, you’ll hear “hey sir!” and “hey boss!” and “cheap deal here!” coming at you from every angle. At night, when the street is filled with portable, makeshift stalls, that madness is doubled.

As you can see from the picture, it’s a really big change. Almost every inch of space along the short stretch of Jalan Petaling is packed tight with street stalls. At these stalls, you can find all sorts of souvenirs, clothes, jewelry and toys. As you walk down the narrow paths the people running each shop will call out to you, making offers, and trying to pull you in.

The whole thing is loud, exciting, and fun, and if you know how to haggle you might be able to get a good deal. Before going, a friend of mine who’s been there before warned us that the initial prices being offered are meant to be a starting point. You can argue the price down a bit, and then if you’re not satisfied you can start to walk away from the stall and they will call out lower prices to you, hoping you’ll turn back and make a purchase. It happened exactly the way he said it would. The one time we stopped to look at something and asked how much it was, the guy’s opening price was 180 ringgit. We never intended to buy it and only asked out of curiosity, but as we smiled and walked away he called out “170! 150! Ok! 130, good deal for you!” Of course we kept going since we never intended to buy it in the first place, but it really illustrated my friend’s point perfectly. According to him, if you can get a price down to about 50-60% of the original asking price, you’re paying a reasonable price, or getting a good deal. If you’re not interested in making any purchases at all, the only thing I can say is look quick, keep moving, double back to look again if you have to, but don’t stop, and don’t make eye contact. Don’t Make Eye Contact! As soon as you do they come rushing towards you with offers, asking you what you want, asking if you’re interested in half a dozen things.  That can be very tiresome.

These stalls get set up around 6 pm and then get taken down around 11 pm, and I really recommend that anyone stopping by check it out at least once.

Downtown East Mall, Pasir Ris

[Edit: I found out later that the part of the mall that these photos is from is actually called E-Hub. Though I think it is part of Downtown East, there is half again as much mall as this that I completely missed. When I make an updated post I’ll leave a link here to it.]

My wife and decided to stop by the Downtown East mall on our walk around Pasir Ris.  It was sort of on the way, and we hadn’t been there yet, so, why not?

It looks like a great place.  As we came through the door we noticed a girl handing out free samples for premium yogurt.  I didn’t catch the name of the place, but the yogurt was nice.  It had toppings added onto it too that went along with the flavor.  It looked a bit pricey, but one of these days when I have money to burn I’ll probably get a cup to share with my wife.

The mall as a whole seems to be tailored to young kids and teenagers.  I guess you could say it has a theme, including the types of stores in the mall.  It’s really not that big a place, as far as how many stores are inside it, but it does have quite a few restaurants and drink shops, plus an arcade, a type of paid playground for kids, an indoor Ferris wheel, some anime shops, and a movie theater.

I suppose the best part of it all is that the mall is only a 15 minute walk from where we live.

National Geographic Store in Singapore

Last night my wife and I were at Vivocity mall at Harbourfront and we noticed that there was a new store, a National Geographic Store. In Singapore, there seems to be a specialty store for everything. I guess National Geographic is no exception.

We went ahead and went inside to check it out and we wound up having a lot of fun! Looking through the store was like looking through a museum where everything is for sale. I took photos of a few of the more interesting attractions/products:

This thing greets you as you first come into the store. It’s pretty visible and is actually what caught our eye in the first place. When I saw it, the first thing that went through my head is stuff about pale horses and death. It’s a horse made of pieces of some type of old wood. I didn’t check the details on it but my wife said it’s selling for the low low price of only 9k SGD. I think I could build one myself for cheaper than that, but maybe it has some historical value?

Next up was this bookcase that was apparently made in Sweden in the 1880s. I thought it was particularly interesting because one of the blogs I follow is written by a Swedish girl in China, Jonna Wibelius. Besides, I love books, and it would be nice to have a fancy bookcase to put them on. I don’t think I’d go this far though. The bookcase is selling for about 25k SGD.

Next I saw this really neat jewelry case. It’s 7k SGD. How’s that for a high end Valentine’s gift?

Though not the most expensive, this one was probably the oldest. It was the oldest one I saw anyways. The tag says it was made in the 900s in England, and it was selling for 21k SGD.

What I want to know is how anyone can afford to buy any of these things, especially with the current financial troubles. Maybe these items are just there for show, and are meant to amuse and attract customers more than anything. The store also carried framed prints and a large selection of wearable clothing (as opposed to costume type clothing as pictured below) and bags as well. Plus, there were some interesting notepads. I should’ve checked the price tags on the clothes and bags, but I’m sure it was all very expensive. I did look at the price of a little 3×5 inch “Expedition Notebook” and was disappointed to see it was 17.50 SGD. I would’ve bought it if it had been 6 to 7 dollars, but I can’t see paying more for an empty notepad than I would pay for an actual novel.

Also, the store of course had issues of National Geographic set up on displays everywhere. I used to have a huge collection of those magazines. They were old ones that my dad had in storage. I don’t even remember what happened to them now. I should’ve kept a closer eye on them. They might have been worth money some day.

Besides old furniture and clothes the store also featured two other unusual and interesting attractions. One was so interesting that I don’t even remember what was on the stands around it. An area of the floor was lit up by a projected image of sand. It had some sort of motion sensing technology built in that would display footprints when you walked across it. Also, seeminly at random, scorpions would pop up out of the sand, or out of your footprints, and skitter around. My wife and I weren’t the only ones that found it incredibly amusing. There was a little girl, maybe 6 or 7, that was going nuts trying to squash the scorpions. I recorded some of it. Sadly, I turned off the camera just before the little girl screamed, “Nasty! Nasty! These things are so nasty! GRRRRR!” It was hilarious!

The other attraction is a “cold chamber.” It wasn’t open when we went into the store, but for 1 SGD you can stand inside the chamber and experience -25 C (about -13 F) temperatures. The chamber has glass windows so everyone can watch, and, if you want to pay 5 SGD and submit a valid e-mail address, you can have your picture taken and sent to you as well. For some people in Singapore this might be a thrill because they’ve never experienced temperatures anywhere near that cold before. This is a tropical climate after all. For me, it would be a welcome relief to finally feel some real cold air. Even in the malls here the temperature is average, rather than the cool I’m used to. -13 F is a little extreme, but it would still be great!

So, even though we didn’t buy anything, we still got to have a lot of fun just browsing the store. Even if you don’t have 25k extra to spend on old furniture, I still recommend you at least poke your head in to look around.