Singapore Shopping

I had too much to say last time (golly gee, surprise surprise) so here are a few other points I wanted to note about Singapore. (Part 3.) Mostly about money.

'Til you drop. Some tourist brochure said that shopping is almost a national sport in Singapore. From observing the people on Orchard Road, I'd have to agree. Except ... I don't really understand why. I mean, for the brands and shops that we also have in Taiwan, the prices aren't any better than back home (and brands are expensive in Taiwan).

The only reason we shopped as much as we did was because they have Zara and a few other stores I can't find in Taipei. I also found a new store called Raoul -- part of the FJ Benjamin group, which also owns La Senza and GUESS? -- that carries extremely nice dress shirts at outstandingly high prices. (I still left with two shirts, because I got 15% off. What. I'm into French cuffs now.) But anyway, if I lived in Hong Kong, I wouldn't have bothered to buy anything in Singapore. Oh yeah, and I got a few logowear T-shirts.

Plastic money. To shop, you need money. Cash or plastic? Well, how about both? The new Singapore Dollar bills here are some kind of plastic polymer: $2, $10, $50. Yeah, plastic money. Cool! Even cooler, they have a little plastic transparent window in them, in certain spots! So you can literally hold it up to your eye and see through it, even though I wouldn't recommend it, because it's not like they let you see through clothes or whatever. (Note to self: if I ever run a country, x-ray windows on the money.)

Fine. Singapore is mostly nice and clean, and people conduct themselves in (again mostly) orderly fashion. Because, as the saying goes,

"Singapore is a fine city."

That is, as in, there's a fine for spitting, fine for parking, fine for chewing gum, fine for littering, a fine for eating durians in public, fine for just about anything else you can think of! Your wallet is basically scared into falling into line!

Crabby cabbies. I never appreciated the abundance of taxis in Taipei until we tried to get one in Singapore: there just aren't that many around! And they have a complicated fare structure. Really complicated, and it adds up fast! There's a base fee plus additional fee per distance, for calling (booking) a cab, luggage, tollroads, entering restricted zones (ie. downtown), paying by credit card, blah blah blah. But the kicker is the time: late night rides have surcharges of 10% to 50% over normal rates, and they don't show up on the meter!

So because of the fares and because there aren't that many cabs to make it competitive, you'll often find drivers who ... don't have the customer's interests in mind. There's usually a long line for the taxi stops, but several cabs will sit empty just around the corner (and they refuse to drive you if you walk up and ask) ... until enough people get fed up with the line and book a cab. They punch in that they're in the area, and then drive up to pick you up. Bling! They just pocketed the extra booking fee.

Or you'll get cabbies who refuse to pick you up at 11:25pm because by waiting another 5 more minutes, he can kick in the next bracket of late-night surcharges. Not even if your ride would only take 5 or 10 minutes anyway, and just slightly out of the popular nightspot areas. Bastards.

Okay, that's enough about Singapore. Back to stupid thoughts of my own life. :-)

1 comment:

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