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Singapore (Orchard & Missed Opportunities) November 29, 2011

Posted by Dru in East Asia, Travel.
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Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “Singapore (Orchard & Missed Opportunities)” complete with photos.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-JO

Orchard is Singapore’s version of Ginza.  It is the high end of shopping and a place where people go to be seen.  When someone is looking for high fashion items like the perfect Gucci bag, Orchard seems to be the place to go.  I only spent a few hours in Orchard and I actually arrived a little early.  I arrived in Orchard around 10:30, and most of the shops were still closed.  I ended up wasting a bit of my time just walking around looking for shops that were open.  It is very much like Ginza where things don’t really come alive until 11am, at best.  I went into Orchard not really expecting too much as I don’t normally shop for high end items, but I ended up enjoying the experience.

The main strip, Orchard Road, is where most of the shops are.  There really isn’t much else to it, but there are a few places to visit on either side of the main strip.  I found that if you go off the main strip, you can see a few cheaper shops compared to the luxury of Orchard.  The main strip itself is a plethora of shopping malls and department stores.  The anchor of Orchard has to be Tangs.  It is one of the oldest department stores in Orchard and a major retailer in Singapore.  When they opened, Orchard was little more than a small residential and cemetery area.  Once Tangs built their main shop, things started to change.  It eventually turned into the high end shopping district it is today.  The most common area is an area between Orchard Station and Dhoby Ghaut Station.  It is a short walk between the stations and fairly easy, even on a very hot day.  You can easily walk from mall to mall, department store to department store and only feel the heat a little.  My only surprise was to see the many Japanese department stores.  Unfortunately, some of them were just a pale comparison to their original counterparts in Japan, but there were many of them and the ones that spent money to be upscale were very much like their original counterparts.  Orchard is also well known for its cafes and restaurants.  Like any upscale shopping district, you need to have places for people to rest, relax, and eat.

When visiting Singapore for the F1 Grand Prix, there are many things you can’t do.  You can’t really experience the night life in Singapore.  You spend most of the night at the race itself and after the race you are pretty tired.  The Friday qualifying wasn’t too late but after walking around all day in the circuit, I just didn’t have any energy to keep going.  On Saturday, the qualifying didn’t end till 11pm or so, which made it difficult to go out afterwards.  By Sunday, I was just too tired from going everywhere possible.  There are several places I wish I could have gone if I had more time and more flexibility to travel around Singapore.  The first would be Sentosa Island.  To me, it looks like nothing more than a Singapore version of Disney World.  There are beaches, shopping malls, and other amusement attractions such as Universal Studios Singapore.  It looked like a nice, expensive, place to visit.  If I had more time, I would have spent a day just trying many things on the island.  The other regret I had was not being able to go on a night safari.  In Japan, a lot of Japanese people told me to go on a night safari, but since I was too busy with F1, there was no chance I could have gone on a safari.  It seems interesting but at the same time it wasn’t high enough on my list of things to do in Singapore.

One other regret is not getting out and around Singapore itself.  Singapore is well connected to Malaysia as well as Indonesia.  I wish I had a lot more time to visit one of the resort islands in the area, although travelling to Thailand might be a better idea due to the prices.  Singapore is a wonderful country and it is a place I wish to re-visit in the future.  There are many other places that I would love to visit but if the opportunity does arise, I will be heading to Singapore very quickly.  Unfortunately, a short visit without knowing any locals probably created a tourist bubble around me and influenced my own impressions of Singapore.  I wish I knew people who lived in Singapore to get a better idea as to how life really is, as I learned when I visited Hong Kong and Taiwan in the past.  Hopefully I can revisit soon and get a better understanding of the people and culture that is unique to Singapore.

Singapore (Orchard & Missed Opportunities) is part of a series of posts on Singapore.  Please continue with the links below to read more about Singapore:

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2009 Sapporo Snow Festival (Part III) May 12, 2009

Posted by Dru in Hokkaido, Japan, Travel.
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Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “2009 Sapporo Snow Festival (Part III)” complete with pictures.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-an

Note:  Any and all descriptions of sculptures and activities are for 2009.  The sculptures are guaranteed to change, and some of the activities may also change.  It’s best to check just prior to going.

10-chome saw a return of large sculptures.  The first was a medium sized zoo.  It featured various animals that could be seen in Asahikawa.  They called it the Snow Festival Zoo, but in reality, it was almost an exact copy of the animals in Asahiyama Zoo.  However, it was a nice sculpture.  The main attraction has to be the Northern Animal Families.  This was sponsored by STV (Sapporo Television).  This sculpture featured three families, the Blakiston’s fish owl; the Steller’s Sea eagle; and the Ito (a type of salmon).  Unfortunately, the bird’s beauty and size overshadowed the fish, and I doubt many people recognized them.  I really enjoyed this sculpture and I feel it was the most beautiful large sculpture of the entire festival.

11-chome and 12-chome could be rolled into one block.  11-chome had an “International Gourmet Corner” and the 36th International Snow Sculpture Contest.  They had 12 entries from 12 countries.  Thailand’s “Garuda and Naga” won the competition with Lithuania’s “GLOVE” coming in second.  I agree with the winner being “Garuda and Naga”, however, I didn’t like “GLOVE”, but it was artistically pleasing compared to the others.  In 12-chome, you will be able to see various different sculptures made by volunteers and locals alike.  They tend to be simple and feature a lot of characters that are well known in Japan.  By the time you reach this area, you will be tired of sculptures and in need of a break.  I would, however, advise against going to this area at night as there aren’t enough lights to truly show these sculptures.

After you finish with Odori Park, Sapporo Dome offers something for everyone.  Outside the dome, you can do various activities such as snow rafting and tube slides.  You can also build your own snowman and make your own skis.  There are a few places to get a good beer and food and various other sculptures.  Inside the dome, you can enjoy the Snow Market, eco advertising, and various other corporate booths promoting various things.  I never made it to this area as it’s focused towards families rather than single adults, so I never even thought about heading to this spot.  If you have children, I would definitely recommend this place as it looks like a lot of fun.

The final place to visit during the Snow Festival is the Susukino Ice Festival.  The ice festival is 6 blocks of small ice sculptures.  The entrance had a sculpture of Hokkaido’s famous clock tower.  From there, you will be greeted by various peacocks, angels, and everything you can think of.  Some notable sculptures were a few bars promoting the different Japanese drinks such as Sapporo Classic (beer), and Suntory Whiskey.  While I never visited this site during the day, I’d highly recommend visiting at night as the sculptures look extremely beautiful under the street lights.

My final impression was that this is definitely a festival to visit.  I think it’s beautiful and very impressive.  Aside from the people and the cold, it’s great to go north and see the beautiful snow.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t do everything that I wanted to do.  That’s the problem with visiting and not living in this beautiful city.  If you do go, try to visit the festival, both in the day and at night.  You will see different sides of this festival.  Unfortunately, after a few hours, you will be sick and tired of all the snow sculptures and everything will start to look the same.  Dress very warm and do as much as you can in the short time you have at the festival.

Information:

Sapporo Snow Festival (English): http://www.snowfes.com/english/place/index.html
Sapporo Snow Festival (Japanese): http://www.snowfes.com/
Sapporo Snow Festival (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sapporo_Snow_Festival

Note:  Part III of a 3 part series .  (Part I) (Part II)

このblogは英語のblog。もし私の英語は難しい、日本語のquestionは大丈夫。

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