16.12.2010 - 16.12.2010
Day 92 Thursday 16 December - “Singapore Chinatown”
Started the day with an 'interesting' breakfast from the buffet. Cereals, salads, fruit, soup, fried rice and toast and jam. There were some other dishes I couldn't identify but obviously familiar to some of the guests.
We were picked up in a shuttle bus and taken to the start of the Hop On – Hop Off (HoHo) terminal where my voucher was converted to real tickets. We raced around a fair piece of Singapore and I managed to capture some interesting blurs. We returned to the terminal and we set off again to stop 5 – Chinatown. This is where the fun for today really started.
There are literally hundreds of stalls selling everything from junk souvenirs to high end jewellery, fashion goods and photographic and electronic gear. Jenny is on the look-out for a gold ring to add to her collection. We look in one or two stores and are 'picked up' by a guy who claimed to be a real estate salesman – he just happened to be picking up some jewellery from the Myers Manufacturing Stall. So we tag along.
We're greeted like family, sit down, how can we help, what would madam like for Christmas. Jenny's a bit reluctant but after about half an hour she's starting to wilt. The lady of the establishment has forced a beer on me and chats about any topic while Jenny indicates there are one or two she likes. Wait, we have some more at our other stall. So off he goes with Jenny in tow, I'm happy to drink my beer and chat. Jenny comes back and insists that I go with her.
Down an alley or two and we're at another stall that looks like the first. Jenny and the salesman pore over some more rings. The lady of this establishment produces another beer – this is looking good. After a while we troop back to where we started with three rings to be examined. Jenny decides on one but it isn't the right size – no worries we'll make one for you and have it ready this afternoon.
The price is negotiated – easier said than done but we get a reasonable deal – I think. We're set to wander off and but are lured off to a photography stall where their slick salesman, 'Lawson', latches onto my camera and proceeds to demonstrate how a Super HD Wide-angle Adaptor will improve many aspects of my photographic range. I'll need a UV Filter to protect this new piece of glass and I really should have a screen protector for the camera. Would sir like a beer ?? In truth, sir would like a pee. No worries there's a WC along the way and up the stairs to the Yum Cha restaurant.
Back to the shop and a Tiger Premium in hand we toss some prices back and forth and it is determined that I need a polarising filter to reduce the impact of glare and reflections. How about a spare battery? I'm fine I have a total of three. What about the one for the 'compact' ? Yes one of those is getting dodgy. Throw it in for a good price. I'm starting to realise how Jenny has felt during the ring negotiations.
The deal is done and we head off to lunch, the Yum Cha place is recommended. Jenny begs off and we find a more basic outfit about 10 or so stalls along. We sit down to study the menu when suddenly, Lawson pops in, he's forgotten to record one item or another on the receipt. No idea how he found us, his explanation 'You were going to eat and you weren't at the Yum Cha'.
He attracts the attention of the 'Boss Lady' and ensures that we're given appropriate attention. We order a meal each, two spring rolls (they're the size of Chicko Rolls) and a bottle of Coke each. Excellent meal, very tasty and lots of locals which is always a good sign.
It is now only about two hours to the pick-up time for Jenny's ring so we fill in some time visiting the markets, the temple and some more retail stalls. We turn up at the Myers stall a bit early and 'How about a beer??' Why not. 'Would madam like a soft-drink ?'. Might as well. The ring will be ready soon and notices that madam wears some charms on a chain. How about a gold Buddha ?? we have a solid one or a much cheaper hollow one. No says Jenny as the master craftsman appears with her new ring, perfect fit and madam is very happy.
The salesman now turns to me, wouldn't I like to purchase a Buddha charm for madam ?? He already knows that Jenny likes the solid one, but the price is a bit steep. We haggle a bit and the 'very special' price is revealed. I'm not totally convinced so he brings in the 'owner' who knocks another 20% off – Christmas Special. What the hell, it is only money !!
We do all the paperwork, sign the credit card slips and beat it out of there to avoid a threatening downpour. We head for the Metro Station. While working out how to operate the ticket machine a smiling friendly face offers to help. Greatly appreciated although we were heading in the right direction. He explains that he's from the Myers Jewellery store. Three beers, over two hours of negotiations and at least 5 staff involved, quite an investment for a sale.
Like just about everything else in Singapore, the Metro is clean, efficient and on time. The platform is closed off with a number of sliding doors, the train pulls in and the train's doors line up with the platform doors. Both sets of doors open and the disembarking passengers step off and we step on. No shoving, polite smiles, offers of seats and good natured laughter when I decline to sit in a seat designated for pregnant women.
Second stop out we change lines and travel another two stops to get off at Orchard Rd Station. We scan the tickets to exit and take them over to the ticket machine to receive the S$ 1 refund of the deposit charged at the time of purchase. How neat is all that?
We've missed the hotel shuttle and need to fill in the best part of two hours. I wander around a bit while Jenny rests her weary feet in the foyer of a classy hotel near our pick-up point. She must have been tired, she'd normally have a real moral dilemma doing something so naughty. The shuttle gets us back to the hotel and we prepare for tomorrow's departure.
Quite a day.