We’ve talked about places you can bring your kids for Singaporean-ness; how about stepping away from home, while still at home? We’re talking about places you can visit that have the ability to transport you into a whole different country altogether – well, experientially at least.
This landmark shopping mall situated at the end of Clarke Quay has been the go-to place for expatriates and families for their Japanese products and groceries. Besides the large Books Kinokuniya, scattered around the mall are authentic Japanese restaurants and eateries, as well as quaint boutique shops offering super-cute and trendy children’s clothing straight off the streets of Tokyo.
Their anchor supermarket, Meidi-ya, also carries famed Japanese imported produce like the exhorbitant Shizuoka melons (prices can go up to over $100 depending on season), Kyoto grapes, and the country’s prized Japanese pork and beef, not to mention a special area for children to watch Doraemon cartoons so parents can shop in peace and quiet.
Golden Mile Complex
Dubbed “Little Thailand” to those in the know, Singaporeans who miss the food and fun that is Bangkok will fondly recognise the sights and smells that stir within the aging complex. Equipped with a handful of authentic Thai eateries and provision shops, the smattering of Thai you’ve learned from the land of a thousand smiles will definitely put a smile on the face of any shop owner there.
Arguably the most colourful of all the “un-Singaporean” places, Little India is a photographer’s dream in the day, and a driver’s nightmare at night. If you’re brave enough to mingle with the thousands that throng there for their vegetables, fruits, flower garlands, jewellery and clothing, this iconic stretch of Serangoon Road will not disappoint.
Of course, no trip to Little India is complete without the 24-hour Mustafa; were it not for the fact that my boy needs to sleep, he would never allow us to leave the huge department store.
Just by walking through Peninsula Plaza’s glass doors, you and your child will be transported to a different place. While “Little Burma” caters to the Myanmese foreign worker community here, the landmark plaza near City Hall serves up some very interesting sights, sounds and smells. Shop signs proudly display their brands in Burmese, specialty shops selling cassettes, CDs and celebrity posters deliver a wonderful slice of Burmese pop culture to your ears, and the basement is chock full of budget Burmese eateries.
It’s as though someone decided on a whim to slice off a chunk of the Guilin mountains of southern China and plonk it smack in the middle of a bunch of HDB estates in western Singapore. “Little Guilin”, as locals like to call it, is actually the remains of what used to be a granite quarry resting on a miniature lake, and was often used as a backdrop to many a Channel 8 period drama. It’s a marked contrast to the other places mentioned here because of its tranquil surroundings, not unlike other parks in Singapore, but with the bonus of a beautiful landscape fit for a Chinese painting masterpiece.
As foreign as these places might feel to us, Singapore is still very much a cosmopolitan society that doesn’t define lines between cultures. The places we mention here serve not only to introduce us to the world outside Singapore, but also remind us of the multi-cultural bliss that this island really harbours.Posted in Uncategorized