The Weekend Before Christmas at (and under) Orchard Road

I can’t remember when I was last at Orchard Road. It must have been quite a while since I last paced the sidewalks of Orchard Road, never mind the occasion. Since its going to be Christmas in two day’s time, I thought I’d make a little trip across the Causeway and check the place out again.

Orchard Road MRT Station (@ all rights reserved)
Orchard Road MRT Station
(@ all rights reserved)

So across the Causeway we went, my wife and I, early that Sunday morning, expecting to beat the traffic jam that normally comes later in the morning, and so we did. First destination was to our relative’s place at Choa Chu Kang where we parked our small and battered 12-year old Perodua Kelisa before continuing with our journey to Orchard Road by MRT (Singapore’s version of New York’s Subway or London’s Underground). The ride by MRT itself was uneventful bar the cacophony of foreign sounding but familiar tongues.

going to Orchard Road?(@ all rights reserved
going to Orchard Road?
(@ all rights reserved

It has always been a game for the both of us, trying to figure out the different languages and sure enough, it didn’t take long for us to make out the strains of Tagalog and Bahasa Indonesia when we suddenly remembered that it was a Sunday and in Singapore, that means it’s the maids’ day off and at this time of day, where else could they be heading but to their Little Manila meeting place at Orchard Road.

Incidentally, we could also make out a bit of Mandarin (sounds like Chinese from China), sprinkles of Spanish and hints of a language from the Balkans. Not a bad game this.

We arrived at Orchard Road Station in due course and it was as I last remembered it. It’s a big enough station, no doubt about that, bearing in mind that Orchard Road is to Singapore what Oxford Street is to London. Especially during Sales and Christmas times.

Artwork at entrance of Paragon, Orchard Road(@all rights reserved)
Artwork at entrance of Paragon
Very apt, wouldn’t you say?
(@all rights reserved)

The bodies of people going everywhere, somewhere and nowhere in particular could make you lose your bearings for a bit there but as they say, if ever you are lost or think that you are lost, look out for the signboards and once found, just follow the signboards and you can’t go wrong.

The last time I remembered, Orchard Road station was busy especially if it happens to be a Sunday. And this being the last weekend before Christmas as well, it was busier than normal.

new approach to convenient shopping7-11 outlet on the pavements of Orchard Road(@all rights reserved)
new approach to convenient shopping
7-11 outlet on the pavements of Orchard Road
(@all rights reserved)

As I mentioned earlier, it has been ages since I last paced the sidewalks of Orchard Road and true enough, there were quite a number of things that was new, well to me at least.

All the ‘old stuff’ were still there, the features of Orchard Road and its surroundings namely CK Tang, Paragon, Lucky Plaza, Far East, Shaw House, Ngee Ann City, Takashimaya and more. The sights and sounds in and around Orchard Road left everyone in no doubt that Christmas was just around the corner.

the weekend before Christmas at Orchard Road (@ all rights reserved)
the weekend before Christmas at Orchard
(@ all rights reserved)

Paving the sidewalks of Orchard Road is serious stuff and true to form, before long, our legs and feet ached so much so that we had to stop for a breather or two, or three or four. (Must be the age, never mind the weight!) We rested our weary legs and feet (and this despite wearing trainers) at different locations along Orchard Road before the hot sun finally took its toll and drove us underground.

Pit stop at Orchard Road - Fountain by Ngee Ann City / Takashimaya(@ all rights reserved)
Pit stop at Orchard Road – Fountain by Ngee Ann City / Takashimaya
(@ all rights reserved)

And what an underground it was. It was like a maze with stores to shop and restaurants to dine in, interconnecting from one mall to another, several levels deep AND it was all underground.

I must admit that you could enter this maze of an underground shopping delight (yes, I do admit it was rather exciting but then again, it was my first time there) early in the morning and not having to go up into the light until it was time to close up for the night.

You could shop and dine underground for the whole day if that is what you so desire. No prickly heat to make you go all sweaty or loads of rain to make sure you did shower at least once for the day. The only thing that was missing was a hotel, or did they already have one somewhere and I took a wrong turn somewhere and missed that one. In my defence, I did say that IT WAS LIKE BEING IN A MAZE.

Iranian food anyone? Bistro on the sidewalks of Orchard Road(@ all rights reserved)
Iranian food anyone? Bistro on the sidewalks of Orchard Road
(@ all rights reserved)
Underground fountain at Takashimaya (I think!)(@all rights reserved)
Underground fountain at Takashimaya (I think!)
(@all rights reserved)

The ventilation and the cooling system worked very well to ensure that it was just like being in one of the malls above ground.

However, despite the excitement that I felt discovering the place, deep within me I must admit to having one reservation. IT IS AFTER ALL UNDERGROUND and the furthest down I have ever been was to B3 in the parking lot of a shopping mall in Johor Bahru (and even that very seldom If I can help it), and this one under Orchard Road goes deeper than that.

Carol Singing (not bad they are!)(@all rights reserved)
Carol Singing (not bad they are!)
(@all rights reserved)

As we made our way criss crossing under Orchard Road, we came across a group of carol singers. We stopped to have a listen and I must admit, they were good. Very impressive. You could hear their voices, tenors, baritones et al. All that practice singing in the church choir paid off for them, I must say.

Reminds me of the Welsh whenever they have a game at Arms Park and later at the Millennium Stadium. Ah, the Welsh, the boyos from the Valleys. They love their rugby, they love their singing and they love their Brains. Miss them!

Before making our way back to JB, we took the opportunity to check out Galleria. It’s not exactly on Orchard Road, but just nearby rather. Well, the truth was that we wanted to use the WC and what we saw prompted us to check out Galleria instead.

ambience of luxurious shopping at Galleria(@ all rights reserved)
ambience of luxurious shopping at Galleria
(@ all rights reserved)

The decor and the ambience, if this is what they call boutique shopping, never enter with your credit card’s credit limit exhausted. To be spoilt silly with the luxury it implies, the pampering the ambience suggests and the inspiration behind the decor, we made a quick exit before we got too comfortable in there. One day perhaps. But not today. Not today.

We got back to JB before the traffic jam and looking back, we must admit to having a fun day at Orchard Road. And UNDER it as well. The Christmas tree outside CK Tang is not there this year (last year?) but it would be fun to go back there again next year, God willing, even if it’s just to have a cuppa at one of those roadside bistros. It may not be like having coffee one of them bistros at Avenue des Champs Elysees, what with the heat and all but we can still pretend, can’t we?

 

Date : 6 January 2013

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