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Singapore Ion Orchard mall road night

Singapore 2010: Day 2 – Orchard Road, mall-hopping… and already shopping

Date: 26th September 2010

We woke up late.

Thought I’d get that out of the way first. After a tiring first day (with barely any sleep), we made up for it by only getting up around 10:30am. And by the time we were out, it was already noon.

But today, the skies were clear and sunny.

Singapore Kampong Glam noon

Singapore Kampong Glam Muscat street
We were ready for brunch

Singapore Kampong Glam cafe alleySingapore Kampong Glam cafe brick streetSingapore Kampong Glam Nasrin restaurantSingapore Kampong Glam shopsSingapore Kampong Glam Arab areaSingapore Kampong Glam Bian's cafeSingapore Tan + Tsakonas office

But despite the plethora of eateries and cafes, ‘the vegetarian’ (my friend Ramesh) found nothing to his taste. So we decided to go to Little India.

Singapore Rochor Centre colourful apartments
Rochor Centre
Singapore Rochor Centre apartment hanging clothes dry
This is how apartment households in Singapore hang clothes out to dry

Singapore apartment hanging clothes out dryWhile the guys headed to Little India, I instead went to Sim Lim Square – Singapore’s famous IT mall.

Singapore Sim Lim Square buildingBeing a Sunday, few stores were closed but you still had plenty open.

Singapore Sim Lim Square Nikon storeI was looking for a good tripod and the Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS USM I lens. Most stores didn’t have the latter in stock anymore but I did get a chance to try out the non-IS variant.

Singapore Sim Lim square tripod store
Taken on the 70-200 f2.8; these are unprocessed & only cropped — very impressed with the image quality!

Singapore Sim Lim Square Vangaurd tripodSeveral shops I entered asked  me why I needed the IS version and suggested that I simply go in for the non-IS version and buy a good tripod instead. Something I did give deep consideration later.

Singapore Sim Lim square floors
SIm Lim Square isn’t as big as Funan Digital Life mall — but still offers quite a lot

A few smaller shops did say they had the lens and it “could be arranged,” but I decided not to deal with them. After all, Sim Lim is equivalent to Bangkok’s Pantip Plaza — you have tread carefully when shopping here. You can get ripped off, at the same while scoring some really good deals.

Singapore Sim Lim Square SNSD Gee Samsung laptop
SNSD and other K-pop shown on laptops and TV screens was such a common sight

I had only made it to the second floor before my friends called and told me they were done with lunch. Since I had to catch up with them, I had to leave Sim Lim. Just like yesterday, I left disappointed knowing I couldn’t explore the mall in its entirety.

Singapore Sim Lim Square stores

Singapore Sim Lim Square escalator Indian KeraliteI grabbed a quick bite and made my way out.

As I stepped out and crossed the road in front of Sim Lim Square, I noticed crowds and street shops ahead of me.

Singapore Bugis Street shopping back entrance

Singapore Bugis Street shopping centre snake charmer
… and street ‘performers’ like this guy
Singapore Bugis Street Shopping centre Rochor
Turns out I was now inside the Bugis Street Shopping centre

Singapore Bugis street shopping centreSingapore Bugis Albert CentreBugis Street Shopping is the largest street shopping market in Singapore.

Singapore Bugis street shopping insideFor me, it wasn’t really impressive. Not after you have visited Bangkok’s Chatuchak Weekend Market (or JJ Market). In fact, a lot of the merchandise sold here was from Thailand — which obviously meant it was slightly more pricier here.

Singapore Bugis street shopping sex shopSingapore Bugis street shopping food

Singapore Bugis street shopping main front entrance
The main entrance to Bugis Street
Singapore Bugis Street shopping Iluma mall
We were really curious as to what this Iluma building was
Singapore Bugis iluma mall exterior
I thought it was some boutique hotel

I had to get to Suntec City to meet up with my friends, but instead of taking of the MRT, I just walked.

I passed through another mall, this time — Bugis Junction.

Singapore Bugis Square G.NA autograph session fan meet
K-pop star G.NA was going to be here in two days

Singapore Bugis square water fountain shoppingSingapore Bugis square water fountain

Singapore Bugis Square Porsche sports car
Spotted at Bugis Square. It was F1 weekend after all.

Singapore Victoria Street public library buildingSingapore Bugis Suntec City laneSingapore over bridge to Suntec city

Singapore city traffic diverted F1
Singapore’s roads aren’t this empty, just that traffic was diverted because of the race

After catching up with my friends, Ramesh made his way to the F1 tracks to begin his evening. While myself & Loi pondered what to do next. I had plans of going to Marina Bay Sand Casino to go up to the sky deck. When I had called them up earlier in the day, I was informed it was only open to visitors until 4pm, after which it would be off limits to non-guests.

We were inside CityLink Mall (yes, another mall in the area) when we decided to check out the HMV store.

Singapore CityLink mall HMV store

Singapore Jay Park HMV store
Damn, Jay Park was in Singapore yesterday! (Jay Park is an K-pop star who’s going to be big worldwide… trust me)

By the time we stepped out of the HMV store, we already spent SGD150 (around Rs. 5,100) on official band t-shirts — and it was past 4pm. So I pushed Marina Bay Sands for tomorrow and headed to Suntec City mall instead.

Singapore Suntec City Tropics Atrium

Singapore Suntec City Canon booth

Singapore Suntec City stores
This is just one section to Suntec City mall

After shopping some more at Suntec, we made our way back to Victoria Street where I had plans to show Loi the Bugis Street shopping centre.

Singapore National Library building
The Singapore National Library building

Singapore greenery trees BugisSingapore Victoria Street iluma mall signalBut lay before us was Iluma — the alluding building which I assumed was a boutique hotel.

Singapore iluma mall exterior design

Singapore iluma mall Victoria street
But upon closer inspection…
Singapore Iluma Mall entrance
… guess what…
Singapore Iluma mall interior design
… it’s just another mall

But a funky one at that. Iluma is a pretty cool mall mostly targeting a younger crowd. Despite its appearance, we didn’t find the usual selection of high-end designer brands. Instead, we came across stores like this:

Singapore iluma mall Comics Connection storeThe merchandise on display was good enough to draw me & Loi in. Nearly half-an-hour later, we step out after having spent some dime on anime merchandise.

Singapore iluma mall floor design
We window-shopped a bit more…
Singapore iluma Otaku House shop
…. before stepping into another nerd’s toy haven

Inside the Otaku House was more anime merchandise; more necklaces and keychains (like the ones we bought from Comics Connection), to cosplay outfits and other props for rent or purchase.

But we sighed… and quietly walked out, reminding ourselves that we had already spent enough and would soon run of Singapore currency at this rate.

It didn’t stop us from exploring the mall still.

Singapore iluma mall inside design
Pretty cool looking mall

The top-most floor houses what they claim to be Singapore’s largest arcade. And then there is the open roof top.

Singapore iluma roof top National Public Llibrary

Singapore sunset skyline iluma rooftop
You get a nice view of the Bugis surroundings from up here
Singapore Raffes hospital Bugis Victoria street
Victoria Street and Raffles Hospital in the distance

Singapore Raffes hospital Bugis junctionSingapore evening sky building iluma rooftop

Singapore iluma rooftop restaurants
There are a few rooftop restaurants up here

As we made our way down, I realized iluma was one of the more unique malls in Singapore. Not only does it look cool, it really manages to cater to a young crowd with more affordable options compared to the rest of Singapore’s malls.

Singapore iluma mall ground floor

After we stepped out of iluma, I took Loi to the Bugis Street Chopping centre.

Singapore Bugis Street shopping Tokyo ShopAnd by the time we were done with that, we were hungry. So we popped into the near by Burger King for a good ol’ beef burger

(Note: Beef burgers are a rarity in India due to religious sentiments so even McDs are too ‘chicken’ to serve beef burgers here).

Singapore Burger King Bugis

Anime jewelry necklace keychain Singapore purchase
Some of the anime merchandise we bought
Singapore iluma building lights night
iluma mall lights up at night

After this, we took the MRT to Orchard Road, our next destination.

I actually wanted to go back to Sim Lim Square, but Loi needed to meet his cousin — and since he didn’t have a local SIM, I had to tag along with him.

When we got to Orchard Road, we stepped right out to Ion Orchard mall.

Singapore Ion Orchard mall road night
There was some dance competition open to the public
Singapore Orchard road Ion Orchard dance contest
And this fat dude was getting a lot of fake screams from the women… so he kept dancing

Orchard Road is Singapore’s famous shopping stretch (as if the rest of the city didn’t offer enough already), home to many star hotels and a very popular stop for tourists.

And boy, does this one-way road live up to its reputation!

Singapore Lucky Plaza Orchard road
Opposite ION Orchard, Lucky Plaza is very popular among Filipinos working in Singapore
Singapore Ngee Ann city mall orchard road
Ngee Ann City mall, the largest mall on Orchard Road
Singapore Takashimaya shopping center Orchard road
Popular for housing Japanese department store Takashimaya
Inside Ngee Ann city mall Singapore
You can get into Ngee Ann city to get to the underpass which comes out the other side of Orchard Road

Inside Ngee Ann City mall fountain Singapore

Singapore Paragon Tod's Prada Miu Miu Orchard road
Paragon, a high-end mall housing luxury brands like miu miu, Prada and more

Once Loi met up with his cousin, I was on my own to explore the rest of Orchard Road for some time.

I got back to the other side to continue from where I left off.

Singapore Emporio Armani store Orchard road
Next up, Mandarin Gallery
Singapore Orchard road street performer gold
You’ll find a few street performers on Orchard Road… and for the love of god, do not taunt them like a few tourists did. They don’t like it.

Singapore Orchard Road woman bikini sculpture

Singapore Orchard Road female bikini sculpture
This can be found in front of the Mandarin Gallery

Singapore Mandarin Gallery Orchard road

Singapore Tourism Visitors center Orchard road
This is the Singapore Tourism office where you can get info, maps, make reservations and such
Singapore Courts electronics store Orchard road
Courts is a large multi-storey electronics store
Singapore bus stop bed ad Orchard road
Pretty innovative ad

Singapore Orchard Road old building traffic signalSingapore Orchard Road The Centrepoint mall RobinsonsSingapore Orchard road mall escalator

Singapore Orchard Central mall Orchard road
This was a pretty cool looking mall

Singapore Orchard Central mall lights Orchard roadSingapore Orchard road Orchard Plaza Hotel GrandSingapore Orchard road green grass treesAfter this point, the malls slowly disappeared.

Singapore Orchard road art gate monument

Singapore Orchard road Orchard Central signal
Crossed to the other side and made my way back

Singapore Orchard road crossing Meritus Mandarin hotel

Singapore Orchard road Tangs store
Tangs is a local department store
Singapore Orchard road Wisma Atria mall
The Orchard Road MRT station is connected to Wisma Atria mall
Singapore Orchard road Ion Orchard Paterson road junction
Ion Orchard, from across the road

After catching up with my friend Loi, we decided to see off his cousin at the bus stop and take one ourselves as we hadn’t done so yet.

Singapore Orchard road Ion Loiyumba cousin
My friend Loi with his cousin sister who studies in Singapore
Singapore sbs transit bus inside
The buses use the same MRT cards

Since we didn’t really know where to get down, we just got off at the end of Orchard Road.

Singapore Orchard road Plaza Singapura Carrefour
There were still more malls this side

Singapore Cathay Mall 75 years oldAs I looked at the map, we realized that Victoria Street wasn’t very far from where we were currently, so I asked Loi if we could just keep walking.

Singapore School of the Arts campus building
The School of the Arts Singapore campus
Singapore YMCA hostel building
We passed by quite a lot of landmarks

It was nearing 11pm, so we stepped into a food court to have dinner and to quench our thirst with some beer.

Singapore Kopitiam food court 24 hours
Open 24 hours, Kopitiam has mostly Chinese and Pan-Asian fare
Singapore Kopitiam roast honey duck pork
We weren’t really hungry so we just had roast duck and pork with our beer

Singapore Kopitiam Master Duck counterAfter ‘dinner,’ we resumed our walk towards our hostel.

Singapore Arts Museum night sculptures
This was the Singapore Arts Museum

Singapore Arts Museum building nightSingapore Victoria Street church junctionI couldn’t help but remind ourselves how good a location we chose to be stay in, given how close we were to a lot of what Singapore has to offer (especially if you a re shopaholic!).

Singapore Management University building
Singapore Management University campus

Singapore Victoria street at night building

Singapore Bugis street shopping closed night
The Bugis Street Shopping centre… closed
Singapore Kampong Glam at night Sultan Mosque
Sultan Mosque down the street

Singapore Kampong Glam trees moon sky

Singapore Old Street cafe & bar hotel
Santa Grand Hotel Bugis is in front of ABC Hostel

We were finally back in our room…. oh wait, we ran out of drinking water.

(Steps out again)

Singapore Kampong Glam Al Baik Mariam restaurantSingapore Kampong Glam cats at nightSingapore Kampong Glam Biriyani Bistro restaurantSingapore Kampong Glam wall grafittiOnce back from the nearby 7-Eleven I was finally done with day 2! As we checked out out our merchandise, we also counted how much we had already spent and soon realized we were running out of Singapore dollars.

We just had one more day left in Singapore, so it was either going to be Sentosa or the Singapore Zoo. I also wanted to hit the sky deck at Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Casino.

Would I be able to do it all?


Other posts in this series:

Singapore & Malaysia 2010: Planning and preparing for the trip

Singapore 2010: Day 1 – Little India, CBD, Clarke Quay, China Town… and a lot of walking

Singapore 2010: Day 3 – Singapore Zoo, Marina Bay Sands; leaving Singapore for Penang

Malaysia 2010: Day 4 — One day in Penang (Around Georgetown, Gurney Drive, Penang Hill)

Malaysia 2010: Day 5 — Langkawi (Ferry ride from Penang, Cable car & Sky Bridge)

Malaysia 2010: Day 6 — Langkawi (Island hopping tour, Pantai Tengah beach, Night market)

Malaysia 2010: Day 7 — Kuala Lumpur (Low Yat Plaza, Petronas Towers, Jalan Alor)

Malaysia 2010: Day 8 — Kuala Lumpur (Batu Caves, Petaling Street/China Town)

Malaysia 2010: Day 9 — Kuala Lumpur (KLCC Aquaria, Merdeka Square, KL Tower observation deck)

Malaysia 2010: Leaving Kuala Lumpur… and about going back

Dubai Mall Aquarium glass

UAE 2010: Dubai Mall (Aquarium, Underwater Zoo & Gold Souk) – Part 1

Date: 7th April, 2010

After a tiring walk around Bur Dubai the previous day, I had to give my feet some rest.

But I was just too damn excited about today. And so, as Azhad headed off to work early in the morning, I too got ready to set out early for the Downtown Dubai site.

I took the metro (from Union Station) to Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall (of course they were going to get their own stop). As soon as I stepped out…

Burj Khalifa from Metro Station
… there it was!

It really is a beauty, unlike the last building that earned the title “tallest building in the world”.

There’s a bit of a walk to be had to get to Dubai Mall (there’s a bus service too but I chose to walk just to see the surroundings)

Burj Khalifa Emaar site offices Downtown Dubai
EMAAR is the company behind the Downtown Dubai
Burj Khalifa surrounding office buildings
Offices, (empty) offices, and more (empty) offices everywhere…
Burj Khalifa construction worker Dubai
Thousands of people like him build that

Dubai Mall man suit palm treesSignal outside Dubai Mall workersI got into Dubai Mall through the parking lot — because I couldn’t find any other entrance that side.

Dubai Mall architecture

Dubai Mall parking space lot
Parking capacity: 14,000 cars

I had gotten to Dubai Mall quite early. Most stores hadn’t opened or were just waiting for the first customer to walk in. I was going to check out the mall of course, but first things first. I wanted to buy tickets for the observation deck on Burj Khalifa. The observation deck was closed just a few weeks after it had opened due to some technical snags. It had re-opened only a week before, so I knew there was going to be a mad rush for the tickets.

But finding the ticket counter for At The Top proved a bit difficult (at first). Since there wasn’t anyone at the information desks, I simply followed the signs out to the Burj Khalifa thinking, well, that the counter would be at the ground floor of the Burj Khalifa itself.

Burj Khalifa Dubai steel morning
What US$1.5 billion gets you
Downtown Dubai The Address old town
The Address hotel on the left
Dubai Mall The Address panorama
A panorama comprised of 5 photos

Problem is, when I tried to get to the entrance of the Burj Khalifa, that didn’t seem possible either. Everything was cordoned off due to construction work still going on or was restricted access. I asked around but ended up back inside Dubai Mall.

Once inside, I finally found a security guard and asked him how I could get to the At the Top counter.

Dubai Mall Ermenegildo Zegna
I followed his directions and took the lift near the Ermenegildo Zegna store

I was instructed to go to the food court at the ground floor.

Dubai Mall Caribou Coffee At the Top ticket counter

The ticket counter only opens at 10am but at 9:45am, a few had already started a queue. I asked if tickets were available for the morning but they said only ‘Immediate Entry’ tickets were available.

You see, they have two types of tickets. The regular admission ticket costs Dhs 100 (Rs. 1200/US$27/€21) but needs to be booked a few hours/days in advance. But if you need to see it “immediately” or (truth be told) just show up at the ticket counter, you have to pay Dhs 400 (Rs. 5,100/US$108/€86) if you wish to go in then itself.

I ended up buying tickets for the 4:00pm slot (they let people in every 30 minutes) and also three tickets for a later date.

And now that I had plenty of time to kill until then, I began checking out the empty mall.

Dubai Mall basement storesBut as I got up to the first floor, I got distracted by the Dubai Aquarium. So I bought the Dhs 50 (Rs. 630/US$13/€10) ticket to see the largest (& probably the only) indoor aquarium in the Middle East. (The Dhs 50 ticket is the aquarium plus the Underwater Zoo. The standalone ticket for the Aquarium is Dhs 25)

Dubai Mall Aquarium glass
This holds the Guinness Record for the ‘World’s Largest Acrylic Panel’
Dubai Mall Aquarium glass reflection
There’s over 30,000 species of fish in this tank (or so they claim)

And then you enter the tunnel.

Dubai Mall Aquarium insideDubai Mall Aquarium dome sharks

Dubai Mall Aquarium baby sharks
They have a lot of sharks…

Dubai Mall Aquarium Sting rays

Dubai Mall Aquarium Stingray
… and a few stingrays

Dubai Mall Aquarium glass domeYou can check out the HD video I took here:

Once you step out the tunnel, the path takes you past souvenirs and a themed restaurant.

Dubai Mall jungle theme restaurant… before leading out to the escalator that takes you up to the first floor.

There, you find the entrance to the Underwater Zoo.

Dubai Mall Aquarium Underwater zoo

Dubai Aquarium underwater zoo otter
Dubai Mall Aquarium underwater zoo water rat
Water rats

Dubai Mall Aquarium Underwater zoo water rats

Dubai Mall Aquarium Lionfish raysDubai Mall Aquarium goldfish

Dubai Mall aquarium Dory Marlin
Dory and Marlin are still friends^, awwwww…

Dubai Mall Aquarium clown fish volcanoDubai Mall Aquarium fish eye

Dubai Mall Aquarium rainforest facts

Dubai Mall Aquarium school tour
The operations at the back

The aquarium was obviously very popular for school kids.

Dubai Mall Aquarium underwater penguins workerDubai Mall Aquarium underwater penguins swimmingDubai Mall Aquarium underwater penguin staring

Dubai Mall Aquarium underwater zoo jellyfish
Dubai Mall Aquarium eels

Dubai Mall Aquarium underwater zoo garden eels

Dubai Mall underwater zoo coming attractions
There’s more coming

Here’s a video I took:

Dubai Mall Aquarium from top
From outside the Underwater Zoo

Dubai Mall Aquarium touristsAfter that, I checked out the rest of the mall.

Dubai Mall floors Versace storeDubai Mall Joseph Joes cafeDubai Mall interiors ceilingDubai Mall Bloomingdales store

Dubai Mall Pucci store
Pucci: Poor man’s Gucci*

*not really

Dubai Mall Harman House showroomDubai Mall Sony showroomDubai Mall ceiling sunlightDubai Mall waterfallDubai Mall souk Harley DavidsonDubai Mall KidzaniaDubai Mall Exoto Tifosi Circle8 shopDubai Mall Sega RepublicDubai Mall Crocs Asics

Dubai Mall Wooden floor lobby
If there ever was a material used in construction, you’ll find it used for Dubai Mall

Dubai Mall chandelier domeDubai Mall Sephora JumboDubai Mall botique runway digital screenDubai Mall ground floor ceilingDubai Mall UAE flag lobby entrance

Dubai Mall sofa rest stops
It took advantage of these everywhere around the mall

After nearly an hour of window shopping, I decided to have lunch at the food court at the basement, near the At The Top counter.

Dubai Mall Fatburger beef
Lunch was at Fatburger, which I never tried before

The burger was okay, nothing exceptional. Of course, I only had the regular beef burger. (Not really ‘Fat’, just regular)

After lunch, it was back to roaming around a bit more. This time I explored the Gold Souk.

Dubai Mall Gold SoukAs the name suggests, this is the section of the mall dedicated to just gold stores and other pricey items.

Dubai Mall Gold souk ceiling chandlier

Dubai Mall Gold souk tree open spaceDubai Mall gold souk treeIt was also the quietest part of the mall.

Dubai Mall gold souk shopsGiven the high price of gold now and the fact that there wasn’t a whole lot of folks shopping anyway, it wasn’t surprising to see very few customers walk through these corridors.

Dubai Mall Gold souk chandelierDubai Mall Gold souk lit up domeDubai Mall gold souk shoppers

And with that, I was out.

Dubai Mall chairs fountain waterfallDubai Mall Element Roadster DinerI also walked past the only Olympic-sized Ice Rink in the Middle East.

Dubai Mall ice skating rink OlympicDubai Mall ice skating rink Olympic Reel CinemasIt was 3:30pm by this time, so I decided to make my way back to the lower basement.

Dubai Mall lower basement escalatorsI waited near the At The Top counter for my turn to get in

Dubai Mall At The Top gift store
The At The Top gift shop

(This is just part 1 of what I saw today, part 2 is when I went up to the Burj Khalifa observation desk)

[^ ‘Finding Nemo‘ reference]

Next posts in this series:

UAE 2010: Burj Khalifa, At the Top (and Wafi Mall) – Part 2

UAE 2010: Mall of Emirates and Times Square Center

UAE 2010: Driving around Dubai (Souk Madinat Jumeirah, The Atlantis & The Palm Islands) – Part 1

UAE 2010: Dubai Marina, Jumeirah, The Walk and David Guetta concert – Part 2

UAE 2010: Showing my parents the sights of Dubai; inside Ibn Battuta Mall

UAE 2010: From the desert sands of Abu Dhabi to the corniche

UAE 2010: Yas Island, Abu Dhabi – Ferrari World and Yas Marina Circuit

Previous posts in this series:

UAE 2010: Heading back to the Gulf after 7 years

UAE 2010: Driving from Abu Dhabi to Dubai (& back)

UAE 2010: Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi

UAE 2010: Heading to Dubai by bus; checking out Bur Dubai

MBK Center, Bangkok

Thailand 2009: Day 9 – MBK, Siam Paragon… and ‘little Arabia’?

Date: Dec 22nd, 2009

Woke up at a reasonable time after sleeping properly for the first time since I arrived in Thailand a week ago.  I wondered what to do today. I still had sights to go see but looking at the battery power left in my camera made me realize I need to get my charger fixed or at least find a new one (my Canon 7D batter charger had gotten wet in Ao Nang) before I could click again.

So I decided to head back to MBK Center and visit the Canon showroom I picked up my camera from.

Bangkok grafitti BTS Skytrain Nana
This was taken from the Nana BTS station

I took the BTS, got off at the Siam stop and reached MBK by around 10am. Stores were just opening for business and the Canon store unfortunately wasn’t going to open until 11am. So I decided to explore all the levels of MBK Center to kill time.

MBK was once the biggest mall in Asia. Even though it has long lost that title, it still remains one of the most popular shopping centers in Thailand. Mostly because you get a good mix of branded stores and independent small ones selling stuff you probably find in less-posh street stores or at flea markets.

Like I mentioned in the last post, just because you find something in a small store or a flea market, doesn’t mean you got a good deal. Case in point, the 80 litre bag I picked up from Ao Nang. When I bought it for 1500 baht/Rs. 2000 (bargained down from 2000 baht), I thought I got a good deal. Until I saw it for 890 baht (Rs. 1,200) in one store on the ground floor at MBK 🙁

Oh well.

MBK center Bangkok
MBK Center (Taken on the Nokia E72)

MBK’s fourth floor was dominated by mobile phone stores. Be it handsets or accessories, there were plenty of them. Selling everything from the genuine to even the fake Nokias and Apples. You name the brand, they had it. You want customization options, there’s plenty to choose from. Worth checking out if you want to deck out your mobile.

As I entered the 4th floor though, I smelled something sweet in air and I followed the trail which led to this:

MBK breakfast pastry

I tried the pancake with coc0nut filling and had coffee. Funny thing is, the coffee cost more than the pastry!

Done with “breakfast,” I had some time to kill before the Canon store opened. So I went to the 5th floor which had the food court on one side and (mostly) clothes stores on the other. Like Chatuchak, you had stores selling all sorts of gear for more or less the same prices. I picked up some more t-shirts and then went around looking for good deals on PlayStation 3 games.

MBK video game store BangkokTrouble is, finding original games in Thailand is very, very difficult. Pirated discs pretty much rule the home entertainment market and very few stores stocked a good collection of original video games.

By 11am, the Canon store opened and I went to meet Kosin, the sales guy I mostly dealt with. He saw me and even remembered my name. I told him what happened to my battery charger and asked him if I could get it repaired.

Canon showroom Fotofile MBK
Inside the Canon showroom at MBK

I had Thai warranty on the camera and even though water damage isn’t covered, he still took me to the service center which was behind the showroom and gave it for service. They said they couldn’t promise anything because the Canon 7D was so new that they didn’t have the parts for everything just yet. But I still filled up the papers and was asked to come back in the evening.

Since there was a good chance I wouldn’t get the charger repaired, I wondered if I could get a new one. Kosin told me they hadn’t received stock of the new charger so I decided to head to Pantip Plaza and try there.

I took a taxi and made my way to Pantip, which is around 2 kms from MBK.

Bangkok schoolgirls
Saw more girls in uniforms than boys

I had written about Pantip in my Day 1 post but for the sake of a quick reminder, Pantip Plaza is pretty much the most popular IT destination in Bangkok (and also famous for being the largest grey market mall as well).

I went around asking every camera equipment store if they had the particular battery charger in stock but none did. So I ended up having to buy a third party battery charger for 600 baht (Rs. 830) — which is a lot cheaper than what the genuine Canon charger costs.

I went back to the room, put my battery for charging and prayed that the third party device wouldn’t blow up.

Since I had to wait a while before the battery had enough charge for use and that it was already noon, I realized I wouldn’t be able to do any of the sight-seeing I had planned for in Bangkok while the sun was still up. So I headed back to MBK.

I had lunch at the food court and decided to watch ‘Avatar‘ in 3D. My take on the film? Technically brilliant, visually stunning… but so damn cliched and predictable that it got boring and some what annoying after a while. Sorry James Cameron, I still like you but ‘Avatar‘ wasn’t really worth all the hype and years of anticipation. (And it totally doesn’t deserve all the critical praise and record-breaking financial return its getting!)

By the time the film was over, it was already past 5pm. I went back to the Canon service center to collect my charger and find out if they repaired it. Unfortunately, they couldn’t as they said they didn’t have the parts needed.

So I collected it and left MBK. I figured if there was no tourist attraction to see today, I rather just cross over to the other side and check out the place that now holds the crown for being the largest mall in Thailand.

MBK Center, Bangkok
MBK Center, Bangkok
Bangkok night traffic near MBK
Night traffic near MBK
BTS Skytrain Siam Discovery
Siam Discovery, one-third of Siam Center

Siam Center is now the biggest shopping complex in Bangkok, consisting of Siam Discovery, the Siam office tower and Siam Paragon, the newest and the most posh of the bunch. MBK and Siam Center are conveniently accessed by a large over bridge and a BTS station above that!

BTS Skytrain Siam ParagonBTS Skytrain Siam ParagonChristmas tree Siam ParagonSiam Center is your typical international standard mall. The usual big brands and using every major festival, like Christmas, to deck the place up all nice — even though Thailand is a Buddhist majority. Siam Center houses several well-known (and slightly more affordable) brands while Siam Paragon mostly caters to luxury goods.

Emporio Armani Siam Paragon
Inside Siam Paragon

So as expected, they was hardly anybody inside the shops.

I went down to the food court to catch some grub and was happy to see a Mos Burger outlet. Being a Japanophile, I’ve always wanted to try one.

Mos Burger Siam ParagonI got my takeaway and checked out the rest of the mall. Fairly standard international mall affair.

Except for this.

Maserati showroom at Siam Paragon
Maserati showroom at Siam Paragon
Lotus showroom Siam Paragon
Lotus showroom at Siam Paragon

This was the first time I saw a car showroom, and that too, luxury cars being sold on the second floor of a mall! There were a series of them. But the coolest of them was the Lamborghini showroom. Just two cars – an orange Gallardo and a white Murcielago SV (or it could have been the other way around, don’t exactly remember) – in an all black showroom. Sexy.

Sadly, photography was prohibited.

I headed home and on the way, stepped into a tour agency to inquire about how to get to the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and the Floating Market, which were the sights I wanted to see. In the map, the Grand Palace seemed far off and the tour agency told me the Floating Market is a two hour drive away from the city (or at least from Sukhumvit). I went back to the room and had to decide which I wanted to see because I could only do one the next day. The woman who runs Thai House Inn told me I can just take a taxi to the Grand Palace for around 100 baht and assured me that it wasn’t as far as I thought it was.

I had only the day to spare, so Grand Palace and Wat Pho it was. I really wanted to capture the Floating Market on video but I just couldn’t take the risk of being late for my flight back to Bangalore later that evening. Disappointed, I decided to walk one final night instead of hitting the bed just yet.

And I was glad I did. Turns out the area I was in was popular with Middle Easterners and North Africans. There were so many restaurants run by Egyptians, Lebanese and other Arabs serving Middle Eastern cuisine (a favourite of mine!) as well as some Indian.

Bangkok Arab Middle Eastern areaBangkok Arab Middle Eastern restaurantsThere were joints popular with Africans and enough shawarma joints to go around. It was kinda cool. Reminded me of walking through the bylanes of Manama growing up. I picked up a mutton shawarma (which was tad spicy) from a Nigerian-run joint and went back after picking up some chocolates to take back to Bangalore.

Other posts in this series:

Getting ready for my trip

The day I left for Thailand

Day 1 – Suvarnabhumi, Pantip Plaza, Fotofile & MBK

Day 2 – Bridge over the River Kwai and Tiger Temple (Wat Pa Luangta Bua) in Kanchanaburi

Taking the bus to Chiang Mai from Bangkok

Day 3 – Maesa elephant camp, ‘long-neck’ tribe village near Chiang Mai

Day 3 (Part 2) – Chiang Mai Night Market

Day 4 – Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai… and back in town

Day 5 – Leaving Chiang Mai for Phuket

Day 5 (Part 2) – One night in Phuket

Day 6 – Leaving Phuket for Ao Nang by bus (via Phang Nga)

Day 7 – Touring Koh Phi Phi (Maya Bay, Monkey Island & Bamboo Island)

Day 7 (Part 2) – Exploring Railay, Krabi

Day 8 – Flying from Phuket to Bangkok

Day 8 (Part 2) – Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok

Day 10 – Grand Palace and the Emerald Buddha

Day 10 – Wat Pho (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha) and finally leaving Thailand

Figures, lessons learned, and things I couldn’t do

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