O Week : Day 1

In Australia the first week of the new university year is called Orientation week, which for as long as I can recall has been shortened to “O Week”.  It was originally designed – as its name suggests – to help new students to find their way around, but has evolved into a drunken celebration of freedom as 18 year olds experience their first taste of life outside of the school system.

Being our first week in Singapore we are in a serviced apartment while the rental house we picked is having a few things fixed (and why the vagaries of the Singapore leasing system work themselves out), and we are using the time to orient ourselves to this new country.  Sadly (or happily), there will be no drunken scavenger hunt through the streets dressed as a superhero as the universities do in O Week.

Yesterday (Sunday), was our first full day as Singapore residents, although we were all still on Melbourne time which is 2 hours ahead.  The kids got up at 7am and we muttered at them to find something quiet to do while we got more sleep.  They reappeared just under an hour later and my mobile phone was telling me it was 8am so I offered to take the kids to breakfast while hub slept.  I had a quick shower, dressed and when I made it out to the lounge room I noticed through the window it was pitch dark.

It was 8am in Melbourne, not Singapore.

Our missions for the day was to test out the train system.  Despite having been in Singapore quite a few times between us we had never used public transport, but for the first few weeks until we sought out the school bus I need to use public transport to get the girls to and from school.  Hub will also catch the train to work everyday.

Our first stop was to buy an EZ Link card, which is kind of like a debit card which you load up with credit.  The card can be used for all manner of things – trains, buses, taxis, parking, shopping.  When entering and exiting an MRT (Mass Rapid Transport) station all you do is wave the card over the scanner and the cost of the trip is deducted from the card.

Not sure why the Victorian State Government didn’t adopt this system over the woeful Myki ticketing system they chose.

The stations are clean and there is no danger of people falling on the tracks as there is a glass wall to stop that.  The longest we waited for a train was 4 minutes.  There aren’t an abundance of seats on the trains but there are lots of poles and straps to hang onto.  The Little Missy took to sitting on the floor, which in many countries could put at risk of all manner of diseases, but not in Singapore!  At 3 different times people offered their seats to her.  You don’t get that in Melbourne (or insert most other places), even if you’re visibly pregnant.

The next job was to take a trip to a Singaporean supermarket.  We are staying within spitting distance of Orchard Road (not that we would spit, mind) so we went to the nearest Cold Storage which probably is not the most authentic Singaporean shopping experience but our feet were sore and we just needed food.  Quickly.

Cold Storage is similar to Australian supermarkets, a lot smaller but the ‘vibe of the thing’ was the same.  The biggest difference that I noticed is that the price of fruit/vegies/meat/anything was given per 100 grams.  Luckily I was pretty darn terrific at my 10 Times Tables back in the day!

And – gratuitous brag alert – we bought a bunch of bananas for $1.90  kilo. It’s been months since I had a banana.  In Australia, thanks to the wrath Mother Nature meted out to Queensland, bananas have been hovering around the $13 a kilo mark for months making the humble narna something of a status symbol in school lunch boxes.

OK, it was pretty much the only thing that was cheaper in the whole produce section, but still……

(Day 2 of O Week sees us trying to open a bank account and visiting the Ministry of Manpower where I will try not to think of Jamie Durie……)

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6 thoughts on “O Week : Day 1

  1. Welcome ! Your day one was good. I love the MRT and prefer it over a car if I don’t have lots of groc or other shopping to carry along. I still get the majority of my groc. at cold storage, just easier. We had a REALLY hard time finding a bank until we found DBS. It was quick and easy and didn’t require tons of money left in the account (one bank wanted 2000 SGD as min. balance!) Just an FYI, might save you lots of time and headaches.

  2. Glad to hear you’re finally there and settling in. No mention of airport dramas…?

    Hoping that the two hour ahead thing was balanced out at bedtime! Looking forward to hearing more 🙂 x

  3. You might find – once you move into your own apartment – that Fairprice will be cheaper than Cold Storage. Even Giant is not too bad. Today I purchased banana’s for $1.40kg SGD so that is good … brocoli was $2.80 Kg SGD …. so I have no complaints …. I think overall the prices will ‘even out’ with Australian items.

    I have also found that Shampoo’s, conditioners, soaps are far cheaper than in Australia and in fact, end up taking those goodies ‘back home’ when I visit.

    Once you are settled you might like to try Mustafa’s (in Little India) again, much cheaper than most other places… certainly cheaper than Cold Storage. It is open 24/7 and sells everything you could possibly need or want. Their food section needs to be visited early morning, but never on a weekend!

    Another consideration is On-Line Shopping with FairPrice … which is what I do for all the heavy items like detergents etc. Saves a heap of time and stress.

    Any shopping done ‘in the heartlands’ will be cheaper than Orchard Rd or any of the Expat Area’s like Holland Village and the like. Even the Hawker Food Stalls are cheaper ……

    But added to the above are loads of other places for shopping that you will gradually ‘find’ over time …. factory outlets for food and anything lese that is needed….. even Kitchen Mart is a great place to visit when you need anything for the kitchen:

    http://leonefabre.blogspot.com/2010/11/adventure-to-kitchen-mart.html

    there is also a Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Market … but will save all those for when you ‘settle in’.

    Stay sane and happy. 🙂

    • Thanks, Leone. It’s exactly these sort of ‘insider’ tips that I need. I can only assume that any supermarket on Orchard Road is not the cheapest around, so it will be interesting to see the price difference when we are further out. I love the look of Kitchen Mart, but fear I may come out a lot poorer than when I went in!

  4. Keep well away from Orchard Rd for shopping!

    The heartlands are well known for being so much cheaper ….. but there are many ‘hidden spots’ that will be alot cheaper for you. But don’t fall in to the trap of seeing the $$ sign and automaticly think in Oz dollars….. an American friend of mine does that all the time…. always ‘complaining’ about the hight cost of X ….. and adding that it only costs Y at home. So I quickly convert it back to USD and it is not a lot of difference.

    Add the extra $$$ earned here and convert back to AUD … and you will see that it can be similar cost in a lot of cases.

    Toothpaste I bought yesterday (large 160gm) cost $3.50 at Mustafa’s. In Australia (I checked Coles on-line) that same sized tube is $6.20AUD that is $8.19 in SGD!!!

    but email me ….. maybe we can do a ‘play date’ at Mustafa’s? I can show you where things are. It is a FIVE level 24/7 shopping maze in Little India!!

    leonefabre (AT) gmail (DOT) com

    email me anyway!!!

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