Christmas in Singapore

Vivo City
Vivo City in the Rain
Samsung SM-S908E, 6.4mm, f1.8, 1/100s
GPS: N:1° 15' 54.85" E:103° 49' 18.46"

Yes, this year, I am spending the holidays (aka, the silly season) in Singapore rather than staying home in Sydney.

As for why, well, various things aligned, and finally, I could take up a friend's long-standing invitation to stay with them for the holidays.

Now, what to expect? Well, from some previous visits over the holidays, I am aware its not like most of the world, and totally dead, with just about everything closed, minimal transport, etc.

Meanwhile, in Singapore, while it is a public holiday, after some googling, most posts I found talked about it being just another day. Only time will tell how accurate this is.

opening hours
Marks and Spencer Opening Hours, Raffles City
Samsung SM-S908E, 6.4mm, f1.8, 1/100s

Anyway, rather than waffle on about the trip, etc., all that needs to be said is I booked everything through Webjet, which, in this case, was cheaper than booking.com.

And no, there was zero chance of me flying with Scoot; rather, I paid a little more and went with the ever-dependable Singapore Airlines.

So, on my first day, after wandering around and heading for breakfast at Marks and Spencer in Raffles City, I spotted their opening times.

Note the December 25 times, a little later than usual, but still a good sign. The question is, is this going to be common everywhere, or just an anomaly?

Fueled up with breakfast, it is time to go and see how Singapore does public Christmas decorations.

The first port of call is the Orchard Road shopping strip, and this being December with the northern monsoon in full effect, I made the very wise decision to head out early to avoid the afternoon rain, and some of the crowds.

My initial thoughts are er, well, while they did try, I am not that impressed, but at least it is sponsored by Hitachi, which we are reminded about on every light pole.

Other than these interesting overhead decorations, the only notable thing was the public speakers playing jingle bells. Oh well, each to their own.

Orchard Road
Orchard Road - December 2023. Nikon D850, 28-70@28mm, f5.6, 1/1600s. GPS: N:1° 18' 17.35" E:103° 49' 55.88"

Now, this cannot be the only attempt at decorations; there must be more, so further down Orchard Road I go.

The first thing I see is something very Christmas-like; it's a giant Olaf from Disneys Frozen movies. Ok, I know it is not really a decoration, but it is still quite appropriate given the time of year.

Kids will love this, which, to me, is the whole point of Christmas. It's so good to see.

Olaf on Orchard Road
Olaf display, Orchard Road - December 2023. Nikon D850, 28-70@28mm, f5.6, 1/2500s, ISO200. GPS: N:1° 18' 13.1868" E:103° 50' 4.5096"

Continuing on and coming to a major junction, things look up, with what looks like the start of the overhead decorations, again sponsored by Hitachi.

Then comes the huge Christmas tree, which seems to be put up by Louis Vuitton, which should not be surprising given the cluster of super high-end stores in this part of Orchard Road.

Cnr Orchard/Scotts Road
Junction of Orchard and Scotts Road - December 2023. Nikon D850, 28-70@28mm, f5.6, 1/1600s, ISO200. GPS: N:1° 18' 19.04" E:103° 49' 54.84"

My initial thoughts are not good, but hang on; maybe when it's all lit up after dark, it looks better, so should it ever stop raining in the evenings, I will go back and check things out.

Ok, it's Christmas Eve, the crowds on Orchard Road were heading for the Hong Kong waterfront on New Year levels, the rain slowed to intermittent drizzling, and the traffic almost cooperated to the point where I could actually see how things looked after dark.

Orchard Road by Night
Junction of Orchard and Scotts Road - December 2023. Nikon D850, 28-70@28mm, f5.6, 1/30s, ISO800. GPS: N:1° 18' 17.85" E:103° 49' 52.25"

And yes, it does look much better after dark.

To be fair, I remember a visit back in the 90s where the decorations were things like plastic rain deer and the odd tree in some of the shops.

So compared to that, it's a real improvement.

Moving on from Orchard Road, it's time to check out other areas and see how they handle things.

But where to start? Well, in the local paper, I see places like Vivo City and The Sands have gone all out with their decorations.

Both are on the list of places to visit, as are some other big shopping centres, such as Suntec City and Marina Square.

Now, before anyone shouts, what about the Jewel ? Yes, I know, and its not one I will get to until I head home, so hang in there; I will check it out.

Also on the list are Chinatown and Little India, which should cover most of the main areas and give a good reference on how various areas cover Christmas.

First comes a visit to Chinatown not that I was expecting much if anything when it comes to Christmas in that area, and other than the odd display in some of the shops, I was not wrong.

Chinatown
Chinatown - December 2023. Samsung SM-S908E, 6.4mm, f1.8, 1/1400s. GPS: N:1° 16' 54.29" E:103° 50' 42.05"

After spending several days wandering around Chinatown, I could not tell it apart from the other times I have visited; it was the usual pleasant place to visit. Maybe I will visit during the Chinese New Year, at which time I would expect the display to be stunning; maybe next year ✈ ️

The same was expected from Little India, and arriving in the main street, yes, there were decorations but not for Christmas, but for the Deepavali Festival of Light which, although nothing to do with Christmas, was still worth seeing.

Not sure why the decorations are still up, as the festival should be well and truly over. Maybe I was just lucky 😀

Now, I have many Indian friends, so I am well aware of this festival, but seeing decorations on this scale was a pleasant surprise; it seems Little India goes all out for this festival, and maybe one day I will visit during the festival, think how stunning decorations on this scale will be in the middle of the festival and all lit up.

Little India
Little India - December 2023. Samsung SM-S908E, 6.4mm, f1.8, 1/100s. GPS: N:1° 18' 20.50" E:103° 51' 4.73"

For those who do not know, this festival runs for a month and usually starts in late October or early November.

At the moment, I am thinking of visiting Singapore again in October, so should things align and I make it, I have a good chance of making it for Deepavali; it should be stunning.

While it had nothing to do with Christmas and even with the threatening rain, I decided to wander around the area to see what else was happening.

After walking around for a while and in need of hydration, I headed for a shopping centre, which I found on a previous visit, which was not too far from where my wanderings had led to, and what did I find, yes, Christmas.

City Square Mall
City Square Mall - December 2023. Samsung SM-S908E, 6.4mm, f1.8, 1/320s. GPS: N:1° 18' 41.83" E:103° 51' 21.75"

This is the first and only Smerf-themed Christmas tree I have ever seen, but given the number of kids running around clearly enjoying themselves, why not a Smurf tree?

So far, the Christmas experience in Singapore is just as I expected, with decorations in some areas, while others have little to nothing; then comes the opening of shops, etc. Just about everything is open on Christmas Day.

For example, I had issues with my laptop, so on Christmas day, and before the expected rain hit, I headed to the closest Apple Store, which so happened to be the Orchard Road store, to see if they would do anything to help.

Apple, being Apple, they could/would not do anything to help, as my laptop was not bought in Singapore, and I do not have Apple Care Plus. It was not a good sign, but it was not the store staff's problem; they were friendly and tried to help but were not permitted by policy.

Apple Store
Apple Store, Orchard Road, Noon - Christmas Day 2023 Samsung SM-S908E, 6.4mm, f1.8, 1/100s. GPS: N:1° 18' 11.451" E:103° 50' 10.3056"

Yes, I went into an Apple Store on Christmas Day and found it busy. Now try this back home in Sydney....

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