By Stephen Bugno

I am definitely not a mall person. You might even be able to classify me as a mall hater. Here are five reasons I didn’t fight malls when I visited Singapore.

5) A National Obsession

To understand Singapore without eating at or entering a mall is like trying to understand Ireland without entering a pub. Singaporeans are obsessed with shopping. The temples they’ve built to worship this infatuation with consumerism, are malls. They are big, they are beautiful, and they are here to stay. My conclusion: understanding malls equals understanding Singaporean society.

4) Nice to Look at

These are some of the nicest, most well-designed buildings I’ve seen. I spent much of my time in Singapore just walking through the malls admiring the interior design, the grand open spaces, the escalators. Not to mention all the beautiful people. Singaporeans look good! In fact, they are the best dressed people I have ever seen. Don’t get me wrong, Londoners and New Yorkers are dressed well, but in those cities there’s at least one person poorly dressed for each one that is well dressed. In Singapore, it’s just beautiful person after beautiful person. Even if they’re not good looking, they still look good.

3) I didn’t ask to visit this mall

How did I end up in a mall? Get used to it, malls are everywhere in Singapore. And they’re almost impossible to avoid. If you exit the MRT (mass rapid transit), you may end up inside a mall. It’s nearly impossible to escape. I tried once for 20 minutes to get to street level and failed. Luckily there are good information desks helping you plot your way out. So you may not have a choice about visiting malls while in the city. Accept the mall. Be one with commercialism. Smile, you love shopping.

2) It’s freeeezing in here

A mall in Singapore.

Singapore is hot. Walking around the city, you’ll think it’s the hottest, most humid place you’ve ever been. Enter shopping malls. They are cold, very cold. And to most people this feels good. Feeling good goes hand in hand with spending a lot of money. There you have the secret to happiness in Singapore. Unfortunately, to the weak (myself included), this shuffling into the ice cold mall and out into the hot street can cause headaches. Why not stay inside the mall all day?

1) 1 +1 = 3

Shopping malls combine shopping with Singaporean’s second obsession: eating. This city is both eater’s and shopper’s paradise. Malls have food courts. These are not the disgusting and dirty food courts that you are used to back home. This is good food. And lots of it. A diverse range of independent stalls offer an array of sophisticated food choices at reasonable prices. Char kway teow (fried broad noodles) with cockles, lemon pepper beef rice, fish ball and wan tan soup, chicken rice, turnip and mushroom dumplings, kaya (coconut jam) toast and coffee,  just to name a few that I tried. The mall food court is the place to get good food at good prices. If you think Singaporeans have fashion sense, they have even better food sense.

There you have it. Malls rule Singapore. The next time you’re here, just try to avoid malls. I dare you.

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