Orchard Road is where Singapore shops. And not just shops, but also eats, drinks, and makes merry. This busy, glittering street is a bustling thoroughfare full of malls- a mad whirligig of shops stretching from crazy party ideas to baby clothing, art to heavily sequined laces to quick-stitch kits, Swarovski to Timberland, cameras to lingerie, books to food to music and- well, virtually everything else you could possibly think of!
Orchard Road draws its name from the fact that it was once, during the mid-1800s, lined with plantations of pepper and nutmeg. About the only people who actually lived in the area at the time were wealthy British planters. In the 1900s, a disease killed off most of the pepper and nutmeg trees, and a series of natural disasters- including floods- put an end to the plantations once and forever.
By the 1970s, Orchard Road began to come up in life, and snazzy buildings were constructed to house shops, cinemas, restaurants and more. The Orchard Road of today is a far cry from what it was a century ago- a sleek, fancy place with lots of opportunity for everything from shopping and dining to people-watching. Some of the biggest malls along the street are Palais Renaissance, Tanglin Mall, Tanglin Shopping Centre, Far East Plaza, Wisma Atria and Plaza Singapura. We wandered through quite a few of them, trying desperately to restrain ourselves from buying every single thing we saw. Chanel, Liz Claiborne, Ralph Lauren, DKNY, Versace, Waterford crystal, Wedgwood china, Louis Vuitton, the largest bookstore in Southeast Asia, and an ‘adult toys’ shop were just some of the many stores we either took a very leisurely stroll through, or else whisked past hurriedly. And yes- we also saw a wonderful shop dealing exclusively in jigsaw puzzles; and a street show of Chinese acrobats, which was really quite a bonus!