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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Toys, books and all things geek in the Lion City

Singapore is a melting pot of various nationalities and cultures that make this small country unique in its own way. During my week-long stay, there's just about a lot of things you'd discover that has something to do with games, anime, manga and everything else geek.

One thing about Singapore is that the place is literally crawling with malls. Almost every developed piece of land has at least a shopping center selling everything and anything. Here are just some of the places I've visited with some great and amazing finds.


Nexx Mall, Serangoon Avenue 2

I spotted this store called Popular which houses books, stationery, school supplies and audio & video CDs. The first thing that caught my attention was its prominent display of Chinese, Japanese and Korean music CDs. K-Pop fans would probably froth at the mouth with rows upon rows of updated albums of Korean artists like 2AM, 2NE1, Girls Generation, TVXQ and all other up and coming artists. Sadly, their collection of J-Pop music is not as updated. I guess it's easy to discern that Korean music is really a major force to be reckoned with.

The mall also has a public library at the top most floor where anybody can read the latest paperbacks and browse Singapore's dailies and magazines. Surprisingly, they have a shelf dedicated to comics, particularly Marvel and DC as well as a few manga titles. It's very easy to lose track of time when you're enjoying a good read. It's also no wonder why there were quite a lot of young people hanging out in the library.

Ngee Ann City Mall,  Orchard Road

Ngee Ann City Mall is as intimidating as any shopping mall within the vicinity of Orchard Road. Situated in an area where designer shops abound, it's very easy to conclude that there might probably be no stores of interest around (unless of course you're the type who's fond of Cartier, LV and Armani with the means to buy any of their products).

Fortunately, there's one store that's practically a mine of good stuff.

Kinokuniya is unlike any bookstore I've ever seen. It has an extensive selection of books, some of which aren't even found in our country. What grabbed my attention was its collection of video game-based novels.

I've seen a couple of Warcraft books in our stores, but Kinokuniya's collection includes Warhammer, Halo, Assassin's Creed, Guild Wars, Hellgate: London and Starcraft among others. There are also shelves upon shelves of manga and its novel counterparts.

Be prepared to fork over some cash, though. Video game and manga-based novels cost around SGD20, but if you're really a huge fan of these franchises, I'd say it's a worthwhile buy.

Funan Digitalife Mall, North Bridge Road

Now here's a mall that's probably like Disneyland to the typical gamer. Funan is well-known as Singapore's IT mall inasmuch as we have Gilmore Avenue for reasonably-priced computers and gadgets. Funan is the one-stop place for almost all popular gadgets---from computers to iPods to digital cameras. While I roamed around this awesome place, there's more to it than just being a gadgets hub. Here's why.



Mind Cafe

Old school gaming, or rather board gaming, makes this place a popular hangout joint. You can grab something to eat while playing board games with friends while reminiscing the yesteryears of Monopoly, Scrabble and the like.



La Tendo
Figures, Gundam kits, manga, and just about everything else that's geek can be found here. The displays are situated prominently so it's very hard to miss. I think it too me a couple of hours to get away from this store...I could spend an entire day just ogling at the displays.

 
Cawaii Koohii: Coffee Desserts Lounge

As luck would have it, this awesome-looking maid cafe is right across La Tendo. Whoever situated this cafe adjacent to an anime store is absolutely brilliant. Cawaii Koohii had an inviting and relaxed ambiance, not to mention an enticing display of cakes and pastries at the store entrance. And yes, they do have cute maids, though guests aren't allowed to take photos of them using their own camera (if you want a photo op, you have to pay SGD5 using the store's Polaroid camera). What turned me off was the absurd pricing of their menu.

IAHGames office, Tai Seng Street



As a former gamer of Granado Espada, I wouldn't miss the opportunity to visit the office of IAHGames. Of course, the trip itself proved to be a major walkathon, but it was well worth the effort after going there to claim the free GE OST they were giving away. I was bowled over how pretty their office was---all those GE merchandise on display made me reminisce all those fun years playing the game. Too bad they weren't actually selling them.

There you have it, folks. I've probably just skimmed the surface and for sure, there are a lot more places in Singapore that's considered a haven for gamers, geeks and anime/manga fans. Hopefully in my next visit, I'll be able to tell you more about these local haunts.

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