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It's funny coz while Kelly found some parts of Singapore restrictive & claustraphobic, I'm beginning to feel the same way about South Africa. As it's a country that's got very strict money controls (coz the Rand is so weak), changing foreign currency becomes a 1/2-day affair for locals, having to show all kinds of proof just to change 40 euros into the ZAR (passport, proof of travel ie. air ticket, electric bill for proof of residence, and visa if required). PHWOARRR! (i took for granted the ease of going down to the friendly neighbourhood mama shop to change currency. Ah Neh gives instant cash, no questions asked!)
And everywhere we've been checking out furniture, paint samples, appliances, wallpaper, and also amongst conversations with S.Africans, the buzzword seems to be "It's imported". (I feel like saying "yeah, so...?" since everything in S'pore's imported anyway, from our foreign talent longkang diggers to our water supply) but i guess coz their imports are so tightly controlled too (to protect their local industries from cheap China labour), imports are highly taxed and suddenly having anything from abroad seems to be a status symbol. (so maybe Kelly's got it good with an imported girlfriend? ha!)
The good thing that's come out of this though is there's NO starbucks in sight (actually, I dunno if that's a good thing. I'm craving a Grande no-whip iced cafe mocha- with ice cubes, not blended)... and there are hardly any mass products stores (eg. Burger King, G2000, U2, Esprit, Ikea, etc) around. Most shops carry one-off handcrafted products and the high level of aesthetic is refreshing. Go local!
(except all of these damask wallpapers are "imported")...