Would shopping be a feasible activity in Australia? For one, it’s been
known as an expensive holiday destination, with higher cost of living. This was
one of the factors we considered while planning our visit. To somehow get an
idea on this subject, our first visit to a mall could provide the ticket to partially answering that question.
We entered the mall through a dining plaza which felt relatively cramped
compared to the sprawl of Manila’s ubiquitous food courts. With just two levels
of shopping spaces, housing over 230
specialty stores, and spread over 640,000 square feet of commercial space, Australia Fair (previously called Scarborough Fair) seemed limited. But this was a comparative perception.
I turned to face the glass wall, and couldn't help but admire the eastward vista of the parkland and the Broadwater outside. In my mind, the revelers at Surfer's Paradise some 2 kilometers south, would enjoy these indoor pleasures too.
It was past lunch and I've had a more-than-healthy dose of sunshine. Though not particularly hungry, I knew I had to feed myself. After surveying the food court, I saw another MOS
Burger outlet and decided to order the same Japanese pork-and-ginger burger on
rice bun at $8 (PhP330). After all, there’s no MOS in Manila so it was an
opportunity to make hay.
After checking out some DVD titles, I went to the Events Cinemas which was mostly showing
uninteresting flicks, except for Martin
McDonagh’s noirish “Seven
Psychopaths” starring Colin Farrell, Michael Pitt, Sam Rockwell and
Christopher Walken. Would I miss the chance to see how a cinema hall looks like
in Oz? Turns out that the film, though fraught with dry wit, tested the audience's patience.
Later that day, I found a Post
Office in the mall; bought a postcard for my mom. For two cards, I
paid $3.20 (PhP131). These cards had attached stamps, thus saving me a few
dollars. How convenient, right?
Meanwhile, a bottle of coke cost $3.60 (PhP147.50) prompting me to sit back and compare with the rates back home.
How much is a bottle of Coke in Manila – PhP25 to 35. In Australia, its almost 6x the price. As for film watching, a movie ticket at the Events Cinema costs $17 (PhP695).
In Manila, a regular flick costs PhP180; PhP220 for gala premieres. See the
disparity? It’s more that 3x the Manila rates.
I found a garment shop with nice-looking blouses which would be perfect
as gifts. Feeling smug after picking a few stuff, I was actually shocked when I
found out that they were either made in Thailand or China. I picked a boomerang
as souvenir only to learn it was manufactured in Indonesia! Why would I buy an
Indonesian boomerang in expensive Queensland when I’m always in Indonesia?
Better yet, why is China taking over the universal market? Let me point
out my newly purchased Wenger backpack from a posh mall in Makati. This Swiss
brand is a priced commodity. When I inquired of its manufacturing detail, I was
surprised to learn that the “materials
are from Switzerland, but made in China”. My Gianvito Rossi shoes from an upscale
shop in Singapore were likewise “made in
China, but with materials from Italy”.
These days, when you want authentic Italian
shoes, you’d have to fly to Italy. Otherwise, you’d be buying stuff
manufactured in China. Their "invasion", in fact, isn't exclusive to retail
products alone. Even some of our Philippine islands, situated just a stone’s throw away
from our shores, have astoundingly become Chinese sovereign - or so they claim. These days, China is prone to feverish land-grabbing schemes. Australia better beware too. Maybe by 2023, China may just decide to claim sovereignty over Tasmania. Just maybe, even the koalas are an inherent Chinese fauna transported by Sir James Cook, and would have to be returned back to the communist country? Before
going further into my fascination with China’s virulently invasive tendencies, let me revert back to the original query.
Is shopping a feasible activity in the land down under? Of course, it is.
But a “buying spree” is a different
matter. There are better countries for this predisposition. Moreover, you’d
have to be watchful with your purchases. After all, wouldn't it be ironic for big-spending
Chinese tourists taking home gifts that were actually made in China? Or Thais
purchasing Australian souvenirs made in Bangkok? Personally, I’d be tickled pink if I were
to come home with a bag of chocnut bought
from the Gold Coast. Wouldn't you?
This is the Eye in the Sky!
|Time for another MOS.|
|My second pork-and-ginger burger on rice bun.|
|Events Cinema's waiting lounge. Most patrons have online reservations.|
|The Food Court (above and below).|
|A Christmas Store|
|The Postal Shop|
|Parking at the second level.|