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2017 Purchases

Another year has come and gone. And it’s time to see how much I’ve spend on this hobby of mine. This year has seen a drastic decrease in the number of pens I’ve purchased. The main reason being each pen that I buy is significantly more expensive in general so it makes sense that I buy less pens. I’d be worried if I didn’t. I spent a total of $3800 on 7 fountain pens. One of them was a shoo in on Christmas eve. It’s a Pilot Custom 823 in WA from Tokyo Quill. I had expected it to receive the invoice next year. Comparing it to last year’s 19 pens, I feel I’ve exercised a great deal of self control. However with the average price of each pen is more than $500, it is probably due to the higher end fountain pens that I’ve been buying rather than due to any self control.

Ink purchases has gone up when compared to last year’s 19 bottles. I got 27 new inks at $500 in total, some were multiple bottles of the same inks for gifts. 27 bottles of inks at $500 total is not too bad. Well, inks will always be cheaper and it’s easier to impulse buy when compared to pens.

I’ve added a new category to track this year. It’s a category to cover non-pens and non-ink related products, mostly paper and pen cases. That came in at $340. The bulk of it was due to a Pelikan M400 B nib that I’ve purchased for modding.

I’ve sold 6 pens, none of them purchased within the year. And 16 bottles of inks were also sold, some from within the year. I’ve gone a little crazy with Robert Oster Signature inks so I had to cull some to make room for more inks. My collection is probably due for another culling pretty soon.

So that’s $4600 over the course of 12 months, baring nothing just comes up in the next 2 days. Now comparing this to last year’s purchases which came in at more than $5000, I think this is a step in the right direction. It’s not that I’m losing interest in the hobby but as any hobby matures, I think you’d get to know what you like and what you don’t. In turn, you’ll be able to apply these criteria to your purchasing decisions. At the end of the day, hopefully it will means less buy to try, more buy to use.

Which direction has your fountain pen and related products purchases been going?

Fountain Pens in Singapore

Though Singapore is a small country, we have strong core group of people in love with all things related to the world of fountain pens. This is a compiled list of where you can buy fountain pens and inks locally here in Singapore for those who are visiting or new fountain pen users in Singapore.

Updated 27th December 2017

Fook Hing

Address: Blk 231, Bain Street #01-23, Bras Basah Complex
It is one of the best place to browse and buy pens and inks. They have a facebook page that you can follow to keep up with their new arrivals. They carry a wide variety of pens and inks. Call them up to find out on the status of their stock and price before heading down. You can get them to hold the pen or ink for you as well. Otherwise, go down and try the pens to your heart's content.

Aesthetic Bay

Address: No. 2 Orchard Turn, #04-14, ION Orchard
If you have money to spare after going to so many other shops, do drop by Aesthetic Bay to oogle at their pens. This isn't the friendliest place to shop but there is no harm just looking. They are also the only shop that carries Noodler's Singapore series of inks.

Straits Pen

Address: Block 212 Hougang Street 21 #04-349 (Only by appointment)
Go to Straits Pen to get your TWSBI pens locally. Mr. Sunny Koh also carries some China pens, this is subjected to availability. He also is able to do nib grinding for a fee. Do note that they are only able to do transaction via cash only.

Overjoyed

Address: 89 Short Street B1-08
Overjoyed a wide variety of art supplies. However for fountain pen lovers' purposes all you need to know is they carry Rhodia paper and J Herbin inks. There are also calligraphy nib sets available. They also have disposable pipettes but it is a little pricey to get it there.

Muji

Address: Many outlets all over Singapore
Muji carries two different style of fountain pens, one pocket version, one full length. Along with pens, they carry some fountain pen friendly notebooks in various styles of size as well. Look for the notebooks labelled "Made in Japan", those are the notebooks you are looking for.

Cityluxe

Address: Many outlets all over Singapore
Cityluxe carries Kaweco and Montverde pens, refills and cartridges. As far as I know, they only carry the M nib for Kaweco pens. I am not so sure about Montverde pens though.

NBC Stationary

Address: Many outlets all over Singapore
The main thing to note about NBC Stationary is not every outlet carries fountain pens and inks. Please call to check if they carry the item you are interested before heading down. The best bet is the outlet at Ngee Ann City Kinokuniya. They carry a wide variety of brands namely Lamy, Parker, Cross, Pilot and Kaweco. They also have Midori notebooks as well as glass pens.

Address: Many outlets all over Singapore
Popular Bookstores carries a very small variety of Parker, Faber Castell, Platinum Preppy and Sheafer fountain pens as well as limited colours for Parker and Pelikan 4001 series inks. Likewise, not every outlet carries fountain pens and inks. Your best bet would be the outlet at Bras Basah Complex. It is one of the largest outlet and it is very near Fook Hing.

Art Friends

Address: Outlets all over Singapore
Art Friends is a supply shop for all types of art supplies, similar to Overjoyed but done on a larger scale. They carry a number of different brands for markers and pens. The thing of interest at Art Friends is the calligraphy set and nibs that they carry. Some of the large branches do carry Pelikan fountain pens as well.

Lin Kong Watch & Pen

Address: 111 North Bridge Road, #03-53 Peninsula Plaza
I have personally been to the shop but based on their website they seemed to carry quite a wide variety of pens.

Mustafa Centre

Address: 145 Syed Alwi Road Level 1 and Level 4
I have also not been down to Mustafa Centre before however as far as I know and hear about shopping in Mustafa Centre is an experience in and of itself. They sell Hero pens as well as Lamy pens. It would be best to know what you are looking for before heading down.

Submitted by Bryan Chua: Mustafa sells Waterman, Cross, Hero, Parker, MontBlanc, Lamy and quite a few other brands of pens. They also sell Waterman, Parker, Pelikan and Hero inks.

Elephant and Coral

Address: 333A Orchard Road #03-03 Mandarin Gallery
I have not been to the shop. However based on where it is located, this is a high end shop that carries a wide variety of brands.

Tokyu Hands

Address: 3 Gateway Drive #01-36/37 Westgate
and Orchard Central 181 Orchard Rd #B1-05
They carry Pilot Iroshizuku, Lamy, Kaweco, Sailor bottled inks as well as Sailor and Pilot ink cartridges. They also have Retro 51 rollerball pens, Pilot, Sailor and Platinum fountain pens. The best thing is that have tons of Japanese notebooks from Apica, Life, Midori as well as Campus. If you are anywhere in the area, this is a good place to check out.

Campo Marzio

Address: 2 Orchard Turn, ION Orchard, #B3-11
They have a number of fountain pens and rollerball pens. They also carry standard international cartridges and wax seals.

TIMES TRAVEL

Address: Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3, Departure/Transit Lounge South, #02-07
They carry various brands of fountain pens such as Pilot, Waterman and the like. Staffed by a friendly staff whom I have chatted with once.

TIMES RELAY

Address: Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2, #026-055-01/02, Departure/Transit Lounge North (Airside)
I have not visited this shop before so I am not sure what brand they sell other than Pilot. However if the Termninal 3 shop is any indication, they should be selling the same brands.

Weiting Postal and Stationary

Address: Millenia Walk, 9 Raffles Boulevard, #02-18
I was pleasantly surprised to find a stationary and fountain pen store at Millenia Walk while window shopping. They carry Faber Castel, Staedtler, Sheaffer and Cross pens. Their range of fountain pens are rather limited and I am not sure how knowledgeable the staff are on fountain pens.

Pens Avenue

Address: Wisma Atria, 435 Orchard Road #03-01C A brand new luxury pen store has arrived in Singapore. They carry Montegrappa, Lamy, Kaweco, Namiki, Cross and Sheaffer. They don’t have any exclusive inks to my knowledge. Their range of fountain pens are rather limited and I am not sure how knowledgeable the staff are on fountain pens.

For local fountain pen lovers, please join the Singapore Fountain Pen Lovers Facebook page. The community is really active there. You can ask any questions you have. There are regular pen meets and mass orders that you can take part in.

Check out these relevant links as well:
Strange Knight's Fountain Pens in Singapore
FPN's Fountain pens in Singapore
FP Writings Local blog seller
House of Pens
Pens In Asia Local online seller

Korea - Musical Instruments

If you are in Seoul, Korea and you are looking for a musical instrument, chances are you will find what you want at Nakwon Arcade (낙원악기상가). They have shops for guitars, ukulele, drums, amps, piano, flute and all manner of instruments.

The nearest train station is Jongno-3ga (Line 1, 3 and 5). Make your way towards Line 5, exit 5. Take the stairs (not the escalator) out of the station. Once you are on ground level, you can see a smaller alley slightly off to your right. Cross the road and walk down that alley. You don’t have to walk to far in you will see a few flights of stairs leading up to an enterance to a building. That’s the one you want. Check this map, it may help.

Personally, I got a ukulele at 100,000 won. The shop threw in a padded gig bag, a tuner and extra strings. It was an okay deal. A word of caution, if you are a foreigner and don’t know how to pick a good (insert instrument here), you are better off not buying anything from Nakwon Arcade. Most of their items are not price tagged and you have to ask them for the price. When I was shopping around the prices they quoted me was on the high set of things. I have a feeling a Korean would be getting different quotes for the instruments than me. In the end what I did was to give them my budget and have them work around it but at the same time you must know how to check the instrument you are buying to make sure you are not being ripped off. Regardless it is an interesting place to visit if you play an instruments.

The sign that says Nakwon Arcade in korean.

The flight of stairs you are supposed to go up to enter the building.

Inside Nakwon Arcade

Review - Lamy Pico

I spied this little pen named Lamy Pico at NBC Stationary at Bugis Junction roughly a month ago. Since then the pen is always on my mind. Finally, just the past weekend, Kinokuniya has a 10% discount off on all stationary. I caved and purchsed myself the imperial blue Lamy Pico. It comes in 6 different colours and finish. The Lamy Pico comes stock with a M nib black refill. I got a F nib blue refill just so I could test it out. The Lamy Pico is SGD$79 and the refill is SGD$5.90.

I love the way the pen feels in my hand. The weight of the pen is very reassuring. The retracting mechinism feels smooth and well made though sometimes it can get stuck and you need to push the tip in again to get the pen nib to protrude correctly.

The Lamy logo protrudes from the body of the pen. The idea is to stop the pen from rolling down and off the table. That has saved the pen from taking a sky dive from my table countless of times.

Perhaps, I have been too spoilt by the smoothness of the Uni-ball Jetstream. The Lamy’s nibs cannot compare to the Jetstream’s. For now, I am more than willing to look aside from that and enjoy the pen.

Overall the pen is without a doubt pricey but it has a nice balance and weight. It writes ok, not as smooth as the Jetstream but still acceptablely. Uni-ball just take my money and make a refill for the Lamy Pico . Then, I will have found my perfect pen for now…

Lamy Pico retracted

Lamy Pico  extended

Buying a ukulele in Singapore

This past week I have spent it in vigorous fervour. I trawled through the deepest depths of the internet in search of information about the fabled ukulele. Ok, that was a bit exaggerated but true all the same.

There are many articles about the different aspects of the ukulele. First the pronunciation, I initially was saying it like this “U-ke-lee-lee” but that’s wrong and I ended up spelling it wrong many times. You are supposed to say it like this “oo-koo-lay-lay”

Next the many different types of tonewood that can be used in the construction of the ukulele. And also, are they full solid, solid top or laminated. I found a few useful links about the different types of wood. The difference in the wood use would affect the sound and tone of the ukulele so you have to choose well. Also, there is a difference between laminate and solid.

And of course what size to get. There are actually 5 types of ukulele, the most common being the soparno. I found this video where you are see and hear how different they all sound. The sound of the ukulele got deeper and warmer as the size increases. Also, note for the baritone ukulele, it usually not tuned like the regular ukulele (GCEA). It is tuned like the last four strings of a guitar.

Then, you got to find out where you can purchase your ukulele in Singapore. Peninsula Plaza has many guitar shops that sells ukuleles. Of course, you should pay a visit to Ukulele Movement. Below are a list of ukulele shops in Singapore.

Davis Guitar - Peninsula Shopping Complex, 3 Coleman Street, B1-40/41

Music Theme - Excelsior Hotel, 5 Coleman Street, B1-04.

SV Guitar - Peninsula Shopping Centre, 3 Coleman Street, #B1-16.

Maestro - Excelsior Hotel, 5 Coleman Street, B1-30.

Ukulele Movement - 809, French Road, #02-41, Kitchener Complex, Singapore 200809

Also, do check out Seriouslysarah’s blog on ukulele, they are very helpful in my quest to find my ukulele. I am quite sure you would have googled your way to her pages before ever looking at mine. I’ll advise you read the comments, there are many good information there too.

The best way to shop for an ukulele is to first decide on the budget, keeping in mind this budget have to include the price of the ukulele, gig bag and optionally a tuner (you can download a free app on your phone to replace a standard tuner), capo, ukulele stand or chord book. Visit all the shops that I have listed if you can, otherwise at least the ones at Peninsula and Excelsior hotel. Go to each shop and let them know your budget and also the type of ukulele (eg soprano) you are looking for, if you have decided. The person at the shop would bring you one or two ukuleles for you to try out. Strum and listen, do you like the sound it produces? Is it too brighter or sharp? Or is it too mellow or warm? Let the person know if the sound isn’t what you like. The person would find another ukulele for you to try. Thank the person and then move onto the next shop. Rinse and repeat till you find the one. If the ukulele sounds all the same to you, then decide on looks.

Personally, I got a concert sized Makana from Music Theme for $100. I like the warmer, mellower sound that it produces. This was in April 2013, so do check the date to see if the price is still relevent to you.

Happy hunting for your ukulele!