Category : Other
It never fails to surprise me what you can get from a vending machine. When I first lived in Switzerland, too many years ago to admit to here, shops rolled down their shutters smartly at 5 or 6pm, and were often closed from Saturday lunchtime until Monday morning. If you needed vital groceries, you were in trouble, and the only place to go was usually the railway station, where a very expensive vending machine would give you milk, bread and similar staples. A few years later, this time in Japan, I was amazed to see how many curious things could be had when everything else was closed. Batteries, bags of rice, ready heated tins of soup, magazines and souvenirs, not to mention some unsavoury items we shall gloss over…
The most unusual thing I have seen, however, is this machine in Singapore which dispenses bullion. Yes, a gold ATM, which offers a wide range of ingots and coins, many of them engraved with Chinese zodiac signs or the Singapore Merlion. All the gold is 24K, and the price is updated twice daily to reflect world bullion prices, although you could expect to pay around S$100 for a single gram of gold. For those people who want to enjoy the novelty value without breaking the bank, there is a small selection of silver ingots, too.
This machine is located in the shopping mall adjacent to Takashimaya department store on Orchard Rd, and 2 others are to be found at the Marina Bay Sands resort and by the casino on Sentosa island. Every time I have walked past, there has been an attendant lurking discreetly nearby, possibly to help potential customers make their choice, or maybe as security. You can buy with cash or card, and even have your photo taken and emailed to you whilst you are doing this. I haven’t actually seen anyone buy anything here, but the fact that the instructions are in Chinese, Russian and Arabic as well as English suggests the sort of customer this machine is aiming for.