For those of you who have not been to Singapore, the famous Orchard Road shopping street is well known worldwide. Flanked by pedestrian malls, Orchard Road also contains numerous upmarket restaurants, coffee chains, cafés, nightclubs and hotels. It is also the site of the official residence of the President of Singapore, the Istana. Tanglin Mall is located at the junction of Tanglin Road and Grange Road. Its customer base is made up of expatriates, yuppies and professionals. The mall houses the world's tallest indoor Via Ferrata climbing wall, a large collection of public art installations by international artists and a 24/7-operational Roof Garden and Discovery Walk.
That's the good news. The bad news is that the merchants of this famous area are planning to deploy trained hawks to scare off thousands of birds whose droppings rain down on pedestrians' heads, according to a local news report earlier today (October 12). Reportedly, the retailers are in talks with Jurong Bird Park, whose attractions include trained birds of prey, to try a natural solution after artificial methods such as high-pitched recordings failed to drive the birds away.
COMMENT: Unfortunately, it is estimated that between 2,000 and 5,000 starlings and mynahs roost along Orchard Road in the evening, releasing droppings on pavements, parked cars and shoppers. In my book, STAYING SAFE ABROAD: TRAVELING, WORKING AND LIVING IN A POST-9/11 WORLD, I address virtually every type of security risk that can confront travelers abroad, yet biological aerial attacks from above were not among them.
The use of chemicals to poison the birds was ruled out by the Orchard Road Business Association (ORBA) for being too cruel. On the other hand, hopefully, the hawks will serve as a sufficient deterrent. In the meantime, until ORBA identifies a lasting solution, and you visit Orchard Road, carry an umbrella, preferably a disposable one. And remember: Buyer beware.