Among the “China towns” I have checked, Singapore’s is the cleanest so far. Not really surprising, it is Singapore after all. The intended two-hour visit was unrealistic from the start, especially if you are going with me who is much delighted with street photography. Hence, we did the necessary timing adjustments. That’s one of the pretty facts when you are traveling on a do it yourself phase. To begin with, Singapore is very tourist friendly that joining a tour is so remote to me.
The shops’ colors and beauty are shouting inside and out. My eyes wandered, very carefully, as I did not set foot to shop but to be fed by culture appreciation. Every corner and angle are photograph material, the calligraphy stalls, tourists and locals buzzing around, if only you can box in everything through a sole snapshot.
One of the interesting shops in Central Chinatown is Yue Hwa which used to be a premiere hotel decades ago. Currently, it serves as a rich source of Chinese products: traditional medicine, dried animals (e.g. bats, deer horn), porcelains, furniture, teas, and more.
Aside from the Red Dot Design Museum, the Chinatown Heritage Center is also widely visited. It chronicles the life of the early migrants and their contributions to the present Chinatown. However, due to lack of time, we did not formally go in and just tried to peek in from its souvenir shop.
Opposite the Chinatown Heritage Center is Olde Cuban where we took lunch.
For a Chinatown standard, the dishes in Olde Cuban were not reasonably priced but its area is among those more comfortably set. As we checked the hawker stalls later in the afternoon, theirs were expectedly cheaper (and taste better, recommendation to be mentioned later). The food was generally satisfying especially the mussels. The chili crabs were average.
After dropping by in a camera heaven within Pagoda Street and picking up some enhancement-accessories, we checked Mosque Street which was named after the mosque located on its end.
It is apparent that Jamae Mosque’s entrance was influenced by Indian architecture. It is said to have been established by Tamil Muslims. Non-Muslims are allowed inside. Unlike in the nearby Hindu Temple, entrance is free.
We randomly checked the Chinatown Complex which is opposite the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple (from the back door). During our visit, there were locals doing aerobics, elders passing time with cards (I had to discreetly capture it), and other activities especially designed for the locals.
While Chinatown Food Street and Chinatown Night Market are well-maintained for tourism, my interest was particularly piqued by Sago Lane for two reasons: that tourist-y me had wildly guessed its etymology exclaiming that “madami sigurong sago dito dati” (maybe this was home to sago) and we have found the best satay and and mango shake (I had to ask the owner about the mango source, i.e. Malaysia) in this area (stall’s name is Wonderful Satay).
I must mention that the weather was so good during our entire stay in Singapore. It used to rain for a couple of hours at 3:00 AM everyday, made us feel the December cold in the morning, then it was fair-weathered the rest of the day. But when we were about to enter the different temples, raindrops came (which I enjoyed a lot! forgive the reaction of a UAE resident). The umbrella did not stop me from shuttering.
The rainfall was just in time, too. It made the visit to the neighbors Hindu and Buddhist temples more solemn and worthwhile. The hours consumed in appreciating the beautiful temples were the highlights of my Chinatown visit. Details on next entry.