Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Winter Getaways      Part Two of My Singapore Fling

The Streets of Singapore

Arab Street is the centre of the Muslim community, Kampong Glam. It really consists of many streets and alleys surrounding a mosque. When we finally stumbled into the area, the maharaja den was wailing the call to prayers, setting the atmosphere for us. Many of the shops here are devoted to exquisite fabrics. They will also custom make women's outfits very inexpensively. Other stores boasted an incredible amount of trims, notions and beads.

Oman Street scenes (near Arab Street 3) - Picture of Arab Street, Singapore
This photo of Arab Street is courtesy of TripAdvisor

 Little India was a mass of teeming people. I have never understood their art, with its improbable portrayals of intertwined bodies in bright colours. Now their art was coming to life in front of my startled eyes. Women in beautiful saris, men dressed in pants not informally in jeans or shorts, and children laughing and running around, always less than a foot away from another person. Even though a green area was just across the road, everyone obviously wanted to be on the street. We walked through an almost unbroken chain of shops. There was a garage where a mechanic was going about his work oblivious to the melee close by and a fellow repairing bikes nearly on top of the curb. The wares offered were everything from the familiar dollar store items to the bright rich 22kt. Gold jewellery. I found it impossible to purchase anything with all my senses under assault. It took a second visit, when we were ducking the monsoon rains one afternoon, to come away with any Indian souvenirs. Those we found in a huge store that been labelled Little India's Walmart, real name, The Mustafa  Centre. Five floors with an advertised 10,000 items awaited our perusal. Much of the merchandise is not Western tastes, but there are brand names to be had. These are the real McCoy, as Singapore does not allow knock-offs. Beautiful linens and many women's blouses and tops were eye catching. We purchases spices from an unbelievable selection, some of course, completely foreign to us. The food section seemed to have better prices than the mainstream supermarkets. Also more candy and cookies - but the Indian population is heavier that the tiny Asian men and women! Corrupted by the Brits, no doubt!

Having seen Chinatowns in many big cities, we didn't think this area would be as interesting as our other haunts. However, when you arrive by subway, it is suddenly in front of you as you mount the last few steps. At first a jumble of colours hits you after the sterile atmosphere of the MRT station. Then your eye sorts out the red lanterns, awnings, and umbrellas. There are lots of bright souvenirs for you to sort through, all quite inexpensive. Table runners, pillow covers, purses, traditional clothing and lingerie, all made of silky fabrics. Occasional jewellery stores have masses of the very bright gold, jade, and pearls of grey and pink. The more exclusive shops have home decor items that look like they came from the pages of our Canadian decorating magazines.

If you are not too tired you can also explore the three floors of the Chinatown Heritage Centre!

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