Thursday, April 08, 2010

Singapore: Kampong Glam & Little India

On my fifth night in Singapore, I didn't do much after work other than go to the shopping mall by my hotel. I am not into basic shopping malls at all at home, much less other places where I can see new and interesting things. But since I had a long day of touring both our Singapore and Malaysian manufacturing plants for work, I decided to take it a little easy. I specifically went to the mall to go to Kinokuniya but I didn't end up getting there in time before it closed. I'll have to go next time I am back in NYC.

I did end up going to Takashimaya which I loved and also recognized from NYC (I just found out by googling that the NYC store is sadly closing). Anyway, I mainly explored to basement level where they have tons of food from Singapore and other countries (both to eat there and as gifts). I picked up some middle eastern sweets, Kaya jam and Laksa for a friend, Chinese tea, also for a friend, and a few other random things. This was one of my favorite shops in Singapore. The store in NYC I remember being much different - a 7-floor super-fancy department store on the upper east side that most can't afford. Nice, but more to look than to buy. The one in Singapore is much more accessible.

My last day in Singapore I am happy to say I didn't have to work. I was able to explore as much as possible before my very early morning flight the next day. I spent it in Kampong Glam and Little India. These areas were pretty close to each other (a long walking distance) and very different. Kampong Glam is the Arab part of town with Arab Street being where all the locals go to get their fabrics and textiles. This area is very clean much like most of Singapore is and is beautiful. There are palm tree-lined streets, beautiful music and chanting, and great food. Also, the shops in this area are amazing. Masjid Sultan Mosque towers over everything.

Masjid Sultan Mosque at Arab Street

a close-up

tons of motorcycles outside mosque while ceremony goes on

The most beautiful part of Kampong Glam ended up also being my favorite part of all of Singapore: Bussorah Street. This little street is parallel to Arab Street (and Haji Street which I somehow never got to) and is for pedestrians only. There are tons of little shops, vendors, and restaurants. I had an amazing samosa on this street. The shops ranged from very high end to very cheap and everything in between. I never knew what I was going to find walking into each shop. One of my favorite shops was Khim's Collections. I not only got lots of gifts for family and friends here, I also found my one "big" souvenir: a gorgeous and intricate hand carved box made of travertine stone.

Bussorah Street

When I left Kampong Glam and began walking over to Little India, it started pouring rain (I ended up taking a cab the rest of the way). You can see the dark skies in some of the pictures below.

buildings near Kampong Glam

another building near Kampong Glam

Little India is very different from Kampong Glam in many ways. Instead of the very mixed race area, I found that Little India was mainly Indian people, which tells me it is probably less touristy. This makes sense since I also found the streets and general look of the area to be more dirty and run down. That didn't make it any less interesting to me, of course. Celebration of Arts was just one shop that I found that I really liked. I don't even think I bought anything, but it was big with lots of different types of wares, like textiles, wood carved furniture, chess sets and figurines, etc.

Celebration of Arts, Little India

unloading a truck

buildings in Little India

more buildings

a very interesting temple in Little India - those are statues all over it

All in all, this was a great place to spent my last day in Singapore. I saw some really interesting things, enjoyed good food, bought some great souvenirs, and loved the atmosphere.

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