In my last post, W1702 – Rising to the challenge, I described my first day of three in Singapore, during which Carol and I took a ride on two cable-cars, and walked around the historic centre of the city.
On the second day, Carol and I were booked on a shore tour starting mid-afternoon lasting into the evening, so we expected that she would be spending the morning with her Aunt Annie – a shopping trip was planned. However at breakfast Annie announced that she didn’t want to go out shopping with Carol after all, which unexpectedly left the way clear for Carol and I to resume exploring this fascinating city.
We decided to take the metro (now we knew where the local station was hidden) and explore the Chinatown area of the city. This was just two stops down the line, so we arrived bright and early on the Sunday morning, before it got too busy or too hot.
While Chinatown is the English name for the area, in Chinese Mandarin, Hokkien and Cantonese, and in Malay it’s name translates to “bullock water-cart”, due to the fact that Chinatown’s water supply was principally transported by animal-driven carts in the 19th century.
As expected the streets in Chinatown were ablaze with colour, and there were shops and stalls everywhere:
I was fascinated to look up, above the shop fronts to the architecture and colours of the buildings themselves:
Many of the shops were tailors, usually offering to make suits and other clothing to size in just a few hours. A couple of examples of their work caught our eyes for obvious reasons, and we wondered if our flamboyant friend had been with us, he might have been tempted to order one – and yes when we showed him the photographs later on board ship, he said yes he would have been!
Perhaps ironically one of the most striking and colourful buildings we saw was a Hindu temple. Sri Mariamman Temple serves mainly the South Indian Tamil immigrants to Singapore. The temple, the oldest in Singapore, was founded in 1827 by Naraina Pillai, a government clerk from Penang, eight years after the East India Company established a trading settlement there. Pillai arrived in Singapore with Sir Stamford Raffles on his second visit to the island in May 1819, and went on to set up the island’s first construction company, and also entered the textile trade. He rapidly established himself in business and was identified as a leader of the Indian community.
Continuing our walk, we entered the pedestrian Pagoda Street under this ornate sign, and walked it’s length to a main road at the far end, where we spotted this huge chicken in the middle of the road:
Over the main road was a wide garden bridge which looked interesting, so we doubled back to walk over it. The bridge proved to be an attractive oasis despite being above a busy road, with trees, shrubs and a couple of pagodas, and we rested a while in the peaceful cool shade of one:
We then returned to the metro station and then took the underground train back to the station hidden between two shopping malls close to our ship. Here we did a little shopping before retiring to the ship for lunch and a rest ahead of our shore tour. This tour, to the Gardens by the Bay, will be the subject of my next post.