Saturday, 15 February 2014

Little India

Today was an absolutely beautiful day in Singapore! Everyday here i hot and humid and there's normally some blue sky too but there's also normally a fair amount of cloud, today was all about blue skies though! having said that it probably wasn't the best day to decide to walk to the other side of city..

Little India is the other side of town so on my way over I stopped off at a few places, the first one was CHJMES (pronounced as chimes). It's a converted Catholic school so that it now hosts lots of cafes and the odd restaurant. Slightly strange when there's dining table sin the chapel but it was pretty nevertheless.
The church and the surrounding courtyard were beautiful

The steps led to some more cafes and restaurants
Not too far away was Bras Basah where there are two temples literally next door to each other. Because of the new year the usual stalls which dot the square in front of the temples was packed!
 There were tons of stalls selling different types of incense and flowers!

And then there were the fortune tellers! There were people who would predict your year based on your birth, others who would read your palms, and one of my favourite - the birds would sit on your hand and then pick out a card from the deck which would have your fortune on it!

One guy having his fortune picked by a little quite parrot
 There were bundles and bundles of different incense and the piles were going down so quickly! People were buying handfuls of the stuff constantly!
The actual temples themselves are Sri Krishnan, a hindu temple, & Kwan Im. 
Sri Krishnan was almost deserted - I'm assuming because no one wanted to brave the crazy crowds outside the temple!
The detail and story telling within the decoration was amazing, perhaps the most decorative of all the Hindu temples I've visited 
I had to remove my shoes, as it pretty standard, and isn't a problem but what i didn't notice was that although some parts of the temple were covered others were open to the sun and as such the stone floor was so hot at some points! 
And the packed, Kwan Im Buddhist Temple. Hindus don't have any particular affiliation with the chinese new year and so the temple was very quiet, the Buddhist temple however was so busy I actually couldn't get into the main chamber. 
The entire temple was packed with people placing incense and their hopes for the new year
The stalls continued all the way down the street gradually branching out from fortune tellers to random bits and pieces!
I also passed the pretty striking Arts College

There's constant building work going on in Singapore and so getting to Little India was a bit of a pain, but eventually I managed to cross the river. Little India was described as being one of the most atmospheric regions of Singapore (a lot of people feel China Town as been too deeply sanitised to feel authentic anymore). And it definitely had a very different vibe to the rest of singapore. 
Personally I loved the merging of traditional european architecture with and asian twist and the brash indian ware stores. 

There are places selling coconuts everywhere in Singapore but I noticed there were definitely more on offer in Little India (they just remind me of thailand whenever I have one now!)

I also saw this which I thought was… interesting. I think the guy is trying to dry the straw/grass and there's why he's put it on his bike… Definitely not something i've seen elsewhere
Little India was just made up of lots small streets each one housing an eclectic mix of shops from traditional spices, gold stores as well as one store selling modern pots and pans 
I loved the traditional shops myself though - this one in particular was filed with sacks selling all manner off different spices and dried chillies. 
I really like how throughout Singapore the street names have, generally speaking, remained the same throughout it's development and every so often I'll cross a sign which makes no sense now but tells you a little bit about the area before urbanisation.

After dawdling away the afternoon in Little India I headed back towards the main CBD area, this time I made sure to find the Bugis Centre. Traditional Chinese markets seem to be predominantly moving inside and the Bugis centre was one example I really wanted to catch.
There's stall everywhere, again selling a little bit of everything, it was mainly clothes, shoes and food in the area I was exploring. It was a real rabbit's warren and it was ridiculously easy to get completely lost!

I also made my way to Arab Street after the Bugis centre but I'm going to put that in a separate post :)

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