Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A walk into the bygone days

 After the cruise, our driver wanted to know If we were interested in city tour the next day. The itinerary in the city tour read botanical gardens, historical monuments, souvenir shopping and Singapore flyer. Most of the buildings were photostops. We decided we would explore the city on our own and so gave the city tour a miss. We also had to be back at the hotel by 2.p.m for our sentosa tour.
So, the next day morning, we decided  to  explore the fascinating towns like China town and Little India.  
We wanted to travel like locals and so walked to the nearby bustop to catch bus no 2. There were useful indicators and map  which was easy even for little children to understand and find way through the city. Our destination was Chinatown point. Once inside the bus, we had printed maps which gave us the route details. Also there was a led display flashing the bus stop name. My teens were excited and  enjoyed leading us by following the instructions and map.  
We roamed  around the streets of Chinatown and went to people’s center to get tickets for Universal studios, Gardens by the bay and night safari. People’s center has a good discount offer compared to the counters at the site. For instance universal studios is priced at 72$ at the site while it is 64$ at peoples center, similarly Gardens by the bay costs 18$ while it is marked 32$ at the gardens. Our next day plans were to visit universal studios till 5, then Gardens by the bay till 9 and then for the night safari. But the lady at the travel agency said, It may not be possible to plan so tightly and so we gave up on night safari plan.
From there we took a bus to Serangoon road, enroute I experienced a Singapore Indian’s view about Singapore. While we were traveling in the double decker bus we crossed the river quay bridge which we cruised the previous evening. My daughter immediately drew my attention to the river, while the passenger beside me who was a Singaporean Indian but settled now in Coimbatore india said, “This is nothing but Cooum( a dirty river in madras), they have beautified and turned it into a tourist place. Contrary to belief, Singapore is not such a beautiful city, the center of the city is beautified to draw tourists, the outskirts are dirty and you will find all the filth there”. That was a singaporean’s view who had stayed all his life here and now retired to his home town in India.
We walked through the serangoon road which had its history written on a board at the entrance. Serangoon road and its immediate surroundings  make up “Little India” Little more than 100 years ago, the area was swamp land but, in the late 1920’s the British government set up its own brick kiln and lime pits and their development attracted Indian settlement.
This area rapidly became the centre of Indian life because of the brick and cattle industries. In 1860,  the kilns were discontinued and the cattle were removed in 1936 but, to this day , many Indians still live and work in the area.
We walked through the lengthy road which reminded me of my grandparents place,  Mylapore of the 70’s and 80’s. At the end of the road was the much famous Mustafa. After all, what is a visit to Singapore without a visit to Mustafa. ( Our driver had discouraged us from visiting Mustafa the previous eve, but who was to heed his advice) . Well, this again was so much like Haniffas of KL but very popular in olden days when malls and globalization were unheard of.  
We came out  of Mustafa and the whole road was lined with Indian eateries especially plenty of vegetarian hotels. We chose Ananda Bhavan for lunch and walked back to our hotel 2 kms away at Arab street.
 It was an interesting and enjoyable walk into the bygone days. Within a small area, for example the town centre, the ethnic mosaic of the early settlers is reflected in these towns. The street names range from chinese to european to malay to arabic names and they are well preserved without the shadow of modern architecture falling on them. These towns  still retain their old world charm and are a gentle reminder that some things never change and are here to stay.  
Some pics from the walk where traditional shop houses and quaint curio shops adorn the road giving you an experience of the old and new.  


                                                 China town point & Little India













10 comments:

  1. Glad you enjoyed Singapore. Especially Serangoon Road. Thanks for sharing these beautiful photos.

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    1. my pleasure SG, thank you for reading:)

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  2. Singapore is a nice blend of old and new. Why were you discouraged from going to Mustafa. The pictures are awesome.

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    1. he discouraged mustafa saying it is priced heavily, which was true. instead he advised bugis market, which we also found was economically priced.

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  3. Yes Mustafa is really useless, it is a little like our own Big Bazaar. Even I saw some places in Singapore which were quite dirty, and was surprised by it.They don't have much to,except what they have created, like for example our cooum is left to remain a eyesore, whereas theirs has been turned into a tourist attraction.We have the ability of turning heritage sites into coom: for that is our speciality. There they make money out of nothing.
    The pictures are beautiful.

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    1. yes, it is a cheaper version of big bazaar. i think it was famous once upon a time as a one stop shop.

      yes, they showcase any 200 year old stone or fossil and flaunt it with pride by charging a bomb.
      I too believe our rich history is not showcased properly, i also feel most of us indians lack knowledge of our own history. it has infact became a matter of pride and fashion to write lowly about india by indians. Thank you rama.

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  4. Yes, walks in China town and Little India bring the "real Singapore" to life. Chinatown especially, as we are familiar with India.

    You missed an opportunity to have lunch at one of the famous hawker stalls. In the midst of all that fierce non veg stuff, there is usually one stall that sells vegetarian (actually vegan) stuff. That is strictly veg and makes for a nice experience. Have to bear all the smell around though !!

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    1. A vegan hawker stall in china town? surprising!!! But we were not hungry in china town. I also saw Annalakshmi, probably the only chain missing in LI.

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  5. I remember husband bought our first camera from Mustafa in 1999 and he was all praise for it, of course by that time, we didnt had big malls and brands here!

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  6. yes most products brought in 90's in my home has the stamp of mustafa center, from dresses to flask. I think it was a one stop shopping center then. . But it has a good stock of folk medicines which even our Batra's can't cure.

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