One of the first things you will notice when you are walking the streets of Singapore are their people. Singapore is made up of a diverse group of people. The country as of 2012 has 5.312 million people. 62% percent of these people are citizens while 38% of the people are permanent residents,foreign workers or students.
Chinese make up for 75% of the people, Malay 14% and Indians 9%.With such a diverse group of people, ethnic quarters have formed in Singapore with Chinatown, Little India, Arab street and Kampong Glam, the Malay town. Each quarter is worth visiting to see how these people live, their culture and what they sell in their shops.
Chinatown, nearly every major city in the world has one. With their flashes of red signs and buildings to shrines and dragons to the kitche markets selling trinkets and other typical chinese souvenirs. Freshly cooked aromas of chinese food sizzle in woks, and dim sum sits in bamboo containers waiting for customers to order. Most Chinatowns are similar so why visit one especially in a country that is primarily Chinese like Singapore.
Simple just like I mentioned above Chinatown’s in the world are so vibrant, they lure tourists and Singapore’s Chinatown is no exception. The area also known as Niu Che Shui in Chinese means “Bullock Cart water”. The first thing I recommend would be to soak in the festive ambience by having a meal at one of the brightly coloured shophouses that flank the streets of Chinatown.
Other things that maybe of interest but we did not visit is the Buddha tooth temple, host to the Matreya Buddha and reputedly one of Buddha Shakyumuni’s tooth. To get a better understanding of Chinatown, it may also be worth visiting Chinatown’s heritage museum that brings Chinatown to life.
Sri Mariaman temple
Little India, bursts in a riot of colours from the jasmine garlands hanging in the stalls, shop fronts and buildings are painted in shades of yellow, green, light blue and reds. Indians stand in their little shop fronts selling insents, jasmine, spice and brightly coloured saris , traditional dress of India, Bollywood music plays. It feel like being in India itself, but of course much cleaner, with only a few Singaporeans traipsing the streets.
Little India is filled with restaurants serving authentic Indian food. Apollo Banana leaf restaurant is famous for its fish head curry. Indians sit in small groups eating with their hands. Not only is the cutlery missing so too are the plates, who needs them when your food is served on a huge, green banana leaf.
Kampong Glam which gets its name from the gelam tree that grew in abundance in the area. In 1822 the area was officially allocated to the Malay and Muslim community.
Singapore’s most important mosque, The Majid Sultan is found here. The present mosque was built in 1928 and features carpets that were donated by a prince of Saudia Arabia. You are able to enter the mosque if you are not dressed appropriately, there are cloaks available for free.
Rows of conserved shophouses, painted in hues of blues, yellow and whites are occupied by trendy restaurants, caterers, art galleries and craft shops along the streets of Bussorah, Baghdad and Kandahar
Arab street is where you will find bales of silk, batik, lace, organza. It is where you come for carpets, antiques and rattan handicraft to spruce up your homes.
Singapore may lack major attractions but its through its people, its ethnic quarters that make this country come alive. A place you can come and learn what its like to be part of this country.