Day 16, Year 4: Chinatown
Date: Friday, November 7, 2008
Weather: Beautiful Day, No Rain
Location: One 15 Marina, Sentosa Island, Singapore

My tired feet are testament to the fact that we did DO Chinatown today. Actually we started our day in Little India. Mark wanted to buy a remote microphone for our VHF radio, so we had to return to the Sim Lin Tower. We walked through Little India to get there and I found some great buys on the way. I bought a couple of pair of pants for $10 and then I found some cotton material from Indonesia that looks like Ikat weaving. It will make wonderful gifts, so I bought a couple of pieces of that.

When we got to the Sim Lin Tower, our store was still not open. So we walked down the street and found a great little store with some things that our grandson Sam will enjoy when he arrives in January. After the purchase of the remote microphone, we got back on the MRT and headed for Chinatown. Little India is just street after street of small markets, so we thought Chinatown would be the same. But we were so wrong. Chinatown is upmarket. There is a strip of touristy type small markets, but mostly it is modern malls. I really love Little India and had hoped to have the same type of experience in Chinatown. But regardless of its modern touch, we visited mosques and temples and really enjoyed our time there.

Our first search in Chinatown was for the Chinatown Heritage Center. This took us through the small market area. I had my trusty camera around my neck waiting for a photo op, but instead we were ‘invited’ into a camera shop that had things we didn’t know we needed. The guy was a super salesman and I left with a couple of additions to my Canon Powershot. He assured me that I needed a UV lens to capture better pictures when we are out to sea and sun is shining brightly as well as a polarizing lens that will allow me to take better photos through glass and into the water. Whether I needed them or not, I am now the proud owner of these two new lenses.

We then got back on track to visit the temples and mosques on our list. Our first stop was the Sri Mariamman Temple, the oldest and largest Hindu temple in Singapore. The entrance-tower or gopuram was beautiful and the mammoth wooden entry doors were bedecked with brass bells. We arrived during a noontime ceremony where people worship and are then blessed with holy water and fire, and then they line up to receive food from one of the Hindu monks. Almost next door to this Hindu temple is the Jamae Mosque, not elaborate and quite a contrast with its Hindu neighbor. From here we trekked a few blocks to see the Nagore Durgha Shrine built by Tamil Muslims, the Thian Hock Keng Temple or Buddist Temple of Heavenly Happiness that is dedicated to Ma Chor Por, the Protector of Sailors. This temple has always encouraged teaching of the masses in the Confucius tradition and is a “teaching” temple today. There were many school groups visiting while we were there today. This is the oldest Chinese temple in Singapore and it is a national monument. And right next to this temple is the Al-Abrar Mosque.

We walked on to the Fuk Tak Chi Temple. This is one of the oldest buildings in Singapore and it has been creatively connected to the ultra-modern Far East Mall. We went through the temple to the mall and walked back a couple of city blocks within the mall to get back to the MRT.

It was a good day and we decided to take the monorail back to Sentosa Island to do a little sightseeing there. Sentosa Island has been our home for the past couple of weeks, but we have been isolated from the tourist end of the island. We did a bit of a fast walk-through, enjoyed the fountains, and caught the bus home. Once back at the marina, we did the requisite late afternoon swim in the pool and shower. I came home to do laundry and Mark fixed a curry dinner. We have three more days here and then we are definitely out of here. So we have to make some tough decisions as to what we will see and what we will not. You could spend a couple of months here in Singapore and still not see it all. It is quite a city.

081107 Day 16 Singapore–Chinatown
081107 Day 16 Singapore–Sentosa Fantasy Land