Bugis: a shopper haven

Last time I wrote about my Singapore trip we were visiting the amazing Muslim quarter, Kampong Glam.  I also mentioned in that post that the same day we the Bugis area. It is only a short walk from Kampong Glam, so a great way to fit in two neighbourhoods in one day if you’re strapped for time on your trip. It’s also a great place to do some shopping, which why I was so excited to visit this part of the city.

Bugis has an interesting history before it’s redevelopment as a retail district. Prior to the arrival of the British, there was a large canal which ran through the area. Indonesian peoples known as Buginese would sail up and trade with Singaporean merchants. Later it also became home to many hundreds of Japanese Karayuki-san (prostitutes). During this time there were issues with overcrowding and terrible hygiene, leading to many cholera outbreaks. As a result, the slums were cleared and many buildings were demolished and rebuilt. After the Second World War, the area became known for the trans woman that would gather in the area in the evenings. This was a popular tourist stop for Westerns, who came to drink, eat out, night market shopping and gawker at the trans woman. It wasn’t until the 1980’s the area had a major makeover, which included modern shopping malls, restaurants and nightclubs.

 

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Chinatown: preserving the heritage of yesteryear

Our next destination in Singapore was the vibrant, historical (and touristy) district of Chinatown. This was actually one of the places I was most excited to visit. That is because we were visiting close to the time of the Chinese New year and this is the year of the dog (Octavia’s favourite animal). I was also excited to try some good-quality Chinese food and visit the old temples.

Chinatown is historically a Chinese ethnic-centric area in the Outram district. It was actually named ‘Chinatown’ by the British. However, it was originally known as Niu che shui (Mandarin), meaning “bullock water-cart”, because the water supply was primarily transported by animal-driven carts in the 19th century. Chinatown features post-war historical shophouses, street hawking scenes and markets of yesteryear and is the only district in South East Asia that houses three different religious places of worship (Hindu, Muslim and Buddist). Although it is a very touristy place, where you can find plenty of souvenirs, it is also a part of the city where the heritage of yesteryear has been well preserved.

 

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Little India: colourful, bustling and spicy

This is my first post for my travel adventure series to Singapore. As I mentioned, I had ten wonderful days in this amazing island nation. I only got back last weekend, so I’ve still been unwinding, getting back to our normal routines.

This was my second visit to Singapore. I think the last time I actually spent time here was eight years ago. So it was lovely to revisit this country (and city). Singapore is actually tiny in comparison to other countries. You can drive from one end to the other in less than an hour, depending on the traffic of course. Ten days may seem like a lot of time to spend in such a small place. However, there is just so much to see and do here. I tried to make sure we saw most of the major neighbourhoods, sectors and sites. I’m sure there are plenty more things we could see or revisit the next time we return. There are definitely plenty more places to eat and foods we that didn’t have the time or appetite to try. This is because this tiny country has a lot established culture and cuisines. Nearly every Asian countries food is represented, as well as different cuisines within their cultures. That’s not including all the other ethnicities from the Middle East, Europe and Africa. It’s just an amazing mixing pot of people from a variety of cultures, religions and walks of life, who all live in harmony.

For this trip, I organised an itinerary that kept us busy for the whole 10 days from morning until night. To make commuting more convenient we decided to book two hotels. Our first hotel was the One Farrer Hotel & Spa in Little India. I was really happy with this accommodation. The staff were lovely, the rooms were large, beds comfortable and facilities were gorgeous. So it was a nice surprise when we arrived from our eight-hour flight.

 

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Nara: temples, shrines and friendly deer

Nara is home to some of the oldest and largest temples and shrines in Japan. It is thought to be the birthplace of Japanese culture.  It’s also home to around 1200 roaming deer, which have become symbolic to the city as a national treasure.

Nara is less an hours travel from both Osaka and Kyoto. We visited Nara on day 7 of our trip. We roamed the city centre, walk from Kōfuku-ji temple through Nara Park to Tōdai-Jian temple, and explore Kasuga-Taisha shrine inside the Manyo Botanical Gardens. We ended out day back in Osaka at a 100 yen sushi train.

 

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