In light of gearing up for our next trip (YAY!), my best friend and I decided to live the life of a backpacker. In our own country. Well, island actually, since we’re so tiny (can’t help but chuckle every time I refer to her as a country).
Anyway, six hours in Singapore is feasible, considering the size and transport efficiency. Normally, travellers don’t spend much time here, it’s just a springboard to go to other Southeast Asian countries, or back home. So I guess this post fits the bill for those who are here for just a few hours.
Disclaimer: we could have done more, but we took our own sweet time.
Because my friend and I are Malays, we’re here to check out the Indian and Chinese culture, as well as some cool shophouses in Niven Road. This trip will take you through three Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) stations along the North East Line (the one in purple) – Little India (NE9), Farrer Park (NE8), and Chinatown (NE4).
Little India (NE9)
Time taken: Approximately 30 minutes
Take Exit A to Niven Road and see beautiful vernacular shophouses. There are a variety – furbished, quaint, homes, offices, etc. Here’s a furbished shophouse (love the birdcages!):
These beautiful pictures are from another shophouse, undergoing renovation, I believe they are in their original state. Don’t you just love the ruins and grime?
While every shophouse has its own flavour, which makes it difficult to choose a favourite one, this has got to be the most interesting – Pretty Shophouse. The mint polka dots made me fall in love with it instantaneously! If you come here at night, you could see lighted shophouses.
Farrer Park (NE8)
Time taken: Approximately 4 hours
You can choose to walk instead, but the nearer MRT station is Farrer Park. Head to Rowell Road to witness huge and awesome graffiti! Vandalism is a crime here, so I’m surprised to see these!
That’s an altar for Buddhists to offer prayers. Yup, that’s my best friend.
In between rows of shophouses, you’ll be surprised to stumble upon a mini red light district. These secluded alleys house you-know-who. Be forewarned though, the ladies are old and…pretty ugly, even fugly. Well, at least the ones I saw. Maybe there are hidden gems inside. Let me know ;)
What’s the point of going to Little India if you don’t immerse yourself in the culture? A must-buy item are Indian cigarettes, also known as Beedies. I never knew they existed! A thin pink thread fastens the leaf which carries tobacco. Cool, but…they stink. I hate it when my friend exhales in my face!
The thing about…the people in Little India is that they’re very good with business. This pack was sold at $4.20. The guy named the price without blinking! Jaw dropping and aghast at the price, my friend said, “They were only a dollar plus last time!” That poker faced guy muttered something we couldn’t understand. We walked away. Still in shock, we went to another shop and my friend asked for the price. $3.50. Yup. “I GOT CHEATED IN MY OWN COUNTRY!” I replied with a smile. 70 cents is quite a big deal, considering it was only $1+ back then.
After getting your beedies, it’s time to smoke while having tea. See, these beedies taste as bad as they smell. Tea is the best way to wash away the bitter biddies aftertaste on your lips. Forget ginger tea, they’re passé. Try masala tea at my favourite restaurant – Usman! Masala is a blend of spices, (not as strong as ginger though). Try this, it’s a sin if you come here only to drink normal tea.
Usman Restaurant is also known for their naans! I ALWAYS come here to have them! Read my review here. If you want to try Chapati, you can go to Ma Raj Restaurant, it’s just a few minutes walk from Usman Restaurant.
Here are some scenes you can spot in Little India. I love this little Chinese corner amidst the Indian ambiance.
This is a very common thing there. People congregate to watch anything, be it Bollywood films or WWE! They can be there for hours! Normally, these guys are foreign workers.
Love this rustic and quaint little corner in Campbell Lane!
Hang out at Prince of Wales Backpacker Hostel for a drink or two. Cosy place with friendly staff await you. Indoors and outdoors are both great! There are screens in and outside, good music, live performances too. In a nutshell, once you step in, you’re no longer in Little India.
You can see colourful shophouses here too, here’s my favourite: Lego, Only Better. Time flies too fast! I didn’t realise the sun has set! Off to Chinatown now!
Time taken: Approximately 1 hour 30 minutes
Since it’s the Mid-Autumn Festival, you’ll be greeted with colourful lanterns hovering in the air. These are lovely and I can’t help but having dreamy thoughts of sprawling on the road beneath these lanterns!
You won’t miss Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum. I have never been in there, but I will, one day!
Let’s go to Chinatown Night Market! The place is best to visit in the evenings. When we reached there, it was about 9.30pm, which is not enough to cover the area. Halfway into exploring the place, stalls are on their way to calling it a day.
There are dozens of shops selling souvenirs. Trust me, Chinatown is the BEST place for you to buy souvenirs! Prices are unbeatable.
If you can spot a Chinese man with his little stall in Little India, you can of course spot Indians and their stalls here in Chinatown. (Hello, my Malays, where are you?) Singapore is cool like that. The ladies sell ethnic costumes and provide Henna services.
The best thing about Chinatown is, you can see not only Buddhist temple, but a Hindu temple and a mosque! Here are pictures of Sri Mariamman Temple and Jamae Mosque. Both of them are situated in the heart of Chinatown. Do read up on the stories behind these places of worship!
So there you go! I’ll find more things to do, see, hear, smell, taste. Till then!