Arab Street Singapore

Catching up on some blog posts and photos today!  I’ve got a whole slew of baby-related posts coming up but I’m going to spare you for now to share some photos from the day after our doctor appointments in Singapore.

We had some goals for our 24 hours of “vacation” in Singapore after all of the doctor and dentist appointments: non-Chinese food, interesting things to see, and cheap.

Blowing $1,000 on some much-needed dental work has a way of re-prioritizing your weekend getaway, let me tell you.

Anyways, with our goals firmly in mind, we did some googling.  The night safari, at $32+ per person, was out and we ruled out a trip to Chinatown for what are, hopefully, obvious reasons.  We deemed the Indian part of town “too touristy” and realized, once again, that we’ll just never be the sort of tourists who feel comfortable riding around a city on a flashy double-decker bus.

In the end, we decided to explore the Botanical Garden (cheap, interesting and right near our hotel) and see about this place everyone was calling “Arab Town.”

Coming from the States, where conservative cable new shows have practically turned the the term “Arab” into a derogatory label, the name sort of threw me for a loop, but apparently that’s what most people call it.  I didn’t hear the alternative name, Kampong Glam, thrown around as much.

Hanging out over coffee with a friend from Chris’ A-100, we found out that Arab Street isn’t just a neighborhood with good middle-eastern food and fabric vendors, its also where all the hip kids go to hang out at bars and shisha cafes.  Hmmmm, a neighborhood built around a mosque, filled with hip kids smoking shisha?

Now, no one would ever mistake Chris and I for being “hip,” but we decided we had to check it out.

Totally worth it.  In terms of architecture and food available and people, it was like a little tiny microcosm of South Asia + the Middle East.  Brightly colored and ornamented buildings, carpet vendors and fabric stalls everywhere.

We ate Lebanese food for the first time since we left the States last April.  We window-shopped in fabric stalls and talked colors for Thumper’s nursery, we wandered up to the beautiful mosque and remembered how we loved hearing the call to prayer 5 times a day in India and how we looked forward to hearing it again maybe at our next post (ha! little did we know how prophetic that was!).

The most interesting thing about the neighborhood though was the total juxtaposition of everything and everyone there.  Among the sari-clothed woman buying and selling fabrics, you found everyone from tourists to young designers.  A few doors down from the mosque was a line of bars and cafes.  Young wealthy tourists in head-scarves snapped pictures in front of the mosque with their friends as Indian boys smoked shisha and drank Singapore-style coffee just down the street.  On one street you’d find a fabric seller, on the next, social commentary in the form of stunning graffiti.

And in the sun-drenched sprinkle of a tropical afternoon shower, we stumbled down Haji Lane, where many of Singaore’s up and coming fashion designers live and work above their small boutiques.

It was a fun few hours of walking that didn’t cost us anything besides our Lebanese lunch and our metro tickets to and from the hotel.  By nightfall, my hunch is that the character of the neighborhood changes quite a bit, with shopkeepers closing their doors and hipsters and wannabe hipsters spilling in and out of the numerous bars and shisha cafes.  Could be fun for some people I think, but definitely not for this tired, sweaty preggo-lady on this particular occasion.

One other thing to take advantage of in Singapore: food courts.  Cheap, clean, and mind-boggling filled to the brim with any kind of food you could possibly want, they were the highlight of Chris and I’s trip.  Look out for the long lines and jump in them, you likely won’t be disappointed.  We found a takoyaki stand this way that I’m still dreaming about.

And if you are wandering around in the heat, melting and not sure if you can take another step, look out for one of the ice cream sandwich guys with their big red striped umbrellas and flavor choices ranging from red bean to mint chocolate chip.

For two bucks, its like a little, edible, air-conditioner.  The block of ice cream is so hard and icy it barely melts even in the 90+ degree heat.  The tasteless wafers offer an excellent grip and also some insurance against instant brain freeze.  Brilliant.

sweaty gross preggo-lady in heaven.



2 thoughts on “Arab Street Singapore

  1. I LOVE the colors on those buildings! And I also LOVE the pregnant lady in heaven picture! LOL!

    $1,000 in dental work!??! Kill me now. That must mean that you can’t get dental care in Chengdu?!!? Gah!!

  2. Pingback: Life Lessons from Overseas: The Sanity-Saving Power of Travel « Hot Pot

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