Legends of the Not-So-Hidden Temples
Singapore Travel Blog› entry 5 of 17 › view all entries
It was nice to have a little break this weekend. We did have class on Saturday morning (not usually the case) but we had Saturday afternoon as well as all day Sunday off. After class on Saturday most of us just tried to get some reading done and get everything organized so we were all settled. That night, we all had plans to go to Zouk, one of the biggest clubs in Singapore (and Southeast Asia) and we wanted to catch up on sleep as to not be too out of it. For dinner Satruday we went to an American grill that is right off the back of the dorms. It isn't officially part of campus but the food was pretty good -- I had a cheeseburger which was a great change from all the Asian food I have been eating. After that we all headed to the club which was kind of in a remote location.
It was about midnight, so we headed back to campus...we decided to just wait on Zouk for another night and went to bed. I am sure we will be back before we leave Singapore.
The next day we were planning to go to the Zoo and the Botanical Gardens. However, we all woke up to rain. Not so great. Deciding it maybe wouldn't be the best day to walk around outside, we headed down to Little India and Kampong Glam (the Malay community) to check out some of the Mosques and Temples we had all seen in our guidebooks.
The rain had pretty much stopped by now and it was actually pretty pleasant walking around, not too hot and not too cold. We headed to the Malay district first, the taxis dropped us off at the Sultan Mosque, the largest Muslim place of worship in Singapore. It was pretty big and very distinctive, with the huge gold dome and the four minarets at the corners that signify a mosque from a distance. We were not allowed to enter the prayer hall but we all took off our shoes and put on the robes that were provided and walked around the inside a little bit. It is such a different culture here. I had never been inside a mosque and I guess it is generally what I would expect but it felt kind of weird walking around a place of worship taking pictures. After we left, we walked around muslim singapore a little more, going down the main streets of Bussorah Mall and Arab Street. There were lots of vendors selling fabric along the street and the people were all very nice.
Then, we headed down toards Little India...about 5 blocks away and completely different as far as environment was concerned. There were 3-4 temples we wanted to see in this area...2 Hindu and 2 Buddhist. The way we walked to Little India ended up being a little sketchy, we saw a large crowd gathered at one point and walked up to discover that people were selling what looked to be the contents of stolen luggage and backpacks on the street. We eventually got to the main drag, Serangoon Road and walked towards the first temple, Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. We came across it pretty quickly and the temple was really neat to look at, a lot of detail. The Hindu religion has a lot of different gods and goddesses and there was a huge structure over the entryway that has a lot of small figures on it (see pictures for details) that all looked individually painted. We were a little iffy to walk inside, we had been looked at oddly the entire walk and didn't really want to invite any more attention than we were already getting so we went on. The next temple, one of the buddhist ones, was the Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya, aka the Temple of 1000 Lights. Unfortunately we got there as it closed and we didn't get to see the 50 foot light up Buddha, the main point for the jouney. We took some pictures outside and then went across the street to the Leong San See Temple. There was a very shiny solid Gold Buddha that was at the entrance to that one. The last one we went to was the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, another Hindu temple that is dedicated to the god Vishnu and is one of the most important in Singapore. It was very large and again had a lot of the painted god and goddess figurines all over the sides of it.
On the whole, both of the areas were very interesting to visit, althought I don't know if we will be going back, especially at night.
Sunday night everyone planned to go out to dinner because it was Jaime's 21st birthday. Carlanna found a reference to somewhere down by the Esplanade theater where there were 6 different restaurants and you could order from any of them from the same menu. There was a great atmostphere as well, you could see Merlion Park and the Fullerton hotel from where we were sitting at the Thai restuarant. The food was pretty good and they even brought Jaime a dessert with a candle in it so we could sing. Most of us headed back kind of early as there was a lot of reading that we were supposed to do over the weekend.
It's Monday now and I just got back from a full day of class. Lunch was spent reserving plane tickets for 3 of the next 4 weekends. I am really excited about all of the places we are going -- Bangkok this coming weekend, Malaysia the next and then Phuket (Thailand) for the beach the third weekend and we are spending the last one in Angkor Wat in Cambodia. All of them should be great experiences -- and we got all of the tickets (flights, etc) for a little under $450 American dollars. I am especially excited about Cambodia as Angkor Wat is supposed to be very cool...kind of like a lost city in the jungle. Definitely not anything I would ever visit on my own.
We have our first test tomorrow, so most of my next few hours are going to be spent studying but we are also going on a class field trip tomorrow afternoon to Sentosa Island, a small island off the coast with a Singapore museum, a musical fountain and a few other things to do. It should be a lot of fun!
I updated my pictures with some of the pictures from the adventures in Little India. I don't think I have ever taken so many pictures in my life....
Hope everyone is doing well!