Singapore China Town
Chinatown Travel Blog› entry 22 of 23 › view all entries
August 17th, 2008 – by: andytite
After taking the meticulous underground system from Orchard Road, we headed for the Buddha Tooth Temple that we'd spotted previously. The temple is an imposing structure, towering above the neighbouring streets and shops, catching your eye and drawing your in. A procession of monks walked past us as we waited outside, jostling shoulders with the other tourists visiting the seething Chinatown markets packed with trinkets and souvenirs.
Once inside the temple is a contradiction. Everything, and I mean everything, is able to be sponsored. The money (so a polite sign informed us) goes towards the temple's work collecting more relics of Buddhism, and in providing education about the practices and history of the faith around the world. They can't be short of a bob or two. From the floor tiles to the decorations, the statues to the relics, the furnishings to the fixtures the devout (and wealthy) can sponsor an item for a year, paying extortionate sums (up to $100,000+ Singapore dollars for the most 'holy'). It was the perfect marriage of capitalism and faith; no tithes, no forced collections or begging with plates. This was clean, efficient and gold plated. It was, in a word, odd.
The rooftop garden boasted 10,000 miniature Buddha statues, and was the part of the temple that I found most stunning.
Inside the temple boasted a museum detailing the history of the faith in short steps and containing hundreds of statues, pictures, icons and relics of the great man himself. The relics (to an uninitiated eye) looked like pretty glass beads, and there were a great many of them, lovingly cared for in gold plated vessels, placed atop cushions and scrutinised by the faithful.
This was a Technicolor religious experience. It was bright, brash, bold; covered in gold, jewels and polite signs in a multitude of languages.
Nearby, in the markets and shops of Chinatown we picked up souvenirs and enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the city. This place had everything you wanted be it food and drink or antiques and designer knock offs. It was energetic and fun. A good way to round off our final day.
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