Dior Galore: and you thought Jersey was about shopping
Singapore Travel Blog› entry 43 of 56 › view all entries
September 21st, 2009 – by: fromtheblock
One dramatic difference from NYs Chinatown is the temples. At the end of Pagoda St, the main drag of knock-off shopping, is the dominating Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. It is amazingly ornate inside, however, the $3 charge for using your camera deterred me from snapping any interior shots. In all...it's a tad more touristy than holy.
Following the directions on my little man, I headed off, about 2 blocks down from the main centre, to a street that boasts more temples.
First stop: Thain Hock Keng, which began as a joss house (place of worship) in 1821. It was erected to honor Ma Zu Po, the protector of sojourners, and Chinese immigrants would go there to offer thanks for a safe passage. In the 1830s, construction began on expanding, by Thian Jock Seng. The temple is supported entirely on bricks and wooden posts, with no nails in any part of the main structure. The main prayer hall is a shrine to the Queen of Heaven and the courtyard is an alter to the Goddess of Mercy. The temple became a national monument in 1973.
Further down the block, with ethnic prayer playing over loudspeakers and a not as appealing exterior is Al-Abrar Mosque. This mosque, 1827, is a national monument as well and was originally only a small thatched hut. In the late 1850s it was built into the brick and plaster shelter that it is now.
And on to the meaning of the title...the world record breaking shopping insanity that is Orchard Rd. Taking the lovely double-decker bus 14, I jumped off at the start of the shopping mecca and headed straight for the familiarly comforting Borders. Exploring the shelves in the aircon, I searched for my next reading adventure. I've already gone through 2 books since leaving NZ (Dad: The Begger Maid was really good! I read all the stories in order and I loved the way it jumped around in time but still felt very fluid and cohesive.
So...I wasn't really off to a good start having already made a purchase at my first stop...but in my defense, I went to Orchard Rd so that I could get a new book. I did manage to make it back to the hostel with only a book and a dress. But, just so you understand the volume of shopping that can happen on the few long blocks that make up the infamous street.... One must cross the street via an underpass. Well, that underpass is really another mall, 2 or 3 floors underground! Even when crossing the street one is bombarded with stores.
And so concludes the end of Singapore. It's a very modern clean city/nation. Pretty easy to navigate as everything is in English along with native languages. Lots of food, lots of shopping...and hot, muggy, cloudy with periods of rain weather...every day. I'm glad I stopped over, the small neighborhoods are fun to wander around.
Off to Bali tomorrow, via Malaysia (on a bus)! A LONG day of traveling...starting at 9am and concluding at midnight!
PS: lots more pictures to come later...April isn't around to let me use the hostel's computer, so I'll have to wait until I find an internet cafe in Bali.
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