Our first real day was excellent, what was in store for the second day of our stay?
The tourist trade does not really cater for guided walking tours, save for 2, one around Little India and one around Chinatown. Unfortunately we missed the Chinatown walk but got ourselves to the meeting point for the free guided walk around Little India.
Singapore’s population is made up of four ethnic groups, Malay, Chinese, Indian and what is referred to as Minorities which is everyone else. Indians make up about 9% of the population of 5.5 million and most of them live and work in this area, although the Singapore government have a system of forced integration whereby each block of public accommodation has an equal number of ethnic groups in each block, and if a member of one ethnic group moves out, that apartment cannot be let to a member of another ethnic group. This maintains the balance and ensures that everyone get along just fine.
The first thing that strikes you about Little India is how similar it appears to the real one to the north! Many of the women wear traditional dress and the shops and markets are small compact places rammed with local goods and food. Little market stalls line the streets selling everything from spices and food to cheap jeans, modern and traditional clothing and electrical goods! There is a bustle and a busy-ness about the place that we did not find anywhere else in Singapore.
We were shown various places that featured in the history and development of Little India but the undoubted highlight was the visit to the Hindu temple. As can be seen from the pictures it is a colourfully decorated building and many make their way to worship each day. Hinduism has many deities and all were represented in the temple by colourful figurines set into recesses around the walls of the temple. Worshipers can chose to pray to any or all of these that they wish but key and most popular are those for health and happiness. Some just motion a few hand signals and light a flame, others sit and meditate, there is no set form to their worship.
Views of the Hindu Temple
And so to our last day. we knew we had another all-nighter coming up (that’s flight, not party) so we packed then went for a walk along the riverside to the Art Gallery. This building used to be the Parliament and Supreme Court, but a past government decided to move house as it were, to a new building so the Art Gallery was born. It is a magnificent building and like most old buildings in this part of Singapore sits in the shadow of the modern architecture of Marina Bay. We did a brief scoot round before moving on intending to visit St Andrews Cathedral which was next door. However there appeared to be a “do’ on there so we left and walked back via the other river bank.
Clockwise from top left: Art Gallery, St Andrews Cathedral, River walk to Marina Bay, Marina Mandarin Hotel and Observation Deck, .The New Parliament
Clockwise from top left: Art Exhibit, two strays in Singapore, Monsoon arrives.
A late pick up and in a monsoon storm to Changi Airport (a former RAF Base though little left of the original now) for a very late night flight to Cairns with an Airline I had never heard of, SilkAir, a part of Singapore Airlines. Oh dear. Not a good flight, 6.5 hours in a Boeing 737, the sort of jet that flies to Spain from Norwich. Cramped cabin, lousy food and it was late. This is becoming a habit!