After an afternoon in the amazing Gardens in the Bay… yes more time with Supertrees, walking along the Skywalk…
…and visiting the utterly incredible Cloud Forest…
… while watching Chinese residents take photos by the New Year symbols in the Flower Dome…
…I was joining Bus from Monster Day Walking Tours once again, this time for a walk around the Kampong Glam – traditionally the Malay area of Singapore.
With the same energy as this morning, Bus introduced us to the history behind our meeting point at the metro station.
The beautifully named Lavender station’s name masks a less fragrant history but one that required the aid of lavender.
In the days before flushing toilets, the waste from people’s homes was collected and dumped in this area. The stench was appalling.
As the area came to be developed, lavender was planted to try to mask the smell.
Bus again described the way social housing works but this time, he ensured we fully understood by taking us for a walk through one of the blocks.
Social housing is geared up in Singapore to create facilities that support local communal living – on the ground floor between the blocks of flats are bakeries, groceries, clothes shops, coffee shops and social spaces for residents to use for community or family events.
The playparks and exercise parks between the buildings are maintained by the state and are there to allow cool breezes to circulate. Activity centres and gardens are also available.
This was turning into a Public Health walk which, as we know, is something I greatly enjoy. I need to see if I can claim Continuing Professional Development points for this.
What really impressed me was the crossing.
In this particular area, the majority of the residents are older people. They are given a card that they can use on the crossing and this extends the time allowed for them to cross the road.
How incredibly civilised.
The strength of this walk was the emphasis, not so much on the history though that was included, but the discussion about what life in Singapore is like.
Since the foundation of Singapore in 1965, many efforts have been made to ensure racial harmony between the four groups.
Quotas are maintained, representation is ensured and throughout education Racial Harmony Days are held – children visit all of the places of worship and learn about each race’s cultural traditions to support understanding between peoples.
Bus highlighted the fact that the cars on Singapore’s roads are all new. Nobody can own a car for longer than ten years – the aim is to ensure vehicular emissions are as low as possible.
Singapore is aiming to extend its public transport facilities – more metro, rail and bus routes. Cycling facilities are also being extended.
Electric cars are being piloted on a sharing basis to reduce the levels of private ownership.
We entered the part of the city that was built for the Malay population and royalty to live as part of agreements with the British.
The 1819 Treaty was solely to create a trading hub. By 1824 the British wanted Singapore as a colony. The sultan was paid off.
With a pause for a samosa and, taking into account the dosa stop this morning, I have to say this walking tour company rapidly became my favourite of all the guided walks I’ve done so far on this trip.
All of these snacks have been free.
And if the samosa hadn’t been exciting enough, Bus flourished a container of Pandan Cake – a very light and soft sponge cake.
The Sultan Mosque behind the street was designed by the same company that was hired to create Raffles. The Mosque looked rather familiar…
The design company looked to the Taj Mahal for inspiration and the Mosque was created as a result.
It’s one of the most popular mosques in the city and there is room for 5,000 people during Friday prayers.
The Mosque was closed to visitors and tourists today because of coronavirus.
The main street was quite busy as the restaurant staff started touting for business.
Arab Street and Haji Lane were quieter.
This part of town has become the hipster district – alcohol is on sale. Part of Singapore’s approach is to ensure diversity – no one cuisine, no one culture dominates any area.
The area is also famous for its street art so as soon as the tour was complete, guess what I was planning to do.
Our final stop was Gotham… well Parkview Square.
The 2002 constructed building’s owners are from Hong Kong and are fans of art so the grounds are full of sculpture.
The ground floor houses the Atlas Bar which is stunningly decorated in the 1930s Art Deco style.
The bar is not open on a Sunday… the oddest fact I think I heard all day.
A day spent on two walking tours could be draining but the two trips that Bus took us on were completely different – totally distinct parts of town. Both highlighted the history but Bus gave us ways to read and understand the city – looking for architectural clues.
It has been a fascinating day.