Visiting Chinatown and Little India in Singapore are high up on the list of things to do for any tourist heading to that country, especially during layovers. If you go on one of those sightseeing buses, you will be going through these places. In a later post, I will suggest and show you how to do the sightseeing yourself and skip the tour bus.
I never really understood the fascination or the need to have a “chinatown” in a country, like in London and New York for example. I guess the plus side is the fact you will know where to go for a Chinese meal?
ANYWAY, these two places are rich in history in Singapore. As more and more shiny new buildings go up, the concrete city is holding on to their heritage sites for dear life. They are realising the importance of preserving certain places to prove that the futuristic country wasn’t put on the map by aliens.
Chinatown and Little India are easily accessible on the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit – Singapore’s underground train system). These places have their own stations, which you will find that nearly every place of interest in Singapore has its own station. Easy peasy.
Surprisingly enough, Ethan hadn’t been to these places so I took him through these places in the span of just two hours. Chinatown is mostly filled with shops and it has a few heritage centres to explain the immigration of Chinese people in Singapore. It is decorated in traditional Chinese lanterns with Chinese medicine specialists, therapists and temples. It was also where majority of Chinese people lived back in the olden days when races were actually segregated into their own communities and estates. This place is preserved so future generations will be able to understand the history of Chinese people in Singapore which is why it is necessary for Singapore to have a Chinatown. Now, people of all races are proportionately distributed around the country to ensure racial cohesiveness and segregation is a thing of the past.
We went during the Hungry Ghost Festival period. According to Chinese beliefs, this is when the gates of hell is open and dead relatives need to be fed and treated when they visit their living relatives. Chinese people will burn paper money (hell currency), paper cars, paper houses, etc. to send these to their dead relatives. They will also have to leave food outside for them to eat. Public auctions are also held and entertainment will be put on public stages for ghosts, the front row/frow is reserved for them. This shows, even though Singapore is becoming more and more advanced, tradition and culture is still alive, and I love that about Singapore. Even if I don’t agree with the constant burning because it makes it more hot, dirty and it affects my asthma.
Food wise, you will be able to find Chinese food anywhere in Singapore, literally! Chinatown is for the heritage not the food. Step into Singapore and you will soon find that the country loves their food and you will find any cuisine, especially local Chinese cuisine at every inch.
Let me know your thoughts! Which Chinatowns have you been to in the world?