Thursday, April 12, 2012

Stored Treasure: A Taste of Singapore's Cultural Mixes


Stored Treasure / 25 December 2010

Explore Singapore - Day 6 and 7

Okay, I know this post, the last of my Explore Singapore series, is long overdue, but please bear with me, and let me conclude it the right way.  =)

Anyway, this post will narrate my last exploits (Days 6 and 7) in the Lion City: Orchard Road, Lucky Plaza, Sri Mariamman temple, Chinatown and Laupasat.

My cousin Rose and I met at the MRT station in Clementi and headed for the first location in our itinerary - Orchard Road. Well, I heard this is just like our very own Ayala Center or Makati Central Business District but I guess it's still worth seeing.  I'm a fan of cosmopolitan cityscapes anyway! =)

Jandy I initially planned to go to Lucky Plaza  (the mall in Orchard Road where Filipinos go to during their day-off) on a Sunday but we ran out of time.  But I will not let my week pass without seeing it so my cousin Rosey again became my tour guide here.  And of course, you have to forgive me, I can't not have my photo taken at the facade of this mall! =D (feeling OFW!)  And when we went inside, although it's not Sunday, the mall is still very Filipino - the people, the food, the stores, the remittance centers etc.  I guess this is a haven for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) who miss home. 

Honestly, some may not take pride in this place, but I actually am.  As Singapore is a multi-cultural society, each race has been represented by a certain district in the city like towns for Chinese, Indians, Malays, Arabs and Westerners.  And Lucky Plaza, may not be a district, but one building to give Filipinos a satellite station to bring them closer to home.  And of course, as Filipinos are known for their hospitality, the place will be a welcome treat for other people who wanted to get to know more about us.  =)

After having lunch in one of the malls in Orchard Road, Rosey and I went to the MINT Museum of Toys, which I already blogged about. 

After MINT, we then went to Sri Mariamman temple which is located in Chinatown, Mariamman Kovil or Kling Street Temple as it was popularly known then was built by the immigrants from South India.   The temple is dedicated to Goddess Mariamman, known for her power to cure epidemic illnesses and diseases.

Sri Mariamman temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore.  Since its construction in 1827, it has played an important role in the lives of Hindus there.  In the early years, it provided shelter for Indian immigrants, and was the only temple whose priests were vested with the authority to solemnize Hindu marriages.

Today, Sri Mariamman temple is best known for the fire walking ceremony or the Theemithi, that is held around October and November each year. Devotees would walk on hot coals as a test of their faith and devotion.

firewalking ceremony

When we entered the temple, we took off our shoes in respect of the Hindu religion and tradition. And as we walk on the grounds with bare feet, we felt like we were already walking on fire (I guess it's because we were there at around 2:30 PM)!  I felt that the heat not only burns my feet but it passes through my blood and veins that made my legs and hips tired and a little painful.  But nevertheless, the experience, as always, is all worth it.

As Sri Mariamman is just beside the Chinatown street market, I can't help but buy pasalubongs (gifts from the place you went to)  for my family and friends.

After that long tiring but satisfying shopping in Chinatown, my cousin and I dropped by at Raffles, and then proceeded to Lau Pa Sat (yes, it's been a day of walking!)


Formerly known as Telok Ayer Market, the Lau Pa Sat Festival Market is located in the hub of Singapore's busy financial district.  Lau Pa Sat is a living symbol of Singapore's Hawker Food Culture (rooted in the itinerant hawkers who plied the streets on foot or behind carts, or set up shop in temporary villages or stalls).  Lau Pa Sat is among the present permanent hawker centres and boasts of a spread of food stalls touting famous local delicacies such as satay and barbecued seafood (cereal prawn!). First opened in 1825, it used to extend over the sea so merchants could load and unload produce directly onto the boats.

Bestfriend Jandy, foydi and cousin Rosey in Laupasat

foydi, jandy, rosey and arci

foydi, rosey and arci

Lau Pa Sat is most famous for is its wide selection of local food and delicacies, where visitors can find almost everything and anything under one roof. The fact that it is open 24 hours daily makes it even more of a draw.  And at night, one of its streets become a long stretch of dining area!

the band performer in Laupasat

grilling of the famous satay

Yangchow fried rice


cereal prawns!  yum!

grilled sting ray

grilled prawns

spicy kangkong

our very own tapa king is also in laupasat!  we have a spot in this festival market! =)

And this concludes my Explore Singapore series.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.  And if there there are five things I learned from this trip, that would be:

1. Urban living can be perfected, well almost.
2. Every trip is a cultural experience
3. Time and distance cannot weaken friendship and family bond.
4. Long walk is good to our health and the environment!
5. Multi-cultural society is possible!  And this trip is indeed a Taste of Singapore's Cultural Mixes! =)

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