Afterwards Sangeet stayed at the Gurdwara whilst I popped to Sim Lim Square, just to have a browse. The electronic gadgets are fascinating and worth browsing. Whilst there I met a family from England who were debating whether to buy the iPad 2 or iPad Mini, I suggested that if they are going to the USA they should buy it from an Apple shop there. In my opinion Sim Lim Square is good for buying accessories. Expensive items such as cameras sometimes only come with a local warranty. So please check before buying. As I was leaving Sim Lim Square I noticed a shop selling a rubber Bluetooth keyboard which would be perfect as the keyboard on the iPad sometimes gets a bit tiring to use. The cost was SGD$20, any other time I would have snapped up the bargain, as we have been traveling , every dollar does count!
I met Sangeet back at the Gurdwara.
As I wanted to show Sangeet Sim Lim Square we had a wander into town. Our last experience in Sim Lim Square in 2005 was not that brilliant. We were looking to buy a camera, sounds easy but in this case we just could not get the information we needed and all the deals seemed dodgy!
On the way we passed the art college:
It looked amazing all lit up at night.
After passing Sim Lim Square we went to Bugis Street
Bugis, in the city-state of Singapore, was renowned internationally from the 1950s to the 1980s for its nightly gathering of trans women, a phenomenon which made it one of Singapore’s top tourist destinations during that period.
In the mid-1980s, Bugis Street underwent major urban redevelopment into a retail complex of modern shopping malls, restaurants and nightspots mixed with regulated back-alley roadside vendors. Underground digging to construct the Bugis MRT station prior to that also caused the upheaval and termination of nightly transgender sex bazaar culture, marking the end of a colourful and unique era in Singapore’s history. This change helped improve Singapore’s international image as it began to be globally recognized.
Today, the original Bugis Street is now a cobblestoned, relatively wide avenue sandwiched between the buildings of the Bugis Junction shopping complex. On the other hand, the lane presently touted as “Bugis Street” by the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board is actually developed from New Bugis Street, and is billed as “the largest street-shopping location in Singapore”. An attempt by the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board to bring back the former glamor was unsuccessful. Although the street is not a well-known tourist destination, it is frequented by many Singaporeans.
A brand of clothing!!
On the way back we passed a shop selling fruit
I bought some durian fruit
The durian is the fruit of several tree species belonging to the genus Durio and the Malvaceae family (although some taxonomists place Durio in a distinct family, Durionaceae.
Regarded by many people in southeast Asia as the “king of fruits”, the durian is distinctive for its large size, stomach-churning odour, and formidable thorn-covered husk. The fruit can grow as large as 30 centimetres (12 in) long and 15 centimetres (6 in) in diameter, and it typically weighs one to three kilograms (2 to 7 lb). Its shape ranges from oblong to round, the colour of its husk green to brown, and its flesh pale yellow to red, depending on the species.
The edible flesh emits a distinctive odour, that is strong and penetrating even when the husk is intact. Some people regard the durian as pleasantly fragrant; others find the aroma overpowering and revolting. The smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust, and has been described variously as almonds, rotten onions, turpentine, and gym socks. The odour has led to the fruit’s banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in southeast Asia.
The durian, native to Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia, has been known to the Western world for about 600 years. The nineteenth-century British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace famously described its flesh as “a rich custard highly flavoured with almonds”. The flesh can be consumed at various stages of ripeness, and it is used to flavour a wide variety of savoury and sweet edibles in Southeast Asian cuisines. When cooked, the seeds also can be eaten.
There are 30 recognised Durio species, at least nine of which produce edible fruit. Durio zibethinus is the only species available in the international market: other species are sold in their local regions. There are hundreds of durian cultivars; many consumers express preferences for specific cultivars, which fetch higher prices in the market.
Just to prove I did eat it! Sangeet could barely cope with the smell as we chatted to an Australian chap from Sydney who is married to a Singaporean. He gave us some useful information on Durian and how to pick a good one.
Whilst Sangeet spent a few hours reading, I had a wander to Sim Lim Square. Sim Lim Square (Chinese: 森林商业中心), commonly referred to as SLS, is a large retail complex that offers a wide variety of electronic goods and services ranging from DVDs, cameras, phones, video cameras, computer parts and servicing.
Located at 1 Rochor Canal Road, Singapore, SLS is opposite to historic features such as the Little India district and close to one of the earliest HDB developments. SLS is accessible via MRT at Bugis or Little India.
On the way, in the corner of my eye something attracted my attention. I saw two men around something. At first I thought somebody had fainted, the temperature today was 32 degrees C and around 80% humidity. But something did not look right as the men were jumping on this person/thing. Curiosity took the better of me and I crossed the road to have a look. It was a python!! It came out of the gutter and was moving along the path!!! Now I have a fear of snakes, but I just had to get close for a photo. The lengths I go to for my readers!
I asked an Indian guy who was standing nearby how it came to be here. He said it came to eat rats. I was shocked, you are telling me there are rats here! (For anyone who does not understand sarcasm – that was an example!)
Nervously I continued to Sim Lin Square, avoiding gutters, only sometimes having a look down and wondering what else is there. Once I entered Sim Lim, it was amazing to see. I love electronic gadgets and seeing what new gadgets are out on the market. Please note I said seeing, buying is totally different!! I have been after a stylus for the ipad, I think it would make me look more sophisticated!! The prices in the plazas have been around SGD$50 which is very excessive. I was surprised to see the same named shop sell the same stylus here for SGD$22! What a price difference but still, not what I want to pay. I found a shop selling the stylus for SGD$4 now that is in my price range! It pays to shop around! Me being me, I still tried to bargain at that price, I offered him SGD$3. He refused.
Would you pay SGD$50 for this?
On the way back to the hostel I popped into a taekwondo class and booked a session for this evening at 8pm. I am so looking forward to the class.
When I got back to the hostel Sangeet and I visited the Gurdwara two houses away from us.
Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha
90/92 Wilkie Road,
T: +65 6337 6301
F +65 6337 5160
A groups of ladies were singing Kirtan
Sangeet stayed on to read the Sukhmani Sahib. I popped back to the hostel to work on the blog. In the background the news was on, this made me chuckle.
Around 6:30 pm I visited the Gurdwara to listen to Kirtan and Rehraas Sahib. The rehras sahib is the evening prayer of the Sikhs. It is recited at the end of a working day. Its purpose is to add energy to one’s being and living environments. It is intended to help with physical weakness and feelings of hopelessness, unsuccessfulness or worthlessness.
Afterwards we walked to the taekwondo class.
I was expecting a very strict class, this one was very relaxed but still a good class. They teach in English. Which was perfect for me. At first people were not so friendly, after a while they became friendly. I just get the feeling that Asians and Indians do not mix in Singapore. Not sure why, so me going and mixing must have felt strange for the Asians.
Please note Asians are the Chinese, Japanese, etc. Indians are obviously the ones that come from India.
After the class we had Guru Ka Langar at the Wilkie Road Gurdwara.
After a very lazy morning we checked out of the hotel. The rate for tonight would have been SGD$400!
Sangeet looked up the programmes at the Gurdwara, there was a Sukhmani Sahib Paath starting at 2pm. Sukhmani Sahib is the name given to the set of hymns divided into 24 sections which appear in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Holy Scriptures on ang 262. Each section, which is called an Ashtpadi(asht means 8), consists of 8 hymns per Ashtpadi. The word Sukhmani literally means Peace in your mind. This set of Hymns or Bani is very popular among the Sikhs, who frequently recite it in their places of worship called Gurdwaras and at home. The full recital takes about 90 minutes and is normally undertaken by everyone in the congregation.
Central Sikh Temple
2 Towner Road
T+ 65 6299 3855
F + 65 6296 1921
In 1912, with the assistance of a Sindhi merchant named Wassiamull, a group of Sikhs bought a bungalow with a large compound at 175 Queen Street and turned it into a gurdwara. The gurdwara became known as the Central Sikh Temple when other temples were established. It was also known as the Wadda Gurdwara (‘The Big Temple’).
The temple was reconstructed in 1921. The congregation hall was on the first floor and the kitchen and other facilities on the ground floor. It is the custom for Sikh temples to provide food and lodging to travellers.
In 1937, the government decided to set up a corporate board of trustees for the temple. In 1940, the Queen Street Gurdwara Ordinance was enacted. It provided for a board of trustees named the Queen Street Gurdwara Board of Trustees (Incorporated) made up of equal numbers of nominees from the Majha, Malwa and Doabha factions of the congregation.
In 1925, rivalry for leadership amongst the factions led them to form their own gurdwaras. Today, these gurdwaras are registered as societies and only two Sikh temples are recognised as public temples. The Central Sikh Temple remains the main temple for all Sikhs. The Silat Road temple which is also managed by the Central Sikh Temple is the other recognised public temple.
In 1959, plans for a new temple and the move away from Queen Street to a new site in Newton were formed. There were factions in the congregation that preferred to remain in Queen Street. An adjoining plot of land with nine houses on it was purchased for $100,000. The plans for the new temple here were approved by the Government in 1963. However, it was never built due to internal disagreement.
In 1976, the land adjoining the temple site was acquired by the Urban Redevelopment Authority. A year later, the land on which the temple stood was acquired. In December 1979, the temple was vacated and was temporarily housed in the former Bukit Ho Swee Community Centre at Seng Poh Road.
Plans for a new temple in Towner Road were conceived in 1983. Its construction began in 1984 and was completed in April 1986. The Central Sikh Temple at Towner Road was officially opened in November that year.
We decided to take the taxi, which are fairly cheap in Singapore, plus we were having a lazy day!
The Gurdwara is very beautiful and the Paath was recited with love.
Afterwards we took the MRT back from Boon Keng MRT to Orchard.
The Mass Rapid Transit or MRT is a rapid transit system forming the major component of the railway system in Singapore, spanning the entire city-state. The initial section of the MRT, between Yio Chu Kang and Toa Payoh, opened in 1987, making it the second-oldest metro system in Southeast Asia, after Manila’s LRT System. The network has since grown rapidly in accordance with Singapore’s aim of developing a comprehensive rail network as the backbone of the public transport system in Singapore, with an average daily ridership of 2.406 million in 2011, approximately 71% of the bus network’s 3.385 million in the same period.
The MRT network has 102 stations with 148.9 km (92.52 mi) of lines in operation, on standard gauge. The lines are built by the Land Transport Authority, a statutory board of the Government of Singapore, which allocates operating concessions to the profit-based corporations, SMRT Corporation and SBS Transit. These operators also run bus and taxi services, thus facilitating full integration of public transport services. The MRT is complemented by a small number of regional Light Rail Transit (LRT) systems in Bukit Panjang, Sengkang and Punggol that link MRT stations with HDB public housing estates. Services operate from about 5:30 am and usually end before 1 a.m. daily with intervals of approximately three to eight minutes, and services extended during festive periods such as Chinese New Year.
Fantastic street decorations
Everybody in the MRT was glued to their phones. I would have been but could not log onto the free wifi!
The MRT journey costs SGD$2.40, you get a plastic ticket:
Once you start your journey you swipe the plastic ticket against the entry onto platform machine and it deducts SGD$1.40. Once you have completed your journey you deposit the ticket and it gives you a SGD$1.00 refund. Such a fantastic idea.
Orchard Road is lit up elaborately nearer the end of every year for the Christmas festive season.
Orchard Road is a 2.2 kilometre-long street that is the retail and entertainment hub of Singapore. It is a major tourist attraction, in addition to being the most popular shopping enclave in the city-state. Often, the surrounding area is known simply as Orchard, partly because the MRT station that serves the vicinity is named Orchard.
The Orchard Planning Area is one of 55 urban planning areas as specified by the Urban Redevelopment Authority, and is a commercial district. It is part of the Central Region, and Singapore’s central business district, the Central Area.
Orchard Road underwent a $40 million revamp in 2009, with the addition of new street lamps, planter boxes, urban green rooms, street tiling and flower totem poles, which have since been removed.
On the way to the hostel, which was again by taxi, Sangeet noticed a Gurdwara two houses away! What a fantastic blessing, to be so close to the Gurdwara.
Once we checked in and dropped off the bags, we walked over to the Gurdwara.
Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha
90/92 Wilkie Road,
T: +65 6337 6301
F +65 6337 5160
Gurdwara Sahib Sri Guru Singh Sabha is one of the oldest Sikh institutions in Singapore established by the early immigrant Sikh community in 1918.
The first building was located close to the old Central Sikh Temple at Queens Street. The congregation used rented premises until the property at 90 Wilkie Road was acquired in 1932. Extensive structural changes were made to prepare the congregational hall on the first floor. In 1968 an adjoining plot of land was purchased for the construction of an entirely new premises. Construction on this new building began in 1978 and was completed in 1980. The new gurdwara was declared officially opened in 1984. The old premises was converted into a ‘jangh ghar’ where receptions for wedding events were held for a short period. This use for the old building was discontinued and has since been converted to a Gurmat Parchar Centre for use by the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Youth Wing for Sikhi parchar and as accomodations for residential camps (samelans) during schools holidays.
Guess who’s coming to town:
Afterwards we decided to have a wander to Little India, which is about twenty minutes walk. In Singapore it has been very very clean, peaceful, quiet, superb. As soon as you ‘enter’ Little India you see a warning sign “dengue fever alert”. The area is exactly like India. Cars beeping, massive crowds, very dirty streets….I am not surprised there is a dengue fever alert. This was a total assault on my senses. I hated the place. Sangeet wants to add on India to this trip, I am not sure I could handle it! On entering Little India I saw a line of mice moving out, even they were looking for a better area to live!!!
Hi, thanks for visiting my blog, feel free and have a look around.Here is a bit about me, as you may or may not have guessed my name is Mandeep,I work to travel as opposed to work to pay bills and die!Every trip for me is an adventure, I have been very fortunate to stumble across amazing places and meet awesome people along the way.
Why gaygoat? When I first started this blog I was a vegetarian, so gaygoat – happy goat! Also you have to admit it is catchy and a URL you will not forget!