Singapore is a tiny island nation off the tip of the Malay Peninsula. It is so small that you can’t even barely see it on the map! But as small as it is geographically, it is one of the progressive highly developed countries in Southeast Asia.
I came to Singapore to see my brother and his wife for a couple of days while my husband stayed behind in the Philippines with his family. It was seven fun days of brother-sister bonding.
So, aside from the extensive food tripping that I have done (and boy, I would come back here for the food!), I also managed to sneak in a somewhat unusual not-so-touristy city tour with my brother.
He asked me what I wanted to do in Singapore. I don’t want to go see anymore buildings. No more gardens, theme parks nor zoos either. I also wasn’t interested in shopping in any of Singapore’s numerous malls and luxury boutique shops. What are we going to do then?
From my online research, my brother and I have developed our very own “Tour Z”. Tour what? Let me go back… My brother has had several friends and family visit him over the years. He has played tour guide countless times and has brought them to the popular sights and places that Singapore is famous for. So I jokingly told him that that was Tour A. I, along with those who wish to go off the beaten path take Tour Z.
I was really interested in the old Singapore, how locals lived, how they go about their day to day activities, check out the different communities that make Singapore the multi cultural city that it is now.
You really can’t explore a city by riding the bus or a taxi. So we walked, mostly. People here love to walk, from the children to the elderly. And they can walk pretty fast too! Kinda like New Yorkers. So to get around, we walked and then took the train (MRT: Mass Rapid Transit) and then walked some more. And walked some more… which to me was good exercise because of all the food that I had devoured while on this trip!
First stop. Ang Mo Kio neighborhood. This is where my brother and his wife live. It’s always good to be familiar with the area where you are temporarily staying at.
Then we proceeded to check out their local wet market, which was adjacent to the hawker stalls where my brother introduced me to a kaya breakfast. (Read Singapore: My Food Journal for a more detailed food post) Singapore is a very clean and green city. At first, I thought it was just going to be a concrete jungle. I wasn’t expecting to see beautifully trimmed trees and manicured lawns all over. I also wasn’t expecting to see clothes hanging out to dry (which is quite a contrast to how neat and organized this country is). But because this country’s land size is so small, most of it’s residents dwell in high rise buildings in small flats where the only space to do laundry is by the balconies, if you had one, or simply just hang wet clothes out your windows to dry. Most of these communities are self sufficient in the sense that they do not need to go to the “city” to buy things. They have their own wet market, hawker stalls/food courts, shopping malls, library, and a kids’ and adults’ playground too. Next, we went to visit Little India. What better way to observe locals than to go to their wet market. Tekka wet market is the largest in Singapore. It has fresh produce, seafood, dry goods and a food court. I noticed their wet markets are also neatly organized and clean, much like the rest of the country itself. While the first floor had the food, the second floor was selling clothing and textiles. I went crazy over the beautiful saris! Colorful and detailed, I just loved it! There were saris for women, men and children, in varying sizes, shapes and patterns. After being overwhelmed by all the color in the sari shops, we walked around the streets of Little India and noticed that most of the buildings are also very colorful and looked British colonial. Despite it being an overcast and humid day, the bright colors made up for it.
Singapore was once a British settlement. These reminded me of the colorful buildings in Nassau, Bahamas.
After our tour of Little India, we stopped at one of the malls for a quick break from the hot Singapore weather.
Even this modern structure still had some British influence to it. Arab Street was our next walking destination. Actually, it was Haji Lane to be precise. This neighborhood is located in the Muslim quarter of Singapore.
It is full of quaint colorful shops and restaurants. VERY ME… Appeals to my bohemian-laid back-chick side. I love this place! I almost forgot I was in Singapore. We found this mosque just around the corner amidst all the middle eastern shops and eateries.
All that walking made me hungry and as our afternoon was drawing to a close, we ended up at Singapore’s most popular tourist spot, Marina Bay. This is where Tour A supposedly starts for my brother and his guests. But this is where we end Tour Z.
Where’s the merlion???