I Went To Singapore and Haven’t Seen the Merlion!!!

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.

on arrival at Changi International Airport

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.

subway to the MRT

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.

view from my brother’s flat on the 25th floor!
one of the many shops along the area
orchids, Singapore’s national flower

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) IMG_1927 IMG_1931 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. IMG_1943 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. IMG_1945 IMG_1946 Next, we went to visit Little India. What better way to observe locals than to go to their wet market. IMG_1974Tekka 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. IMG_1989 IMG_1994 IMG_2007 IMG_2011 IMG_2014 IMG_2016 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. IMG_2020 IMG_2021 20141008_115441 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. IMG_2030

Deepavali, the Indian festival of lights was happening at this time, hence, the street decorations


I even got a quick 5 minute henna tattoo on the sidewalk!
Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, we just happened to happily stumble upon

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. IMG_2050 IMG_2057 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.

Happy with all the colors!

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. IMG_2073 IMG_2091 We found this mosque just around the corner amidst all the middle eastern shops and eateries.

Masjid Sultan mosque

20141008_160426 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???

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