Randal’s niece Tammy from Salem, VA is here visiting us for a week and we’re having a wonderful time. She took instantly to sea travel and can even read in the front cabin while the boat rolls. Today we shopped till we dropped and then Tammy took us to a wonderful restaurant here next door to the marina where we watched the ferries come and go and the lights come on the cruise ships.” Our visit with Tammy began in Singapore so that’s where this email takes place. From Singapore we flew to Langkawi and then we did a 2 day cruise to George Town. We anchoredat night during the passage and had dinner on Labarque, the sail boat of our friends Patrick and Elizabeth who were also cruising from Langkawi to George Town. Patrick even put down their dinghy and was our taxi service. Sadly, Tammy leaves us the day after tomorrow. Randal and I will stay in George Town for a bit. Happily our friends Patrick and Elizabeth from Labarque will stay here too. Elizabeth was tour guide for Tammy and me this morning before she had to leave for her own chores. Tomorrow is our last day so we’ll have to cram lots into it. You’ll eventually see the photos.
Our Salem, Virginia niece Tammy arrived in Singapore March 17th at 11 pm after 25 hours of travel. She came to spend a week with us. So there was no time to rest at all! The very next morning we left our hotel at 8:30am to meet a walking tour group at 9:30 at exit B of the Bugis MRT! The 3 and a half hour tour of the Malay-Islamic Quarter was with The Original Singapore Walks Company. Our tour guide was quite good and very knowledgeable. But we weren’t allowed to take notes; only photos so it was hard to remember all of the stories…..
This is the tour description.
Sultans of Spice™
A Kampong Glam (Malay-Islamic Quarter) Walk
Winner of Singapore Tourism Awards for Best Sightseeing/Leisure/Educational Programme 2005
How was Singapore sold to the British for 60,000 Spanish Dollars? Find out about the man who did it, and the man who forced him to. No one remembers the sultans that used to rule, except us. The old Royal Palace, the Sultan Mosque, the Tombs of the Malayan Princes: they all carry an air of royalty snatched away too quickly. Uncover a curious blend of Malay folk traditions and Islam in the legends of the mysterious keris (dagger), exotic perfumes, jamu remedies to every conceivable ailment and the story of the faith that is so often misunderstood. Don’t miss this hidden cultural enclave where Singapore’s indigenous culture still thrives! (The perfumes have no alcohol because they are sold in the Islamic area by Muslims.)
Several cultures arrived and thrived in Singapore. The “Peranakan” are the result of Chinese, Indians, Arabs and others who came to Singapore and Penang and intermarried with local Malay people. The Chinese Peranakan women are called Nyonya and the men are Baba.
Peranakan and Baba-Nyonya (Chinese: 峇峇娘惹; pinyin: Bābā Niángrě; Hokkien: Bā-bā Niû-liá) are terms used for the descendants of late 15th and 16th century Chinese immigrants to the Nusantara region during the Colonial era. It applies especially to the ethnic Chinese populations of the British Straits Settlements of Malaya and the Dutch-controlled island of Java and other locations, who have adopted partially or in full Nusantara customs to be somewhat assimilated into the local communities.
“While the term Peranakan is most commonly used among the ethnic Chinese for those of Chinese descent also known as Straits Chinese (土生华人; named after the Straits Settlements), there are also other, comparatively small Peranakan communities, such as Indian Hindu Peranakans (Chitty), Indian Muslim Peranakans (Jawi Pekan) (Jawi being the Javanised Arabic script., Pekan a colloquial contraction of Peranakan) and Eurasian Peranakans (Kristang (Kirstang= Christians). It also parallel to Cambodian Hokkien who are descendents of Hoklo Chinese. They maintained their culture partially despite their native language gradually disappear after the few generation settlement.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peranakan
Tammy learned how to wrap a sarong skirt and dress as a Nyonya. Our guide asked for a volunteer and I said, “Go Tammy.” I’d done this kind of thing on the rally with the sari wrapping lesson.
Step into the circle of cloth.
Gather the sides
Twist and twist and twist into a donut knot and tuck in the end
Or you can fold and fold and have the panel in the front…
Our guide was the only one tiny enough to model the chiffon jacket the Nyonya’s wore with their sarong skirt.
Tammy at Boat Quay
“Boat Quay is an historical quay in Singapore which is situated upstream from the mouth of the Singapore River on its southern bank.
It was the busiest part of the old Port of Singapore, handling three quarters of all shipping business during the 1860s. Because the south bank of the river here resembles the belly of a carp, which according to Chinese belief is where wealth and prosperity lay, many shophouses were built, crowded into the area.
Though serving aquatic trade is no longer Boat Quay’s primary role, the shophouses on it have been carefully conserved and now house various bars, pubs and restaurants. Therefore Boat Quay’s social-economic role in the city has shifted away from that of trade and maritime commerce, and now leans towards more of a role accommodated for tourism and aesthetics for the commercial zone of which encloses the Singapore River. It is the soft front to the cosmopolitan banking and financial sectors lying immediately behind it.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boat_Quay
(Boat Quay is just along the river from Clarke Quay where Garden Salads include maraschino cherries!)
Tammy and Randal and the statue of Sir Stamford Raffles the founder of Singapore.
“The office towers at Raffles Place on the south bank of the Singapore River serve as a backdrop against Sir Stamford Raffles’ statue located at Raffles’ Landing Site on the river’s opposite bank.”
“Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of the modern Singapore, Lieutenant-Governor of Java and Bencoolen, first landed in Singapore on 29 January 1819. He believed that Singapore was a great place for the British to start a trading settlement. He was responsible of the Raffles Plan of Singapore, dividing Singapore into different ethnic functional sub divisions which were segregated into four trading areas and the city was on its way to become the largest trading port in the world. Although, this concept was abandoned, the effect of the plan such as the layout of the streets and each of the districts still has present day effects. Located at the north bank of the Singapore River, this is the Singapore’s second of Sir Stamford Raffles. The first was cast in bronze and was located originally in front of the Victoria Theatre.”
Tammy and the Merlion
“The Merlion is a beautiful hybrid of a lion and a fish. Strong and lithe, its lion head alludes to the fabled beast that once roamed the ancient island state, while its fish body symbolizes Singapore’s origin as a prosperous seaport.”
“First built as an eight metre tall sculpture in 1972, the Merlion was located at the mouth of the Singapore River. In 1996, this prominent icon of Singapore was reproduced, on a much larger scale, on Sentosa island.” http://themerlion.com.sg/
You can see the dark sky in the background. We just made it to the staff entrance of the Fullerton Hotel when it started to pour. And that’s where we sat with about 20 other tourists until the rain stopped. The staff wouldn’t allow any of us to use the staff areas to get to the front of the hotel to get close enough to maybe run to the MRT. But we would have gotten soaked because it was really a downpour.
After a very long day we returned to our hotel in Little India. That night we had another really terrible meal. YUCK. But cheap. The awful lunch meal was actually quite expensive.
The next day we were to fly to Langkawi, Malaysia. But we still had the morning to cram in a trip to China Town for some shopping and then back to Kampong Glam for more shopping and hopefully some good food. And finally, taking our walking tour guide’s advice we ate at the local Muslim restaurant she had recommended. Very cheap and very good! Finally!!!
Finally a good meal.
We took Tammy to some really awful “just down the street” restaurants in Little India where in the past we’d eaten good meals. But Randal and I were tired of the same old “good” place so went off to find something new. Bad idea…go with what you know! And lunch at the yuppie dining spot of Singapore, Boat Quay? Have you ever had a garden salad that included maraschino cherries but no tomatoes? Tammy’s comment: “I don’t even like maraschino cherries in my alcohol!”
But aside from food…
Look at the golden dome of the mosque. The black ring below the dome is made of soya sauce bottles! Why? “Our tour guide told us a variation of this story. “In the olden days, to build the mosque, the rich Muslims would donate some of the money that they had and the poorer Muslims would donate soya sauce glass bottles which were worth a little value. However, the architect did not sell the bottles. He used the black bottles as a part of the decoration. The tour guide said that all the bottoms of the bottles were facing out because if they do it the other way around things will grow and live in these bottles.”
(We weren’t allowed to take notes on our walking tour so this story is gathered piecemeal from the web. But our guide did tell us about the bottles and their connection with the poor.”
We flew from Singapore to Langkawi and that’s the next story…