Exploring the heart of Arab and Malay communities in Kampong Glam

Earlier this year, I told myself that I will travel more around Singapore, but I really haven't done much of that! Last weekend, while browsing the Internet to find activities to do in Singapore, I decided that it is about time to take a walk around Kampong Glam.

Kampong means village in the Malay language, while the name Glam is from the Gelam tree which grew in abundance in the area. Kampong Glam is the heart of the Arab and Malay communities in Singapore, and right in the heart of Kampong Glam is Masjid Sultan (Sultan Mosque).

The area is filled with rows and rows of colourful shops that has been around for years. There are shops selling alcohol-free perfumes, handicrafts, textiles, carpets and many more. There are also lots of restaurants selling Turkish and Middle Eastern food. When your feet are tired from walking and shopping, don't forget to stop by a local shop selling Malay food and have a cup of teh tarik!

The quirkiest row of shops are along Haji Lane. Probably the narrowest street in Singapore, the shops along the street is filled with fashionable boutiques and trendy stores.

And when you're done shopping and eating, and want to visit something different, walk across to Jalan Kubor (which literally means Grave Road) to the old Malay cemetery. The quiet and deserted cemetery is believed to be the final resting place of many Malay royalties.

In a country where old buildings are demolished in favour of the new, there are not many area that has has kept the charm of the old buildings and shops like Kampong Glam. So, do visit the area when you can, because you never know when it might be gone. Just like the blacksmith shops along Sultan Gate which I wanted to visit - it was already torn down.

::: Footnotes :::

Use this walking map as a guide around the area, or simply walk about and explore the area yourself. Don't forget to check out the shops along Haji Lane

{ Click here for other posts on Singapore and a list of my travelogues }

A glimpse into the exciting world of the people living in your catalogs

If you like flipping over catalogues with pretty photos, here's an interesting blog to cheer you up!

Here's a taste, taken directly from their website...

Pardon my cynicism about your next project Gary, but let me remind you that we have yet to go on that African safari or move into your villa devoted to fancy chairs.

Wanderlust: Ukraine

Ukraine was never in my travel radar, but after seeing the photos posted in Mr and Mrs Globe Trot, it is now! The snow covered city of Kiev, the magnificent buildings and the fashionable hats and jackets!

{ Image from Mr and Mrs Globe Trot }

Penang food in Singapore at Penang Road Cafe

If you know anyone from Penang, Malaysia, I'm pretty sure he or she would be pretty passionate about food. Most of us Penangites are, and it is not easy to find good Penang food away from Penang. There are a few around, but the quality is usually below the standard in Penang. We went to a relatively new restaurant called Penang Road Cafe in Novena, with open minds. Excited to be having Penang food, and yet, wary that it would probably not be up to standard.

We ordered four dishes to be shared among the two of us - Laksa, Hokkien Mee, Char Koay Teow and Chendol. And, we love it! 
  • Hokkien Mee - It is pretty authentic, we could taste the shells of the prawns used to cook the soup - something which the ones in Singapore failed to have. 
  • Laksa - It is probably the best I have tasted in Singapore, though the noodles used are not really the same as the ones in Penang and the soup can be tastier. 
  • Char Koay Teow - With prawns, cockles, Chinese sausages and bean sprout, it is pretty much the kind that you can get in Penang, but of course, I can't compare it to some of the best I've had. 
  • Chendol - Good enough but can definitely be better. Again, the chendol is much better than the standard ones in Singapore, so can't really complain. 

If the above comments sounded like I didn't enjoy the food, you're wrong. It is because I'm comparing to the ones I can have in Penang. and so most of the food is not up to the best there are. However, this is probably one of the best place to have Penang food in Singapore. So, if you miss Penang food like me, or would just like to see what all the fuss about Penang food is about, head down to the Cafe! 

::: Footnotes :::

Penang Road Cafe
275 Thomson Road
#01-08 Novena Ville
Singapore 307645
Tel: 62563218

Inside a Singapore Taxi

The title says it all. Have a good weekend!

{ Here are more posts on Singapore }

The amazing visual is done by Mr Steve

How do I decide where to go?

I have air miles to claim and I don't know where I should go!

I am sure there are harder decisions to make than this, but there are just so many places to choose from! Planning for a place not covered by the budget airlines flying from Singapore, which means somewhere further away from Asia, but not too far. So, probably Europe or even Africa.

Where should I go? Which city should I fly to? What combination of countries should I plan for?
How do I decide?

London and around
Growing up reading about the British royalty and dreaming of studying in Oxford or Cambridge, England has always been in my travel list. Shall I go around United Kingdom and Ireland? Should I go to London with Paris, Belgium and Amsterdam? Oh, and how about Iceland?

There are so many things to do and visit all around Germany that I would definitely want to go there one day. It warrants a trip all by itself.

Eastern Europe
Czech, Austria, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and so many more! It would be an interesting region to go, and so many to choose from.

Scandinavia and around
Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland would be freezing cold but beautiful, I'm sure. I'm not a big fan of cold weather, but I want to see the Northern Lights, among others!

White-washed houses with blue roof, overlooking the sparkling sea. Who would not want to be there?

I would fly in to Egypt just to see the pyramids, and fly back out. Need I say more? Oh, and then there's South Africa too.

So many places to go! Maybe I should throw a pin on my world map and see where it lands....

Wanderlust: Borobudur on Vesak Day

Planning a trip to Borobudur on Vesak Day next year - yes 11 months in advance! It has been in our travel list for awhile, and will make it happen next year!

Vesak Day is observed by Buddhist all around the world to celebrate the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha. There are some photos taken on Vesak Day this year in Borobudur, plus many others all around the world in Vesak Day 2011 in The Boston.

{ Image is by Stuck in Customs, found here }

Postcard from... Halong Bay

{ Halong Bay, Vietnam in Dec 2008 }

Watching the limestone islands rising above from the water, amidst cool air from the deck of a boat, Halong Bay is magical. Words would not be enough to describe it, nor would the photo above.

You can stay on the junk boat, or on one of the islands. There are caves to explore, and other activities like kayaking, but my take is to just sit back, relax and enjoy the majestic view.


{ Click here for more postcard from... posts }

Canals, bridges, alleyways and piazzas in Venezia

{ Venice, Italy - April 2011 }

I can't remember when I first heard of this city on water, but as long as I can remember, I have always been fascinated by it. I thought, it must be magical and remarkable. What else would a city built mostly on water be?

So, it was the first city that I planned for our trip to Italy. Right after a long 12-hour flight direct from Singapore, we landed in Malpensa's Airport in Milan, took a one-hour train to Stazione Centrale before taking another two and a half hours train straight to Venezia Santa Lucia. About twenty hours after leaving our home in Singapore, we finally reached Venice.

And I love it.

The canals that cut across the rows of houses, the bridge that connects the alleyways, the gondolas that glide through the water accompanied with songs, the pretty masks that fills the many shops, and the list goes on. Sure, we visited all the must-see places as well - St. Mark's Square and the basilica and campanile, Palazzo Ducale, Gallerie dell'Accademia, Rialto Bridge and the market and the many churches that dots the islands. We took the vaporetto down the Grand Canal and watched a Vivaldi concert in Chiesa San Vidal.

But what I love most about Venice is the Venice when all the tourists and day trippers left. Simply walking around the alleyways, watching people in piazzas, sitting on the steps of a church by the canal watching boats go by - basically enjoying the daily rituals that mark Venice as, well, Venice.

And no, we did not take the gondola - it was pricey and too touristy. Like I said, I love the non-touristy part of Venice.

{ Bacino Orseolo Gondole - the Gondola's parking lot }
{ Gondolier's attendance sheet? }
{ View from the campanile - the bell tower to Basilica di San Marco }
{ Dome of Basilica di San Marco and statues in Palazzo Ducale }

{ Chiesa di Santa Maria della Salute - up close }
{ Chiesa di Santa Maria della Salute - afar }
{ Piazza San Marco at night }

::: Footnotes :::

{ Where we stayed } We stayed in Cà del Dose Inn for €100 per night. It is located pretty near St. Mark's Square.

{ What to eat } My favourite restaurant is Birraria La Corte - everything we had was good there! And the best gelato would be Da Nico along the Zaterre, along the southern part of the island.

{ Where to go for concerts } There are many concerts all around Venice. We managed to catch a concert by Interpreti Veneziani performing Vivaldi's Four Seasons in Chiesa Di San Vidal.

Dim Sum Buffet at Peach Garden

I am not one for buffet - I can't eat a lot in one seating and there is always this tendency to keep eating until you get your money worth. I also believe in quality, rather than quantity, and so, I would rather pay the same price for better food, rather than more food.

But one weekend, when we were looking for a good place for dim sum, we stumbled upon this High Tea Dim Sum Buffet at Peach Garden at Thomson Plaza. We have had some dim sum from another Peach Garden branch, and so we knew that the quality is good. As the price of the buffet is also reasonable, we made the call to book a table.

The dim sum was superb, with a wide selection. The standard siew mai and har gao are all available, and so are many other choices. The steamed and fried dim sum are all served in a push carts, while certain dishes like porridge, fried rice and desserts are served in a buffet table. We kept ordering and eating, and before we know it, we were too full!

I guess, gluttony is not for me.

::: Footnotes :::

Peach Garden @ Thomson Plaza
301 Upper Thomson Road
#01-88 Thomson Plaza
Singapore 574408
Tel +65-6451 3233

The buffet costs around S$20.80++ per person, and is only available from 3pm to 5pm on weekends. Do call for confirmation and booking before going!

{ Photo from Peach Garden }

Postcard from... Shanghai's World Expo

The Shanghai's World Expo has come and gone, and I was there last year in year 2010! The queues were never ending, the weather hot, and the whole expo was huge! It was definitely an interesting experience, and it felt like (in some ways) having the chance to travel around the world in a few days. The above photo was the Mexico's Pavilion, one of my favourite pavilion in the expo.

happy travels!
- nateniale - 

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