It would be silly to go to Singapore to experience Singaporean culture, right? That’s naturally why day 2 leads me to experience Little India and Chinatown.
Little India offered brightly coloured streets selling brightly coloured flowers and more gold and silk than I knew existed. Honestly, rainbows could learn a thing a thing or two from this place!!
(Okay, everyone just take a breath, I’m going to be slightly more serious for a second)
We then made our way to the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. Fortunate enough to arrive at this Tamil temple dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali during a time of worship, we were able to tour the interior. Hindu worshipers engaged in intense prayer in the face of some of the most elaborate and intricately carved statues I have ever seen. Although I did my best not to take any photographs while inside the temple, my sheer ignorance towards the Hindu religion seemed slightly disrespectful in face of those who took their visit to such a sacred place to heart.
Learning about new cultures and ideas from the ground up is usually something I really enjoy being able to do in my travels. However, when it comes to religion, this visit to the temple made me realise that this was not something I could dive head first into without any previous knowledge. Although Singaporeans are generally quite friendly and willing to help if they see you struggling to understand something (most often directions in my case), it was easy to tell that ignorance and social faux pas that otherwise could be perceived as a cute mistake, would not go over as well here.
(Back to normal now!)
The next stop on trip lead us to Chinatown. Even though Chinese New Year isn’t until February, the whole district had already begun preparing for the festivities. Trails of lanterns hung through the streets, “New Years Sale” signs hung in pretty much every store and the food cooking at all of the 10,000 restaurants and food stands seemed to smell amazing (too bad I had just eaten in Little India).
Being a group of tourists, we got easily distracted on our way back by several shops and museums: a really funky analogue camera shop, the Lomography Gallery Store, (where I took a ton of – ironically – digital photos) the Red Dot Design Museum, where we stole smiley-face pins from a private event we accidentally crashed and the Singapore City Gallery, where I played Zedzilla over a model of the city.
That night lead me to the local international hangout spot – the bridge. Located right downtown in Clarke Quay and overlooking the harbour, it was easy to see why all the exchangees gather there. It had a nice, open, interantional vibe (Most of the NTU exchange students are from Canada somehow, so it was kind of nice to meet people who weren’t from my home country for once-no offence Canada). In my opinion, the bridge was a lot more fun than spending 30$ to get into a club to pay 15$ for drinks anyways (alcohol in Singapore is ridiculous).
Still not comprehending how I continue to function on so little sleep, but realizing that it’s another one of those things that I just shouldn’t question and should just accept!