Friday, September 4, 2015

Day 48 - Bugis

This morning again, we met at 9:30 a.m. in front of the Starbucks for another tour with our guide from yesterday. With a slightly larger group of nine, our first stop was a high-rise building from the 1980s that looked like an American art deco skyscraper from the 1920s. It actually looks like an old fashioned hotel lobby, with a coffee bar and a wine bar - if you are ordering a special wine, a wine fairy comes and "flies" (is elevated) to the right place in this five meters high wine shelf. Since everything inside and outside is in dark brownish colors, the locals found a very appropriate name for the place: Gotham.

We walked through the Arab/Malay area where the houses stand under preservation. Many youngsters come here to start their own business with sort of hipster shops, burkah shops or the funny idea of a cat cafe or "barstories". If you are not able to afford your own pet, you can visit the cat cafe, enjoy your coffee while petting one of their kitties. "Barstories" is worth it if you like unknown things like spontaneous mixed cocktails based on your story that you tell the bar keeper. All these stores are located in the Haji Lane. It once was the street where Muslim Singaporeans boarded the ships to Mecca and could buy the stuff that you need for the haj.

The next stop was the beautiful Sultan's mosque. I've never been to a mosque and I wasn't today, because unfortunately the mosque was closed for renovation... A nice feature of the mosque is that a money collection for its erection was not so successful, so that the government instead collected empty bottles from everyone. Some of these bottles you can still see right under the main roof to document the common effort.

Anyway, we came across a special tree which was used in the past to stuff ship's holes with the bark, and to get a natural mosquito protection from the cracked leaves.
We were lead into a big shopping mall for Muslim people, where we bought Arab Snacks called Baclava - yummie. Even the elevator's roof resembled the Sultan's mosque's roof.

Bugis Street is certainly a big tourist attraction that seems more like a market: full, fuller, fullest. But very cheap, a watermelon juice for 1$...

What I learned? I learned why they write on prohibition boards "no food and drinks", "no smoking", "no littering"/"no flammable goods" and "no durians". Durians are these bigger fruits with a spiked surface, and their smell reaches every nose even one kilometer against the wind..... Love it or hate it - I don't know yet. Some Singaporeans claim however it's the best smell in the entire world.

Because we weren't hungry at 11, we decided to take some creation from the dessert stand in the hawker center. I still cannot believe how cheap the food is, and how good! Anyway, we tried Ice Kacang, because it looked like Shaved Ice in the picture. And next to red or green bean soup, peanut soup or various sorts of jello, it looked the most familiar. Gotcha! At least we got our shaved ice, with raspberry flavor and some greenish thing, accompanied by hidden red beans and jello, and corn with canned milk..... Very special mix, though.

At another Hindu temple next to a Chinese temple, we saw different scenarios of Chinese people praying not only for their god, but even at the Hindu temple. They put a golden sand kettle on the outside, so that they could put their incense sticks in. On a board one could read "all welcome".

There exists the severe prohibition of graffiti anywhere. At a school wall however, the government decided to hire graffiti artists to create their graffiti on that so called "no graffiti wall", to prevent them from graffiti elsewhere. So from time to time the wall changes its motifs and will always look different when you return.

Murtabak with Teh Ice (iced tea), two sharp
sauces and a cucumber-tomatojuice dessert
After the tour was finished at the Singapore Art Museum, we took the elevator to 24th floor in the Municipal Library which is huge and where you can enjoy a great view of downtown. Good books, air-con, free Wifi - everything you need. For lunch we tried the recommended local food of the Muslim quarter called Murtabak, a very thin pancake filled with onions and meat with egg. Quite nice to watch how they produce it - maybe as interesting as for a Singaporean to watch a pizzaiolo. And I even found my best friend's doubleganger!

In the evening we were sort of dressed up for the Beethoven concert tonight. Stephen Hough was playing the Piano Concertos 2 and 5 and even gave a bonus which was pretty cool. Especially walking at Marina Bay at night again was pretty nice, in kitsch colors.

Almost even more organised than Japan: MRT station waiting line

I like the surface of the concert hall. Blinds that are flexible for protection from sunlight.

This is actually great.

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