Having booked a room at Beary Best Hostel, the first thing I did was roam around Chinatown up to Duxton Road.
Chinese ethnicity. The colorful shophouses, decorative lanterns, and the murals fully represent the Singaporean Chinese which comprises about 70% of the population in Singapore.
A reflection of devotion. Singapore is religiously diverse. Thirty-three percent of the population are devotees of Buddhism while Hinduism is at 5%. Thus, there are temples proudly located in Chinatown where locals flock to worship and express their sincerest commitment.
Sri Mariamman Temple. Goddess Mariamman is the Hindu goddess of rain. Her worhip mainly focuses on bringing rains and curing diseases like cholera, smallpox, and chicken pox. As the oldest Hindu temple, the temple provided shelter to Hindu immigrants until they were able to find work and accommodation in Singapore. At present, the temple is home to religious functions and promotes various cultural and educational activities.Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum. It is claimed that the relic of Buddha, which is a left canine tooth retrieved by his disciple Kehma from his funeral pyre and from which the temple gained its name, was found in 1980 in a collapsed stupa in Myanmar. The relic can be viewed by the public at the 4th floor of the temple. During one of their religious services, the tourist may enter and it is astonishing how worshippers can focus amidst the clicking of cameras and foreign eyes watching.
Other than religion. Souvenir shopping is a great itinerary when going around Chinatown. There are locally-made tote bags which are priced at 3 for S$10 and would be nice to give to friends. Aside from that, you can buy Singapore-themed souvenirs or Chinese medicine. Either because you believe in divine predictions or just for fun, you can also consult a fortune-teller.
Satiated. Along Maxwell Road lies the Maxwell Hawker Centre where the famous Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice stall is located. The hainanese chicken rice here has a balanced seasoning and the chilli is better than the other stalls. However, I think there are other satisfying dishes to try around this hawker like porridge from Zhen Zhen Porridge and noodles from Huang Ji. You can also just stay at Chinatown Food Street.
Chinatown Food Street.
Enticing Duxton Road and Duxton Hill. The old-fashioned houses are a great view for a leisurely day-time stroll. Many of these are converted shophouses and restaurants that would serve cuisine from the West. There are also conserved shops turned into redlight district bars. For the wandering bookworm, Littered with Books is a must-visit charming two-storey bookstore. I probably spent two hours before I decided to ask the store clerk if they have The Little Prince and Oh, The Places You’ll Go which I would love to read to my nieces. Unfortunately, they only had The Little Prince. No matter, I also bought Sula’s Voyage written by Catherine Torres, a diplomat and writer from the Philippines. I am a happy kid! (There’s a sign inside that photos are not allowed anymore so I only took a shot of the signboard. There are tons of photos if you search google images, though.)
From a peek at Buddhism to modern hangout, Chinatown and Duxton Road are definitely itinerary-worthy. I headed back to the hostel with a satisfied smile for a day well-spent.