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  • Day5

    Peanut pancakes in Chinatown

    November 21, 2018 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    Today we did a half day walking tour of Chinatown offered by The Original Singapore Walks with Poh, a wonderful guide. She grew up in Chinatown and was generous in sharing her own history as well of the Malay and Chinese cultural history. Singapore has a majority Chinese population so really the whole city is a Chinatown.

    Unlike other Chinatowns we have been to, Singapore has designated its ‘shop houses’ as historical buildings. If an owner changes the exterior, it must be changed back to its traditional look before being sold. Whole streets are preserved to look as they did in the late 1800s. Highlights of the day were tasting peanut pancakes (delicious), visiting a traditional medicine shop and touring the Chinese Heritage Centre. The Centre is a re-creation of the harsh living conditions of the Chinese economic migrants. Small rooms (about 8’ x 10’) housed families of 6-8 people and also functioned as places of business. Cooking was in a communal kitchen shared by 4 or more families. Fascinating.

    We walked along the street which had been the original shore line, Telok Ayer Street. Singapore has reclaimed blocks of land and continues to do so. We visited the Temple of Heavenly Happiness which includes Taoist and Confucius deities. The temple was built without the use of nails. Much of the paintwork has been restored. Poh shared with us the importance of bats in Chinese culture (they are seen as bringing good fortune). The word for bat is very similar to the word for good fortune and are seen as a sign of long life.

    After a break for coffee we stopped at the Lee clan house. The clan house functions as a social club but originally helped newcomers (who shared the same name) to find accommodation and work.

    At the market, we eyed the frogs, eels and turtles destined for a cook’s kitchen. At the traditional medical clinic, Brian and I bought a ‘balm’ for our sore backs and knees and Wendy bought 7 Flower tea to rejuvenate!

    Poh recommended Lamb Noodles for lunch and we had a delicious lunch of hand worked noodles and dumplings. Delicious!

    A very satisfying day; back to the hotel fora much needed break.
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