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  • Day44

    Visit to Joo Chiat

    July 5, 2015 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 32 °C

    Hello everyone and happy belated Canada Day and Independence Day (to those living in the US)! Yesterday was quite the adventure as I visited Joo Chiat, also known as the Peranakan District. This area used to be a Malay fishing village, and Peranakan refers to the Straits Chinese, the descendants of the early intermarried Chinese and Malay community who settled here a while ago. I visited the old ruins of the Grand Hotel as well as a number of conserved shophouses, temples, churches and confectioneries. I tried out some of the local specialties such as 'nonya chang' (rice dumplings wrapped in fragrant pandan leaves with minced pork, winter melon cubes and spices) and 'soon keuh' (turnip and minced meat dumplings). But by far the most interesting place was the Joo Chiat Complex and Malay Village, where locals come out at night to shop for everything from fabrics to rare Malay and Indonesian spices, Persian carpets and household goods. It's also a great place to buy traditional Malay clothes, called 'baju kurang' for ladies (an elegant loose-fitting long-sleeved dress over a long skirt or sarong of the same fabric) and 'baju kebaya' for men (a full shirt and sarong of identical material). The shops went on for miles and miles, and I guess in all the excitement and confusion of following the masses I lost myself in one of the shadier neighborhoods, Geylang. It took me almost an hour to re-orient myself, needless to say I now know where not to go. Still, it was fascinating to see this darker, poorer side of Singapore, standing in stark contrast to the squeaky-clean ideas most people have about the 'Garden City'.Read more