Hari Raya and the Arab St.

Kampong Glam, Singapore

One of my favorite neighbourhoods in Singapore is a district that many refer to as Arab Street. It is unclear whether this is the official district name, or if it is just a popular name given due to its characteristics, but what seems to be more consensual is that the area belongs to a wider historical district called Kampong Glam. This place, also refered to as the Muslim Quarter, hosts one of the most iconic buildings in Singapore, the Sultan Mosque, and is an important destination for Singaporean Muslims during the Ramadan period.

And because the Hari Raya Puasa is approaching – that’s how the Malays refer to Eid,  the end of Ramadan and fasting – I decided to go back there, again, and take some shots.

 

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Arab Street is more than just a Muslim quarter or a historical site, its tradition and contemporaneity packed in a beautiful, well-preserved neighborhood, right in the heart of Singapore. The whole area is not too big, you should be able to cover it within a couple of hours, maybe less, in time to catch an early dinner at one of the trendy eateries. You could however spend more time there if you allow yourself to absorb the detail – Haji Lane is a good example. A tiny road with huge character, a lane in the Muslim quarter with an unexpected vibe and livelihood.

 

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If photography is your thing, and you want to know a little bit more about the history of the camera, there’s a vintage camera museum to the north of Arab Street – corner of Jln Kledek and Victoria Street – the Vintage Camera Museum. The museum opened very recently. It´s a “documentary on the evolution of cameras and its journey “, a cool place worth the ten dollars that they charge for the tour, but if you don’t have the time or the interest in the subject or even the money to spend at least go to checkout the exterior of the museum. The house itself is built in the shape of a camera and the entry of the museum is made through a passage depicting a lens!

 

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Hari Raya and the Arab St.

Fujifilm X-T2

Fujinon 35mm F2


Tekka Centre

Little India, Singapore

When I first landed in Singapore at the beginning of 2017, the two things that stood out the most were the weather and the cost of living, both equally daunting. My first impressions were that most things cost double the price, even triple sometimes. Some will argue that quality of life is excellent, economy is doing well, wages are better than most of the countries and I get that, but if you are coming from a country like South Africa, paying ten dollars for four apples is something that takes time to digest…literally.

 

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One of the main entrances of the Market

 

Tekka Market is situated on the edge of Little India (west side) along Rochor Canal. It is a fifteen minutes walk from where I live, five minutes or less if I take a bus. It quickly became one of my reference points in Singapore. It is somehow illustrative of the Singaporean ethnic diversity and a good example of how that diversity can work together under the same roof.  And above all it is cheaper than the average supermarket.

On the first floor you´ll find mainly Indian costumes shops and several traditional tailors but you can also find some Buddhist and Taoist paraphernalia.

This time I got there just a little bit to early.

 

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The Main floor of the center is where you can find all the fresh products. Fresh fruit and vegetables,  fish and meat. The meat section is probably the most ‘difficult’ one for those who are not used to buy in traditional wet markets. The meat is prepared in a typical butcher block, inside the butcher’s shop or in some cases just outside the shop on the narrow corridors.  The process is very ‘near and visual’ and the odour intense, but that’s just how it’s done.

On the other hand the fish section is very appealing – except for the wet floor – with a great variety of seafood. All sorts of prawns, gigantic crabs, sea bass, tuna and squid just to mention a few.

And finally the fruit and vegetables area, and this is probably why I often go to Tekka Market. The price of the fruit and vegetables but specially the vegetables is much lower than the ones you find in other generic markets.  So if you live in the vicinity, trust me – it is worth the visit.

 

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On the main floor you can also find a hawker centre. I’m really not sure how Tekka ranks among all the numerous Singaporean hawker food centres but I can say this. Its hot, busy, almost chaotic, the options are endless and some of the stalls have long queues and that usually is a good indicator for me. I must confess that regarding to food I often play it safe and once I find  that safety I stick to it for a while. So I haven’t tried much yet, but I hope that soon I will be able to tell you more about this.

 

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The Tekka Centre is a local that I learned to appreciate over time for its diversity and traditional characteristics. It was the first open door that I found to the local Singaporean culture and that for me is priceless. So don’t think that I just go there because its cheap. I mean…well… you know what I mean.

The Tekka center opens its doors at 6.30 am (the main floor) and you can visit till 9 pm – Fish and meat stalls close around noon. It’s easy to get there. Little India MRT station is just in front of the centre and there are also several buses available. It´s a great starting point if you´re just visiting Little India.

 

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Tekka Center

Fujifilm X-T2

Fujinon 35mm f2