Chinatown - April 2023.

Chinatown MRT
Chinatown MRT - April 2023 Nikon D850, 28-70@28mm, f4.5, 1/1000s. GPS: N:1° 17' 0.32" E:103° 50' 38.62"

One of the places I have been trying to get to on my Singapore trips has been Chinatown; however, back in July 2022, the weather gods were not on my side, a tropical rain storm stopped me dead.

Thankfully this time, other than it being more than a little hazy and this being Singapore, sauna like, everything lined up, so todays the day to finally visit china town.

Now with my liking for walking, the first thing to do was to check the map, and after some searching, it was pretty close, with a guestimate being about a 10-minute walk, and after a shower in sunscreen, it's time to head out.

I had decided to start the walk from the Funan centre, as that was the closest place I could get to without venturing outdoors into the heat.

Looking around, the first thing that I spotted was this very colourful building, which, after some quick googling, turns out to be the Singapore government Ministry of Information.

Ministry of Information
Ministry of Information Building - April 2023. Nikon D850, 14-24mm@24, f5.6, 1/1250. GPS: N:1° 17' 27.71" E:103° 50' 56.73"

If you look closely, you will see that this is not an old building but a new one with the facade of the older one retained. A nice touch and something I always see back home in Sydney.

Anyhow, I did some more wandering and found you could go into the building and see a display of its history. I would have taken photos, but this is a government building, and no one was around to ask.

Yes, it was almost certainly allowed to take photos. Still, I always ask, as after decades of traveling, it's always the best thing to confirm things rather than assume, especially in government buildings.

My guesstimate of 10 minutes was not bad; it took me slightly less to make it to the start of Chinatown.

With the first sign being the striking row of shophouses

China Town Shops
Upper Cross Street, Chinatown - April 2023 Nikon D850, 28-80mm@28, f4.5, 1/2500. GPS: N:1° 17' 5.18" E:103° 50' 38.97"

And even the traffic decided to cooperate… .

Moving on and heading for what I was told would be a " HK Style" food and shopping experience, complete with some hawker center action.

Given my dietary issues, I cannot comment on the food other than it reminds me of life in HK, smells good, and there is, as expected, just about anything you could ever want, and not just Chinese, but Indian, Malaysian, and many others.

One of the first things I spotted, which seemed to draw the camera as far from Chinese as it gets, and very much unexpected in this area, was a Hindu temple, which, after some quick googling, turns out to be the Sri Mariamman Temple.


The temple dates back to 1827 when it was known as Mariamman Kovil or Kling Chapel. Established by Indian pioneer Naraina Pillai, the original wood-and-attap structure was built by immigrants from the Nagapatnam and Cuddalore districts of South India.

It is dedicated to the goddess Mariamman, known for her power to cure illnesses and diseases.

Sri Mariamman Temple
Sri Mariamman Temple - April 2023 Nikon D850, 14-24mm@14, f4.5, 1/5000. GPS: N:1° 16' 57.5" E:103° 50' 43.4"

The current plan is to go back and do some more exploring in the whole area, and going into this temple is high on the list, and yes hopefully, the traffic is more cooperative than it is today.

Moving past this, I started seeing the hints at more to come and contrasted against the super modern blocks in the background.

Temple against High Rise
South Bridge Road - April 2023. Nikon D850, 28-70mm@70, f5, 1/1000s. GPS: N:1° 16' 56.43" E:103° 50' 43.46"

Look carefully at the above photo, and look at the wall in the side street to see a sneak peek of some of the excellent street art I discovered.

Wondering further down the street, I come across the second temple of the day, and this time very much expected in this area, the " Buddha Tooth Relic Temple"

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple - April 2023 Nikon D850, 14-24mm@14, f4.5, 1/2500s. GPS: N:1° 16' 52.5" E:103° 50' 41.1"

An impressive example of classical Chinese architecture and something which I wanted to get a closer look at; however, it was way too crowded to get any photos. Maybe on my next trip, I will make another visit, this time not in the peak time for visitors.

After this minor disappointment, it's time to move on, and walking around the temple, there was the next place to visit, the " Chinatown Complex" hawker center. And yes, these places are a real attraction for me; I really enjoy wandering through, visiting the various stalls, and hunting for bargains.

Hawker Center
Chinatown Complex - Hawker Center - April 2023 Nikon D850, 14-24mm@14, f4.5, 1/2000s. GPS: N:1° 16' 54.123" E:103° 50' 37.8636"

For those who know me, I collect Asian art, especially jade carvings, original paintings, and small statues, hence my interest in these places. And yes, I am well aware that the majority of what I have is not even close to being antique, but for me, if I like something and the price is right for me, then I will add to my collection.

One thing to note about these Hawker centers is some sellers, outside of the food courts, do not usually allow photos to be taken, and as mentioned above, I always ask before taking any shots. That said, every seller I saw was friendly, with varying amounts of English, not that there was any real communication barrier. All it takes is a smile, some pointing, and keeping the questions simple, and there are no problems.

CD Store
Nikon D850, 28-70@28mm, f2.8, 1/30s

While wandering around talking to various sellers I came across on which was selling CDs, and we started to talk about photography, and after a good talk, he gave me the OK, to take a photo of his shop. And yes, I am sure he has every CD known.

Moving inside brought back some good memories of visiting mainland China and Hong Kong; the smell of the food is mouth-watering, even if I cannot eat any of it. In short, if you like bargains and good food, head for this center.

Wondering around, looking at the various seller's offerings and making some purchases, as is my way, I talk to everyone and even trying a few words in my really really terrible Mandarin, which resulted in laughter, oh well at least I tried; and its usually a good ice breaker.

Anyhow, this Hawker Center is highly recommended; the prices are reasonable, the quality is good to excellent, everyone is friendly, and thankfully unlike the HK jade market, not a single pushy salesperson to be seen.

Now this was not the only place to see in chinatown, moving outside there are the street markets, where you can find just about everything, ranging from Chinese handicrafts, food (yes there are Durians), plants, and general souvenirs etc.

Chinatown markets 1
Chinatown Street Markets - April 2023. Nikon D850, 14-24@24mm, f4.5, 1/1600s
Chinatown markets 2
More of the Chinatown Street Markets - April 2023. Nikon D850, 14-24@24mm, f4.5, 1/1600s

I spent the rest of the day wandering the markets, making the odd purchase, and generally taking in the atmosphere. And yes I did manage to actually avoid the Durians (bottom right of the above image), which makes a first for me, as I really love the taste of those things, and after a bout of COVID, my sense of small is limited, so thats not even a problem for me, just for those around me.

Daily Stats: 36, 598 steps, which is around 30km.

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