I’ve seen lots of other travelers photos of a buddhist temple located somewhere in Chinatown, but I don’t know what it’s called or where it’s located (or even where Chinatown itself is, in relation to the harbor). I Google “Chinatown Buddhist temple” on my phone, hoping something will come up, but apparently there’s a few temples to choose from, and I’m too hot and sweaty to spend much time trying to figure it out. I decide to just head over there and see if I can find it on my own.
As soon as I turn down the South Bridge Rd, I can tell I’m in Chinatown. The buildings are more colorful, and signs are written in Chinese. You know, I haven’t seen anything but English the entire time I’ve been here. It’s a little disorienting, oddly enough. You don’t come to Asia and expect to feel like you’re in any big city back home (excepting the humidity, of course).
Now, I’m not saying Chinatown is authentically Singaporean. It’s actually the most touristy part of the city, from what I can tell. But it definitely feels more alive. Immediately I’m taken with the multi-colored lanterns and all the little things you can buy lining all the streets.
It almost has a festive atmosphere going on. Chinatown feels like the life of the party in an otherwise fairly quiet city.
If you’re in to souvenirs and all the different types of knick knacks you can buy in different countries, this is definitely the place to find them. I especially get a kick out of the Merlion Starbucks logo. I buy a few postcards and a magnet to add to my collection.
As I’m wandering down the streets, I get a message from my coworker Lian who just landed. She’s been to Singapore before and wants to meet at the Maxwell Food Center nearby for lunch. Specifically Tian Tian Chicken and Rice.
She orders, of course, chicken and rice and tells me how none of her friends would come here with her because the line can be up to 40 minutes long, and nobody wants to wait in this humidity to eat. Apparently it’s that good though. I already ate lunch awhile ago, but she graciously allows me a few bits of her meal so I can try for myself. And it is really good!
After we finish, we stop for smoothies to help cool down from the heat. I get a neon-colored dragon fruit smoothie and suck it down in about 30 seconds. It’s really good and refreshing.
We then head back to Chinatown to wander around a bit more and Lian patiently waits while I take pictures of everything. It’s all just so photogenic!
By now I’ve pretty much hit my limit for tolerating the humidity and decide to call it a day, but I come back the next day to finally find that temple. It’s called the Buddhist Tooth Relic Temple and it’s located right next to the Chinatown Complex, where they have even more stalls of things you can buy. It’s never ending!
Anyone is welcome inside, there is no admission fee, and it’s blessedly air conditioned. You know I need no excuse to escape this heat. And even better, the interior is so ornate.
Apparently I’m there right at prayer time, so I extend my visit to watch for awhile. I’m also not too keen to get back out into the heat.
But finally I do need to continue on. Back into the heat I go.
And that’s it for Chinatown…for now. I have a few more photos I took at night, but I’ll share those in another post. Chinatown is definitely the tourist center of Singapore and worth a stop (or more) if you’re here.