Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Singapore - Kampong Glam

When in Singapore, tourists normally flock in throngs to Chinatown while some of them pay a visit to Little India due to its spices. Unknown to many, there is a place also in Singapore rich in Muslim heritage. The place is called Kampong (Village) Glam. It used to be the home of Malay aristocracy of Singapore prior to British colonization.

Sultan Mosque

Presently, this place is sometimes called "Muslim Quarters" not only due to its history but likewise to its continuous strong ties to ethnic Malay and Muslim. Not to mention that majority of its population is Muslim.

In its earlier time after the colonization, Kampong Glam was allocated to Sultan Hussein and his household, as well as Malay and Arab communities. Hence, Kampong Glam's main and famous land mark is called Sultan Mosque. It remains a major landmark not only in Kampong Glam but also in entire Singapore as well. On top of this, Kampong Glam is also considered as center for Muslim activities in Singapore.

Throughout the years, KG has been restored, conserved and refurbished. One can easily notice the colorful structures comparable to Little India and Chinatown.

You'll find several carpet shops, textiles, Sheesha corners and restaurants offering Halal or lawful foods for the Muslim. The streets were named after famous Arab/Muslim places such as Kandahar St, Muscat St and Baghdad St.

Though the place is known to be Muslim area, there are many bars where tourists can have their alcohol shots especially during night time. On the other hand, some of the residents of the area have decided to protect their religious heritage by banning alcohol in their premises and encouraging other shops to follow suit.



It is obvious that this place doesn't normally appear on the itinerary of ordinary tourists as you can see on those near empty shops, cafe and bars. Admittedly, after being exposed to Islamic and Muslim communities in the Middle-East for many years, it is with regret that I found KG uninteresting place to visit in Singapore. I have seen better Mosques and have eaten in authentic Arab restaurants; I have also explored some well-known Arabic souks and places thus I think this place had been highly commercialized thus it lacks the soul of Muslim community. Little India fares better in this regard.

Kampong Glam is walking distance from Bugis LRT station. There are public buses that pass along this area but I found it easier and faster to go there by LRT.

Well, maybe in Singapore, this place could be a welcome respite to Muslim tourists after a long and tiring day of exploring Singapore's artificial touristy places.

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