Wednesday 22 August 2012

Singapore: Chinatown Heritage Museum

Chinatown Heritage Museum - kitchen and toilets
The first item on the agenda today was the Chinatown Heritage Museum in Pagoda Street. The guide rattled through a set script which described the life of Chinese immigrants in the 19th century as we ambled through the three storey house. The mother of the Australian family that was part of our tour was visibly shaken by the unusually frank descriptions of the toilet arrangements in the shop house. Other details of the ‘Four Evils’ (opium, prostitution, gambling and drinking) had to be glossed over because of her young children. All of this was hidden behind a curtain across the back of the tailor’s shop where we ended our tour.

Lunch time. Having not been to the Qun Zhong Eating House in Neil Road since it was refurbished, we sallied forth only to find a ‘closed on Wednesday’ sign on the door. Mrs M mumbled a few bad words while the rest of us chuckled. We returned to the Singapore Heritage Restaurant for lunch during a heavy rain shower which had been threatening for most of the morning.

Buddha Tooth TempleOnce the rain had stopped we visited the Buddha Tooth Temple where Chinatown’s Ghost Month celebrations (see below for details) were in full swing. In contrast to the activity on the ground floor, the Sacred Buddha Tooth Relic Chamber on the 4th floor was completely silent. We completed the visit in Rooftop Gardens where the Ten Thousand Buddhas Temple houses the largest enamelled prayer wheel in the world although Mrs M was more interested in the plants being removed by the team of gardeners.

The drive home included a diversion to the local supermarket to buy a nice bit of fish for dinner. The nice bit of fish was cooked in butter with a simple salad and fine bread. A few Westolls of port lead to an early retirement to charge batteries for the last day on the programme.

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