Must-see streets of Sin­ga­pore

Colour­ful laneways and tips for shop­pers

Paradise - - Contents -

Haji Lane and Bali Lane

Haji is the term given to a Mus­lim male fresh from a pil­grim­age to Mecca. In times past, if you wanted to get to Mecca, this is where you found your haji bro­ker. How times have changed.

To­day this strip of brightly coloured pre-war shop­houses, in the Kam­pong Glam MalayMus­lim quar­ter, is the an­tithe­sis of the city’s gleam­ing me­trop­o­lis, at­tract­ing vis­i­tors who rate eclec­tic, cre­ative and in­de­pen­dent bou­tiques over shop­ping malls.

The hip­ster in­flu­ence plays out in shops such as Toky­obike, Oro hats and Mu­josh bar­ber, but the em­pha­sis is on home­spun places where one-offs rule. Mood Swing vin­tage has racks of retro-fab­ric dresses and head­bands, Salad Shop tosses stylish home wares in with dresses and be­spoke jew­ellery, and Fluffy Fe­line’s clothes and ac­ces­sories are the out­put of five lo­cal de­sign­ers.

I Am cafe, at the end of the lane, is known for its hookah pipes and rain­bow crepe. Par­al­lel to Haji, Bali Lane is smaller with more of the same.

Arab Street and Bus­so­rah Mall

Arab Street was cre­ated in 1824 as the main thor­ough­fare in the Kam­pong Glam MalayMus­lim quar­ter, at­tract­ing Malay, In­dian, Arab, Bug­i­nese and Ja­vanese peo­ple.

It lies par­al­lel to Haji Lane, but it’s a com­pletely dif­fer­ent scene al­to­gether. The wide street is lined with shops sell­ing In­done­sian batik shirts, In­dian saris, colour­ful fab­rics, and bolts of lace and or­ganza. Hand-knot­ted Per­sian rugs, hang­ing from the walls, are al­most as big as the signs pro­mot­ing ‘mas­sive re­duc­tions’ and shop own­ers are not shy of tout­ing cus­tomers on the foot­path.

In keep­ing with the Mid­dle Eastern theme, but with a con­tem­po­rary edge, Sifr Aro­mat­ics, a re­fined place with cus­tom-made aro­mat­ics and ex­quis­ite per­fume bot­tles, is a must. Around the cor­ner on Bus­so­rah Mall, Masjid Sul­tan Mosque is the fo­cal point for the city’s Mus­lim com­mu­nity, with a prayer hall that holds 5000 wor­ship­pers. Its pop­u­lar­ity has spawned the pre­pon­der­ance of cafes and restau­rants on this pedes­trian-only strip, which has au­then­tic ar­chi­tec­ture and palm trees but can feel a bit like a theme park. For a bite, head in­stead to Kam­pong Glam Cafe on nearby Bagh­dad Street for well-priced Malay cui­sine.

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