Sri Miriamman Temple Gopuram
“Do you know how I could get to Roosevelt road?” a middle aged man asked me while I was waiting on a bus stop in Geylang. He was wearing those large fashion sun-glasses and I could see the noticeable streaks of gray in his hair while he pointed on a location on his map. I was smiling and told him “Sorry. No. I’m also new here.”
I’m actually so new in Singapore that I was about to venture into the city that Monday morning. My friend has gone to work that day so I’m left by my lonesome to explore its nooks and crannies. And here I am on my walking shorts, horizontal striped polo shirt with my mini-bag on my back lugging my camera and cheap tripod along with a handy tourist map and a copy of Let’s Go Southeast Asia which a friend back home lent me before I left the country. Fear never got into me as my brief venture along its streets a few days ago gave a familiar feel of a modern city of Manila due to the numbers of Filipinos I encounter along the way.
“Oh! Sorry, I thought you live here. Are you a Filipino?” he asked. I guess judging from my distinguishable features and brown skin, I gave it away. “Yes I am. I’m only here for a visit” I replied, and then he continued on with his story of telling me how he has been in Cebu in the Philippines. He’s a Swedish Nationality who has worked in Singapore 20 years ago and came back to see what has changed. I spotted my bus coming and prepared myself to board. The Swedish guy was about to say something but I bid farewell and told him this is my bus. I top-in my EZLink card and find myself on the upper deck of the bus where I enjoyed sitting since we don’t have one back home. I was being my touristy self and took the front seat and checked out the morning road view to where I’m headed – China Town.
China Town Food Center at morning
The morning news was on the LCD monitor at the front. I hear a mix of languages spoken at the back, even caught some Tagalog words there. I look at how clean the roads are and how there are only a few people on the streets. Most of them are probably at work while I, along with other tourist do a round-about on their established sights. It wasn’t long when I got to my stop at New Bridge Road. Most of the establishments are closed and some are about to open. I checked my map on where I am since I’m not being used to a China Town being so clean. I then walked to a line of streets stores selling some Chinese specialty spices, condiments and other stuff.
Quickly I spotted the large multi-colored Gopuram or Sculptured Tower along the street, which is the entrance of the Sri Mariamman Temple along Pagoda Street. Considered as Singapore’s oldest being built in 1827, it provided shelter to Indian Immigrants at that time. The temple was dedicated to the healing Mother Goddess whose name was derived. There was a number of pair of shoes outside since you have to remove them when you wish to enter the temple. I try to spot a North Face or Columbia shoe there on my size which I can snatch but there wasn’t any, too bad for my evil self. I decided not to enter since I have to pay $3 SGD for my camera and thought there wasn’t anything to take pictures there. Besides, looking at those elaborate sculptures was enough for me.
Sri Miriamman Temple Entrance
I bought some cold bottled Peach Juice drink at the nearest 7-11 store before I headed to the nearby Thian Hock Keng Temple since the weather here is a bit humid and I easily sweat a lot. While I was fixing my bag on the side walk, another middle aged bearded man who seem to be like an American by looks approached me. He was wearing work clothes with a brown leather bag with height a little taller than me.
“Excuse me, where can I find the malls here?” he asked in straight American English. The malls, I thought. Geez, I know where it is but I don’t know how to get there by Bus from where we are. I almost laughed but I just smiled and told him “I’m not sure how you’d go there but I know it’s in that direction” pointing at the road I came from. The man thanked me and left in my direction. Is he planning to walk all the way there, I thought.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.