Thursday, April 27, 2006

Kampong Glam walking tour and lunch at Zam Zam's

At 7am, it was a beautiful sunny day. At 8am, it was pouring. At 8:30am, it was back down to a light drizzle. All of this caused the turnout for the 9:30am Singapore Walks tour of Kampong Glam to have a very low turnout, just six of us. And did they miss out...

This was a three hour long tour that covered maybe a dozen blocks. It wasn't so much of a walking tour as a strolling tour - very easy to do even for the elderly and frail. Our tour guide was Savita, a Singaporean of Indian ancestry, who was full of energy and stories. The tour was an interesting mix of elements:

History: We learned the stories of not only how the British got their foot into Singapore, but how the foot eventually kicked out the Malay ruler Hussein. And how Hussein unfortunately got himself into both positions.
Malay culture: Savita took us into several shops in the district around the royal Mosque. This was not to sell us stuff, but instead to show us a representative sample of items from the Malay culture. This included some antique daggers, spices with medicinal purposes, sarongs, and gear for those heading on the Haj pilgramage to Mecca.
Islamic mosque and related culture:We spent probably a half hour in the mosque talking about the mosque and related issues.

And somehow, Savita never told us the story about how she managed to avoid getting stoned to death.

The tour added a depth of character to the city. Part of the discussion was about the soul of Singapore, or perhaps the lack thereof. Tours like this one are what help show a city's soul.

After that, we followed a recommendation of my friends Willie and Dave, and went to Zam Zam's. Upstairs at Zam Zam's is airconditioned, which was very welcome. We followed Willie's menu choices from his last visit: Two orders of Mutton Murtabak (mine without eggs), a side of Prawn Marsala (with prawns that had to be 3 oz. each), and a side of Biryani. Add in two cans of Coke Light for me and a bottle of water for Nick. Total bill: US$9 each. We are so full four hours later that we're skipping dinner.

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