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SINGAPORE LITTLE INDIA WALK: Dhobis, Saris and a Spot of Curry™ (A Review) @VisitSingapore

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Dhobis, Saris and a Spot of Curry™ A Little India Walk is a a 3.5+-hour heritage walking tour of Singapore's Little India, created by Journeys Singapore.

If you have not been to India, this is a good tour to join as an introduction to the Indian culture and way of life.

Here's a photo essay review of the Little India walking tour experience in Singapore:

Your Awesome Singapore Series:

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The walking tour is held every Wednesday from 9.30am - 12.00nn, with the assembly point in the Little India MRT Station, outside Exit E (Buffalo Road).

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Our lovely Little India guide was Wina, who described herself as "a lover of cats and self-proclaimed Francophile who, like the French, does not reflect her love of food on her waistline."

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Wina showed photos of air shows held in this area before. She shared that Little India is known for the Indians on buffalo carts selling fresh milk and other goods.

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Before this tour, all I knew about Little India was that it's the best place for bargain perfumes and other stuff at Mustafa Centre.

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First stop: Learning about the importance of garlands in the Indian culture and how they make it.

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This is also where the Paan is introduced where...

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...the Betel nut leaf is combined with Gambia, Areca Nut shavings, slick slime and sometimes with cured tobacco to have an addictive, euphoria-inducing effect.

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This is known as the chewing gum of the East.

(Note: In the Philippines, some old people in the provinces still like to chew on the local version called nga-nga.)

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Our next stop: the Hindu temple -- Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple (which was the last stop supposedly, according to the brochure).

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It's an interesting peek into the Hindu traditions, philosophy and way of life.

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The Hindus also believe in a holy trinity, but with their gods, namely Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.

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Vishnu is the Preserver and Protector of Creation; Brahma is the Creator and is responsible for light and dark; and Shiva is the Destroyer of the world and the God of yogis.

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At the back of the temple, one can find the story of Ganesha, which is sculpted in the bas relief surrounding the temple. It is used as a teaching aid to tell the moral lessons in the life of Ganesha.

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Ganesha can easily be identified by his elephant head. He is sometimes known as Ganapathy and is believed to be the Remover of Obstacles.

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After the temple, we walked around Little India. Most of the stores were closed -- opening late or whenever the owners felt like opening them.

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The spice store we were supposed to visit was also closed. It's a good thing Wina had some props, so she was still be able to show us some of the spices and share what each was used for.

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Our third stop on the tour: Nalli, the sari shop.

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Besides presenting the different colorful and intricate designs, they shared with us the story and tradition behind them.

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As part of the tour, we got to learn how to tie a sari.

(Tip: For the ladies, it's best to volunteer at this point to get a first-hand experience. :) )

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It's elegant and exotic at the same time -- and quite tempting for the girls in our group to buy one as part of their wardrobe.

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Thanks to Mary Benette Santiago of the Birches Group for being our sari model during the tour! :)

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They also told us about the significance of Pottu (in Tamal) or Bindhi (in Hindi), which is a decorative dot that adorns the forehead: Red means married and Black means single.

NALLI CHINNASAMI CHETTY PTE. LTD
32, Buffalo Road, Singapore, 219 795
Telephone: +65 6299-8676
Email: nallisingapore@nalli.com 
Websitehttp://www.nallisilks.com/ 

(Tip: You can also buy a Punjabi suit or Salwa Kameez in this shop.)

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Our last stop: Tekka Centre, the Fruit and Vegetable wet market center of Little India.

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Here's an old photo of the Tekka Wet Market. ('Tekka' means base of the bamboo grove.)

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It's a sanitized version of the wet market, where you can find different produce, flowers, meat products and grocery items you need for cooking.

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Wina stopped by a banana store, sharing the uses of the banana heart and its leaves.

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It was fun going on a tour with famous photographer Jo Avila because of his witty comments. :)

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We also visited a spice shop where specialty spices could be bought as pasalubong.

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You can buy the Belacan Shrimp Paste, which you can use to create your own sambal at home.

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Jo Avila in action during the tour. :)

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We passed by a fruit vendor preparing the langka fruit.

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We stopped by a fast food shop where our guide provided more info about different vegetables like Moringa (malunggay) and Bitter Gourd (ampalaya) and their healing properties.

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At that point, we were starting to get hungry. I was noticing how the food at the Indian stalls looked really yummy. :)

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We walked over to the Little India Arcade...

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...and passed by the flying colors of Singapore...

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...and the Gold shops all around Little India.

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Finally, we stopped by the Moghul Sweet Shop for a better appreciation of Indian sweets.

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I thought Indian food was all about curries and spices; I didn't know they're also crazy about their sweets.

Here are the desserts that we tried:

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Doda Burfy (S$1/pc.)

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Chocolate Burby (S$1)

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Pista Burfy (S$1/pc).

Although I found the desserts a bit too sweet, I still recommend that you buy and try them for yourself. :)

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We just passed by the Henna Tattoo shop because no one seemed interested anymore to learn about it.

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There were also many stores where one could shop for interesting, Indian-inspired general merchandise.

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Our tour ended in an office with a showcase of old photos of the Little India area.

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Wina also shared how Little India was relocated from its original spot in the Raffles' Singapore Town Plan of the 1920's.

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Trivia: The MRT Dhoby Ghaut station in the southern end of Orchard Road was named after its old location as a place for washing before. Dhobi means "washerman" and Ghat means "large open space" in Hindi.

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The Little India walking tour is pretty interesting, especially for someone who has not been to India.

For Filipinos, though, some parts of the tour may be already familiar, like the fruits and vegetables wet market, the betel nut, and henna.

But it's still worth it to join this walking tour if you want to know about their traditions, the Hindu temple, sari-tying and understanding the history of the area.

It's also a great way to meet other travelers, and to have a fun shoot of Little India.

The Original Singapore Walks

Dhobis, Saris and a Spot of Curry™ A Little India Walk

The cries from the abattoirs filled the air while the bhai susu outside rang their bells 'Milk, fresh milk!' Buffalo carts bearing goods and people of every shape, size and persuasion went rickety by. It was once said that there are three ways to India from Singapore: by ship, by plane, and by a short walk to Little India. At Journeys, we still believe that's true. Look here a spice, there a garland, and hail, a sagely old bird who tells your fortune! One always finds it so difficult to resist the charms of Little India and it's little wonder that this is one of our guides' favourite Walks.

. Betel Leaf and Flower Garland Stall . Fruit and Veggie Wet Market .
. Parrot Astrologer . Sari-tying and Henna Art . Spice Shop .
. Sri Veeramakalianmman Temple

Meet at Little India MRT, outside Station Exit E (Buffalo Road)
By cab: Alight at the junction between Race Course Road and Buffalo Road 

Schedule: Every Wednesday, 9.30 am to 12.00 nn

For more info, visit: Dhobis, Saris and a Spot of Curry™ A Little India Walk

THE ORIGINAL SINGAPORE WALKS

Seasons change and so do our walks. Log onto http://www.singaporewalks.com or call us at +65 6325-1631 if you think you're not holding on the latest schedule. We've included cabbing and walking directions. If you're still not sure, pick up a free Singapore map from the airport or your hotel, or just ask the most enlightened-looking chap standing in the train.

The Original Singapore Walks: Adult S$35 / Child S$15
Discount Cardholders:  Adult S$30 / Child S$ 10

Office: D'Centennial Building, 100 Lorong 23 Geylang, #07-01, Singapore 388398 | 
Telephone:(+65) 6325 1631 
Fax: (+65) 6224 0136 
Emaildiscover@journeys.com.sg,fun@singaporewalks.com 

Singapore Tourism Board
Official Websitehttp://www.YourSingapore.com/ 
FacebookYour Singapore
Twitter@VisitSingapore
Youtube:  Your Singapore

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If you have tips on awesome food and travel destinations, please email me at anton@diaz.ph.

Full Disclosure: My Singapore trip was courtesy of the Singapore Tourism Board to promote Singapore as a holiday destination for Filipinos. I wrote this blog post myself, and it expresses my own opinions.

I have no business relationship with any company mentioned in this post or any organization promoting it. As a policy, I do not accept advertising from food and travel places we feature in the blog.

P.S. Here's the general area of the Little India Walking tour and the meeting point:

IndiaWalkStart

P.P.S. Make sure to eat in Banana Leaf Apolo after the tour!
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Search restaurant menus and get freebies all over the metro.

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Comments

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This is one of my favorite places in Singapore. I especially love the smell of spices.

oh I love Little India. As soon as you get off from the train station, you will smell the scent of Indian spices.

Definitely a must-see in Singapore.

Is this walkable from the train station?

Hi. Would you know how much for a decent Punjabi dress and the best place to get one? I plan to buy when I visit Little India next week.

Thanks.

Is the Banana Leaf there the same as the one we have here in Manila?


it is different...

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