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Kampong Glam – Singapore’s Trendy and Hipster Neighborhood

Sipping my cup of coffee, I walked into the neighborhood of Kampong Glam which was once known as the Arab quarter in olden days.  Quirky shops, eclectic boutiques, middle eastern cuisines and shisha bars, fascinating street art and murals hidden in every corner of the lanes, heritage museum and the famous Sultan Masjid Mosque nestled in a corner makes this place a real heaven for culture lovers.

Capturing few memories of my journey to the old quarter.

Street Art on the back alleys of Aliwal Arts Center

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Malay Heritage Center 

The present museum was once the residence of the Sultan of Singapore. Today it showcases the cultural history of Malay Singaporeans.


Street Art at Sultan Arts Village

I almost missed this place while heading towards Bussorah Street. There is an amazing street art on the walls behind the Black Book Shop that sells spray paints and apparels. I met two artists who were working on a section of wall. I patiently watched as they worked in coordination, spraying the bright colors on the wall so efficiently!

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Middle Eastern Cuisine and Antique Collections at Bussorah Street

Hearing the Azaan (Muslim call to ritual prayer from the mosque)  from the Sultan Masjid, I walked towards Bussorah Street – a center of attraction for tourists due to varied dining options and antique collections. From perfumes to beautiful lanterns, carpets to traditional textiles, this street has it all. Originally called Sultan Road, this street was renamed to Bussorah Street in 1910 after a place in present day Iraq. Up to the late 1970s, Singapore was the port for all Muslim pilgrims in South East Asia to gather and prepare for their journey to the Haj. Bussorah Street was where Sheikh Haji (pious men, known for their knowledge of the Haj) would gather and help fellow pilgrims with accommodation, food, and advice for their journey.


A.R.C Coffee House at Sultan Gate

A.R.C stands for Academy Roastery Cafe. The fascinating part about this place is walk to the corner and check the mural of the coffee story by Yip Yew Chong. The mural speaks of how one can get different variations of coffee in Singapore even today! Below is the first mural depicting modern coffee making.


This mural shows the traditional style of tea making we get in Teh Tarik.


The central portion of the street art shows traditional Chinese style of coffee making “Kopitiam”


Masjid Sultan at Muscat Street

The iconic Masjid Sultan is the heart of Kampong Glam. The creative aspect of the neighborhood can be seen in the architecture of the mosque. Masjid Sultan was formerly the royal mosque of the Sultan Hussein Shah of Johar. It was constructed in 1824 in collaboration with the East India Company. Later the mosque underwent renovation and was reconstructed to match the style of traditional Southeast Asian mosques.  During the construction of the new design, people were asked to contribute. The rich donated gold and poor donated glass bottles. Today one could observe the creativity in the design of the mosque by observing the black rim beneath the golden dome. The dome base is decorated with glass bottle ends showing the equality taken into consideration and also respecting the contribution of the poor.


Although my preference would be seeing more bohemian and rebellious street art, the bright colors at Kampong Glam definitely lifted up my spirits.

Copyright ©2017, Lakshmi Nair. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.

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