Hello my fellow travellers!
Today has been a most interesting day, one thing that I've reflected upon today is the aura of coexistence that surround this city. While walking around in this city I find that it's not uncommon to locate, within a stones-throw of each other, Hindu temples, Islamic mosques, Christian churches, Buddhist temples and Taoist temples.
While talking about faith, religion and the world today with the Imam of one of the mosques he told me that all religious differences here are settled through a religious council with prominent members of all faiths attending and that it is written into law that you will not ridicule any religions and that all faiths are to be respected in Singapore. In light of recent events in Europe this might be something for us to take to heart and learn from.
In general this day I've spent many hours talking to Imams, Monks and Pujaris. I especially had a really interesting talk with the Imam at the Anguilla Mosque, he was very eager to teach me about Islam although I already knew most of what he had to teach me (he was quite impressed by my knowledge of his
faith and my open mind considering all the occurring events in the world).
What I was most impressed by in return was his attitude considering Agnosticism, I had to explain it to him since he was unfamiliar with the term (I'm used to that though) and I liked his response of, "oh, that is a good view that makes sense" and I always enjoy talking to people with that perspective. He also offered me a Quran free of charge but it was a pretty big book and unfortunately my bag is pretty small so I respectfully declined but I really appreciated the offer.
Anyway, if I should try and maybe get some chronological order into my day it started with a visit to the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, I like the colourful aesthetic and the cheerful feeling of Hindu temples. With the praying in all directions of the wind as well as the plethora of gods I don't know if any other religion offers such a freedom regarding the way you worship. This temple is quite nice, but like many Hindu Temples here is does feel a touch unfinished with the open air approach. Even so, I like
it and I felt well met when I came here.
After my visit to Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple I just turned around the corner to visit Leong San Buddhist Temple (which means Dragon Mountain Temple, how kick-ass isn't that name!), I can't help but to like Buddhist temples, they are so beautiful and have such an aura of serenity about them. This temple was built in the early 20th century and doubled as a school for over thirty years.
Next my steps led me to the Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple with its big sitting Buddha statue and it's small, but nicely comforted holy reclining Buddha. It's not allowed to photograph the reclining Buddha though. This temple was built 1927 and was a refuge for people fleeing the Japanese assault during World War II, British prisoners-of-war also used it to smuggle letters out to England.
Continuing on in my walk amongst the temples I came upon the Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple, it is very beautiful and colourful! It is filled to the brim with gorgeous paintings and striking statues.
Finally I came to the part of the day mentioned above, the Anguilla Mosque. Here I spent
a couple of hours in conversation with the Imam and afterwards he offered me the Quran which I couldn't accept. The Mosque itself is not very spectacular in any way actually, not very decorated neither on the interior or exterior.
Close to the mosque I stepped into the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple which is also a nice and colourful Hindu temple, yet not as nice as the Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple. This was actually the first temple today where I stumbled upon other tourists.
I also tried to visit the Foochow Methodish Church but it was closed so I just moseyed along and by accident I stumbled upon the Residence of Tan Teng Niah which is a really striking house in Little India. It is one of the last surviving Chinese villas in Little India and used to belong to a successful business owner.
When I felt that I was done with Little India I took the MTR to Marina Bay Sands again to visit the magnificent Gardens by the Bay. These are a must visit here, you can easily spend a full day just here, observing the diverse faunas planted here to represent the many nationalities inhabiting
Singapore. Make sure that you come here in the evening, when the sun goes down the massive trees will light up in a glorious spectacle!
Now it was time for the central, old colonial, area of Singapore (well, first I did stop by the modern parts and looked at the Fountain of Wealth next to the Suntec Towers). The old colonial area is really beautiful but there was a lot of constructions going on there during my visit. There is a good historical trail you can follow that will take you through the whole area and it is a nice walk (except for the constructions) that will take you past many monuments as well as the Asian Civilisations Museum which is free to enter and a very worthwhile visit during your stay here.
Of course I also took a stroll by the Raffles Statue and the Merlion. Since both of them are symbols of this nation they are an automatic inclusion to the must see list. I also made it up to the Fort Canning Park which is where sir Raffles made his residence. He built it here due to it's historical significance as this used to be
the site of the old kings palaces. He also founded Singapore's first botanical garden here. It has switched owning hands a few times over the years, first from the ancestral kings, then the British, then the Japanese, then back to the British and finally into the hands of an independent Singapore. Today it's a beautiful park but you can still see the remnants of the fort as well as visit the bunker from where the British high command directed their battles.
After my stroll around the historical area I returned to the Gardens by the Bay (after being guided to the station by a very well mannered member of the staff at the Hotel Fort Canning) and watched the fabulous light show.
With that I felt satisfied with my day and I returned to Kuni and Jenni. Martin and Agustin had of course left but in their place there had come a young Ukrainian couple, Max and Mariya, as well as a nice Japanese guy by the name of Yuki. We all had a really nice evening together, they are all very easy to get along with and talk to. In a way I suppose that Kuni and
Jenni's place and indeed the whole phenomenon of couchsurfing mirror Singapore quite well. Here we meet, dedicated people from all over the world and get along very well together, for me that is perfection.
Tomorrow I will visit the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown before I take the ferry over to Batam in Indonesia where I will meet my host Rini. It will be interesting to visit Indonesia, it was kind of a last minute addition to the itinerary as I was invited by Rini. Checking up on it and learning about the easy ferry possibilities across the straits I figured it would be a good idea.
Until tomorrow I wish you all peace and happy travels!
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