Friday, December 16, 2011

Singapore Geylang

Geylang Serai Market

Geylang Serai is a place in Singapore where the Malay / Muslim community shop for their halal meat from Muslim butchers and Muslim attire and scarf / hijab from the many Muslimah apparel stalls at Geylang Serai Market or the more upscale boutiques at Joo Chiat Complex and Tanjong Katong Complex. 

Abayas at Tanjong Katong Complex

Casual Muslimah Dresses at Tanjong Katong Complex

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The nearest MRT station is Paya Lebar and from there it's just a short walk away to Tanjong Katong Complex; where Muslimah Clothing shops dominate with a handful bridal boutiques thrown in. It was difficult to snap pictures of the shops there as the boutiques practised "No Photography" policy. What a bummer. They do have beautiful clothes that the Malay ladies will don when attending a wedding function or when visiting friends and relatives during festive season. 

The now defunct Malay Village at Geylang; Singapore

There is also a hawker centre called Haig Road Food Centre opposite Tanjong Katong Complex (currently under renovation) and further down is the now defunct "Malay Village". Malay Village was at first built as a tourist attraction to give an idea of how kampung life was like in the olden times but the management of Malay Village can't seem to drum up tourists interest and their lack of supervision of tenant mix lead to the closure of Malay Village after their lease ended recently. The government of Singapore plan to redevelop the site into a civic centre and plaza that will house a community centre and a heritage gallery slated to be completed by 2015.

Joo Chiat Complex at Geylang; Singapore

Gorgeous Malay Traditional Costume at Joo Chiat Complex

Continue your walk down and very soon, you will see Joo Chiat Complex where the tenants on the first floor are mostly textile and fabric shops for clothes and curtains and on the second floor Muslimah apparel and bridal boutiques with the odd shops like baby wear, carpets and home furnishings here and there.

Dried Squid perfect for Nasi Rawan's Sambal Sotong yummy!

Gula Melaka and Traditional Kuehs (at the back)

Traditional Fish Crackers - Keropok

Directly opposite Joo Chiat Complex and connected by a covered overhead bridge is the Geylang Serai Market. Here you can find foodstuff commonly used in Malay cooking such as gula melaka, dried squids, dried anchovies etc etc and also Malay traditional biscuits such as Kuih Tart and Kuih Makmur. On the second floor, there is a food court with rows of stalls selling halal food such as Satay, Chicken Rice, Foul Medammas and others. I tried the satay from Alhambra Satay and it was really nice. Better than the satay I tasted at Lau Pa Sat during my previous visit. I also tried the mixed rice at one of the stalls but I wasn't impressed. I like Hajjah Maimunah Restaurant at 20 Joo Chiat road #01-02 better. 

Food Stalls at the second floor of Geylang Serai Market

The second floor at Geylang Serai Market also houses stalls selling Muslimah dresses and scarves and shawls at a lower price (of course different quality and finishing) than Tanjong Katong Complex and Joo Chiat Complex. Most of the apparels here are for daily wear while those at Tanjong Katong Complex and Joo Chiat Complex are meant for special occasions. 

Typical Stall at Geylang Serai Market - Second Floor

More pocket friendly Muslimah Apparels at Geylang Serai Market

Hijab, scarves and shawls

Geylang is the place to buy scarves in Singapore

In short, Geylang Serai in Singapore is the place to go if you are a Muslim and want to find a place where halal food are in abundance or you have a special interest in hijabs and Muslimah dresses or you are a foodie that likes to explore local markets and ingredients. This is not the place (at the moment) to learn more about the Malay culture and heritage. I am assuming that Istana Kampung Glam a.k.a Malay Heritage Centre at 85 Sultan Gate (near Arab Street) serves that purpose; although at the moment it is also undergoing redevelopment and will reopen in June 2012. 

If your visit to Singapore coincide with the fasting month of the Muslim community, it is also quite interesting to visit Geylang Serai as the whole area turns into a bazaar where the community comes to do their shopping in preparation for the Eid celebration at the end of the fasting month. Geylang Serai will then be decorated with lights and throngs of people walking through the various food, clothing and homeware stalls.