After a couple of outings to this little red dot, I’m still not feeling the vibe. Let’s just say that I’m not really a fan of malls. And while the structures and paid attractions are fun and pretty, there’s always the search for something more. To be fair, I’ve only been to Singapore as a tourist once. The other time was for a business conference. Indeed, there’s still plenty of exploring left for me to do.
So on my third visit to Singapore, I said I would try harder.
The plan was to do the rounds of indie cafes in Singapore. I read online that there’s been some sort of an indie cafe invasion there, and wanting to put up one myself, figured I might as well check them out for research. But because of some timing (most cafes are closed on Mondays/Tuesdays) and logistical (they’re scattered all over different less-touristy neighborhoods) issues, this was a failed experiment.
So I kept on walking. And searching.
Following the tip of my SG-based friend and host, Te-Anne, I went back to Bugis. She told me that Haji and Bali Lanes in the nearby Kampong Glam area might qualify for that more I was looking for.
And boy was she spot on!
An unassuming street corner leading to a narrow alley of shop houses… Yes, yes, Haji Lane is my kind of street!
This tiny stretch of awesomeness can keep you preoccupied for an entire afternoon (or even longer). I took windowshopping to a whole new level here, spending at least 20 minutes in each tiny shop. It took every ounce of my resolve not to swipe away with each interesting find. There’s one to tickle the curiosity of any fashionista, lit nerd, travel junkie, music geek, artsy fartsy, or vintage freak. A significant number of the items being sold here are specially crafted by Singapore’s local crafters/artisans/designers-cum-entrepreneurs.
Aside from the obvious visual feast, what I love about Haji Lane is its small attempts at civil disobedience. From where I come from, graffiti and street art are commonplace. But hey, not in Singapore. Wanna be fined?
There’s a budding Banksy somewhere in these back streets.
And if all these are still not enough, don’t worry there’s more! Haji Lane boasts of other attractions. Grab a book and find a corner in one of the cafés. Chill while having your fortune read from your palm (or tarot cards) at a shisha joint. If you’re the active type, work out a sweat doing a trial yoga class.
Decide what kind of exercise suits you…
There’s a nightlife scene here as well. Hop on to the next lane, Bali Lane, for some sick tunes at Blu Jaz Café.
“Tis true, seek and you shall find.
Sold? I think I hear you starting to mumble… Orchard what?
Here’s how to get there from Bugis Station. Shops come alive at 3PM onwards. Enjoy!