Haji Lane, Singapore’s Muslim Quarter

The kids have been off school since mid-December. Given the extended covid-related travel restrictions on travel in and out of Singapore, the kids’ school extended the usual three-week winter break to four weeks to allow teachers and families to travel overseas for the first time in over two years. So for new Singapore arrivals like us, that meant a whole lot of free time.

I intended to fill their time with outings. Maybe not every day, but maybe several per week….?

Yeah that totally didn’t happen.

I mean, we went out some. Just not super often.

But this week we did! I let the kids know that we were heading out the door at 10:30AM for Haji Lane, the historically Muslim quarter now filled with restaurants, trendy shops, colorful buildings, and eye candy galore.

Haji Lane gets its name from its history as a waypoint for Muslims from throughout Southeast Asia on their way to the annual haj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. Since the 19th century the area catered to these pilgrims; more recently the buildings housed poor Malay immigrants until the 1960s.

The buildings fell into disrepair for a while, used mainly for storage. And then the typical urban rebirth story took root; for better or for worse, eclectic shops, cafes, and (gasp) artfully graffitied walls moved in. And continuing that trajectory, the counter culture vibe has turned more touristy as even more time passes.

So we walked down Haji Lane, and then Arab Street, and grabbed lunch at a Turkish restaurant within sight of the Sultan Mosque.

After lunch we peered in a few shops and then split up. Cy figured out how to get home via public transit, and Tessa and I kept walking. We rounded the corner and found the contrast of the super shiny office towers nearby especially jarring.

As we wandered I remembered a succulents vending machine and showed it to Tessa, knowing she would like it. She made her selection, and we headed home.

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