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Geylang Serai

By: joyceho on 15 Jun 2012
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Visit the heart of the Malay Community at Geylang Serai. Historically the second home for Singapore's Malay population, Geylang Serai differs slightly from its counterpart, Kampong Glam, by providing an in-depth look into the everyday lifestyle of Singapore's second largest ethnic group.

A short walk away from Paya Lebar MRT Station, one will be immediately taken by the warm and generous spirit of the Malay crowd. Be transported back to the 1950s and 1960s, with ethnic handicrafts, traditional Malay costumes on display. Geylang Serai is a good place to purchase a souvenir that captures the vibrant essence of Singapore.

The Malays flocked to Geylang Serai in the 1840s after the British dispensed with the Malay floating village, which was once located at the mouth of the Singapore River. More settlers moved to the Geylang Serai area in the early 1920s, where it began to be too crowded in Kampong Glam.

The area is particularly bustling with activity during the month of Ramadan, where Muslims fast for a month and prepare for the festival of Hari Raya Puasa, a celebration to mark the end of their fasting. Enjoy the festivities with rows of night market stalls, Javanese and Malay performances during the Muslim holy month.

Visitors can visit the Malay Village, which recounts the old village life with audio-visual accounts of Malay legends and an introduction of the lifestyle that traditional Malays observed, from everyday household goods to common hobbies such as kite-flying and Malay martial arts. It also offers free cultural performances and displays the traditional ways of fishing and rice-pounding.

Feeling peckish? Head down to Geylang Serai Market for a large selection of the finest Malay and Indian-Muslim dishes around. Try out deep fried bananas (goreng pisang) at 3 for $1 and bandung, a pink drink of milk and rose syrup or have a satisfying lunch of nasi padang (rice served with a variety of meat or vegetable dishes) with nasi rawan, beef rendang (spicy beef), ayam korma (a type of chicken curry) or ikan telebok (fried fish). Pick up some inexpensive spices, medicines, batiks, scarves, cosmetics, vegetables for an unusual souvenir and gawk at the more exotic products like snakes and turtle eggs.

Head down to this cultural enclave to check out the traditional lives of the Malay community, snack on tasty treats and pick up unique souvenirs.

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