Singapore: An Exciting Stroll through Little India

I have to admit that I'm a bit at a disadvantage when it comes to verifying the authenticity of ethnic neighborhoods. After living in Japan for a while, I can say that Japantown in San Francisco is pretty good. But I've never been to China or India, so visiting Chinatown and Little India in Singapore doesn't give me anything other than the hope to get a feel for each country's culture.

That said, it was obvious that Chinatown was geared toward tourists. Hong Kong is westernized China, but it did have some realness to it... and Chinatown was not quite real. I'm not saying it's bad. But it's touristy.
 But I quickly appreciated the sights, sounds, and smells I encountered when I traveled to Little India.
 Yes, you can buy Indian clothing. But this shop is there for Indians.
 There are food markets which had Indian shoppers browsing.
 There were a lot of those flower things. I believe I missed Deepavali, which is a Hindu festival, by a week.
 Little India is located a bit further from downtown Singapore, and it's full of Indians going about their daily lives.
 One of the best parts of visiting this neighborhood was peeking down the back alleys. It was more real. Trash, carts, people hanging out talking.
 Chander Road is the heart of the neighborhood. You'll find some restaurants and tourist attractions here or nearby.
 The main streets running around and through the neighborhood are full of shops selling pretty much everything. Some stores are for tourists, but most are practical. It's like the Indian version of Mission Street in San Francisco.
 The stores are great!
 Interesting sign partly for the subject matter, and partly for the inclusion of five languages.
 This is Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. Don't ask me how to pronounce that.
 It is a Hindu temple with elaborate decorative elements. It was closed in preparation for Deepavali but I could enjoy the outside.

 Above are some detail photos of the decoration.
 The historic buildings here are still in the same general style as you see around the rest of town.
 A little more realness that makes this neighborhood so enjoyable.

 If you're looking for some good Indian food, you have a lot of choices here. Plus, the stores have a lot of cheap goods - clothing, decorations, and rugs (see the photo below).
I started in the southwest corner of the neighborhood: Sungei Road (Bukit Timah Road) and Race Course Road. Serangoon Road runs north-south and is the commercial center of the area. Just wander and see what you find!

Singapore: Chinese and Japanese Gardens in the Rain

After walking through the giant body at the Singapore Science Centre, I took a 15 minute walk down the street to the Chinese and Japanese Gardens.

 My interest in gardens can probably be traced to my childhood; my grandmother and my mother both had gardens in their backyards, and I have distinct memories of visiting public gardens like the Japanese Garden in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. Singapore's gardens are quite expansive, set up on the same gigantic tract of land as the Science Centre and its accompanying museums.
The massive Jurong Lake Park basically covers everything; the two gardens are on separate large "islands" in the middle of the lake. Much, but not all, of the lake has a trail/path for people to exercise themselves and their pets. In the photo above, the garden is on the opposite side of the lake; the white sign is on the trail around the lake.
 Entering from the east side, the first thing you encounter is the large pagoda.
 The lake itself is beautiful too.
 You can go in and up the pagoda.

 Next to the 7-story pagoda is a short philosopher's path.
 The path is lined with statues of great philosophers and leaders.
 Continuing counter-clockwise through the garden, I next came to the twin pagodas.
 While they are apparently being renovated or are just closed to the public right now, they are quite beautiful sitting on a pier in the lake. Apparently whatever construction work is going on will stop affecting these pagodas in the middle of 2016.
 This is my first stone boat, and it's very attractive at a distance. There is a tea house nearby.
 Reaching the west entrance to the park, the Live Turtle & Tortoise Museum is a paid attraction which promises, among other things, mutant tortoises.
 I didn't go in the turtle museum, but there is a carp pond in the structure that's right at the west entrance. (The turtle museum and tea house are nearby.)
 There are a few large bridges between the islands and "mainland" and between the two islands. This, I believe, has 13 arches. Sorry, you can't see them here.

This might be my favorite picture of my garden set.
 Reaching the end of the "loop" for the island, there's a long peninsula which leads to the bridge, which then takes you to the Japanese garden. Along the way you'll come across the bonsai garden and Garden of Abundance.
 The Garden of Abundance is filled with fun statues, including one of 10 sundials scattered around Singapore.

 I believe this is the Bai Hong Qiao (White Rainbow 13 Arch Bridge). I do know that this bridge links the two gardens.
 Ah, I'm back in Japan!
 I spent most of my time at this garden around the large lake. Yes, the island in a lake has a lake of its own. (Plus a pond back near that red gate.)
 Oh, and the lake in the island in the lake has its own islands too.
 A series of bridges takes you from one to the other. There's a white bridge with a zig-zag halfway through.
 Plus a pair of red arched bridges. They are slippery when wet!
 This might be a nod to the floating torii in Miyajima, in Hiroshima.
 This area has a large artificial rock "beach" which helps you get closer to the water and animals living in it, plus a pavilion. I'm very glad there was a pavilion here because:
 Downpour. It rained hard off and on all day - once on my way to the science centre (and I some while I was inside, too). And again the skies opened up, so I took refuge in the pavilion to relax while nature ran its course. Actually, if you examine my lake shots, you'll see that several show signs of raindrops hitting the water.

It would have been nice to have had clear or nicely cloudy skies, but I saw all I wanted to see on this trip so once the rain stopped I walked back to the nearest MRT station to take me to my next stop.
Speaking of MRT, here is a picture inside the Chinese Garden MRT Station. Take a look at the floor and how clean it is - no gum or trash to be seen. There isn't usually much trash (if any) in Japan's stations, but the floors aren't as clean as this. Amazing, huh?

The Chinese Garden MRT station leads right to the east entrance of the Chinese Garden. There is a bridge between the Chinese and Japanese gardens, plus additional west entrances for both gardens. Walking to/from the Science Centre takes 15-20 minutes despite being right next to each other due to the layout of the gardens and the size of the park.

The park is open daily 6 AM to 11 PM, and admission is free. The Turtle and Tortoise Museum doesn't seem to be worth the approximately $5 entry fee but I haven't been inside to verify anything. However, it's open 9 AM to 6 PM.

Keep in mind that the renovation works should be completed by mid-2016. Until then, expect various attractions to be closed.