When in London, and you think hippy, trendy and stylish, one may think Neal’s Yard or Portobello Market. When in Frisco, one may think Polk or some of the quirky parts of Mission.
Singapore puts forward its own claim to hippydom with the trendy Haji Lane and Arab Street area.
Haji Lane, formerly a lane of old warehouses leading down to the beach, land reclamation and gentrification now sees the funky urban lane far inland and lined with home grown fashion outlets, antique shops, cafes and shisha bars.
Wandering into the alleyways off and along the lane itself, you’ll find a cluster of shisha bars to aid some serious chilling. As you wander closer to the North Bridge Road end, Going Om is another trendy venue for new musical talent to showcase their work. Its upstairs is a loafy open floor area where you can sink into giant beanbags under a whirring ceiling fan, while enjoying some tasty light refreshments.
Shisha pipes line the streets – definitely worth a try:
One of the lane’s earlier independent retailers PLUCK, opened in July 2006 in what was then a run down slightly decrepit back alley in this outlying lane of Singapore’s Muslim quarter. PLUCK attracts patrons with its mini fashion and apparel emporium styled with a distinct vintage flavor, and has incorporated an ice-cream parlor serving homemade desserts as well.
Budding local designers often establish themselves in Haji lane:
The area has certainly become a sweet spot in Singapore and its proximity to Arab Street adds to the cool vibes of the neighborhood.
Just over the road and opposite the Grand Mosque at the reputable Zam Zam’s, a frothy local tea called Teh Tarik will certainly satiate tea lovers. This traditional, super sweet ‘pulled tea’ is made by a long pouring action from cup to cup, resulting in a frothy mixture with a unique taste, that is served alongside Prata, a fresh thin bread that comes with a curry dip.
If you’re backpacking through this extremely modern city-state, this is one of the few areas where you’ll find homely digs away from the high rises. Walk down the pedestrianized Bussorah Street leading to the mosque and you’ll find Sleepy Sam’s, a bed and breakfast, in a shophouse to one side.
Nearby is the Children Little Museumwhere you can learn about the games and things that previous generations of Singaporeans used to pass their time and play with before the throngs of videogames and iPads. The museum’s second floor provides a glimpse of life prior to Singapore’s wash of modernization, where Kampongs, the local Malay term for villages, spotted the shorelines around the city-state.
A close who friend grew up in the nearby Kallang River area, in a Kampong of stilt huts amongst marsh, tells of a 70s childhood wading in the blue seas teeming with tropical fish and live coral. Of course that world no longer exists as land reclamation and highways soon brought an end to that way of life but for an entry fee of just $2 at the Children Little Museum, it’s worth basking in a bit of nostalgia.