The Magic of Singapore’s Colorful Arab Street

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Sometimes, errands need not be so bland or routine.  These are very delayed pics but I did stumble upon very colorful spots during my last minute holiday shopping in Singapore’s Arab quarters along Arab Street.  Since I was in the throes of moving house and shuttling back and forth countries during Christmas, I totally forgot to blog about this.

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Let’s start with carpets.  Very fine quality rugs and textiles line the street along Arab Street, just parallel to the artsy district along Haji Lane.  Unfortunately, I am highly allergic to them but I find them very, very intricate and beautiful.  Stores upon stores are covered in these exotic designs in deep hues and colorful patterns, covering the floor up to those hanging from the ceilings.

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While looking for my favorite silk scarves merchant (will post a photo of my loot later on), I literally stumbled upon a tasteful perfumery tucked amidst all the textiles.

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I love how they laid out the store with warm lighting to feature these artful bottles, some laid with silver or pewter (?).

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Oh, and I do remember either my mom or my grandaunt having one of these on their dresser tables.  The design brings us back to a different era altogether, a reminder that women did go through rituals getting primped for the day.  Also these were bottles I used to see in old story books or comics (Blondie used it in many scenes, I think) :)

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With a rich smell of musk hanging in the air, they do customized scents depending on your taste. Combine the smell with the sound of the tinkering glass beakers and men taking whiffs from each open bottle that they would sample — it was a sensory experience on its own in a place that looks like an antique apothercary.

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Finally, another shop worth mentioning on the same busy road is a ribbon shop. Yes, they only sell ribbons and every single inch of the store from top to bottom is crammed and packed with ribbons of all patterns, textures and widths!  Not a single patch of space was left empty and my jaw just dropped at the variety available in the store.

Arab Street is probably my favorite spot in the entire island, with its rich history, quirky finds and the life the springs from every shophouse and regulars who flock the place.

Cherie Altea Bitanga
Cherie Altea Bitanga finds herself constantly making food, talking about food and around people who know food. Her daily adventures go beyond her own kitchen in Singapore, spanning from the nondescript holes-in-the-wall to sumptuous dining adventures. She believes in the art of slow food and scours places in hopes of bringing home unique spices, salts and oils. She is also the occasional artist and food writer who learned how to cook early in life by inheriting culinary family traditions from her motherland: the Philippines.

For over a decade, this blogger's career as an ESL instructor provided a multicultural atmosphere working with diplomats, celebrities, nuns, priests, politicians as well as high school and college students from all over the world. When she grows up, she hopes to cook for a living to celebrate her family's culinary legacy.
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