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In Malay "Kampung" means village or settlement and "gelam" is the name of a particular tree that grew in abundance in the area in early Singapore. The area is well known for 2 major landmarks: the impressive Sultan Mosque and the Istana Kampong Gelam which used to be the Sultan's palace but has now been restored as the Malay heritage centre. Home to Malays, the area was once populated by Arab, Boyanese, Bugis and Javanese communities. The Chinese labourers who came down in the 17 and 1800's to work at Singapore's ever-growing harbour also found homes here.
Thanks to Singapore's heritage laws the area's buildings have remained relatively unchanged since the early days and it is not hard to imagine what life was like when these narrow streets were a hive of bustling trading and living activities. Today the area has an eclectic blend of history, culture and an uber-trendy nightlife scene. Not to mention the food.
Singapore's fashionistas head to Haji lane to pick up the latest local designs. Arab Street and Bussorah street offer more traditional wares such as fabrics, carpets, perfumes and local products. Kampong Glam truly comes alive during Ramadan (the Muslim fasting month) leading up to Hari Raya Aidilfitri where a night market or "pasar malam" pops up every evening and lures locals and visitors with delicious Malay food. But no matter what time of year you visit there is always something going on.
Vegan filled vine leaves OR Arabian spring rolls
A mini sticky rice parcel with a chicken filling OR Nonya cakes steamed in small Chinese tea cups
Coffee and toast with Kaya jam
Singapore’s favourite Rendang OR Gulai Cobodak – The King of fruit on a plate
Celebratory Kampong Desert OR Black Glutinous Rice Pudding