Geylang Serai in Singapore was the object of my desire for a visit last week, but please do not be alarmed. Do not mistake the family-friendly Geylang Serai with its Ramadan and Hari Raya Puasa festivities as another dubious lane for the R-rated Lorongs of Geylang.
I was there with my wife by my side (naturally) for a walkabout during Ramadan, the one-month-long period of fasting for Muslims. With the impending Hari Raya Puasa (the day of celebration at the end of Ramadan), there was a distinctive festive ambience in Geylang Serai.
Special decorative lights strung across Sims Avenue and Geylang Road, plus the bazaars around the Malay Village and Tanjong Katong Complex during this Hari Raya Puasa Festival offered an insightful walk at Geylang Serai and beyond.
In preparation for Hari Raya Puasa, organizers erected large white tents filled with street-side stalls to attract visitors to Geylang Serai during Ramadan. The high-roofed tents with spacious neat aisles between stalls provided a pleasant evening walk for my wife and I.
Unlike those pasar malam stalls that lined HDB streets of other estates, white-curtain tents had flaps that extended from roof to floor to shield visitors from noise and pollution of the Geylang Serai vehicular traffic.
Photo: Crowds throng Geylang Serai, Hari Raya Puasa Bazaar
The hundreds of bazaar stalls around Geylang Serai exhibited a wide range of items that curious visitors who have the time to linger will fully appreciate. Of note were the many carpet, curtain and clothing retail stalls that displayed fabrics in a buffet of colours. Other areas dealing in Malay cuisines, cooked food and other foodstuff appeared to be perennial crowd favourites. Car showrooms seemed to mushroom around the bazaar with the latest beautiful (car) models prominently on show. Traditional crafts, handiworks, CDs of music, VCD titles and household items also lined the interior of many stalls.
Of special interest was the contrast in pedestrian traffic before and after the break of fast. Come early in the evening to the Geylang Serai bazaars if you wish to enjoy more elbow space. But to experience the festive flavour, mingle with the crowd around the Geylang Serai bazaar stalls after hours to soak in the spirit of the Hari Raya Puasa festival.
Along the streets around Geyland Serai, banners welcomed visitors with attractive Hari Raya Puasa festive lights. While the decorations may pale in comparison to those over-the-top Orchard Road light-ups, their modesty was a unique feature of the Hari Raya Puasa spirit of self-control.
I had thought about taking a train to Paya Lebar MRT (EW8) station to get there for fear of sardine-packed vehicular traffic. Fortunately with Cisco guards directing human and vehicular traffic, driving into and out of Geylang Serai did not seem to pose many bottlenecks.
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