Monday, September 14, 2015

Chinatown And Buddha Tooth Relic Temple And Museum - Singapore

During our time in Singapore we got to see Little India and Chinatown.  This post will about Chinatown.

In one of the markets in Chinatown we saw the best display of durians.

Durian Fruit Chinatown Singapore

We also saw a durian tree with durians actually on it in the Singapore Botanical Gardens.

Durians on the tree Singapore Botanical Gardens

I even tried durian (it was on my food bucket list) on the second ice kachang that I had while in Singapore.  Don't be fooled by this one, the jelly substance, corn, and beans are all under the ice this time.

Durian Ice Kachang Hawker Center Singapore

"What is a durian?" you ask.

It is a fruit that stinks.  I think the stuff I had on top of the ice kachang was processed in some way because it wasn't that smelly to me.  The taste wasn't bad either, but it is apparently so stinky raw (even before being cut into) that it is banned in many public places in Singapore like buses, subways, hotels, etc.  I read that it is one of those things that you either love or hate.

No Durians on Bus Singapre

No Durians in Hostel Sign Singapore

One of the reasons we wanted to go to Chinatown was to see the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, but before we got there we came across this sign.

Chinatown Food Street Sign Singapore

What?  An entire street dedicated to food!  We are there!  (Even if we had JUST eaten lunch.)  As it turns out it was another hawker center which was great.  We loved those things!

Chinatown Food Street Singapore

I couldn't bring myself to eat anything but Frankie had on his food bucket list to try satay, so he "forced" himself.

Satay on Chinatown Food Street Singapore

After that little venture we made our way to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum.

This is actually the back, but I think you can tell just how stunning the building is if even just from the back.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple Singapore

Check out some of these other outside shots.  I find them stunningly beautiful!

Roof Levels and Flowers Buddha Tooth Relic Temple Singapore

Laterns and Flowers Buddha Tooth Relic Temple Singapore

In the front before entering the door there is a dragon decorated incense alter.  People would light an incense stick, hold the bottom part between their hands while saying a prayer and then they would stick it into the sand.

Dragon on Incense Alter Buddha Tooth Relic Temple Singapore

When we arrived it must have been some sort of prayer time.

Chanting Inside Buddha Tooth Relic Temple Singapore

They were chanting to the beat of drum.  One person seemed to be leading the chants with a microphone but they were all reading from a book.  It went on for a very long time, I would say for over 30 minutes.  We were allowed to walk around the outer perimeter of the room to visit the back room.

The most interesting thing in the back room were the walls.  They were covered with little statues of Buddha.  A sign said that it was the wall of one thousand Buddhas.  Pretty cool!

Wall of One Thousand Buddhas at Buddha Tooth Relic Temple Singapore

Neither Frankie nor myself knew much about Buddha or Buddhism.  We were about to be enlightened.  (Did you see what I did there?  Ha!)

One thing before I go one, this is called Buddha Tooth Relic Temple for a reason.  There is a supposed tooth of Buddha on the 4th floor of the temple/museum. I wasn't able to take pictures on that floor but I just HAVE to show you the room that it is in so I will use someone else's photo.  If you click on the picture it takes you to the sight it came from.

This room is behind glass.  There is no getting anywhere near that tooth. It is very elaborate and very expensive.  All for a tooth! There is a camera on the tooth that is hooked to a television in the room we were able to go in where you can get a good look at the tooth.   I just HAVE to show you that too.

This is not the actual tooth we saw, but it looks a lot like it. I am sorry, but this is the nastiest looking tooth I have ever seen.  I know to many it is very important, but seriously, no one can say it is a pretty sight.

Now that I have insulted about 500 million people (plus the 900 million I insulted in an early post about the potbelly mustached Hindu deity), on to the museum about Buddha!

It really is a great museum to learn about Buddha and Buddhism.  It is very informative and thorough.  This is the very first informational sign we saw just so you can see how it was setup.

Preface Buddha Information Buddha Tooth Relic Temple Singapore

If you would like to read all of them they start here at the bottom of the page once it is done loading.  But basically it told about the life of Buddha and how he did everything he could including long term meditation and fasting, so that he could become enlightened in order to stop the reincarnation/rebirth process and not have to continue suffering on this earth.  He claims he managed to do so and then he died.  I am sure I left something out, but that is the shortcut version.

Speaking of Buddha, here are his footprints.  He was pretty flatfooted and having that thing in the middle of this foot couldn't have been comfortable, but his toe prints sure are cute!

Footprints of the Buddha at Buddha Tooth Relic Temple Singapore

We did learn that THIS is the real Buddha:

Meditating Golden Buddha at Buddha Tooth Relic Temple Singapore

And not this:

The Big Belly Maitreya Buddha Tooth Relic Temple Singapore

This is actually a Chinese monk who, according to records, was always seen with a money sack. He was fat and always smiling, so the Chinese decided that he must be the next Buddha that they have all been waiting for.  That is why you see his statue in Chinese restaurants, run up to him, rub his belly, and proclaim, "Hey, look!  Buddha!".

See the difference?   Left side: skinny meditating real Buddha.  Right side: fat happy not Buddha

Gifts of Fasting Buddha and Big Belly Maitreya Buddha Tooth Relic Temple Singapore

That is all I have for Chinatown.  I hope you enjoyed it.  My next post will be about the Singapore Art Museum.  Please come back and give it a read.

Until then!