Temple crawl day: the day where Tom Schultz, Singapore aficionado and satay enthusiast, takes a day off from corralling a bunch of 20-something year-olds around Singapore and lets the students plan the day. In this case, one brave youth, Magdalena Phillips, volunteered to fill Tom’s sensible walking shoes. Single-handedly planning and leading our day, 22 year-old Magdelena crafted The Agenda to end all agendas, which consisted of visits to eleven (11) places of worship, beating the previously held record of nine.
After a rousing morning debrief, our first stop was Poh Ern Shih, a Buddhist temple built in 1954, and renovated multiple times since, including the addition of solar panels on the roofs in 2007. From the top story, we got an amazing view of Pasir Panjang, and before we left we were gifted free books of Buddhist Sutras.
Our next stop was the Taoist Ting Kong Temple, which displays colorful statues of all eight Immortals of Chinese mythology. We then took a quick bus ride to the Taoist Tang Gah Beo temple and Roman Catholic Church of St Teresa, which sit right next to each other. Mass was being held at St Teresa, but we were able to go inside Tang Gah Beo temple. After that, we went to Wat Ananda Metyarama, one of the oldest Thai Theravedic Buddhist Temples in Singapore, with a large compound consisting of a Dhamma hall, a meditation hall, and a cultural center (which was sadly closed).
Our next stop was the Silat Road Sikh Temple near Chinatown, where we planned to eat lunch after. However, after insistent requests that we eat in the temple’s dining hall, we were treated to a delicious and filling meal. We then went to Sri Mariamman Temple (Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple), which was on the edge of Chinatown, and stopped for a quick souvenir break. After that, we checked off Maghain Aboth, the oldest and largest synagogue in Singapore, St. Joseph’s Church, and the Church of Saints Peter and Paul, all three of which were within a five minute walk of each other. Our final stop was at the Sultan Mosque, with its unique
combination of Indian, Islamic, and European architectural features, and the softest, richest carpets ever! Since the mosque was right by Arab Street, we spent some time among the shops and stalls before moving on.
After many rounds of applause were given to Magdelena for fearlessly and successfully leading us throughout the day, our group split up. Some of the undergrads and I went to Bugis mall to explore. It was there that I was introduced to my current obsession: Kaya toast. This dish, commonly served for breakfast in Singapore, usually consists of thin, sliced toast slathered with kaya jam (made with coconut milk, sugar, egg, and pandan leaf) and pats of butter, grilled to a crispy perfection, and served with kopi and two soft-boiled eggs topped with a dash of soy sauce and white pepper.
The kaya toast “sandwiches” are dipped in the salty-eggy mixture and eaten with extreme elation (in my case). I went to bed that night dreaming of kaya toast, and woke up the next morning determined to have as much of it as possible before I left Singapore.