Sometimes it can be difficult to think of where to take your kids in Singapore. The heat and humidity can make outdoor activities uncomfortable, and young children can get irritable if there isn't ice cream at hand!

The trick is to get out early, or leave your activity until around 4pm. Make sure you break up the day with some air-conditioned buildings, and cold drinks.

I took my kids to Kampong Glam the other day. Heeding my own advice, we had a stroll up lovely pedestrianised Bussorah Street. This little street is lined with interesting shops selling a mixture of souvenirs and handicrafts from around the region. One shop we entered was Grandfather's Collection, which had a rather quaint mixture of retro, kitch and 'antique' curios from China. The kids enjoyed the wind-up tin toys and the old telephones. Unfortunately the Sultan Mosque was closed to tourists at the time we visited, but in the mornings it is open for visitors.

To cool off we headed for the Malay Heritage Museum, just around the corner. It is a small but very interesting museum, with enough to keep the kids happy for 40 minutes. It is set in a lovely garden, with a fountain out front, blooming frangipani trees and a replica wooden boat (which was actually out of bounds because of rotting wood).
We were happy to head inside, and found the museum full of interesting snippets relating to the history of that area of Singapore.

We learned that when Raffles landed in 1819, there was a thriving community of Malay settlements on the banks of the Kallang and Singapore Rivers. Raffles allocated Kampong Gelam to Sultan Hussein and his followers, gave the Chinese the area south of the Singapore River, and preserved the area north of the river for the British. Singapore is still planned around these guidelines.

Upstairs there is a reconstruction of a traditional Kampong house, with thatched roof and standing on stilts. You can walk around inside and get a feel of this way of living (you can still see this style of housing in Malaysia, and even on Pulau Ubin). There is also a replica interior of an HDB apartment,circa 1960, right next door. Interesting black and white photos show what this area of Singapore looked like in the 1960s- it was still Kampong stilt houses and swamp!
The museum is a good size for children-not too big and enough visual stimuli to keep them interested.

After the museum we headed back to Bussorah Street for ice cream (my daughter was keen to try Sleepy Sam's Cafe but there was nowhere to sit) and strolled around to Haji Lane.
Not exactly a kids friendly area, but interesting all the same, it is becoming a little enclave for local designers. The funky boutiques are fast appearing- hope they do well- Pluck was one of the first, but now there is Salad (black and white home deco), White Room, Mono + Machine complete with distressed doors, and Chinese inspired funky clothes and accessories,
Quaint Secrets for jewellery.

This little discovery is more fun without kids, but check it out, and come back on your own when you can pick up some hip gear without worrying about kids. Just remember that most shops in Singapore don't open til 11am, but they are open late, so there is plenty of opportunity to explore.

Malay Heritage Museum
85, Sultan Gate
Singapore 198501
Tel: +65 63910450

Mondays: 1pm to 6pm
Tues-Sun: 10am to 6pm


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