Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Neon lights in the day at Geylang

You don't have to wait for the night for the neon lights to appear. It all adds to the charm of  Geylang, which appears to be a food galore as well. 
Seafood, bakuteh...

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Big, wide road

Jalan Besar has the old school bustle and energy that I like. Certainly not swanky Shenton Way nor Orchard Road, but I would rather be here on a weekend or weekday. Haising Hotel (far right) is a budget hotel that is quite highly rated. Quite a few old fashioned coffee shops can be found here too... maybe got nice wanton noodles? 
 JALAN Besar was built in the 1880s across a vast nipah swamp, on land belonging to Richard Owen Norris, the son of an officer with the East India Company. It must be a really wide road when it was built because "besar" means "big" or "wide" in Malay.

Apparently there were abattoirs for slaughtering pigs nearby at where Rowell Court is now, during the 19th Century. As it was near Kampung Kapor, the Chinese referred to the area as "Kampong Kapor's pig-slaughtering centre".

Jalan Besar, which has been gazetted a conservation area, leads into Bencoolen Street, another interesting area which has seen more changes and development than Jalan Besar.

I like the low two-storey shophouses sandwiched between higher buildings. 

Pointed gable (far right) next to the pink gable with a slightly rounded mound at its apex. Pointed gable suggests fire element for the Chinese, while the rounded mound suggest either wood or water element. The earth element is depicted by a squarish tip on the apex of the gable. 

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Good old buzz at Serangoon Road

Pictures taken 26 Jan 2016, a drizzly day.

Details on walls can be interesting. Here 
are a pair of racing horses decorating the 
wall of Haniffa Pte Ltd at 60, Serangoon Rd.
The company is more than 50 years old. Started
by one Mr O K Mohamed Haniffa at the shophouse
the business did more than OK. It grew and opened
 another branch at Dunlop Street. They have branches
in Malaysia and India.
Anyway, the Chinese always believe
 that horses are good fengshui!
For a dose of real "shophouse" buzz (if you are into that kind of buzz), nothing beats Serangoon Road.

You don't find any of the shophouses converted into some chi chi coffee houses, pubs or eateries. And some modern restaurants which started around the area with French food and etc, aren't all that pretentious. (Not sure whether the French Stall is still operating though, it was reported to be closing its doors in mid 2016 -- and I haven't tried its escargots!)

If you look at old pictures of Serangoon Road in National Library's PictureSG, you'll see that the shophouses now don't look too different from those in the 70s. The roads were just less crowded.

Which is great -- especially the wooden casement windows. 

Just a little trivial for you -- did you know that Joan Chen starred in a TV detective series called "Serangoon Road" -- set in the 60s? 

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Everton's preserved charms

Everton Road with its charming shophouses -- some are original and dating back to the late 1800s. Pictures: 7 May 2016.
Traditional wooden signboard on top of entance.
Auspicious couplets on doors.
Traditional outer swing doors. Windows (below) decorated with gold motifs.

66 Spottiswoode Park Road. An oft-photographed shophouse as its original 19th Century artwork got peeled off, uncovering the only known example of an intact and original 19th century decorative scheme in Singapore -- according to the URA website.
Back of shophouses facing Neil Road.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Purvis Street

Purvis Street, famous for its Hainanese eateries. Really must try Chin Chin Eating House one day. It has very good reviews. Just reading about its chicken rice, claypot mutton soup, Hainanese pork chop... makes me hungry. Only set back is that it's packed most of the time. And parking may be impossible. But yes, one day.
THE street was named after John Purvis -- born 1799, died 1872. He was a merchant in Singapore for some 50 years. He started John Purvis & Co in Singapore in 1822, was appointed a magistrate by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1823. He and his wife lived in Kampong Glam.

It is indeed an interesting street today. It even has a cat museum (live cats you can stroke during office hours, for a small fee which goes to the welfare of the cats which are mostly strays.). You can also find a few clan associations here (picture below). Thee main Hainanese clan association, the Kheng Chiu Hwee Kuan was established nearby in 1857, occupying three shophouses at Malabar Street which later moved to Beach Road, where it is today. 

BTW, Malabar Street is now an aircon street in Bugis Mall. But you can see how charmingly quaint it was in the old days: But of course, that's looking back with tinted lenses. Don't forget the squalor. 

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Tan Quee Lan Street

Tan Quee Lan Street. I haven't tried any of the food there, but apparently, the street is much featured by netizens for its food. Anyway, the second part of World Street Food Congress Dialogue 2015 was held in an open field on this street, attracting more than 200 people from all over the world!  Pics taken Feb 2016

I thought this was a rather charming street, with quaint two-storey shophouses neatly juxtaposed with those three storeys high. Actually the refurbished ones (seem refurbished to me) are still quite quaint, with shrubs if not trees growing from their rooftops.

Of course, no traces today of its heydays when opium dens were rife and Chinese brothels (while the neighbouring streets such as Bugis Street housed the Japanese ones). According to the book, Rickshaw Coolie: A People's History of Singapore, 1880 -1940 by James Francis Warren, richshaw pullers were able to earn a few fast bucks from ferrying prostitutes around in this area, and running errands for them. The prostitutes, bedecked with gold jewelry and beautiful clothes, would take the rickshaw, even if it was from one block to the next.

The street was named after a rich Hokkien businessman (died 1904) who owned land at Club Street and elsewhere, including a part of Bukit Timah where his wife was buried. The mystery of an unknown grave at Bukit Brown behind some private houses along Sian Tuan Ave was unraveled by Asia Paranomal Investigators in 2011 and traced to Mrs Tan Quee Lan.

There was also a Quee Lan Hill where the Chinese Weekly Entertainment Club now sits (picture below).
The Chinese Weekly Entertainment Club sits on what used to be Quee Lan Hill.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

East Coast Road

A haven for food lovers, but a nightmare for parking. This is what this area means to me -- usually. So the smart thing to do is to take a bus.  In my younger days, the Red House Bakery (now under restoration, to the left of the picture) was a really interesting place to me.  You could choose your bread or whatever morsel and then have them in peace somewhere in the bowels of this bakery which looked small on the outside but had courtyards once you entered. Established in 1925 it was closed in 2003, deemed unsafe.  A Jew started the bakery shop which was later taken over by a Hainanese seaman who apparently paid only $600 as "coffee money" to take over the bakery.  That was in the 1930s.  Information taken from Infopedia.