Childhood Neighbourhood in Singapore revisited

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February 18th 2008
Published: February 18th 2008EDIT THIS ENTRY

Shop houses on North Bridge Road - 1Shop houses on North Bridge Road - 1Shop houses on North Bridge Road - 1

Refurbishment of these old buildings do take some time to complete.
I spent my memorable childhood in this immediate neighbourhood. Much had been demolished to make way for progress. I am glad that at least some parts have been spared and preserved for posterity. For how long, nobody knows because Singapore is a land-scarce nation. It is very tiny that it has become necessary to reclaim land from the sea. What used to be a sea-front bungalow is now hundreds if not thousands of meters from the sea.

As a boy, I had to walk hundreds of meters to my school. Together with my siblings and children from the neighbourhood, I used to roam and play on the roads and lanes throughout the area. The houses along North Bridge Road and Beach Road were and still are shop houses for business and living. Those on the lanes were mainly for living in only.

Close by is Rochore Road which once attracted many tourists with its infamous Bugis Street. Sailors on shore leave and tourists would visit Bugis Street for supper and drinking. The ladies of the night (transvestites) would start to appear around midnight to entertain and to keep the sailors and tourists company.

Additional photos below
Photos: 16, Displayed: 16


Old shophouse on North Bridge Road - 2Old shophouse on North Bridge Road - 2
Old shophouse on North Bridge Road - 2

This used to be a goldsmith shop. It had long been boarded up and abandoned. Trees are now taking over. It appears that this shophouse and the adjacent buildings will be demolished at some point of time.
Shophouse on North Bridge Road -3Shophouse on North Bridge Road -3
Shophouse on North Bridge Road -3

This refurbished building now operates as a Hainanese Chicken Rice. The lady owner used to work for the former Swee Kee Chicken Rice on Middle Road. She was the person making the special chilli sauce. For me, this is a must-eat place whenever I visit Singapore.
Shophouses on North Bridge Road -4Shophouses on North Bridge Road -4
Shophouses on North Bridge Road -4

This row of shophouses are located opposite the Sultan Mosque. It is no surprise that four of them are restaurants serving Muslim food.
The Sultan MosqueThe Sultan Mosque
The Sultan Mosque

On the corner of North Bridge Road and Arab Street. This has been a place of worship for the Arabs and Malays who live in the area known as Kampong Glam. On the way to school, we sometimes took the short-cut through the kampong compounds surrounded by a brick fence.
Kampong Glam CafeKampong Glam Cafe
Kampong Glam Cafe

This area has seen some major transformation over the years. There are now cafes and bars and souvenir shops catering for the locals as well as tourists.
Kampong GlamKampong Glam
Kampong Glam

What used to be homes for the Arabs and Malays have now been refurbished and converted into bars, restaurants, souvenir shops etc.
Arab StreetArab Street
Arab Street

near the Sultan Mosque. Many of these shophouses sell batiks and silk materials as they did many decades ago.
Bali LaneBali Lane
Bali Lane

One of the narrow lanes in my childhood neighbourhood preserved for posterity.
Bali Lane - 2Bali Lane - 2
Bali Lane - 2

These old building have been refurbished and converted from residential to business use. Please note the open drain in front of the houses where cockroaches and rats used to roam in the nights. Children would also use it as an open-air toilet.
Bali Lane - 3Bali Lane - 3
Bali Lane - 3

More refurbished shophouses (formerly residential homes) on Bali Lane. The 3-storey green building has character and appeal.
Haji LaneHaji Lane
Haji Lane

The other narrow lane in my childhood neighbourhood preserved for posterity
Haji Lane -2Haji Lane -2
Haji Lane -2

The old former residential houses take on a new look on Haji Lane. It is work-in-progress for a few of them still.
Haji Lane -3Haji Lane -3
Haji Lane -3

Haji Lane with one of the local residents, perhaps.
Haji Lane -4Haji Lane -4
Haji Lane -4

More old buildings on Haji Lane. The two buildings on the right appear to have occupants living in them.
My alma-mater near Kampong GlamMy alma-mater near Kampong Glam
My alma-mater near Kampong Glam

For many years, the school buildings were abandoned and left in ruins. Was surprised to find that they finally decided to do some thing about them during my 2007 visit.

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