Far from the Madding Crowd

April 16, 2008 at 11:38 pm | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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Mention Orchard Road and what comes to mind will be shopping centres, restaurants, offices, hotels and condominiums. While many people may not have known of this stretch of old shophouses just beside Centrepoint, along Emerald Hill, some, like me, knew and heard of the place but never walk in to take a look, probably too distracted from all the many activities happening around the famous shopping zone.

We were just walking along Orchard Road one lazy afternoon doing window shopping when I suddenly felt like taking a look at the houses along Emerald Hill. One of the reasons why I didn’t visit the place earlier was that you need to pass through a stretch of bars and cafes which are often filled with noisy patrons. The only time and the furthest I went in was during college time while doing research for project that I found this nice little antique shop.

I remembered this shop was very interesting. A pity it was not open on Sundays.
May try visiting it some other days…

Once past the rowdy drinking crowds, it felt like another world the further we walked in. The stretch of old Peranakan styled buildings were simply gorgeous. Most of them had been refurbished and rented out to expatriates. Of course lah, sitting on prime location, how many locals could afford to stay there?

Nice black-and-whites

One of the most beautiful aspect of Peranakan (or Straits Born Chinese) buidings must be the tiles used. Often, flowers and plants were used.

Tile on building

Close up of a tile, often in shades of turquoise, red and green

 Besides the tiles, ornate doors were the first thing to greet visitors.

Gold and red were commonly used

Aged door preserving history of the Peranakans

The warmth of the nice late evening sun gave the place a quiet and peaceful feeling. We saw residents coming out for a jog or walking their furry friends. One nice encounter was the joyous look on an ang moh man when he saw his daughter, who, with the mother, were waiting at the roadside for his return from work. Such happy family…There was a small see-saw and I couldn’t help jumping on it to revive some parts of my childhood… 🙂 The only thing that was not in tune with the whole quiet setting was a graffiti on one small lane.

Another happy ducky family welcoming the return of their owner at the door

Masterpiece of some Jackson Pollock wannabe. The palm tree was not
spared either

Soon we also saw some houses that underwent lesser makeover, thus retaining even more charm.

So quiet…we weren’t even sure if there were any occupants

I love the tiles on this house! But this was one of those with a
big porch in front so we couldn’t go closer to take a look

Retro looking grill! Lovely!

Walking the backlane offered another view – a glimpse to the past of these buildings or even the history of Singapore. Back in the older days where people stayed in Kampongs, there were not any modern flushing toilet facilities. Hence there was this “Bucket System” where people would do their business into a metal bucket and at the end of the day, a “Night Soil Carrier” would come and collect your ‘goodies’ and replace the bucket with fresh ones.

Tisu Boy said the area at the right that seemed to have been patched up
might be an opening to deposit the soiled bucket for easy collection by
the Night Soil Carrier. Hmmm…seems pretty logical, since you would not need
to open your door to welcome the guy every night…:p

So next time you passed by Centrepoint, do make a detour and take a short stroll down Emerald Hill and discover another part of Orchard Road that you have not experienced before!

Also see related posts:
> Heartbreak Hotel in the Lost World
> Tang! Die-nasty


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