A Narrow Escape

May 28, 2008 at 8:09 pm | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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Do you know where to find the narrowest street in Singapore?

From the bustling Bugis Junction, take a little detour down Arab Street and you would find this narrow street that hardly fits one car.

Haji Lane – the narrowest street in Singapore

The pre-war shophouses had been preserved and now housed a number of indie stores and vintage boutiques. The interesting thing about Haji Lane must be the contrast between the new and the old culture. We were immediately greeted by the numerous street arts on walls and pillars shouting out loudly for attention, a sight usually untolerated by the clean city.

Stenciled street arts… were they trying to stamp out the old look
and imprint some new ideas?

An old metal gate seemed to be guarding the deep-seated cultures in
Haji Lane…

But the new ones retaliated back with a bolder statement!

Somehow this reminded me of one of my favourite illustrators from Hong
Carrie Chau….

Old world charm of the nostalgic facade

A glimpse into the future or reflections of the past?

A trusted brand since 1918…

Versus one that carried lotsa attitude, short of telling you to take it
or leave it…:p

Haji Lane was also a place for artists to show off their talents. Just opposite this ‘bird brain’ shop, we saw a Malay guy who started to display his art pieces for sale. Itchyfingers thought he was very talented, but didn’t go take a closer look or take his picture cos just beside him was a not so fit yet went topless young ang moh sitting there. Shy leh…later the ang moh think I was admiring his “once-upon-a-time-there” muscles then how…? hahah…:D

“Do we see the world change?”

Besides the many fashion boutiques, there were also many cafes and bars mushrooming in the narrow lane, providing an ideal escape from the city area as well as chill out place with friends. 

Soak into the atmosphere in the many cafes lining the street

It was towards the other end of Haji Lane that we also found these interesting graffitis, some of which dealt into controversial political issues…

Stenciled art or ‘censored’ art? Must be from his supporters…

Borat! 8)

More stenciled art…For a while I thought I wasn’t in Singapore, where
graffiti is not allowed in public places…

Arab Street and its vicinity were equally interesting places to explore. We found this set of charming wooden table and benches outside a pub at a corner, kinda reminded us of the nice corner in the ‘secret garden’ in Kampong Lorong Buangkok.

Unlike in the kampong where things were left outside unattended,
these were chained to prevent theft…:( So ugly..

Beautifully carved, these showed the Malay communal way of life in
kampong, with the young paying respect to the elders

So nice I wanna bring them home….no wonder need to chain up…

A kitschy water fountain display of the Barbie family….

Then we found the biggest Mentos in the whole of Singapore…:D

Mint for you? Might take a while to swallow them all…:D

Batmobile at a costume rental shop

Dun wash your dirty linen in public…:p

Building facade decorated with mosaic tiles

Even for the signage!

Sadly most of the old buildings along the road were due for demolition. Some luckier ones might escape and get a makeover in the name of conservation, but more often in the process, lost their original charm and flavour.

This tailor shop with the red number tag would be gone the next time
you pass by the Arab Street areas

With more peoples’ preference for all things new, the old ones would
have to give way…

So next time you go shopping at Bugis Junction, do pop by Haji Lane to visit the many funky shops and cafes and also to take a look at these old buildings around Arab Street. They might be a thing of yesterday very soon!

Also see related posts:
> Secret Garden in the Last Kampong
> Balek Kampong – A Return to Village Dwelling


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