Friday, June 24, 2011

Pastel City: Singapore's Shophouses in Chinatown

Last year I had the rare chance to go visit my two uncles and their families residing in Singapore. It was also my first time flying to another country (or as I say, "unchartered waters") so everything was new to me, and a month's stay was definitely not enough. Nevertheless I took the full liberty to sip their Kopi, ate Roti Prata and rode the MRT from Raffles Place to Sembawang everyday as much as possible. Luckily I had my college friends who were also there to find some work. We went from one place to another not as tourists but as regular people. As much as possible, I tried “blending in the crowd” (think Assasin’s Creed lol) to intimately grasp everything that is Singaporean. I think it is the best way to get to know their culture and savor it by the moment.

Walking is also the perfect means to go anywhere specially in a very small place like Singapore. I advise anyone who plans to go there to do the same. Doing this gives you a lot of photo opportunity and the chance to discover uncluttered alleyways which leads to small public gardens, like we did for that matter!

And that is how me and my friends came to a marvelous place called Chinatown. Rows and rows of pastel shophouses welcome us just after emerging from Ann Siang Hill. The magnificent sight literally took my breath away.  Here’s a light read about shophouses, care of Ye Olde Wikipedia. So they’re basically like the classical Pinoy two-storey Bahay na Bato where the occupants live on the upper floor whilst during the morning the lower floor becomes their means of earning income. Unlike ours though, they have been excessively painting their houses and adding decor by the minute. Hah! The jealous bastard in me talks!

I had a clicking frenzy with my Holga upon arriving, and I could safely say that this was definitely one of the highlights of my trip.The only regretful thing was, I only took one extra roll with me and the itinerary for the day was just starting. But I know I covered the places that were significant in that area. It was a very euphoric moment after having my scanned films a month later. Seeing them on screen tripled my natural high. For the first time I had the urge to go back to that place with a full bag of arsenal films.

Weapon of choice is my sidekick Holga 120FN and a roll of expired Kodak Portra NC100, cross-processed. Images are NOT to be printed or used without my consent. 

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