Posted by: yannaungoak | September 28, 2009

Walking around Bugis

I finally found the battery charger for my camera so I won’t have to use my stupid phone camera anymore. 8 megapixels of goodness awaits. I walked around my house last night and took a few photos. They’re all on my flickr now, and here’s a little account to tie them together.

First of all, I have to say I’m completely in love with the place I’m living in right now. It’s an amazing neighborhood, incredibly vibrant and diverse, and most importantly, with 24 hour food courts all around! Sadly, we’re moving out of here by the end of October, to a quieter and cheaper place. It’ll still be near the city center though, but it’ll be a completely different vibe. So it’s a good thing I’m documenting all this!

Last night, I was meeting some of my friends at Orchard and I decided I’d walk there instead of taking the bus.

I started downstairs and just randomly started taking pictures of weird and wonderful things, but it just so happened that I just kept taking pictures. I’d turn around and see another cool thing, turn the corner, and there would be another cool building. They just kept on coming.

Below my house, there’s a kind of fair going on right now for the Chinese mid-autumn festival, and if there’s one thing that is associated with the festival, its moon cakes. And to make it more apparent, they have set up a giant rotating moon cake right below my apartment…

Giant Rotating Moon Cake

The pedestrian street below my apartment is usually filled with traditional Chinese things, lots of stores selling traditional herbs, fortune tellers, shoe repairmen (somehow the cobblers in Singapore are always old shirtless Chinese men). But now that its mid-autumn festival, they’ve bumped it up a notch, with a makeshift stage where they have entertainers singing old school Chinese songs, auctions of porcelain vases and figurines, and Chinese opera. It’s not all Chinese though, a few hundred meters from the mid-autumn madness is a Hindu temple (the Sri Krishnan Temple), and right beside that, is a Chinese temple to the Goddess Kuan Yin.

Walk in any direction for about five minutes from my house, and you’ll find another wonderful thing about my neighborhood: art schools. There’s the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts across the street from my house, there’s the beautiful Lasalle College of the arts (picture below), and they’re building a new Singapore School of the Arts (picture below). In addition to those three massive arts schools, there’s also all these little establishments like all the ones listed here, and all kinds of other places that teach anything from graphics design to traditional Indian arts.

Lasalle College of the Arts

School of the Arts

School of the Arts

The best thing about it, though, is that it does not in any way feel like an “artsy” neighborhood. It’s just like any other regular neighborhood. No hipsters! Thank God for that! People here appreciate that you can be an artist without having to walk around looking like a jackass and opening coffee joints that sell only organic soy based products. I think part of it though, is that all this is a recent development. In the last five years or so, the Singaporean government has set an agenda for Singapore to become a big center for the arts in South East Asia. They’ve poured a ton of funding into supporting any and all kinds of artistic pursuits. It’s happened so quickly that I don’t think the residents here have had time to adjust. The very idea of a government sponsored arts scene is weird, but that’s generally how things work here. I was surprised that some little known indie bands such as Stars and Tortoise have come here to perform in Singapore, and I imagine they probably didn’t fund their trip from just ticket sales, it has to be some of those government funds. Interestingly though, it all works somehow. Apparently, Singapore’s stimulus package in response to the recession has been the “smartest in the world“.

Shit, I praise this island so much, I feel like the PAP should pay me or something.

Anyways, more about walking around the neighborhood. So, one night I was walking around at 3 AM looking for a place to eat as usual, and there was this one food court where I found at least 3 to 4 tables consisting of the following crowd: about half a dozen beautiful young girls in short skirts sitting around an old hideous looking middle aged Chinese guy. Hmm… guess what that’s all about. I was surprised because I didn’t know there was a red light district near my house. And actually, there isn’t. It a milder kind of thing: Karaoke bars. I think it’s found most often in Asian cities, where instead of just singing karaoke (or KTV as they call it), you can pay a little extra to have some pretty girls “sing” together with you, accompanied by some mild creature comforts. In Singapore, the girls are usually from China or Vietnam, and recently there’s even some from Russia I’ve heard.

KTV madness

KTV madness

About ten minutes more walking amidst  old shop houses and modern shopping malls will get you to edge of Orchard road, which is THE shopping district in this island full of shopping districts. If you’re coming in from Bugis, where I live, the first thing you see is Plaza Singapura, which used to be my old hang out place, when I used to go to school here. It was across the road from where my school used to be, and I’d always go eat there.

Plaza Singapura

Plaza Singapura

And finally, Orchard road proper… malls, malls, malls. And they keep building new ones. The latest craze seems to be malls which have these walls that are covered with thousands of little lights that light up in different colors. There’s at least four or five different buildings that I’ve seen that was built in recent years that has this feature. Famously the ION Orchard and Orchard Central (picture below), but several other ones just in the city center alone.

Orchard Central

Orchard Central

So, in the interest of not clogging up your bandwidth with all these pictures, I guess I should stop now. Next I’ll post something about the stuff you see when you walk in the other direction from my house.



  1. welcome to Singapore, man!

    • Thanks Kris. Btw, where do you live? We should hang out some time.

      • Yup..I live in the west. Drop me an email when u’re free.. I’ll give u a call.

  2. luvly! u living in a good spot! did u watch f1? i was gonna watch it but it was at 8am sunday morning so i didnt wake up in time

    • Yeah, I only caught bits and pieces of F1 on TV. We could hear it from work though, cos they drive by on the road that’s like one block away from Peninsula.

      • haha.. i caught the noises too. i thought aliens were invading the little island ..

  3. why don’t any of your captions say something other than what is in the neon signs? o_O

    • Yeah? Where’s the neon sign that says “Giant Rotating Mooncake”?

      • Well that’s the only one, and that was fairly evident from what you had previously described, no?

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