Lavender to Bugis

Only one kilometre separates these two metro stations, but in that short distance is packed many interesting facets of our city, reflecting history, culture and not a few urban nightmares. Photo essay.

20 Responses to “Lavender to Bugis”


  1. 1 Dee 5 July 2009 at 20:19

    Thanks for the photo essay. I love them as usual. Btw, the Comments link for this essay from the site is a little off. I was redirected to this link instead:

    https://yawningbread.wordpress.com/2009/07/09/lavender-to-bugis/

  2. 3 Jonathan Wong 5 July 2009 at 20:30

    “The durian seed is coated with a yuckky, mushy flesh that has the texture of warm shit and that gives off a cloying, pungent flavour.”

    IMO, that is the money quote of the whole photo essay, right there.🙂

  3. 5 Ethel 5 July 2009 at 23:29

    There is a bridge being built to ease the congestion at the Bugis Junction crossing. Bugis Junction will be linked to Iluma via the bridge.

    Kudos on the photo essay. Actually there is a booklet collaborated by National Heritage Board, Central Singapore, Jalan Besar Citizens’ Consultative Committee and URA: ‘Jalan Besar – A Heritage Trail’, where certain areas in the Lavender district are highlighted which are very rich in culture and history. I do hope you can get your hands on a copy, as I got mine, I think, a year or two back.

  4. 6 daniel 6 July 2009 at 01:18

    wouldn’t the walk be better if it includes waterloo street that is positively even more colourful?

    I also like that waterloo street leads to the Singapore Art Museum and the National Museum of Singapore (where the Singapore story is told in a fairly interesting way)… and then to Fort Canning Hill should one have the stamina to keep walking.

    I like to make my foreign guests ‘work’ for their drinks at the top of Swissotel which i think is a great way to finish the day (sunset is perfect).

  5. 7 Lee Chee Wai 6 July 2009 at 03:39

    Thanks for the photo essay, Alex! As usual, helped me learn something new – this time about Bugis Village.

    My own experiences offering friends durians (after sufficient warning and a backup plan to have the fruit only at the end of festivities) has been more or less a 40/60 love/hate effect. Some who were willing to try it again actually ended up enjoying the 2nd round, a few demonstrated implacable hatred for the fruit (“tastes like industrial waste!”) and surprisingly, I found some who did not like it but declared neutrality, they were willing to tolerate the fruit served to others.

  6. 8 Kim 6 July 2009 at 06:15

    Hmmm… texture of warm shit…

    Does one need to have physically touched warm shit to know of its exact texture? Hehe.

  7. 9 Darren 6 July 2009 at 14:27

    Great photo essay… Like it!

  8. 10 Roy 6 July 2009 at 14:33

    Parkview Square was developed by a Hong Kong developer. I don’t think Singaporeans had anything to do with the design choice. I was actually quite tickled that a bunch of free-wheeling Hongkies decided to build something so audacious amidst all the stark geometric forms that dominate our landscape. Its almost as if they wanted to tease us. Its certainly over the top, and it certainly did get our knickers in a bunch, but I’m glad someone came and did something different for a change.

  9. 11 faizah 7 July 2009 at 13:33

    Hi thought I would share that I was born and lived in this neighbourhood up til the 1990s, and even got married in this house. My family still owns one of the shophouses (we recently renovated it, kept the upstairs for ourselves and rented the downstairs)in one the lanes ( right at the end of the same lane as pix 17). The Malay restaurant in pix 17 used to be a ‘holding area’ for Muslim pilgrims from Indonesia on their way to and from Mecca ( we called it “Rumah Jemmaah).The sad looking house on pix 18 used to belong to my family too – since sold and re sold to someone we don’t know who has not done anything about it. At one time entire families from my community from South Kalimantan who were all in ther diamond trade , used to live in this lane and the ladies ( who are not allowed to be seen outside) would visit each other by hopping from one connecting door to another on the second level ! The Chinese lady who used to live in the second level of the house next to the sad looking one in pix 17 would throw down her basket whenever she wanted to buy vegetables from this Samsui woman who used to come around our houses back in the 60s! It is awesome for my daughters to still have the privilege to know that the house their great grandfather bought when he came from Indonesia almost a 100 years ago, and where their grandfather ( my dad) and his siblings, and their mum ( me! ) and her siblings were born in, still exists and they can be in the same room that their mum (me) used to be in – gives them a sense of who they are and where they come from ,and where they are going. It has always been a great neighbourhood to live in (everybody knows everybody else!) and it’s still is a great place to be in even though it’s very different now being so much more commercial. I am proud to still be part of such a historical area in Singapore at a time when people don’t know much about their own roots anynore.

  10. 12 KAM 7 July 2009 at 16:10

    Thank you for the photos. It was very good and brings back memories.
    One thing which I noticed straightaway, was your anguish and bitterness about all things modern and all thing “singaporean”, it seems. I may be wrong to jump to this conclusion, but if you hate so many things in Singapore, and you cannot change it, why are you doing your best to spread your bitterness around. Singaporeans can and are so gullible that they will agree with you, and being bitter going through life is not going to help them one bit.
    Sorry to be so blunt, but this is my sincere observation. I do not mean any malice.

  11. 13 Harry 7 July 2009 at 21:07

    Hello Alex,
    I enjoyed this photo-essay. Thank you.
    Re: photo 13 of the muslim cemetary – it’s not just any ordinary muslim cemetary as it’s the same one reflected in the Coleman-drawn Raffles Town Plan of 1822, where it’s depicted as the “Royal Tombs of the Malayan Princes” and was once part of the Istana grounds.
    It is rather sad that such a historical site is left in such a delapidated state. A rumour is that the land may be re-developed into another shopping-cum-office complex. Hopefully, it will be declared “wakaf” first.
    Regards,
    Harry

  12. 14 yawningbread 7 July 2009 at 22:34

    Kam – how did you get that I am anguished and bitter about all things modern and all things Singaporean?

    Not at all. The very fact that I go around taking pictures of Singapore in the hope that I can give meaning to these scenes to Singaporeans, not tourists, is ample proof that I’m rather fond of this place. I want others too to share the same delight when I see little interesting bits here and there.

    As for all things modern – it’s quite the reverse. I love the modern. People who know my taste in serious music, for example, will know that my favourite genre would be middle and late 20th century music – the stuff that most serious music afficionados consider unlistenable. I love modern architecture, I think they bring a breath of fresh air and vitality to a city when done well. WHEN DONE WELL. The problem with Singapore is that we do it badly. Just listen to good architects discuss Singapore and you’ll hear lots of the same criticism. The problem is that what Singaporeans consider “modern” is actually already out of date. We tend to copy thet “tried and tested” modern designs, which then by definition, aren’t cutting edge, truly innovative work anymore, are they?

    Go look at the guest article Two architects, two paths about the shortlisted two designs for the Sentosa casino. I rooted for hte Gehry design, but which did SIngapore choose? The boring old fashioned one.

    Kind of reminds me that what Singapore considers modernity is to NOT enforce Section 377A, when the rest of the world including India is fast moving on.

  13. 15 KAM 8 July 2009 at 22:13

    “The problem with Singapore is that we do it badly”

    Maybe I was not very precise. I sense and read your level of “bitterness” and displeasure with many things in Singapore which is not to your liking or adhering to your standard of being “good” as opposed to being “bad”.
    Your comments (maybe it is just Singapore style, ahem I am also Singapore lang) are usually curt and filled with subtle cynicism and therefore I think it is part of the unhappiness in you and most Singaporeans in Singapore.
    Of course you can refute this easily by many flamboyant words and critical thinking, but take a few slow breathes and think about what I commented.
    Is it half full or is it half empty.
    To live half empty in Singapore, is harder than hard. May you find peace and more half full things in Singapore.
    Your photos, BTW, are fantastic. Thank you once more.
    KAM.

  14. 16 Anonymous 15 July 2009 at 01:33

    # 28 looks like fish/prawn crackers (before they are fried).

  15. 17 a. 20 August 2009 at 22:14

    thanks for the photos, brings back memories. must protest your condemnation of parkview square though! it’s gorgeous at night. when i was a kid i called it ‘the batman building.’ still do. it kinda reminds me of the cartoon series ‘gargoyles.’ it’s so much more interesting than the usual boring office buildings.

    my smoker friends love the shisha places on arab street. after a few times we got bored of apple-flavoured shisha stuff and they’d just start smoking on the comfy sofas inside. these establishments usually have a restaurant section and serve finger food. i’d advise against trying ‘syrian apricot tea’ though. it’s vile.

    during my poly years and first job, bugis street was great for buying <$20 made-in-china ballet flats. on weekday evenings after work i always saw more singaporeans than tourists around.

    bugis street will be my first shopping stop when i'm back for a holiday. will probably meet my friends at the shisha place too heh.

  16. 18 nst 5 October 2009 at 22:51

    Interesting choice of location. Contrary to most Singaporeans view of Singapore as having been a blank slate before the arrival of the Europeans, there was already a trading port at the Kallang/Rochor river area at the time of Raffles’ establishment of a British settlement, and this area continued to be a centre for trade with Indonesia right up until the 1970s (?). From Third World to First was never really quite true. There’s far more continuity in Singapore history than is widely acknowledged.

  17. 19 sparrow 27 December 2009 at 04:00

    Thanks for the fascinating personal tour. I had been in Singapore for only a short time, and one of the first walks I took was almost identical to the one you have described through the photos (I was actually lost after getting out at Lavender MRT). I found the place interesting and ‘new’ then.

    I have been edging towards tasting durian, having grown accustomed to its particular aroma over time, but probably won’t now.

  18. 20 eunice 28 July 2010 at 01:31

    Thanks for sharing! I enjoyed the tour from Lavender to Bugis virtually on your site. Really amazed that you know so much about the history, architecture, etc. of the city.


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