Sunday, November 27, 2005

Chinatown of Yesteryear

Chinatown today is very different from yesteryears. For those who lived in Chinatown in the 1950s to the 1970s, most, if not all of them are no longer living in Chinatown. At least not in the old pre-war houses.

Chinatown can roughly be considered to have three main parts, the Cantonese part, near to the People's Park Complex (between New Bridge Rd and South Bridge Rd, right to the former Upper Chin Chew St) , the Hokkien part (the area around Telok Ayer St and Amoy St stretching to Boat Quay, the Teochew part (Merchant Road and Clarke Quay).

Many looked back with nostalgia. Here is an interesting Blog that shares with us on this yesteryears in the Cantonese part of Chinatown.

My Memories of Chinatown

[Ack:Lam Chun See]

Protection of the Land

As in many traditional Chinese shops around the world, in the Chinese shops in Chinatown, one could see the small altars at the back of the shop, in many cases, dedicated to Guan Gong, the red-faced General of the Three Kingdoms. And on the floor near to a wall, one could find a small altar dedicated to the Deities of the five directions and the local land. This is for the protection of the land and space where the shop is.

Some of these altars could be seen on the five-foot-way, as shown on the picture here. As in Taoist practice, the shopowners worship the Land Deities of the five directions for their help in protecting their shop, land, space and business. In offering, you could see give cups of tea, and sometimes, Chinese liquor and five joss-sticks are used. Fruits or offering of food are also put on the small altar.

Adjusting to the modern times, where there is more consciousness on cleanliness, small burning bins for joss papers are used. Here is a picture of a small red burning bin.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Internet Access in Chinatown

For some reasons, internet access shops or cyber cafe seem to be hard to find in Chinatown. A couple of times, I was embarassed to say I did not know of any when approached by tourists seeking internet cafes in Chinatown.

Was I glad when I saw this flyer in my mailbox. I have not verified the place and will recce soon. But in case you are looking for one, here is the address:

YOMA Internet Corner and Mynmar Arts
1 Park Rd #02-110B
People's Park Complex
Singapore 059108

Opening Hours: Daily 10am to 10.30pm

Tel: 65366577

[Disclaimer: No commercial interest in this shop]

Multicolored Condoms

In all shades, shapes and sizes, the Condom shop in Chinatown sure has quite a selection. When I first took notice of the shop, it was during the Mid-Autumn festival show where the VIP stand was just in front of the shop. I wanted to take a picture of the display but with two policewomen standing next to the shop, it might give a wrong impression. (^^) No, the policewomen were there for crowd control.

And so, on this bright weekday morning, while passing the shop again, I decided to take a picture or two to share with you. For emergency, collections or even Christmas gift, there's quite a range to choose from. When I took a peek inside, a couple was deeply in discussions on the various types of the tubes. (^^)

The boxers that came with special compartments to stock the supplies seem to be great gifts. (^^)

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Spotted Wood Owl In Chinatown?

In the heart of the oldest part of Chinatown, at the corner of Amoy St and Boon Tat St, where there is a small green (with a few trees) next to Tian Hock Keng, one of the oldest Chinese temples in Singapore, I spotted an owl flying into the tree. I thought it was a bat, but it stopped for me to identify that it was an owl!

With friends, we have just had a wonderful porridge at the New Taiwan Restaurant, and were talking to our cars. Thanks to Tim who had a digital camera with him, even though conditions were bad, it was good enough for him to identify the owl as a Spotted Wood Owl. This was later verified by Subaraj, Singapore's first registered Nature Guide (, thanks to Prof. Wee YC (

In the part of the city where there's less greens than others, it is indeed surprising to see an owl there, and for me, it is a lifer. Thanks to Prof. Wee, I am using his picture of the Spotted Wood Owl to show a clearer view of this beautiful bird.

Acknowledgements: Prof.WeeYC, Subaraj, Tim