Monday, July 06, 2009

People's Park takes a new role

Long ago, some people might feel uncomfortable with words such as "People's .." for fear of being associated with communism. But interestingly, in Singapore's Chinatown, the People's Park did not seem to really elicit any fear. It could be because then, it was more known by its Chinese name than its English. People's Park Complex was known as Zhen Zhu Fang 珍珠坊 which could be translated as Pearl Place.

I took a walk through People's Park Complex last weekend, and to my surprise, the place was crowded, very crowded. There was a bigger variety of mainland Chinese there. Many were tough, brown and brawn, speaking in numerous dialects and possible Mandarin in heavy accents. I gather that they must be in the construction industry here. Singapore has seen a surge in Chinese construction contractors in the local building industry. People's Park Complex now has many Remittance Centres allowing the mainland Chinese to send back money to their home, just as Lucky Plaza is to the Filipinos. The lonely POSB ATM at one end saw a constant long queue as the workers waited patiently for their turn to withdraw money, probably to hop down a few steps to the remittance centre. Hmm, under IN2015, perhaps, they could do it at one place with the remittance centre working with POSB for direct transfer. Just a thought. It could be a nightmare for the IT security.

By the entrance to the Overseas Emporium - once upon a time, this Chinese emporium is one of many where all local Chinese flocked to get cheap Chinese goods, and unknown to many, the English editions on Socialism and Commission, good enough to get one to sleep - was a crowd looking at two topless young men showing no pain as they had their back drilled (tattooed).

People's Park has seen a resurgence of crowds and hopefully customers.

I could remember long long ago when the People's Park Complex was probably the biggest departmental store in Singapore. That must be in the late 60s. I remembered joining the curious crowds walking through the empty corridors in the newly finished complex. The place smell new.

There was an "open air" coffeehouse where I first brought my German visitors to for their breakfast. That was another story on culture shock .. just how the eggs are to be prepared and coffee without sugar. That was in 1978.

People's Park continued to evolve. Being small shops selling almost identical ware, it was tough business. Restaurants came and went. I remember having vegetarian dinner at the Kingsland Restaurant at one corner of the complex. The luggage shops seem to be able to sustain their lives there. Then the shops selling the "smelly" medicated oil, said to be good for treatment of the muscles came in. The place "stinks" probably chasing away the non Asian foreigners. But it must have added to the flavour of the Asianness there.

Recently, a sex shop opened. That opens up a new dimension to this multi-faceted complex. The People's Park Complex continues to evolve.


Lam Chun See said...

In my younger days, I too liked to shop here. But have not been here for ages.

chinatownboy said...

Hi Chun See,
You might get a small culture-shock when you next visit. (^^)