01 October, 2012

牛车水溜达 · Trip to Chinatown

Trips to Chinatown have always been a rush, and I never had the time to stroll down the streets to observe every detail. Finally found time last week to visit Chinatown!

I don't know much about Chinatown though. However, I do feel a sense of familarity, as if it was once my home. Whenever I think about Chinatown, the first place that comes to my mind is People's Park Complex, followed by the many streets selling various delicacies, souvenirs and traditional art pieces.


In lieu with Mid-Autumn Festival, Chinatown has been decorated with colorful lanterns as usual.

However, I couldn't help but wonder how much of the actual culture is left, aside from the decorations. Why do we have lanterns? What do we do on Mid-Autumn festival? How did the festival come about? Frankly speaking, my experience there was pretty hollow/shallow.

I checked it up on Baidu, and learnt about the three ways Mid-Autumn festival came about.

(1) People used to worship the moon, thus they developed a festival that's moon-centric

(2) People used to have the tradition of dancing under the moon in search of their soul mates

(3) The Hakka people pray to the God of the Earth in spring and autumn, and this festival is said to be what's left of that tradition

It feels as though Chinatown is losing its cultural essence in time. I finally understood why the elders are so against renovating Chinatown. The present Chinatown is more of a tourist attraction and commercialised area.

Between preserving cultural essence and catching up with the times, Chinatown is so torn inbetween.
This is just like how love and friendships should never be. If you cannot strike a balance between being yourself and accomodating others, you'll never be happy as a person.
I also came across a road junction and saw a beautiful stretch of walkway on the highest level. Just as I was about to take a photo, my friend told me that it used to be a brothel. Um...
I couldn't find any relevant information online to verify what she said, but I stumbled upon the story of another street instead.
一本名为《新加坡性商业》的书中记录,恭锡路(Keong Saik Road)在60年代是新加坡著名的红灯区,几乎整条街都是娼寮,有传闻指最后一间妓院也将在今年关闭。
A book documented the days Keong Saik Road was a stretch of brothels, back in the 1960s. The last brothel is said to be ending its business some time this year.
I've seen many historial records but nothing left me an impression. I think it means so much more, if you spend some time visiting the place in person to see and experience what's there.
Mosque Street对比照。(上)2009年重漆前;(下)2012年重漆后
A comparison of Mosque Street before and after the repainting.