A Touch of the Past: Geylang Singapore

Geylang is part two from the “Let’s Go to Singapore!” series, after a short introduction to the Lion City.

The Red Light District

From Changi airport I took the MRT train to the “Aljunied” station where I was welcomed by 14 CCTV cameras!

My two stars “Fragrance Hotel Ruby” is located in the middle of the Geylang red light district. After checking-in, I went out to explore the neighbourhood.

There is nothing here from the excitement and glamour of Tokyo’s or Bangkok’s red light districts.

Red Light District, Geylang Singapore

Red Light District, Geylang Singapore

You barely notice the houses of sin. The main difference is in the number of the house. The brothels have a bigger and colourful number than a normal house. But some have a name or a photo of a lady, very conservative compared with other parts of the world.

Geylang Night Club

Geylang Night Club

Day and night, freelance prostitutes searching for customers walk the alleys or wait in front of dark entrances. A reminiscence of the past, when Geylang had over 50 lanes of prostitutes – a bustling business with niche services to fulfill any fantasy.

Despite the fame of the area, I felt safe all the time.

Wonderful Durian

“Wonderful Durian”

The Polite Gangster

Taking photos of the backstreets alleys in one evening, I was politely asked by a fully tattooed guy to stop: “This is a sensitive area”. And indeed it is. Few steps further, groups of people were playing cards for money on big tables, and further away about eight prostitutes were sitting on chairs with their pimp trying to make a sell: “do you want one, two or three?”…

Geylang gambling street

Geylang gambling street

It is an interesting world to watch from a distance. So I ordered a beer (which, by the way, does cost a fortune here) and I aimed for a table near the street. At that moment, the customers and the waiter started to shout: “not allowed, go inside, new law, this is Singapore” – by inside meaning close to the outdoor restaurant counter.

So I got to watch a wall instead of the bustling activity of the street, with an expensive beer and wondering what other laws Singapore has that I don’t know…

Old Geylang

Geylang backstreets

The Almighty Viagra

You cannot believe how many sex enhancement products for men exist, until you see all these medicines together displayed by ambulant vendors direct on the ground. Some are legal, such as Viagra and Cialis, but others are illegal and potentially harmful for health.

The Past

But the beauty of the Geylang area comes from its past. The old shophouses from the beginning of the past century bring a nostalgic feeling.

Geylang Shophouses

Geylang Shophouses

Even the ads, purposely or unintentionally, match the past. Faded by the sun and helped by design, the Coca Cola ads are perfectly integrating in the décor of this area.

Lunch at Geylang

Lunch at Geylang

People, mostly seniors, are enjoying a meal and a cup of tea on the patios of the old restaurants.

Geylang Tea Time

Geylang Tea Time

Frogs, Turtles, Crocodiles and Jellyfish

Small restaurants serve Singaporean, Malay, Indonesian or Chinese meals. Frog porridge, crocodile stew and turtle soups are some of the most exotic dishes you can try.

What did I try? Jelly fish! The chef came with raw slices of the jellyfish to ask me if I really want to eat this. I said yes, thanking in my mind that he didn’t show me the actual whole, so gelatinous creature. The dish was delicious. The jellyfish tastes more like a turnip cabbage. Vinegar was used for cooking.

Jellyfish Dish

Jellyfish Dish

Next, we’ll travel in time from old Geylang to the futuristic architecture of Marina Bay.

Highlights of Singapore

 

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