Just down the street from where I was staying in Joo Chiat is a stretch of shophouses on Koon Seng Road that are perfect examples of Singapore’s architectural heritage. Eastern and western designs influence the ornate style and details of many of the shophouses, and the façade is often decorated with tiles or plaster.
A shophouse is usually narrow at the street but very deep due to limited structural spans of timber and taxation laws during their construction. Sometimes the depth of the building is up to three times its width. Shophouses are commonly two or three stories high and a family’s business works out of the ground floor. Business owners usually reserved the upper floors for their residential apartments but sometimes they rented the space out to unrelated people.
The shophouses along Koon Seng Road are so unique from one another and the detailing on the façade is beautiful. From the pastel faces to the hand painted tile designs, each home truly stands out and is a testament to the culture. However, shophouses aren’t unique to Singapore and are found throughout urban southeast Asia. I can’t wait to discover more when I set off for Malaysia.
After admiring the buildings in our neighborhood, my Filipina roommate Lida and I went on a hunt for some food. There is no shortage of delicacies in Singapore, and you don’t even need to try anything out of your comfort zone (like insects or certain seafood) to experience them.
A short walk later and Lida and I found ourselves in what seemed like an office building near the train station. We followed the signs and went to the basement food court. After perusing the different cuisines, we selected Roasted Delights and had roasted duck and pork with rice, veggies and soup. Everything was great – just the right amount of fat and oil to make things tasty.
For me, eating in Singapore was an event worth celebrating. After surviving for so long in Australia and New Zealand on things like pasta and tomato sauce, ham and cheese sandwiches and baked potatoes, no one’s going to stop me from living it up in Asia! A totally filling, taste-bud thrilling dish will only cost you a few dollars. Nothing in Australia or New Zealand is that cheap, even if you eat off of the bargain menu. So bring it on Singapore, bring it on.