Friday, September 27, 2013

Hip Chinatown and Peranakan Shophouses: Ann Siang Hill and Amoy Street

While the predictable sights and sounds of Chinatown in Singapore are always welcome, I wanted to see a different side of this neighbourhood. The chicer side of Chinatown, and of course some culture as well.

Trivia: Did you know that the Chinese comprise a whopping 74% of the population in Singapore? Many of them are descendants of 15th-16th century Chinese immigrants to Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. They call themselves Peranakan, and also Baba-Nyonya (Baba: Male/Nyonya: Female).

In Chinatown especially in Ann Siang Hill and Amoy Street you can find beautifully restored Peranakan-style pre-war shop houses.

Colourful Peranakan-style traditional shophouses, the less elaborate version.

Amoy Street

Amoy street is heritage, character and charm. In the early days this street obtained its name from Chinese migrants from Amoy who lived here. During the colonial period when opium was popularly traded in Singapore, this street was said to be full of opium dens. They should have named it Amoy High Street =)

There is a hawker centre as well here called Amoy Food Centre. We didn’t drop by here because SisterJ and I will  be eating at the other hawker centre across the neighbourhood.

This is Amoy Street.

This area of Chinatown and its surrounding streets are very multi-cultural. While walking on Telok Ayer street to the direction of Amoy Street we saw a Buddhist Temple, a Methodist Church and a Mosque (Al Abrar), all three different places of worship on the same street. Now you tell me if that isn’t cool.

Ann Siang Hill

Ann Siang Hill is another area in Chinatown steeped in Peranakan heritage. But that is not all. Ann Siang Road and Club Street are two of the hip street places to hangout in Singapore. The younger crowd comes here lured by quirky and vintage shops showing off new concepts and design. There is a bohemian upmarket vibe with alfresco cool cafés on residence and restaurants offering a fusion of international menus. In the evening the bars and clubs come alive.

This area is mainly for young people. Let’s face it, only people above 50 call me young, the rest of the world call me a middle aged woman. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Growing old grows on you and it would be a nightmare for me to go back to my 20’s.

Nevertheless, we just passed by because I wanted to see the conserved Peranakan shop houses. You all know I have a thing with traditional architecture. The façade houses here are not very elaborate compared to the ones in Joo Chiat (which I will post separately) but they are bright, colourful, elegant and lovely to look at. They always make me smile.

Ann Siang Road.

Tip to the young ones: Another hip hangout area is Duxton Hill located beside Ann Siang Hill across Maxwell Road. Go check your Google Maps.

For the older ones and culture enthusiasts, if this interests you, I found online a walking trail in this area called The Pioneer’s Trail. Go here: Pioneer’s Trail – Ann Siang Hill Park & Telok Ayer Green

SisterJ and moi in the covered walk of Ann Siang Hill Park.

Skycraper views from Ann Siang Hill Park.

So where are we really going if we are just passing by?

Answer: EAT! We are hungry and it is past our lunch time already. I found this hawker stall (after much googling) hawking the best Hainanese Chicken Rice in Singapore, duly endorsed by world renowned TV-personality chefs. So naturally, I want to check this out. I informed SisterJ the location and my intention to drop by in Ann Siang Hill as well.

SisterJ was all smiles, ‘We are hitting two birds in one stone! The hawker place is near Ann Siang Hill!’

Now that you have seen a different side of Chinatown and enjoyed a little bit of Peranakan culture, I’ll bring you to the so-called Best Hainanese Chicken Rice Hawker in Singapore in my next entry.

Travel Period: July 2013
Destination: Singapore Central, Singapore

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

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