Before I spent more than an hour watching the really fascinating Javanese “horse trance” dance performance I chanced upon in Joo Chiat, I had been on a self-initiated photowalk down Joo Chiat Road. As a long-time Katong/Joo Chiat resident, I was walking a route I already knew well, but had rarely bothered to photograph.
If you’re from this part of town as well, I hope my photos will reflect what you know and love about our neighbourhood. And if you’re not familiar with it, I hope you’ll like what you see in my photos and come visit!
I got off the bus opposite Holy Family Church on East Coast Road and walked back towards Joo Chiat Road. Although I usually charge straight into the Santa Grand Hotel to stuff my face at Peramakan, today I took a moment to enjoy the five-foot-way tiling outside their doors.
Next, I took a short detour, crossing East Coast Road soon after the Santa Grand Hotel to visit one of my favourite streets in the area, a little cul-de-sac so seemingly insignificant that it doesn’t even have its own street name (look for the road between Mount Pleasant Animal Hospital and Yong’s Teochew Kueh). Although I was only able to admire its beautiful old terrace houses from the outside this time, the visit brought back happy memories from when my friend Jacob used to live there.
Retracing my steps towards the main road, I glanced to my left to see I12 from an unexpected perspective.
Some bits of this part of town may have gotten a bit glitzy, but at least its back streets haven’t changed much.
Back on the main road, I headed left to the junction, crossed and started walking up Joo Chiat Road. Outside Casa Bom Vento, even the roadside power box had been decorated with a Peranakan motif.
Trendyish places come and go on Joo Chiat Road, but there are plenty of other shops which look as if they’ve been there a long time.
I hope it is still a place where long-time residents feel comfortable.
Of course, no photowalk of Joo Chiat Road is worth its salt without some time also spent on Koon Seng Road.
Back on Joo Chiat Road, at the junction with Dunman Road there is a shop which sells nothing but commercial freezers and food display cases.
If you keep walking up Joo Chiat Road from here, you get into what could be described as its sleazy stretch, though things are a little more balanced there now, and there’s still plenty of charm to be spotted. Like the sort of little no-frills greengrocers which abound in the back streets of Little India.
And gorgeous architectural details above the rows of neon signs.
As the sun set, Joo Chiat’s bars opened and its girls came out to play. But the real heart of all the action was this spot on the pavement outside a Vietnamese eatery, where three children had made themselves a train out of chairs.
By now, I could hear the music in the distance for the “horse trance” dance I would soon witness, and that is where my photowalk continued, and ended. It was one of those days when I felt lucky to live where I live.