Friday 1 July 2011

Singapore: Chinatown’s sordid past, prostitution, poo and sausages

Keang Saik RoadMost people know Singapore’s Chinatown for its nice shops, temples, restaurants and bars. Just over a century ago however, according to our ‘Secrets of the Red Lantern’ tour guide, the area was full of brothels, opium dens and gambling establishments. The tour also included numerous references to the toileting habits of the locals at that time, suggesting the place was swimming in poo, as the men with the ‘honey buckets’ or mechanised ‘honey trucks’ failed to keep up with demand. Nice.

There is little evidence of this sordid past today. In Chinatown, the streets around Keong Saik Road are known as one of the island’s ‘Designated Red-light Areas’ (the others include Geylang and somewhere in Little India in case you’re wondering. Strangely, the infamous 'Four Floors' of Orchard Towers is not a DRA). Prostitution is legal in Singapore, but soliciting andErich's Wuerstelstand - Chinatown, Singapore pimping are not. Some of the last remaining dens of iniquity in Keong Saik Road are dotted among smart restaurants, bars and boutique hotels. At one point, our guide announced she would take us in to one of these establishments. Turned out to be a bit of joke as we ended up in another type of ‘meat shop’ selling bak kwa (smoked pork). Got some of the group worried however.

After the tour, we grabbed a quite bite and some traditional Austrian humour at Erich's Wuerstelstand in Trengganu Street.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Erich’s Wuerstelstand – ‘the navel of the world’!
Do they have fluff on their sausages?
Ta, Al.