Pastel City: Singapore's Shophouses in Chinatown


Took a stroll in Chinatown with a roll of film, my Holga, and some worn-out tourist maps in tow. This is my analogue view of Singapore’s vibrant shop houses in Chinatown!

Credits: janey_mcfly

Last year I had the rare chance to go visit my two uncles and their families residing in Singapore. It was also my first time flying to another country (or as I say, “uncharted waters”) so everything was new to me. A month’s stay was definitely not enough, I must say. Nevertheless I took the full liberty to sip their Kopi, ate Roti Prata, and rode the MRT from Raffles Place to Sembawang everyday as much as possible. Luckily I had my college friends who were also there to find some work. We went from one place to another not as tourists but as regular people, even getting lost was part of the plan. As much as possible, I tried “blending in the crowd” (think Assasin’s Creed lol) to intimately grasp everything that is Singaporean. I think it is the best way to get to know their culture and savor it by the moment.

Club St. along Ann Siang Hill

Here’s my two cents: Instead of hiring a cab, take a walk. It is the perfect means to go anywhere, especially in a very compact place like Singapore. I advise anyone who plans to go there to do the same. Doing this gives you a lot of photo opportunities and the chance to discover uncluttered alleyways which lead to small public gardens, like we did!

Closed food kiosks
Tourists taking photos

And that is how my friends and I came to a marvelous place called Chinatown. Rows and rows of pastel welcomed us just after emerging from Ann Siang Hill. The magnificent sight literally took my breath away. Shop houses are basically like the classical Pinoy two-storey Bahay na Bato where the occupants live on the upper floor whilst during the morning, the lower floor becomes their means of earning an income. Unlike our houses, though, they have been excessively painting their houses and adding decor by the minute. Hah! The jealous bastard in me talks!

Very quaint indeed

I had a clicking frenzy with my Holga upon arriving, and I can safely say that this was definitely one of the highlights of my trip.The only regretful thing was, I only took one extra roll with me and the itinerary for the day was just starting. But I know I covered the places that were significant in that area. It was a very euphoric moment after having my film scanned a month later. Seeing them on screen tripled my natural high. For the first time I had the urge to go back to that place with a full arsenal of film.

Credits: janey_mcfly

The Holga Family is known for its saturation, shadowy vignettes, and dream-like scenes. This iconic camera clan will definitely steal your heart with its plastic charm. Head to our Shop and see which Holga is for you!

written by janey_mcfly on 2011-11-14 #places #chinatown #singapore #location #holga #urban-adventures #shophouse #select-type-of-location #kodak-portra-nc100


  1. gvelasco
    gvelasco ·

    Nice colors.

  2. janey_mcfly
    janey_mcfly ·

    thanks :)

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