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Neighbourhood Walk: Jalan Besar
Join us on a voyage of discovery around the incredibly eclectic Jalan Besar — literally "Big Road" in Malay.
Discover the former Boyanese pondoks (lodging houses) and their association with horse racing, and the neighbourhood's widely varying architectural styles including SIT (Singapore Improvement Trust) flats, the terrace Houses of Indian Municipal workers, and more recent HDB housing.
Explore the site of former New World Amusement Park where in the heady days of the 1920s cosmopolitan, cultural and sporting offerings included ‘taxi girls” and the Queen of Striptease. The world’s oldest profession has subsequently moved to the nearby back lanes.....
Admire the Petain Road shophouses in all their wonderfully eclectic glory: Chinese baroque-style, commissioned by an Arab, and located on a street named after a WWI French war-hero turned traitor in WWII. See photo below.
Find spiritual solace in both a colourful 24-hour Tibetan-Buddhist temple allowing residents, taxi drivers, and pub/nightclub hostesses and their late night patrons to worship and get blessings, AND the contrastingly understated Holy Trinity Church completed in 1941 to minister to the Hokkien and Hakka communities. The nearby Methodist Church caters to another minority community, the Hinghwas.
Feel the new hipster vibe brought by popular coffee roasters such as the Chye Seng Huat Hardware cafe, whose name pays tribute to the hardware and engineering shops that once filled the neighbourhood, some of which you can still see today.
Hear the cheers of fans at the Jalan Besar Stadium, the birthplace of Singapore football, whose first game took place on Boxing Day 1929 and which saw numerous Malaysia Cup matches. In 1942, a different crowd turned up unaware of the fate that awaited them as part of the Japanese Army's Sook Ching exercise.
See the Victoria School next door which nurtured 3 Presidents of Singapore.
End at the stylish Vagabond Club (winner of the 2016 best Singapore boutique hotel) with its Parisian salon decor, and amazing artworks. See photo below.