One of the things that really fascinated me the most about Singapore, was all of the pretty pastel houses complete with ornate tiles, neoclassical touches and the most eclectic colour combinations. Forget Kensington, Joo Chiat is my new happy place. That’s the thing I love the most about travel, it’s a bit like joining the dots when you see a couple of things you recognise (such as rather British-sounding street names like Neil Road), juxtaposed with something completely new.
I’ve seen some pretty bright houses in Jamaica and Costa Rica, but Peranakan architecture is on another level really, combining the best of Malay, European and Chinese elements. Apparently these kinds of terraced houses were taxed by width, so they’re quite narrow from the outside and deceptive in terms of size (the richer families would build houses several stories high, throwing in even more decoration).
Blair Road and Joo Chiat are probably the kind of areas you might miss if you’re just doing a short stopover here, so it’s worth taking a little detour to see the best examples of this style. The inhabitants seem to be quite good-natured when it comes to people taking pictures outside, it’s quite a contrast from when I got scolded once in Kentish Town from across the street. My enthusiasm over colourful houses makes me react in strange ways, okay!
After visiting Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Hong Kong, Singapore is probably where I felt most at ease in terms of safety. I guess that if you’re new to this part of the world, it’s a good place to start as it’s relatively easy to adjust (though I don’t regret throwing myself in at the deep end with my travels one bit).
You’ll notice a few similarities if you’re a Brit, since they use our three pin plugs, drive on the left and people love to queue. Everyone speaks English as well as another two or three languages, attitudes are pretty modern plus you’ll also find that Uber and Citymapper also work here.
There’s also a strong art and design scene that’s worth exploring, I didn’t get a chance to visit the Red Dot Museum but I did use their handy app pointing out the best creative spots within a 3km vicinity.
Basically it ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to everything I like in a city. I know that I seem to add pretty much everywhere I visit onto a ‘Must Return’ list, but that feeling seems to be even stronger when it comes to Singapore. Perhaps the food had something to do with it (see my vlog for a sneak peek)…