Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Katong/ Joo Chiat Walk, Part 2

...continuing from The Katong/ Joo Chiat Walk

There were quite a number of interesting buildings that I had came across during the walk of the Katong/ Joo Chiat area. Although these buildings were not featured in the Uniquely Singapore: Katong/ Joo Chiat Walking Guide, it is worth to take some glimpses of them.

Leisurely, I strolled along Tembeling Road while enjoying the temporary peace that the street offered. A yellow-colour building stood out and it was one of the featured places on the Walking Guide.

At 62 Tembeling Road, there is a Chinese temple just beside the yellow-colour building. The temple is known as the Kuan Im Tng Temple. In the Walking Guide, it is stated that the temple was built in 1921. One should not miss looking at the ornate facade of the temple. One should also take a look at the statues of dancing dragons found on the temple's roof ridges.

Kuan Im Tng Temple.

Further down, along 89 - 103 Joo Chiat Place, I was recommended by the Walking Guide to see the architectural masterpiece of the Lotus at Joo Chiat apartments. Here's quoting from the Walking Guide:
The Lotus at Joo Chiat apartments are a fine example of integrating old shophouses with new flats, and were built in the 1930s in the Late Shophouse style.
I like these shophouses way better than those along Koon Seng Road. Perhaps I was drawn to the air of elegance that these shophouses of Lotus at Joo Chiat exuded.

I continued my journey and headed for Masjid Khalid, a mosque located at 130 Joo Chiat Road. As I walked towards the mosque, I noticed that the shops nearby the mosque show a distinct Malay influence in their architectural designs.

Masjid Khalid. Built in 1917, and renovated in 1998, the mosque was originally intended as a place of worship for the Indian Muslims.

Notice that the architecture of the shophouses in the background appear Malay in its influence.

I noticed a shop nearby the mosque, and I could not resist the urge to take a photo of the shop. Even an elderly man sitting nearby the shop was beckoning me to take photograph of the shop. I had a feeling that he had thought I was a tourist from foreign lands. Anyway, the shop looked like a carpentry workshop of some sorts. Somehow, I had a premonition that workshops of such layouts may soon vanish from a society that progresses rapidly, unless the rate of preserving our heritage could catch up.

In addition, my hands could not resist taking a photo of a man washing one of the stairways found at the back of a row of shophouses.

My walk continued as I walked towards Joo Chiat Complex. Somehow, walking towards Joo Chiat Complex jolted my memories. I recalled that my mother had brought me to Joo Chiat area for haircut when I was much younger. No wonder some parts of this part of Singapore looked vaguely familiar to me.

Joo Chiat Complex. This is one place to find Malay textiles and foodstuff.

During my walk, I noticed that there were probably some restoration works coming up for some of the shophouses. Would restoration give these shophouses new life, or would it make them lose their nostalgic flavour?

Too much of walking can be strenuous so I took a short moment of break before moving on. I was not confident of taking too long a break for if you could tell from the photographs, the skies were already turning very dull by then and I was worried that it might rain anytime then.

After the short moment of rest, I walked along Joo Chiat Road and came close to an open space called Joo Chiat Square. According to, Joo Chiat Square was launched by Member of Parliament Chan Soo Sen on 23 Dec 2006. "It is an initiative by the Joo Chiat Citizens' Consultative Committee for a planned programme of wholesome family and community activites right in the heart of Joo Chiat." I think Joo Chiat Square would make a fairly good performing ground for the performing arts just that the weather has to be kind or else sheltered tents have to be pitched.

Joo Chia Square.

Joo Chiat Sq.

Joo Chiat Sq.

After imagining the various possibilities that Joo Chiat Square could make as a venue for performing arts, I thought to myself that it would be great if there could be a story-telling programme held right there. There will also be several operas being staged there later the year.

By that time of the afternoon, I have covered quite a bit of the Katong/ Joo Chiat area. I walked towards the direction of Carpmael Road and headed for Ceylon Road. This Katong/ Joo Chiat area continued to treat my eyes to interesting sights and architecture.

I found the dragon-like designs on this building a fairly unusual one.

The skies were turning grey.

When I reached the junction of Ceylon Road and Dunman Road, I was fully aware that the Eurasian Community House stood at one extreme end of Ceylon Road. I decided that due to poor weather forecast, I would not walk towards Eurasian Community House. I merely took a photo of the building from a distance.

Eurasian Community House in the background.

The next part of my journey took me to two places of worship located along Ceylon Road. The St Hilda's Anglican Church at 41 Ceylon Road came across to me as a simple yet dignified-looking church. I was informed by the Walking Guide that the church was built in 1934 and was designed after a simple English parish church style. The conical tower of this church was built in the Victorian tradition.

St Hilda's Anglican Church

Very closeby to the church at 19 Ceylon Road is one of Singapore's oldest Indian temples, Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple. This temple has a history that dates back all the way to 1875. Its 21-metre high Rajagopuram makes it one of the tallest Indian temples in Singapore.

Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple. Notice the statues of the elephants.

After walking along Ceylong Road, towards East Coast Road, I found myself coming back to where I had started my walk. There was quite a number of things to see along East Coast Road. Certainly, it appeared to me that there are a lot of good eating places along East Coast Road and the Katong/ Joo Chiat area. Please check out these two links for more information: and

I like the row of conserved terrace houses along 150 East Coast Road. There is something unusual about these houses. Notice that the living area of these homes is built on raised grounds. These houses actually stand beside a former sea wall near where the beach used to be. I like the unique architecture of these terrace houses which according to the Walking Guide, showed "an eclectic mix of traditional local architecture infused with Western influences, seen in the elaborate fascia boards and decorative plaster motifs."

Conserved Terrace Houses along 150 East Coast Road

My walk that afternoon has been generally a peaceful yet interesting one. I think tourists who come to Singapore should not just visit the regular places like Chinatown or Orchard Road, there are also a lot to see at the Katong/ Joo Chiat area. Even more so, the folks in Singapore who aren't living in the East could visit this part of Singapore to experience the rich and colourful sights that Katong/ Joo Chiat has to offer.

My next stop was the Church of the Holy Family at 6 Chapel Road. This is a pre-World War II parish church and it was a focal point for the Eurasian community of Katong/ Joo Chiat.

Church of the Holy Family

For a piping hot cup of coffee, one can stopped by at Chin Mee Chin Confectionery which according to the Walking Guide, is one of the last remaining Hainanese coffee shops that retains an authentic 1950s ambience. It is located at 204 East Coast Road. I saw that it also sells hot kaya buns and sugar rolls.

Chin Mee Chin ConfectioneryChin Mee Chin Confectionery.

Nearby, at 208 East Coast Road, is the Katong Antique House. Here one can find beautiful Peranakan artefacts. It is certainly a place to shop for things Peranakan. I like its shopfront partly because the walls were painted in my favourite colour, blue.

Katong Antique House.Katong Antique House.

Then I ventured towards the direction of Still Road. At 25 and 26 Still Road South, lies the former Grand Hotel. The Walking Guide gave me some insights to the history of the Grand Hotel:
In 1917, Moona Kader Sultan, a wealthy Indian cattle merchant built the Karikal Mahal or the Grand Hotel as it was later known. Originally a complex of four houses, the luxurious gardens were split into two with the construction of Still Road in 1973.

Former Grand Hotel

former Grand Hotel

After treating my eyes to so many interesting sights, and my feet to a good workout, I was nice to my stomach and palate and treated them to Tau Kwa Pau, a dish consisting of fried beancurd skin stuffed with various ingredients such as minced meat, egg and cucumber. I quite like the special chilli sauce that came with it. Yummy.

My conclusion is that the Katong/ Joo Chiat area is a great place for the senses and the taste buds. The area is also a nice retreat away from the busy city life. Do pick up a copy of the Uniquely Singapore: Katong/ Joo Chiat Walking Guide and explore this part of Singapore too. Travelling in Singapore itself can be fun and enjoyable.


Uniquely Singapore: Katong/ Joo Chiat Walking Guide. Published in Mar 2005 by Singapore Tourism Board.

Some posts or wesites related to Katong/ Joo Chiat area:
Uniquely Singapore: Katong (by June Yong) Singapore - The Katong Laksa Wars (recommended by Tony)


Anonymous said...

Some food for thought

Joo Chiat is Katong, Katong is Joo Chiat. Katong ceased to be a constituency since the late 70s and most of the ground it covers is now Joo Chiat. Katong is more than just a electoral space, its a feeling of things Peranakan, Eurasian, Malay and Indian (Ceylonese). I found the writeups in
to be insightful. The Joo Chiat district went through alot especially with the onslaught of the bars owing to the removal of Rent Control Act and escabated by URA's allowance for bars to be licensed in 2004. Well, things are changing for the better and the revival is well in place.
One of the places that you briefly mentioned was Joo Chiat Complex. Did you know that the 4th floor used to house the ICA (Immigration & Checkpoint Authority), the place you apply and collect passports and for people to extend on permissions to stay in Singapore? If you went up the the top floor of the HDB blocks there, you would have been rewarded with glorious views of both the north and the southeast. Towards the north, you can see the incinators right by the boundary to Johor Malaysia and south you can see even the hills of Batam Indonesia. You can even see the city centre with Suntec city in clear sight.

The story behind the former Red House Bakery building is that its owned by MUIS and is destined to be a food establishment. In fact, Warees who manages properties on behalf of MUIS actually states on their website that the property will complete its conservation in 2007
One of the uncles that used to work in Red House is now working at CMC.

A couple of gems when walking around. You can listen in to a Peranakan patois service at Bethesea Church, talk to Peter Wee at Katong Antique and in the Eurasian Community House there are even 2 museums..

One of the comments is where the community have gone. The fact is that we are still well in place. You can see us queueing in the early hours at CMC bakery, at the places of worship, at the markets and certainly at Chevy 57 (a bar with an awesome band in Katong Village.

Had an interesting chat with another eastsider sometime ago about similar topic, you can readup on some thoughts on her blog

oceanskies79 said...

Hi Tony, thank you for sharing.

I have learn quite a bit from your sharing.

There's a lot about Joo Chiat I don't know. If you would like to take up a challenge, it would be great if you could share about Joo Chiat on or in a blog-post.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for offering.... have been in touch with Kevin and Ai Ling of Heritage Soc before... I really prefer for others who care enough to jump in an share their thoughts... Peter Wee of Katong Antique Shop is a much better candidate but he doesn't like computers. If you and others are interested, perhaps we can organise a visit to Peters followed by simplified version of our foodwalk

Back to the topic at hand. The main challenge Joo Chiat/ Katong faces (especially in the context of alternative use of conservation shophouses) is to encourage for non-F&B outlets to come in. The high street retail diversity is lacking particularly on Joo Chiat Road. 1.7km and with more parking than Holland Village, there is a huge potential that is still relatively untapped.

Pauline said...

Hmmm guess I should go for a walk at Joo Chiat one day. Interesting.

oceanskies79 said...

Tony: I was trying to find out more about the ICA at Joo Chiat Complex, but I have yet to be able to get any further information on it. Is there any source I could check up?

Hi Pauline: Thank you for visiting. Do get yourself a copy of the guide. I heard that you should be able to get a copy of it from the Singapore Visitors' Centre.

Anonymous said...

heres some info that I was able to find...

I have been there twice in the 90s to renew my passport. The space is on the 4th floor in the main complex itself. That space is still there although its now a Muslim Tuition Centre of sorts. The outdoor space is now a playground. The space is quite interesting as its elavated from Joo Chiat Road and most people do not know that there is a playground just above them.

oceanskies79 said...

Tony: Thanks for the information. If I had known this information, I might have taken a lift up to the 4th floor of Joo Chiat complex. Well, there's still another chance, once I get better soon.

Anonymous said...

I am actually looking for a Thai temple shop sellling Thai religious amulets. It was told to me that it is at katong but i am not sure at which part of katong.. can u help???
Please contact me

Anonymous said...

Hey can you please help me out?
I am doing a school project on Joo Chiat and i would really like to find the adress of the presidents house which is said to be in Jooc Chiat. Also, there is said to be a paper making shop, if any body knows about either2 locations please mail me at THANKS

Melissa said...

Oh thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

I saw that hotel Hotel Grand once and it simply caught my attention because I LOVE its old Victorian design, and it seems like it's a place where time just stood still, i LOVE ruins too, and you never see something like that ever in Singapore! It usually gets torn down. I have no idea why this hotel was not torn down, and let to denigrate before our eyes. BUT i am LOVING that it did! I never could find its name or any history, until....NOW... that i read your blog and came across the name!! SO THANK YOU once again! I love blogs like yours that document Singapore and its buildings, we change so fast here, so it's a blessing that some people keep track of it all! THANK YOU!

oceanskies79 said...

Melissa, you are welcome. Maybe you could start your mini project of documenting whatever you like too?