The school my kids attend has just started a regular photography walk for parents, which takes the participants to photographic areas of Singapore. When they posted that August’s walk was around Joo Chiat I was keen to join, as Joo Chiat has been on my Bucket List for a number of years. After 5 years you’d expect that Bucket List to be well and truly ticked off, but I’m always adding things to it. For a small country Singapore has so much to see and do!
Joo Chiat is named for Chew Joo Chiat, who owned plantations in this area which resulted in many of the areas roads being named after him. The area was mainly plantations until the early 20th century, when wealthy Peranakan people began to move out of the crowded downtown area, and it’s the beautiful shophouses of the Peranakan’s that make Joo Chiat great to photograph. Well, at least in the daytime, by night Joo Chiat is renowned for its terrific food and other *ahem* types of nightly entertainment. The area is also home to lots of interesting shops. I’m not much of a shopper but I did spy lots of shops that firmly targeted the expat market such as a German bakery and a shop selling ‘chalk paint’. There were also temples, local provision shops, KTV lounges, youth hostels and the like. There’s also street art by Ernest Zacharevich. Pretty much something for everyone!
But, it’s the shophouses that draw most of the photographic spotlight in this area, and they didn’t disappoint.
Joo Chiat Road is the backbone of this area, but most of the best shophouses are located down side roads. If you’re keen to find them download the URA Katong and Joo Chiat guide, which features lots of information plus a very handy map.
Just a note that these are homes, not museums. The homeowners seem to tolerate photographers well, but always be respectful and you’ll be just fine!