Colourful Geylang

Geylang by night

In the night or by day, Geylang baffles logic and beauty. Its the only place in Singapore where URA(Urban Renewal Authority) have not stolen the soul with a heavy touch.

Everyone in Singapore has heard of Geylang. It is the red-light district. It is concentrated in the even-numbered streets from Lorong 8 to Lorong 18. When darkness falls the red lanterns light up and the ladies of the night stalk their prey. The horny and desperate males are the victims. The neon lights of scores of bars and hourly-rated hotels assault bystanders for attention. The sordid streets do not sleep. Brightly lit, they beckon the young and the retirees, of all races and nationalities.

Beyond this nucleus, are a hundred eating places, famous food hangouts where even the timid will venture, despite Geylang by daythe risk of a suspect reputation. Makansutra calls it paradise. From herbal tonics, and foods fabled as aphrosidiacs, to common street hawker fare, these restaurants open till the hours of morn. There are also the shopping emporiums, 24 hours convenience stores, and the fruit shops laden with durians that defy season.

Geylang in the daytime is just as colourful. Light industries litter the outskirts of the Viagra-laced streets. The taller and larger buildings are along the MRT tracks between Kallang and Aljunied. Scattered along the terraced shophouses are all kinds of small businesses from internet cafes, wholesale suppliers of timber and metal, electrical and electronic and furniture retailers. Banks (so similar to the red light area in their pecuniary intentions, as we have seen in the last year and a half) and even clinics position themselves there for a piece of the action.

Guilin building, GeylangThe irony is that side by side with the immoral are literally hundreds of civic and community groups, associations, churches, temples, and mosques. I take that back: maybe its not such an irony! Anyway, Geylang is a very religious place. The scents of incense, the colour green and red appear like a recurring theme. The church I grew up in and am now serving as the senior pastor is ten minutes away from where the red-light diestrict is. Its nearer to the HDB flats and the national library branch. Our next-door neighbours are private residential apartments, a condominium, a church and the Youth for Christ shared facility, and two famous temples.

The Urban Renewal Authority(URA) plan in 1992 had relocated many Chinese clan associations and community groups into the area. Many other religious organizations have followed suit because its difficult to find places elsewhere that is zoned for such purposes. According to the URA, places of worship serve the public whilst associations are allowed only private worship by members of the association as an incidental activity. On hearsay, there are about 30 to 40 Christian organizations/churches in Geylang.

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  • Hi SPKenny,

    Congratulations on being uniquely placed at the very nexus having the greatest need to hear the good news. Pray that your church will be anointed with gifts to meet the challenges and allure and desires of the flesh.

    Jesus often kept intimate company with members of the oldest profession, tax collectors and other social misfits. 200 years later, you have been “privileged” to be the light and salt to your neighbours.

    Nothing worthwhile has been achieved without faith and grunts……God bless

  • It’s great to be there. I’ve visited a few Christian ministries in that area and go to Healthserve occasionally. If you would be so kind to drop me your number, I’ll call to arrange a meeting with you the next time I’m around that area! 🙂

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