Looking for a swingin’ good time Then head on down to Boat Quay – the trailblazer of the Singapore entertainment scene. With an eclectic mix of high end restaurants and alfresco dining and lively bars and pubs, Boat Quay is arguably the favourite place to chill out for most professionals and expatriates.
Imagine that only a century ago, Boat Quay was the hothouse for trading. When Raffles signed the agreement securing the auspicious title of free port for Singapore, this instantly opened the floodgates of immigrants from neighbouring countries. Within six months, a familiar scene in this location was sun-tanned coolies and swaylos (water-hands) balancing heavy gunny-sacks of rice on their shoulders, with springy gangplanks under their feet, loading and unloading a bewildering plethora of produce. By the 1860’s, three-quarters of all shipping business was done at Boat Quay. Here was the starting point of Singapores success as a business hub.
The south side of the river was crammed with shophouses because it resembled the concaved belly of a carp, which according to Chinese believers, was the source of prosperity and wealth. Today, the row of shophouses has been carefully conserved. Notice the variance in height – this was a sign of each man’s wealth, the higher the shophouse, the wealthier the owner.
Head towards the Singapore River from Raffles Place MRT (EW14/NS26).