To learn more about this neighborhood I call my home since Feb this year, I spent some time exploring Katong the last few weeks.
Katong, being the area associated with the first Peranakan community in Singapore, has retained some of its Peranakan heritage. Located on the stretch of Katong Road, are three shophouses with distinct Peranakan architecture; Rumah Bebe, Katong Antique House and Peranakan Inn.
Ornate and intricate patterns lined the walls and floors at the shop. The beautiful architecture of the shop house intrigued me…
Until I stepped into the shop.
I was greeted by a scowling-face middle aged lady, whose first words were,”No photography allowed!”, when she saw that I was holding a camera. It wasn’t a pleasant experience for the rest of the time K and I were in the shop. She hovered around us as we browse through her merchandise, her ‘menacing’ presence made me almost afraid to ask her any questions about the $500 Kebaya-s and $300 beaded slippers on display.
I felt pressured enough by the lady in the shop to eventually buy something before leaving; a slice of Kueh Lapis. Which incidentally gave me very bad diarrhoea for the next 4 days. This was one of the worse experience I ever encountered from any retail shop in Singapore. So enter Rumah Bebe at your own risk!
It seems I am not the only one that experienced this from the shop assistant, found these bad reviews about Rumah Bebe from Trip Advisor.
I have learnt never to trust the write-ups from Singapore Tourism Board.
I can’t help but peek into the shop as I walk pass Rumah Bebe almost daily in the early evenings, and I am really not surprised to see the shop without customers every time.
Katong Antique House
Now, I had a totally different experience from this other location. Which made me wonder if Katong Antique House is ever opened for business, for those times I visited. Maybe I should have called to make an appointment?
Interesting facade and exterior, but my experience ended there. I visited the place thrice but never had an opportunity to venture beyond the hall of the place. So no photo opportunities either. If Peranakan antiques and artifacts interest you, Peranakan Museum will be a better place to view these things.
Just look at these lovely Peranakan tiles then,
I wonder though will I be warmly welcomed into these places, if I was of a native of another country, other than a local Singaporean. Or are these just examples of bad customer service?
For a friendly and tastier Peranakan experience, venture next door to Peranakan Inn.
So will there be more to discover from the Katong neighborhood? Likely so. But not till this’accidental tourist’ sets aside some time the next few weeks to find out more about this neighbourhood.