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expat life, humour, MRT quest, shopping, Singapore, travel

Bugis – jump off for Haji Lane

A lot changes in a little time in Singapore – coming back after a 6/7 year hiatus, it is very much same same but different. For one thing, hipster is now mainstream. Counter culture has arrived in a vintage dress, holding a granny’s handbag, dating a skinny bloke in a daft hat.

Emerging from Bugis MRT, a shopper has a stark lifestyle choice: enter the mainstream world of Bugis Junction or escape into the indie land of Haji Lane.


I don’t remember Haji Lane being a ‘destination’ during my previous Singapore life (2004-6, though I might of course be mistaken and stand to be corrected), so we just ‘discovered’ it for the first time.

The colourful shophouses are gilded by street art of the kind I recognise from hipster corners of London like Hackney – good graffiti is like a sign post to hipsturbia the world over.


Haji Lane’s murals are far from edgy – we are still in Singapore – but the whole street offers an alternative reality, which feels like an escape from the air-conned malls and timed street crossings.

The boutiques at the Bugis end of Haji are a quick lesson in how to do hipster Singapore-style.

I’m a good decade too old, of course, but a floaty tea-dress and tiny bag with a wrist strap would be a start.


Then I could progress through beribboned shoes to a fluorescent bicycle and, eventually, a dog dressed up as a superhero.

All the way down the other end of the lane, at the CAD cafe (which the chatty Aussie owner says is for Coffee, Art, Design), we stopped for a restorative long neck and discovered bar stools covered with jute coffee sacks from my husband’s company. Volkopi Blue Batak.


Just goes to show – behind even the most hipsterish hangout, there’s a multi-national lurking in the carefully-grunged shadows.


About jofurniss

I'm a writer, living by the jungle in Singapore.


4 thoughts on “Bugis – jump off for Haji Lane

  1. Happy to see you blogging again. I look forward to reading Glückspilz gone Singapore.

    Posted by Rose | August 23, 2013, 10:51 pm
  2. The Arab street area is my most favourite in Singapore… and in last 2 and half years I have seen a lot of changes there too!

    Posted by Sonal | August 20, 2013, 12:10 am
    • Oh me too – I love Bobby’s fabrics, I could spend all day in there 🙂

      That reminds me: on the corner of Arab Street, back in 2005 or so, there was a marvellous Palestinian cafe that served a wonderful milky almond drink. The cafe’s gone now and the shophouse is an advertising agency or something… I’d love to find out if the cafe relocated so I could have my favourite drink again. I might have to blog about that…

      Posted by jofurniss | August 20, 2013, 6:48 am

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Gluckspilz by Joanne Furniss is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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