Thursday, March 7, 2013

Black & Whites

Today I took a trip to Whitchurch Rd in the Essex Estates section of Singapore. There are some restored "black and whites" in the area.
"The age of the black and whites spanned from approximately 1898 - 1941 during the time of British-occupied Singapore.The homes were constructed to fit the equatorial lifestyle. An overhanging roof kept direct sun from entering the rooms but since floors were only one or two rooms deep, plenty of light was allowed to flow through the space. For the safety of the occupants, the private living spaces were placed on the second floor (back then even tigers roamed the island) and there were plenty of shuttered windows to allow for breezes and protect the home from sudden rain and wind storms. The open floor plan of the main level made it ideal for entertaining and to allow breeze to flow through the home.
After World War II, when the British troops lost (badly) to the Japanese, many of the black and whites were abandoned by their occupants and reoccupied by new Japanese commanders. Some Singaporeans are old enough to remember those days and rumor has it they refuse to live in such "haunted" homes. Many of these properties have since been restored and are highly coveted, particularly by expats: their unusually large square footage and surrounding property are the envy of apartment dwellers throughout the country. There may not be any tigers roaming wild in Singapore but the modern black and white home dweller still has the jungle at their footstep. It's quite common for homeowners to battle monkeys, snakes, bats, and monitor lizards as well as the more common problems of mold and insects."

As I was walking through the beautiful, lush area I started to get hungry. I spotted a small restaurant hidden within a tropical setting and decided to "See what was cooking."
I was met at the entrance of the Colbar (Colonial Bar) Cafe by a calico cat who had the run of the place. He introduced himself as Samuel but said the owners of the cafe called him Yum Yum. He is a real gentleman of a cat who gave me a tour and explained the background of the place. The restaurant has a long history but had to be moved to it's present location due to the never-ending construction in Singapore. Lots of expats like to frequent it due to it's menu featuring Western and Asian comfort foods and it's ambiance.  There is no A/C but lots of fans whirring around. Humans order their choices at a counter, are given a number, and told to grab a table. The food is then delivered piping hot.
Samuel asked me if I was hungry and I told him I was starving. He said, "Follow me my lady and you will get plenty to eat."
We sauntered around the tables in the veranda area and a guy yells out, "Yum Yum, you got a girl friend with ya? Come get something to eat."
With that everyone started to offer us food from their plates. I had a taste of sausage and eggs, fish and chips, fish curry with rice, and someone even spooned some of her milkshake on a plate for me to lap up! I was stuffed!
I hated to leave but I needed to sneak on the bus back home before my folks knew I was gone. What a great day I had meeting Samuel, eating at the Colbar Cafe and visiting the historic black and whites.


" " Julian Davison, Apartment Therapy, Feb 24 2012


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