Like clockwork, I drive through Geylang to get to my office every morning. When I mention Geylang, one will surely conjure images of brothels and skimpily clad women. It's a red-light district afterall, the only area in Singapore where prostitution is legal.
Now, my office is not in Geylang or anywhere near there but after dropping SK in school, the fastest way to get to work is to cut through this infamous area. To be honest, at 7am in the morning, you'll be lucky if you can find anything exciting going on. Still, traversing along Geylang Road is not exactly any driver's dream. It's a mayhem at 7am, can you imagine driving there at night?
While Singapore is a pristine and efficient city, going to Geylang is like visiting another planet. When I drive through the streets of Geylang, I keep my eyes peeled, not on the prostitutes mind you, but on everyone else on the road. I'm always ready to slam on the brake pedal in case of emergency.
Geylang is inhabited by foreign workers, loads of them. I see bleary-eyed labourers in their rumpled clothes getting ready for work in the morning. Whether they are in a big group or walking alone, they don't give a shit about the traffic. They jaywalk, jump across road dividers, sit along the kerbs or simply appear in front of your moving car, scaring the daylights out of you.
As if dealing with them is not enough, you have the cyclists who switch lanes nonchalantly without looking behind or junk dealers trundling huge loads of oversized cardboard along the road, risking their own lives and yours.
While waiting for the traffic light to change at the traffic junction, I've seen prostitutes soliciting in the public, cajoling and tugging the arms of elderly men. Today I saw an emaciated young man, obviously high on drugs or alcohol, staggering across the road, oblivious to the traffic around him.
Of course Geylang is also synonymous with glorious food. With such a bustling nightlife, it is no surprise the restaurants enjoy thriving business all year round. From turtle soup to frog leg porridge, 24-hour beancurd to steaming hotpot, you can find everything here. My friend swears that beers in Geylang kopitiams are the cheapest in Singapore. Unfortunately, the Geylang food scene has been in the news recently for the wrong reasons. There were two cases of mass food poisoning which killed two women and left hundreds ill.
I can't help but write about Geylang today. To be honest, I feel the urge to write about it every single day because it makes my drive to the office so much more challenging and eye opening. To me, it's like traveling through a different world.