Next we walked on to Cold Storage. To get there we had to pass Princes Hotel Garni … a classy looking hotel/restaurant that I never entered. Then there were more shop-houses, including a rather grand men’s hairdresser (or Barber, if you prefer) where we had our hair cut. This was like the barber shops you saw in old American films from the 1920s, with panelled walls, and huge, plush leather barber’s chairs that could be raised and lowered with levers. Part of the joy of waiting your turn was to read some of the American comics (Superman, Batman, etc.) that were provided. Out on the street there were always a few hawker stalls, cooking food to order on mobile woks. These hawker stalls contributed to the unique smell of downtown Singapore, which I’m sure was a cocktail of … well, lots of things!
Another place we sometimes frequented was Hiap Chiang and co.. This place seemed to sell a variety of things from swimming costumes to pewter ornaments. For some reason, my parents took a liking to this shop and patronised it when they could. But today we walked past Hiap Chiangs to the Cold Storage Creameries for a milk shake or an ice cream soda. The Creameries was a good example of American cultural influence … a classic Soda Parlour. The Creamery was a good place to cool down and watch the world go by.
Last time I went down Orchard Road, about 10 years ago, I was astounded at the change. It was almost impossible to get a sense of where I was, because there was almost nothing left that I recognised. MacDonald House was still there, and the Presbyterian Church, but everything else was completely alien. Even the ultra-modern Lido Cinema had given way. C.K. Tangs was a massive disappointment … just another department store. I don’t know any other place on the planet that has been transformed as comprehensively as Orchard Road.