The Controversies (and Delights) of Petain Road

It was always my dream to live in a Singapore shophouse – such a quaint experience I envisioned it would be! And, fortunately, my wish was realised just over a year ago when I moved to Petain Road. Like many of you, I have spent the last six months stuck at home. So, with not much else to do, I decided to research the history of my local area.

Petain Road

I discovered that Petain Road is home to many controversies. The origins of the name alone are shocking. Henri Philippe Petain was a disgraced French General who once collaborated with the Nazis! This street was also a buzzing red-light district, and many brothels still operate right next door to me.


Please enjoy this short video I created to learn more about this colourful area.

The book Peranakan Tiles Singapore by Anne Pinto-Rodrigues and Victor Lim was the original inspiration behind this video sries. I purchased my copy from the Peranakan Tile Shop in China Town but the book is also available via Kinokuniya. You can also visit my previous blog for my video about the origins of the Peranakan tiles found at Petain Road.


The research I gathered regarding sex work on Petain Road is thanks to Rice Media, as well as my own snooping along the back streets.


In my video, I also give viewers a sneak peek at what it’s like living in a shophouse. One of the most stunning features is the windows. The windows are two or three panes in width with a chequered top panel. The original frames from 90 years ago were wooden and shuttered. Today, the frames have been replaced with metal to avoid degradation and rotting.


We also have an old-fashioned kitchen with just one sink. Our stove is powered with a gas cylinder that needs to be replaced every few months.


If you enjoy this video, then make sure you stay tuned for the final instalment of my Welcome to Petain Road series. In my third video, I will give you an exclusive tour of the top floors of my house!

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