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However, is Geylang really only about the red light district? This mindset is what Cai Yinzhou, the founder of Geylang Adventures , wishes to change. We joined a private night tour around the notorious yet misunderstood neighbourhood and discovered the different social dimensions and hidden perspectives of the area.
The first stop was along one of the back alleys of Geylang, which seemed nothing too out of the ordinary. The tour guide, Yinzhou, then pointed out the concentration of bamboo poles that could be seen on the second floor of these shophouses. It probably meant that foreign workers were staying in said shophouses, and often in cramped and unsanitary conditions. Yinzhou then explained that the high percentage of migrant workers in Geylang is what has led to the supply of stores in the area, such as this mama shop or convenience stall, selling household and lifestyle items for these workers.
Our attention was also brought to Healthserve, a non-profit organisation located at Highpoint Social Enterprise Ark. By organising events such as free health check-ups for foreign workers, the organisation supports these workers and helps them through difficult times while being away from their home country. Next, Yinzhou brought us to an overhead bridge and showed us that on opposite sides of the road live two vastly different groups of people, a distinction made quite obvious through the building facades.
On closer look, one side features a newly-built condominium that looked extremely spacious and comfortable to live in…. Our next stop was the notorious red light district. Typically, the pimps stand outside and wait for prospective clients to show interest, before leading them in. An interesting sight was how House number sixty-nine and the Society For Eastern Culture were situated right next to each other.
Following the Little India Riots that happened a few years ago, police began to clamp down on Geylang as well, fearing the occurrence of a similar event.