With Singapore evolving at blistering pace, old Singapore is being left behind, neglected or just plain dying? As a result, active citizenry is taking off like never before with Singaporeans campaigning to save Bukit Brown, Joo Chiat HDB flats, Rochor Centre, with Jalan Besar, Balestier and Tiong Bahru championed for their history/heritage. Basically, as Singapore becomes more of a global metropolis, the search to save its soul has been taken up like never before.
Nostalgia is spreading through the country. Old Singapore has never been more hip, more trendy as Singaporeans cling to the last vestiges of what actually makes them Singaporean. The race is on to save an even sexier island. So as the nation celebrates its 50th anniversary, Neil Humphreys heads off on a tour of old Singapore to find 50 sights and sounds that are at risk of being overlooked, forgotten or even bulldozed and lost forever. Some are historically significant (like Queenstown or Tiong Bahru). Some are environmentally significant (like Pulau Hantu or Lazarus Island). Some are culturally significant (like Cafe Colbar and Thieves Market). Some are politically significant (like LKY's house!). And some are just quirky and a tad surreal (a remote bus stop, a viewing tower in Upper Seletar, Haw Par Villa and Zouk). But Humphreys tracks them all down in a funny, insightful and unashamedly sentimental search for what's left of Singapore's soul.
Neil Humphreys left Dagenham, England, in 1996. He got as far as Toa Payoh, Singapore, and decided the rest of the world could wait. He has published three best-selling works: Notes from an Even Smaller Island (2001), Scribbles from the Same Island (2003) and Final Notes from a Great Island: A Farewell Tour of Singapore (2006). Neil then headed south for Geelong, Australia, where his fifth book, Be My Baby, was conceived and gestated in 2008. His first novel, Match Fixer, was released in 2010, pleasing purists but irritating loan sharks and illegal bookies everywhere. In 2011, Humphreys' hugely successful second novel, Premier Leech, was released to international acclaim. Humphreys returned to live in Singapore and wrote the best-selling Return to a Sexy Island.