Boat Quay, Singapore

An old sampan moored in front of Boat Quay, Singapore. The shophouses of Boat Quay once made up the busiest port in Singapore in the nineteenth century. At the time, the taller the shophouse, the richer the merchant was, so rivals built tall narrow houses to increase their prestige. Bumboats, also known as twakows or tongkangs, were lighters used to ferry cargoes between ocean going vessels and the quay. Today the shophouses have been preserved and transformed into restaurants and nightclubs, while the bumboats that served them are now used to ferry tourists.

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