Friday, June 13, 2008

Singapore's Black and White Houses

What is it like to live in one of Singapore's traditional colonial-era homes also known as the "Black and White" houses? The New York Times interviews a family who lives in one that costs $22,000 a month to rent! Photos of their beautiful house here. From NYT:
Mold and bugs are probably the house’s two biggest problems; there is a need to be vigilant about termites and cleaning up after the geckos, she said. “There’s also always something breaking. Because the lightning protection is not sufficient for the number of direct hits we get, we’ve gone through two computers, a hard drive and two TVs.”

The Pickerings’ is one of 33 black-and-white houses around the Mount Pleasant area; there are similar pockets elsewhere in the city. The houses are magnets for expatriates but unloved by Singaporeans, for whom they have sinister associations. “Some of the more senior taxi drivers don’t like to come here at night,” Mrs. Pickering said. “These houses were taken over by the high command of the Japanese military during the Second World War, and some Singaporeans believe they’re haunted.”

Family members have not felt any ghostly presence, but they have had plenty of encounters with unusual creatures: fruit bats, hungry monkeys looking for food in the kitchen, cobras slithering around the garden and even the occasional meterlong monitor lizard.

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