Bras Basah Complex | Home Tourist Photo Essay 13

Bras Basah Complex
Bras Basah Complex

The decisively retro Bras Basah Complex is home to many hobbyist joys, outside of books.

Bras Basah Complex is a place that I’ve regularly visited for 20 years, and not just because of the humongous Popular Bookstore located there.

Back when I was managing a graphic design agency, it was my go-to spot for digital and instant prints.

After that part of my life faded away, I continue to drop by every few months or so, the purpose being to check out a particular second-hand bookstore. Nope, I wasn’t hunting for pre-loved novels. As I mentioned in an old post, I discovered Evernew Book Store often sells used Electone textbooks and albums.

Within the huge multi-floor Popular Bookstore, there used to be hard-to-find-in-SG Cantopop repertories too. These saved me a lot of work hours when arranging Cantopop hits for the Electone.

The above aside, I always enjoyed strolling down the quiet corridors on the upper floors, especially during early evening hours. For some, the near deserted corridors could be dispiriting. For me, though, it’s a serenity that represents many of the things I’ve loved since young.

It’s a serenity that’s, somehow, also comforting.

It’s Books, and More, at Bras Basah Complex

Before I proceed, let’s me just share that this visit was right after my Central Public Library one. The two complexes being right next to each other, I always visit them together.

Evernew Book Store
Evernew Book Store. It’s facing the main road. It’s also always the first second-hand bookstore that I pass by when coming over from the library. (The Electone books are usually displayed at the racks in the lower left corner. Unfortunately, there weren’t any on sale that evening)

By the way, Evernew still has a phenomenal collection of Wuxia books for rent. Stepping into that section is like, being at the gates of a fantasy world.

ArtSign Singapore at Bras Basah Complex
ArtSign! The horrid businessman I was, I ended up always telling my clients to come here when in need of cheaper printing solutions. I.E. without me getting involved and charging a fee.
Music Book Room
Music Book Room on the ground floor, right beside the escalators. I haven’t bought anything from them in ages, but they do still have quite an impressive selection of music scores. (They also sell many Wushu guides, i.e., you’d hands-down be 武林第一 if you master everything!)
Bras Basah Complex Atrium
The open-air atrium at Bras Basah Complex is a nuisance when it rains. But on clear days, it can be a great urban, mixed-use architecture backdrop.

Hobbyist Interests on the Upper Floors

Gtar Music, Singapore
Chinese music school and Chinese art shop on the third floor.
Chinese zithers in Singapore.
Chinese zithers i.e. Guzheng on sale at Gtar Music. One look at these beautiful instruments and I will immediately think of … Wuxia killer sonic waves.
Swee Lee Singapore.
Swee Lee! A leading name in Singapore for musical instruments acoustic or electronic.

To share again, I used to “haunt” Swee Lee between 2010 and 2014. Convinced that there wouldn’t be any new Electone models, I considered getting some Roland keyboards to do up my own funky “set.”


Didn’t happened, of course, with the release of the ELS-02 series. Shamefully, after all those visits, the only things I ever bought from them were a music stand and a keyboard bag too.

Inkink Collectibles, Singapore.
Inkink Collectibles on the fourth floor. This was a mini discovery. I seldom go up to the fourth floor and didn’t know there’s such a shop there now. (The name is quite intelligent too, don’t you think so?)
Mai Shiranui Statue.
Gorgeous statue of Mai Shiranui from SNK’s Fatal Fury series at Inkink Collectibles.
Compugam and Trading.
Compugam and Trading on the second floor. I haven’t been inside in ages. But I still make it a point to stroll past because of all those retro Chinese video game posters!
Ssak 3 Korean BBQ and Bistro
Okay, I didn’t know there’s now a Korean bistro on the second floor. It was also full when I walked past. Have to return here another time to check out the dishes!

Speaking of food, a Ngoh Hiang stall at the ground floor food court was my must-eat-at in the past, after visiting the print shops. Unfortunately, it’s no longer there!

The Largest Popular Bookstore in Singapore, Still

No write-up or picture essay about Bras Basah Complex is complete without at least one picture of Popular Bookstore, right?

Popular Bookstore Bras Basah.
If you are into Chinese books and publications, this place is heaven.
Vinyl Records Singapore
They have a respectable collection of vinyl records in the electronics section too.

Back to Used Books

Allow me to end on a sentimental note, starting with this picture.

Used Books in Singapore
Somewhere on the 2nd floor.

Back when I was in Secondary School, the sight of such shelves, packed with pre-loved novels trashy and great, never failed to thrill me. Don’t laugh, but more than once I promised myself that when I can afford to, when I have the time, I will rent/buy everything and read them all.

Yeah. How’s that for a lofty literary aspiration?

Never remotely happened, of course. I doubt I’d even have the patience to go through one shelf nowadays.

But, it’s a cherished memory for me. It’s also something that I reflect on when appalled by my own writing, i.e. when editing my online articles.

I ought to get back to reading at least one novel each month. The last novel I read, jeez, was well over a year ago.

All pics taken with my Samsung S20+

Read my other Home Tourist photo essays.

Bras Basah Complex | Home Tourist Photo Essay 13
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Bras Basah Complex | Home Tourist Photo Essay 13
Bras Basah Complex is famous for reference and used books. But there are other hobbyist delights available here too.

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