Sketching At Chinatown, Yakun Kopitiam & Gemmill Lane


Nothing beats sketching in the heat of the day. The sun beat down on earth mercilessly on May 17. The date could be written as such, 17.5.17, no big deal, but I thought seeing the date like this intrigue me. Anyway we sat and stood under a huge tree to draw this scene. James and I decided to get out of our studio to see the world, no, I suggested it. But I chose the wrong day to get out as the following day, the weather was perfect to be out. The huge tree provided us a good shade and shelter from the sun, but not enough to shield us from the heat and humidity. I was already ignoring the beads of perspiration that trickled down my entire body, in order to stay focus on the drawing.

Here's a little story to this place, Gemmill Lane:

Gemmill Lane (仁美巷) - just a little stretch of road between Club Street and Amoy Street - named after a 19th century banker, John Gemmill, Singapore's first auctioneer, who erected a drinking fountain at Raffles Square in 1864. The fountain was inscribed with the words "For the use of all nations at Singapore". 
This place is now home to atas eateries, restaurants, cafes and bars, also a home to many foreigners, tourists and maybe some locals.
Before this, James suggested to have coffee at the flagship branch of Ya Kun, a localised kopitiam aka coffeeshop that has been around for decades, maybe even before Singapore became a nation. I was disappointed with the coffee, which tasted a little diluted. Not as "gao" (thick with aroma) as I wanted it to be. Not as "gao" as the coffee from a kopitiam near where I stay. We were also sketching people there and the kitchen. 

My sketch against Yakun kopitiam
My sketch of Yakun kopitiam kitchen
We were fortunate to be so timely as to arrive when the place was still relatively empty. Just when we sat down with our orders made, hordes of office workers steamed in. Oh one thing, this kopitiam is slightly different because we were brought in to our seats like eating in a restaurant, and the servers come to you to take your orders and serve them to you at your table. The take aways would require standing in line. 
The kitchen where the drinks are prepared is in a frenzy but everyone seems to know what they are doing. Its like a production line. And with the crowds, coffee was made at a rate of 1 cup per 5s. I am exaggerating. 
Just like any other kopitiam, this place is not air-conditioned. You may choose to seat inside or outside, which is also sheltered. Its cooler inside as there are fans placed strategically around the coffeeshop. However the noise was unbearable as everyone was speaking at the top of their voices. If I can measure the amplitude, it would be 200 decibels, way more noisy than a construction site. I also observed that there were more male customers than female. I presume females prefer air-conditioned places. Here are some sketches of the rare female customers.


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