Here's a photo of Bugis Street in the 1960s. I can't remember if we ever walked down this street but I suppose we must have done when we were in Singapore.
By day, it was an ordinary enough street but by night, it was the meeting place for transvestites, some of whom were very convincing. Forces personnel who visited the area wouldn't realise that the beautiful girl on their arm, that they'd been buying drinks for all night, was actually a man!
It was said that the way to tell if they were men or women was that the men dressed as women looked stunning, whereas the proper women just looked ordinary!
Bugis Street was once crammed with merchants and traders making it one of the most vibrant areas in Singapore. In the 1960s, there were also many outside bars.
When I went back to Singapore in 1990 and was sitting near Orchard Road at night, I noticed many men dressed as women parading up and down the street. It was certainly more obvious though!
Bugis Street became famous the world over at the time. However, all changed in the 1980s when the area went under major redevelopment. Restaurants and modern shopping malls took over and the building of the underground MRT disrupted the area, changing it forever.
Amazingly, the Singapore Tourist Board tried to recapture some of this previous 'glamour' and created New Bugis Street but the area had changed too much for the idea ever to be successful.
Here's a lovely photo from the 1960s of a man and his trishaw travelling down Bugis Street. On the right is the Chan Textile Company. It certainly looks a lot quieter than it was in the night time!