Little Slope, Big Slope and Boogie Street


Back alley, Bugis Junction = by ☆ lcy

From Wikipedia:

The fame of the original Bugis Street has spawned many namesakes eager to capitalise on the brand, even though many tourists, as well as some young Singaporeans, have no inkling as to the reasons for its erstwhile ‘glamour’.


Yes, if not for the page on Wikipedia I’d have thought that the history of Bugis Street had something to do with cross-dressing warrior tribes from South Sulawesi.

What really piqued my interest was not actually the seedy side of Bugis Street as described on that page, but rather the references to “Xiao Po” (小坡; little slope), referring to a section of downtown Singapore. I had been wondering if anyone else remembered references to “Ta Po” (Big Slope) and “Xiao Po” (Little Slope), which basically formed the two sections of the city.

If I’m not wrong, “Ta Po” referred to the area west of the Singapore River, and “Xiao Po” referred to the area east of it. This division was apparently made by the Chinese population before the 1950s. Although I’m not that old, I remember my grandmother asking the rickshaw driver to take us to somewhere in “Ta Po” for me to get my bowl haircut.

Does anyone else remember this and hopefully has a more detailed explanation of why this was so?

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18 thoughts on “Little Slope, Big Slope and Boogie Street”

  1. hi, just a random surfer, but i thought Ta Po and Xiao Po mean “Big City” and “Little City” and not slopes? That was what I understood from my grandma when I was younger.

  2. hi, just a random surfer, but i thought Ta Po and Xiao Po mean “Big City” and “Little City” and not slopes? That was what I understood from my grandma when I was younger.

  3. Love the pic – really vibrant.
    I love wandering the back-streets of Bugis – so much to see. Unfortunately as an Ang-Mo, I don’t have the history with it, but love your site and reading about Singapore

  4. Love the pic – really vibrant.
    I love wandering the back-streets of Bugis – so much to see. Unfortunately as an Ang-Mo, I don’t have the history with it, but love your site and reading about Singapore

  5. Thank you very much for your kind comments, Stephanie. On the contrary, Ang Mohs in Singapore tend to be a bit more knowledgeablebleble as regards local history. The natives, while restless, just cannot, as some say, be arsed.

    And Geronimo, I thought so too, but since Wikipedia is the troof, I have to believe it. 🙂

  6. Thank you very much for your kind comments, Stephanie. On the contrary, Ang Mohs in Singapore tend to be a bit more knowledgeablebleble as regards local history. The natives, while restless, just cannot, as some say, be arsed.

    And Geronimo, I thought so too, but since Wikipedia is the troof, I have to believe it. 🙂

  7. i only remember “Po Di” or “Po Duay” aka bottom of the slope.. refers to the area where Chinatown Point is sitting.. “Da Po” is more or less the area along South Bridge Rd.. if I didn’t remember wrongly..

  8. i only remember “Po Di” or “Po Duay” aka bottom of the slope.. refers to the area where Chinatown Point is sitting.. “Da Po” is more or less the area along South Bridge Rd.. if I didn’t remember wrongly..

  9. well hair needs to be cut when it gets long. otherwise it obstructs your view. As for why bowl cut… I dunno. I guess it was all the rage when you were a kid. Just like policemen wearing shorts.

  10. well hair needs to be cut when it gets long. otherwise it obstructs your view. As for why bowl cut… I dunno. I guess it was all the rage when you were a kid. Just like policemen wearing shorts.

  11. it’s just interesting cos i’m 24, my mom’s 58. and she still uses the dai po (big slope) siu po (small slope) in cantonese to refer to these area. I never really understood what these meant, but i took it to refer lok po (mandarin xia4 bo1)

  12. it’s just interesting cos i’m 24, my mom’s 58. and she still uses the dai po (big slope) siu po (small slope) in cantonese to refer to these area. I never really understood what these meant, but i took it to refer lok po (mandarin xia4 bo1)

  13. Well, actually “Ta Po??” referred to the area south of the Singapore River, and “Xiao Po??” referred to the area north of it. There are 2 roads in ??, & 7 in ??. Chinese used to refer to the roads in these areas in numeric sequence rather than their original names:

    1) Da Po 1st Road – South Bridge Road
    2) Da Po 2nd Road – New Bridge Road
    3) Xiao Po 1st Road – North Bridge Road
    4) Xiao Po 2nd Road – Victoria Street
    5) Xiao Po 3rd Road – Queen Street
    7) Xiao Po 4th Road – Waterloo Street (Where the Krishnan Hindu Temple & Kuanyin Temple are located)
    8) Xiao Po 5th Road – Bencoolen Street
    9) Xiao Po 6th Road – Prinsep Street
    10) Xiao Po 7th Road – Selegie Road

  14. Well, actually “Ta Po大坡” referred to the area south of the Singapore River, and “Xiao Po小坡” referred to the area north of it. There are 2 roads in 大坡, & 7 in 小坡. Chinese used to refer to the roads in these areas in numeric sequence rather than their original names:

    1) Da Po 1st Road – South Bridge Road
    2) Da Po 2nd Road – New Bridge Road
    3) Xiao Po 1st Road – North Bridge Road
    4) Xiao Po 2nd Road – Victoria Street
    5) Xiao Po 3rd Road – Queen Street
    7) Xiao Po 4th Road – Waterloo Street (Where the Krishnan Hindu Temple & Kuanyin Temple are located)
    8) Xiao Po 5th Road – Bencoolen Street
    9) Xiao Po 6th Road – Prinsep Street
    10) Xiao Po 7th Road – Selegie Road

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