• As for the long, skinny nature of the shophouse, there’s a simple explanation (and it’s not metabolism!): the Dutch levied taxes based on the width of a building. We found this elegant example on Heeran Street, one of the nicest in the city, with a colorful past to boot; according to our guide, before Heeran Street became home to the city’s wealthy merchants, it was a red-light district, the first stop for recently docked sailors looking for taverns and brothels.

Photography by David Hagerman

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