Holland Street used to have plenty of abandoned, old and dilapidated houses. When Song Luo Zhe, 30, and his friends stepped into the old house at No. 89 Holland Street two years ago, he was amazed by the beauty of the house and decided to rent it without any specific reasons.
He did not expect himself to successfully rent the building, as there were two other people vying for it.
Spending four months to clean up
Song said he spent almost four months just to clean up and fix the house, and then tried to sell some handicrafts and souvenirs there. Soon afterward he started a small restaurant at the dining room.
He suffered from poor business during the first year of operation, however he was not dejected as he never had very high expectations for his business in the first place. All that he wanted was to preserve the beauty of the old house.
Attracting foreign media
The situation somewhat improved this year, and a few media companies approached him for interviews, including AirAsia Magazine, MAS Magazine, the Japanese news agency, Japanese tour book etc. These interviews have successfully turned The Baboon House into a famous spot at Holland Street.
Song has finally decided on a clear direction for him and the old house.
Besides restoring the house, Song has also learned rattan weaving, cooking as well as drawing over the past two years.
Giant ivy lurking in the house
He has realised his dream of living in an old house, and has named this house "The Baboon House" as he loves the nature like baboons. Besides, he is also impressed by the baboon's strong personalities and playful characters.
He has preserved the giant ivy and green plants inside the house.
All by himself
Song is probably the only person who has renovated a double-storey shophouse over a hundred feet long all by himself without any assistance. Today, he is still going on with his perpetual renovation works and has found a lot of joy doing it.
He started his restaurant without knowing very well how to cook. However, he has put in a lot of effort to learn cooking and has finally been able to work his kitchen efficiently handling four stoves at the same time.
The hamburgers created by him, the Nanyang coffee that has been well received by customers and the luxurious dining ambience have drawn the attention of local and foreign magazines alike.
Song admitted that he was an individualistic man, very low profile and self-demanding and these characters have been clearly portrayed in his paintings.
Growing up at Jonker Street, he graduated with an industrial engineering degree from England and used to work as an engineer overseas. He has also worked at his father’s T-shirt factory before.
Song has a shown a strong interest in drawing ever since he was young. He said he used to spend hours drawing when working in Kuala Lumpur. He has never had the intention of selling his paintings which are on display at his shop today except two which have been sold to an Australian and a KL buyer respectively.
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