The former Kampong Bali comprised the current Bali Lane and the neighbouring Shaikh Madersah Lane (now defunct) which ran parallel to it, around present-day Ophir Road. The kampong’s development from the 1850s was partly due to the pilgrimage trade which had by then expanded from Kampong Jawa around Arab Street and Haji Lane.
For a period, the back of Bali Lane had stalls for horses, which were later converted to motorcar stalls in the early 20th century. By the 1950s, an increasing number of Chinese migrants moved into Kampong Bali and set up lodgings for coolies.
According to former residents, the majority of the Chinese population staying at Bali lane were Hokkiens from Jinjiang county. In each coolie quarter, different gods were worshipped according to village clan, and the celebration of the gods’ birthdays helped residents to maintain close ties with each other. Newcomers were allowed to stay for free and repay the rent after they found work. Such coolie quarters gradually phased out over time with the decrease of entrepôt trade.