I am not an Easterner so when I was given a chance to do location recce in the Eastern part of Singapore, it calls for a blog post. The main part that we explored is Joo Chiat Road. There are loads of restaurants, bakeries and traditional kopitiams like the famous Chin Mee Chin Confectionery, affectionately known as CMC.
The purpose of my trip is to source for four unique blocks of flats that will be demolished within these 2-3 years to make way for landed properties in the area.
However, just because I am really not familiar with the East, I got lost! Ended up parking the car at Katong Mall and then walking around and eventually, decided to take a cab over to the place.
Luckily we took a cab, if not I would have wasted more petrol turning round and round. We finally found this place! It is located right opposite Siglap Centre. These four blocks of HDBs are just five storeys high. They are a stark contrast to the landed properties around it. Maybe this explains why the government would like to take it back and develop it into an area solely consisting of private developments. According to the older generation, these blocks were constructed in 1962 after a huge fire during Chinese New Year celebrations. Firecrackers went totally out of control and the entire kampong was burnt down.
What’s interesting is that there are many shops that have been there for more than 40 years and their shop decorations are really vintage. I spoke to many of the shop owners and all of them said that they do not plan to relocate their business elsewhere. This means that they will just retire and these so-called 老古董shops will no longer exist. Another Singaporean memory to bid goodbye to.
I went into a few shops to talk to the owners and sort of “touch base” with them. This particular shop that I was enticed with is named Hawaii Photo Studio. The boss Mr Soh Yiok Tien is in his 70s and he has been there for more than 40 years. He used to take wedding photos and passport photos for his customers but now, he has moved on to selling stuff like stationery items etc.
Meet the friendly neighborhood uncle, Mr Soh!
Old HDB Blocks at Siglap Road
What’s so good: It is hard to find these blocks anywhere else. They are just so old and you can see traditional barber shops and photo studios. How interesting! It will be a uniquely Singapore tour.
Duration of visit: 30 mins to an hour
By car – Blk 1-4 Upper East Coast Road, located at the junction between Upper East Coast Road and Siglap Road
By bus – Alight at the bus stop B93069. Buses that stop at this place are 10, 12, 14, 40 and 155.