Saturday, June 27, 2009

Unique Crossed Road Junction

Bird's eye view of the unique road junction

This unique crossed road junction refers to four roads of different names converging at the common traffic light junction. The roads are Geylang Serai, Changi Road, Joo Chiat Road and Geylang Road.

Briefly, Geylang Serai was a Malay Settlements before. They lived in kampong houses as shown in the pictures below. After Singapore became independence in 1965, they were resettled to nearby HDB housing estates such as Eunos, Chai Chee and Marine Parade.

Photo credit to the book on Geylang Serai

Photo credit to the book on Geylang Serai

Photo credit to the book on Geylang Serai

Malay Village at Geylang Serai (now)

This was followed by landscape changes in the area. A Malay Village was built on one side of Geylang Serai to showcase the past kampong living of the Malays in the area. On the other side was the Geylang Serai wet market cum food centre. There was no permanent stall. The hawkers in the food centre had to provide their own stalls, tables and chairs. Around the market were 3 blocks of flats with shops on the ground floor.

Photo credit to the book on Geylang Serai

Photo credit to the book on Geylang Serai

In 2006 due to the redevelopment of the area, the hawkers in Geylang Serai market cum food centre moved to a temporary shed at Sims Ave opposite the Malay Village (picture below).
They were given proper hawker stalls with fixed tables and chairs for customers to eat their food.

Geylang Serai temporary market cum food centre

The landscape at Geylang Serai will change further when the hawkers at the temporary market cum food centre move into their permanent home on 13 July 2009.

New Geylang Serai market cum food centre

Opposite Geylang Serai is Joo Chiat, a predominant Chinese area where most of the shops were Chinese owned. There were a few Indian muslims shops selling provision/spices and shops that ground cereals into flour but not a single Malay shop. There were two wet market adjacent to each other. One was facing Changi Road and the other was facing Joo Chiat Road. Both markets were demolished and is replaced by Joo Chiat Complex, a shopping centre. At Joo Chiat Road opposite Joo Chiat Complex were 2 blocks of pre-war shophouses (picture below) separated by a narrow side lane where Javanese food hawkers took up position every evening to sell satay, mee rebus, mee siam. soto ayam and others.

Photo credit to the book on Geylang Serai

The 2 blocks of shopshouses at Joo Chiat/Geylang Road junction were rebuilt into a 3 and 4 storey buildings with shops on the ground floor, thus completed the changes of the 4 corners at this unique road junction. This crossed roads is also unique not only there are landscape transformations but also changes in business community. The influx of Malay businessmen and entrepreneurs into Joo Chiat is sight never seen before. There are more Malay shops than the Chinese now. Maju lah, Geylang Serai!

Joo Chiat Complex and the new 4 storey shophouses

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Business As Usual

An old Chnese bakery at Joo Chiat
Credit to URA
There was a Chinese bakery at Joo Chiat when I was a school boy. It occupied two shop fronts. Besides the bungalows, it was the only single storey building along this stretch of road. The building was very plain and passers by would not want to have a second look. Whereas its neighbour on both sides were 2 storey peranakan shop houses with motifs and details symbolic of the Peranakan Culture. Curious to know whether the bakery is still there, I visited the place and was pleasantly surprised to find business as usaul for the bakery. Except for the front awning that had been removed, the frontage remained as it was before. The peranakan buildings on both sides had upgraded with new paint works and an extension of another storey at the rear. I went inside the bakery and it appeared that time had stood still. The breads were done maunually except for the electric bitter and the electric oven. Two men were seen working. One was preparing the dough for making breads. The second man was about to put the finished products into the electric oven for baking.

Bread shelves no longer in use
In Joo Chiat area, there were a few Chinese and Indian bakeries before. Today they had all gone except the one mentioned above which is still going strong. But how long more would it lasts I wonder.

Guess the exact location of this bakery

Baking trays, electric bitter and dough kneading table

Preparing dough for making bread

Putting finished products into the electric oven for baking