06 October 2007

Breakfast In Singapore's First New Town

According to this website, Toa Payoh is Singapore's first New Town but second satellite town (after Queenstown) built by HDB in the 1960s.

Don't ask me what's the difference between a satellite town and a New Town. This is all I can say - a satellite town is a town away from the main town. The meaning of New Town is quite obvious so I don't have to explain it. However, more than 40 years on, I am not sure if is still appropriate to call Toa Payoh a New Town. This is despite of the fact that in last decade or so, Toa Payoh has undergone a lot of renewal.

Yet, if you bother to look around, there are still many pockets of old Toa Payoh that remained largely unchanged since the town was built. On Saturday 29 Sep 2007, I had breakfast at Blk 210, Lorong 8, Toa Payoh.

This hawker centre is as old as the town itself but probably has been upgraded a few times along the way. Fishball mee is still available at $2. However, if you have a big appetite, I would recommend that you order a $3 bowl.

As with many hawker centres in Singapore, the market is just next to it.

It is little wonder that this courtyard looks uncannily like the one that used to be in Commonwealth Avenue, Queenstown since Toa Payoh and Queenstown were developed within a few years of each other. Hmm... could the two towns be designed by the same team of architects or was it simply more economical to mass produce?

This part of Toa Payoh has a very laid-back feel to it. You have time to stop and smell the flowers along the way.

You see people having leisurely breakfasts with their dogs.

Oh my, you even see a free-roaming rooster! You don't often get to see one in many places in Singapore anymore. As you probably know, most fowls are now kept by people as pets or are raised for the dinner table.

This rooster was seen busy chasing some Javan Mynas around.

When there were no more mynas to chase, it perched on its favourite roost, crowing away.

The loud crowing roused a cat from its sleep. It was clearly annoyed at being so rudely awakened.

And as if that was not enough, the rooster proceeded to strut around the cat, as if to taunt him further.

I was waiting eagerly with camera in hand to catch an exciting cock-cat fight when all of a sudden, a woman appeared with some food. A nasty confrontation was thus averted.

As they say, food soothes a savage beast. I had my breakfast and the woman left the scene safely. And so ended my leisurely breakfast in an old town.


Lam Chun See said...

Have you ever wondered why in Toa Payoh they name the streets Lorong whilst in other HDB estates they used Avenue?

Did you know that 2 of Spore's earliest flyovers were built for Toa Payoh - the Thomson and Braddell flyover?

Victor said...

You really got me there with your 1st question, Chun See. (Now is that another one of your quizes or you also don't know the answer? Haha.)

Hmm... let me hazard a guess. Could it be that Toa Payoh's roads are much narrower, usually having only 2 lanes, so they are called lorongs (Malay for "small roads" or 小巷)?

Queenstown, which was built earlier, don't even have serialised lorongs or avenues. It only has streets, roads and drives, e.g. Mei Ling Street, Mei Chin Road, Margaret Drive, etc. Well, it does have Commonwealth Avenue but then it is a major thoroughfare... Oops, but it also has Strathmore Avenue which is a small road. So I give up. What's the answer? *[Scratching my head.]*

I also didn't know that the Thomson and Braddell flyovers were S'pore's earliest flyovers. Thanks for the information.

Unknown said...

Nice story and pictures there of Toa Payoh. I have a thing for old towns which is why I chose to live where I do today. Mature estates somehow have this charm - like old worn out pair of shoes - which endears themselves to you. Must make a mental note to visit Toa Payoh soon.

Victor said...

Walter - The estate in which you reside is not very old. However, I guess it has its exclusivity because it is a comparatively small one and yet so close to town and yes, the upcoming IRs too. ;)

Lam Chun See said...

It's not a quiz question. Just wondering aloud.

I much prefer the names of the streets in Queenstown because they have more character than just numbers. By the way, here's a bit of historical info about Queenstown from Spore Infopedia.

Queenstown is named after Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain who was also Head of the Commonwealth. She was Singapore's head of state until the country reached independence. Queenstown is also known as Princess Estate; most of Queenstown's streets' names have some connections with the British Royal Family.

Strangely, there is no info about Toa Payoh in Infopedia. Maybe not 'royal' enough.

Victor said...

Chun See - Thanks for the Infopedia link on Queenstown. That reminded me to check the Singapore Encylopedia for an entry on Toa Payoh. Indeed, there is one. It seems to throw some light on the difference between a new town and a satellite town too. It says, "It [Toa Payoh] was chosen in the 1960s by the Housing & Development Board (HDB) for development as the second new town after Queenstown, and the first new town with its own facilities such as a town garden, community plaza and library."

So a new town probably means a town which is self-contained, complete with its own facilities whereas a satellite town does not necessarily have comprehensive facilities.

Anonymous said...

I wonder when you pit Chun See's cock against that Toa Payoh cock who would win. It's like a tamed cock versus a street fighter cock.

Victor said...

Peter - Haha, that one's a no brainer. It's obvious which one would emerge victor. Not forgetting that Chun See's cock is already 7-year-old, way past its prime. Some more, it is cooped up often and so has lack of exercise.

Shilpa said...

aiyoh, my childhood memories... the courtyard looks like the one near where I used to live (Blk 2), and i suspect that it is, but is it possible for block 210 to be so close to block 2? i don't remember there being 3-digit block numbers in those days, and i haven't had any reason to go back ever since i moved away (in 1985), so haven't the foggiest clue...

Victor said...

Shilpa - I checked the street directory and indeed, Blk 2 in Lor 7 is just behind Blk 1 which is located directly opposite Blk 210. So the courtyard in my photo is the very same one that you used to run around as a little (half-naked?)Toa Payoh kid. Haha.

Shilpa said...

eee, why you always so humsup one?? ;-) thanks for checking the directory! wah, it really hasn't changed much after all these years!

i used to walk through that courtyard when going to my PAP kindergarten in one of the blocks behind it, and have fond memories of the wet market.. only a matter of time before the gahmen "upgrades" it beyond recognition!

Victor said...

No, not humsup but only "sup" (humidity). ;) I always ran around half-naked myself as a little kid because of the humidity and heat of the local weather, hehe. That was okay then I guess, maybe because there were not so many child molesters around in those days.

Anonymous said...

I think the difference in the use of the "english" words like road, ave, drive for queenstown and lorong for toa payoh has to do with the history of the areas.
Queenstown areas like strathmore and the dawson area were dev. during Lim Yew Hock time under SIT in the 50s, "chap Lak Lau" 16 storey in early to mid 60 and also tanglin Halt in 1965-66. Since queenstown was dev. in honour of he queen, hence all the roads were named with the proper english words like ave, drive,etc.
Toa payoh was formerly a farming village- kampong and was first only settled in 1969. Since it was originally a kampong area and also 1969 is after our independence, I guessed it is more 'nationalistic' to use a local word like lorong.
http://www.btptc.org.sg/ and http://www.btptc.org.sg/About%20Us/OurHistory.htm
wich is the website of Bishan-ToaPayoh Town Council have some info on Toa Payoh.
My uncle first house was in Tanglin Halt(1965). There is a "practice" that I always remembered. There were usually a lot of peddlers selling stuff esp. bread. Some do not go to every floor. Usually they will shout out from the ground floor. What we do is to lower a basket with the money in it down and of course the peddler will put the bread or other purchased items in it and we would raise it. of course Tanglin Halt flats are only up to 10 storey.

Victor said...

Anonymous - Thanks for your comments on the why the roads in Queenstown and Toa Payoh were named that way. You are probably right there.

About the buying of food from itinerant street hawkers by lowering a basket from our high-rise flats, yes I have done it before too from our 4th storey SIT flat in Cheng Yan Place in the 1960s. I did it quite often, buying black coffee kosong (without milk or sugar) by the pot as the coffeeshop was just below our flat. It was quite a fun experience. We had another weak reason for doing it - our flat had no lifts.