Sunday, November 26, 2006

Where is Katong exactly?

So the question came up yesterday, where exactly is Katong? Aside from Tanjong Katong Rd, I don't recall any roads being called "Katong" road. There are a number of buildings (like Katong Shopping Centre, Katong Mall, Katong Convent!) but nothing very specific. Then there is Katong CC which is way out by Fort Road! Not really Katong at all - more like Mountbatten, or even in Kallang!

Katong, as I define it, is roughly bordered by the following roads:

  • In the South, by Marine Parade Road. Now, I think this is debatable. Marine Parade has got a slightly different character to Katong. It is also far newer and built on reclaimed land (old time Katong residents can recall the days when their homes were by the sea). But anyone staying in Marine Parade would be eating, shopping or passing through Katong all the time and vice versa. So in practice it is hard to de-link the two (e.g. my last post was all about Marine Parade!).
  • In the North, by Changi Road. Again, a little debatable. But Ceylon Road, Joo Chiat Road, Still Road are definitely in Katong. So it seems logical that where these roads end, that's roughly where Katong should end too.
  • In the East, by Frankel Avenue (beyond that it is already Siglap)
  • In the West, by Tanjong Katong Road (or possibly by Haig Road, but at least Tanjong Katong Road has the right name).

The heart of Katong is probably the East Coast Road area and the shops and buildings around it. Of course, others may disagree with these boundaries. But I think that my borders are no less arbitrary than the one that has Marine Parade extending all the way up to Serangoon.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Morning Walk

This morning, I went for a walk in East Coast Park. This is something I've been meaning to do all year; and so typical that I only get round to it when it's nearer the end of the year than the beginning! I went with my mother, except that we each walked at our own pace. In other words I went walking off ahead and she found someone to talk to until I got back. Not that I'm saying she planned it, mind; it is just what happened ;-)

It is fairly busy at ECP at this time (about 7.30am). There are people walking and jogging. Because it is not a Saturday morning, there are few cyclists so there is no need to be constantly on the lookout for some uncivic-minded idiot who is cycling on the jogging path. Then there are the many qigong and dance groups and even (I think) a wushu group or two. A few swimmers - a group of elderly men, and one chap who was practicing some high kicks on the grass verge. What surprises me are the many tents which have been put up. I don't see many schoolchildren, so I wonder who can be camping here on a weekday.

After our walk we went to Marine Parade hawker centre and ate chui kueh (sp?). The stall proclaims that it is a branch of the famous Tiong Bahru chui kueh shop and I do agree that the topping of chai por, chilli and hae bee is pretty tasty and not as oily as I recall the Tiong Bahru one was. Plus a hearty cup of real, local coffee. Such a pleasant experience compared to the dark water masquerading as coffee served up in the US.

We were happily eating when an elderly lady came by and asked (in Mandarin) if we knew where the "Good Life Centre" was. I'd never heard of it and her maid showed me this article in Zaobao featuring Lim Boon Heng. Apparently the centre is somewhere in Marine Parade but there was no address so I was clueless. I'd just gotten around to reading (I am a very slow reader of Mandarin) that it was in the Family Service centre when the chap at the next table intervened and offered to take the dear old auntie there. So she was quite happy. She confided that the previous day someone else had helped her find another spot she wanted to go to. By this time she cottoned on that my mother can't speak Mandarin and so switched to English. She kept forgetting though and so her conversation thereafter was a mixture of the two languages. But she is 80 years old and evidently quite active, going out with her maid for company and assistance every day. That's a good life for you!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Katong Life

I've lived in the East Coast of Singapore practically all my life, mostly in that little area of the East Coast called Katong. We Katong-ites think this place is special. It has got good food, lovely old buildings and great people. In particular, the Peranakans and Eurasians have strong communities here and I, of course, am a bit of both.

So I'd like to celebrate Katong in this blog.


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