Blk 49 Bedok South Ave 3…no more

Blk 49 Bedok South Ave 3…no more

Dear Boys,

In the constantly changing Singapore landscape, another one of your dad’s past has bitten the dust, literally.

I grew up at this address: Blk 49 Bedok South Ave 3, 11-220 Singapore 1646, until my parents divorced back in the early 1990s. This address holds a lot of fond (and not-so-fond) memories, nonetheless, it has nostalgic values to me.

This plot of land certainly holds no nostalgia to the Singapore government as they finally figured out what they want to do with the whole place. While I didn’t track the progress, Google map showed the place was in the process of being torn down back in Aug 2021.

Street view Aug 2021 from Google Maps

I’m not sure what is the grand scheme of things in the Government’s playbook for this place, but I’m glad I captured some memories back in 2009 and 2018.

Back in 2009, it was already a kind of laid back, old neighborhood feel, there is still a people staying there, and it felt like it will stay like this forever, albeit the place getting quite staid and stagnant.

There is certainly a deep sense of memory for me, lots of childhood experiences there, of course my friends and classmate were all around the neighborhood. I went to the nearby school Bedok View Secondary School for 2 years before I dropped out. By 15 years of age, I have to grow up real fast, that’s a story for another time.

There was however, a different fate planned for my Block 49, as the place was barricaded as if the end is near. I couldn’t go up the block, so I went to Block 47 instead to take some pictures. While Block 49 was completely vacant, and locked out. I could still go up Block 47 and took some pictures.

Of course such skyline picture no longer exists, as the whole estate is now nothing but a flat grass field.

2018

I chance upon a visit back in 2018, again for reasons I cannot remember, and the whole place seems to come to life again, as the government has rented the place out for foreigners to stay. Even my Block 49 was open for residency.

There’s some sense of life, and perhaps the place has found new uses.

The street Directory view 2001, 2007 and 2022

As you can see from the 3 copies of Street Directories, they whole estate Blk 45, 46, 47, 48, 49 and 50 was still around back in 2001, still there in 2007. Bedok View Primary School in 2011, which I attended from Primary 4 to Primary 6 was still around as well, but come 2007, my primary school disappeared, the blocks are still there. But come 2022, my former primary school has been repurposed to become APSN (Association for Persons with Special Needs) school; and all the blocks are gone.

2022

This is just and empty field.

Gone are any semblance or trace of my old estate, not a single shred of evidence that many families was raised there, people lived and died, grown up, or grown away. All the carparks, old rain trees, jogging tracks and shelters are gone.

All that remains is my fickle memories to hold on and tell stories about my life when there was still Blk 49, Bedok South Ave 3, #11-220 Singapore 1646

Smokers in high rise!

Smokers in high rise!

Dear Boys,

This is the peril of high rise, urban living, There is no way we can work around it.

Living where we are, we will unwittingly inhale other people’s poison, our health held hostage, and we will not be able to triangulate where is the source of the smoke. Unfortunately, one of our direct neighbors is a smoker, but we cannot be sure if we can trace the smoke and ashes on our floor back to that neighbor. It’s just a chronic, nameless faceless annoyance that randomly threatens our well-being.

Dealing with Second Hand smoke

Honestly, I’m still okay with it during my Army days, I have to work with smokers, and out in the field, I do welcome their smoking cos somehow it does keeps the mosquitos away, sort of. Some of my buddies are smokers. Staying at home is a different matter, sometimes, the weather is cooling, windy and breezy, you want to open your windows fully but…you catch a whiff of cigarette smoke…and it spoils the feeling of a good weather.

When Louis Ng, a Member of Parliament tries to push for a smoking ban for high rise buildings, I knew he was just pulling a populist opinion. True enough, nothing has been done, and nothing can be done, yet. There is just too much cultural, societal, structural, legislation, economical and enforcement challenges stacked against such wishful thinking. Nice try Louis.

Stoicism to Smokers

What else can we do? There is no law, here or anywhere in the world to deal with this minor but annoying life inconveniences. As long as there is cigarettes, we, non-cigarette users will be constantly under such pungent aroma of vile air.

Since we cannot change what is outside of us, I choose to change the inside. It’s not the best wholesome way to do it, but well, it is what it is. I guess the only way I can ‘think’ around this is, well, the smoker cannot be smoking 24/7, so I just have to deal with the stench, there and then. While this don’t necessarily makes me a happy trooper at that moment, and knowing that it can happen again, if that culprit so decides to follow up with a second stick, but what else can I do?

Think happy thoughts.

Live with it lor.

What you focus on, magnifies.

We can go ballistics when we smell the smoke, see the ashes on our floor, but what can we do? We can plot murder, think sinister thoughts, wish death on the unnamed, unseen smoker, but what it only does is poison our own brain, and let one singular brief moment mess up our entire day. Close all of our windows to shut out the smoke, and miss the good breeze and suffocate our own abode with stale air?

We can wish for people to be more considerate, hope that our neighbors can be more sensitive, but that opinion can swing both ways. Our smoker neighbors are also appealing for us to understand them, since they are only smoking at home, which is perfectly legal, they cannot control where the smoke goes, and there is a lot of places outside with smoking ban, and there is little legit places they can take a puff.

So what they are doing at home is their business in their own privacy and comfort, what can we do?

Hope that they give up smoking? Despite of the obvious health hazards all around, being 110% bad, it is their own right to take their own life slowly, puff by puff. Cigarettes being expensive in Singapore? It’s their own money and if they so spend their last dime on a stick of poison, it is also their right.

So I can only focus on my four walls, and be happy that I can keep this place clean and nice, and just turn my nose whenever that momentarily familiar turd of stench waft into our home.

Links:

https://www.straitstimes.com/politics/parliament-ban-smoking-near-windows-and-at-balconies-in-homes-says-louis-ng

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/secondhand-smoke-louis-ng-smoking-home-balcony-window-2506141

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/smoking-home-secondhand-smoke-louis-ng-parliament-2174926

https://www.louisng.sg/parliamentary-speeches/14-7

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/politics/existing-laws-can-be-used-to-tackle-second-hand-smoke-in-residential-areas-louis

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/call-for-ideas-from-enterprises-to-tackle-secondhand-smoke-in-residential-areas

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/politics/parliament-smoking-harder-to-catch-than-streaking-says-minister-grace-fu

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/politics/parliament-near-sixfold-increase-in-hdb-smoking-complaints-since-2017-says-mnd

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/stuck-with-a-neighbours-second-hand-smoke

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/getting-riled-up-by-neighbours-cigarette-smoke-noise-and-litter

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/housing/more-complaints-about-cigarette-smoke-and-noise-from-neighbours

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/environment/complaints-about-secondhand-smoke-in-residential-areas-rise-during-pandemic

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/secondhand-smoke-may-damage-childrens-eyes-study

Dakota Crescent in Pictures

Dakota Crescent in Pictures

Dear Boys,

This is a throwback to our visit to Dakota Crescent before it was torn down. Our visit was inspired by a 2016 MediaCorp TV Series Hero (大英雄), it was quite an enjoyable show, and we want to capture some sights before it is gone forever.

The Main Lawn of Dakota Crescent

Recently there was another article by Channel News Asia that reported the fate of the old residents of Dakota Crescent and how they are doing in their new flat and many of them missed the good old (pun intended) days where time literally stood still in their neighbourhood.

You can read more about the article in this link:

In 2016, Dakota Crescent residents were moved to new flats. Some paid an intangible price.

Blk 12

We climbed to the second floor of Blk12 and marveled at the greenery protruding out from the corridor, the uncle was really a passionate green finger, and from the photo, you can see the myriad of greens protruding from the railings

Blk 12
The other side of Blk 12
The iconic ‘TIAN KEE & CO.’ of Blk 12

The Schindler Lift

Man that is real old school, we took it up to the level 6, and while it was very rickety, it did it’s job, creaking and squeaking from more than 5 decades of use and abuse. It’s arthritic old but it still worked!

I felt that it was really a rare privilege to take that lift, knowing that we will never get a chance to do so any more, and back then, having 5 people in the lift is already a technological marvel.

Waiting for the lift
in the Schindler Lift

The View from the Top

From some of the top floors, we caught some views, as well as peeped into some of the unit’s interior.

The view was actually not very spectacular since the flats are not high rise, but the feeling of standing of these long gone monuments gives us good memories to tell stories about.

We were quite surprised that despite of the place being vacated and vacant, it was pleasantly clean and neat. There is still a sense of order, as well as nostalgia when the occupants left their old abode. You can feel a quiet dignity in the air, knowing that these buildings stood the test of time, built homes, laughter, sweat and tears, families, friends, memories and played a very integral part of Singapore’s nation building.

Street Directory 2007

Thankfully I managed to save a Mighty Mind 2007 Street Directory which I can pull out a map of the entire Dakota Crescent neighborhood, as you boys can see, back in 2007, Mountbatten MRT was still U/C (uncompleted)

You can compare this to Google Map 2019 and you can see that in 2007, Dakota Crescent stretched beyond Blk 32, as of today, the plot of land after Blk 32 has been turned into condominium, called Dakota Residences.

Blk 32
The playground behind Blk 16

Google Maps View

Google Map view dated 2019

Amazingly you can still get a very good view of the entire Dakota Crescent on Google Maps, dating back 2019, you can see a top view of the unique shape of the flats and where Blk 12, Blk 16 and the rest of the blocks are sited. Of course by then, Mountbatten MRT is already up and running.

More photos

Time and Tide

At the end of it all, boys, sometimes these places have to give way to development, and while it is unfortunate, the needs of the future will always takes precedence over the needs of the past, and while we need to carefully balance our memories, we must make sure we are not too caught up in the past, we cannot look forward and prepare for the future.

I’m really glad that we managed to capture some memories of Dakota Crescent and these are hopefully some of the highlights of your childhood.