Singapore's "Then and Now" Series: Hidden Gems of the East Coast
The East Coast of Singapore, comprising areas such as Bedok, and Marine Parade, is known for many things – its rustic charm, rich heritage, eclectic shopping and good food. For those seeking to immerse themselves in interesting activities or hoping to discover local folklore, it also offers lesser known hidden gems.
In this Then and Now article, we take a look at East Coast’s past, present, and some of the out-of-ordinary things you can do in this side of Singapore.
An old photograph of the sea along East Coast Road from the Lee Kip Lin Collection. All rights reserved. Lee Kip Lin and National Library Board, Singapore 2009. (Source: NLB)
As with many areas in Singapore, fishing was a way of life in East Coast, and was one of the most dominant occupations up to the 1960s. The land reclamation scheme that started in 1962 eventually transformed the face of East Coast and marked the end of traditional fishing in Singapore.
Keeping the Peranakan Culture Alive
Among the early inhabitants of the East Coast area were the Orang Laut (“sea people” in Malay), a nomadic community that is most at home on the seas and rivers of Southeast Asia.
As economic opportunities in Singapore grew after the arrival of the British in 1819, many communities from across the Indonesian archipelago and Malaya such as Sumatrans, Javanese, Baweanese and groups from Borneo made their way here. They were joined by other migrants from China during the colonial era, resulting in a diverse, vibrant mix which later included the Peranakans and Eurasians.
In fact, before reclamation in Marine Parade, Tanjong Katong fronted the sea. Today, the neighbourhoods of Katong and Joo Chiat remain almost synonymous with the Baba-Nonya culture, as early Peranakans settled into the enclave during the beginning of the 20th century.
This row of Peranakan houses, built in 1927, is characterised by the prominent ceramic tiles with floral and geometrical designs.
Recently given a new splash of life with a makeover by the Urban Redevelopment Authority, this row of Peranakan houses along Koon Seng Road is now a popular spot for Instagrammers seeking vibrant backgrounds for their pictures.
All Things by the Sea
Over the years, the East Coast area has been redeveloped to create more open spaces, improve accessibility and enhanced amenities, while keeping its distinct coastal identity alive. New facilities were added, and existing landmark buildings were re-developed and repurposed.
Xtreme SkatePark was built for beginners as well as seasoned skaters and BMX bikers. (Source: Singapore Tourist Info)
In 2009, the 1.4 hectare Xtreme SkatePark joined the list of new facilities at East Coast Park. It was the first skate park in Singapore that was built to international competition standards, and included street obstacles such as stairs, handrails, ledges and gaps and even ramps for beginners or experts in extreme sports.
Located near Car Park F1, it is part of what is known as the 'energy' zone of East Coast Park, which is close to other extreme sports facilities such as windsurfing, sailing, kayaking, inline skating, and cycling.
Singapore’s first cable-ski park is a great option for wakeboarders, water-skiing enthusiasts and action-seekers looking to try a new sport. (Source: Singapore Wake Park)
Also found within this energy zone is the Singapore Wake Park which resumed operations in 2016 after a two-year hiatus.
Guaranteed to provide families with an exhilarating half-day out, the park features three cable-systems - one full size-cable system for the experienced riders and two straight-line system 2.0 for beginners and intermediate riders from as young as 6 years old.
After working up an appetite from the adrenaline rush, hit up the The East Coast Lagoon Food Village for some delicious local fare.
Built on reclaimed land in 1978, the food centre went through plenty of revamps and even changes to its name before it was finally renamed the East Coast Lagoon Food Village in 2004.
Generations of Singaporeans have dined here for its unique laid-back atmosphere and its multitude of food stalls which are open until the early hours of the morning.
Singaporeans who grew up in the 1980s will also remember Marine Cove's former life as the East Coast Recreation Centre.
Features such as an arcade, a bowling alley, and other cafés and restaurants were added as Marine Cove gained popularilty among Singaporeans. The area was closed for redevelopment in 2014, and opened two years later with more family-friendly amenities, making it a popular entertainment destination along the bustling East Coast Park stretch once again.
Completed in 2016, the Marine Cove playground is jam packed with families on weekends. (Source: NParks)
The new star of the area is the 3,500 square metre outdoor children’s playground. Although meant for ages 2 to 12, you can revisit your childhood by climbing up the lighthouse or making your way across the suspended rope bridge!
With the upcoming development of the Bayshore district, more families will be able to have a home near East Coast Park in future. According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the precint will be a new lifestyle waterfront urban village for about 12,500 units of public and private housing.
With something different to explore at East Coast every weekend, there will not be a dull moment living in the Bayshore district.
An artist’s impression of the view from one of the units at Seaside Residences.
While we await plans for the district to materialise, home owners of our coveted new residential development, Seaside Residences will be able to enjoy ocean views from their homes very soon.
Over 840-units offering 15km of uninterrupted views of Singapore’s coastline.
Set for Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) in the second half of 2020, Seaside Residence, which is located just three minutes away from the upcoming Siglap MRT has achieved a 90% occupancy rate. Homeowners will soon be able to indulge in plenty of spontaneous activities such as morning jogs and impromptu hawker dinners, or midnight cycling sessions in the East of Singapore.
Embracing the waves of change
There are few areas in Singapore that can match East Coast’s storied past while possessing the perfect balance of fun, food and relaxation. Well-loved spaces in the area have come and gone, and many have been furbished to meet the current needs of the city.
Despite it all, there’s always something new to revisit and explore in the charming East Coast. But why take our word for it, get out there with your loved ones and experience it for yourself!