Growing up in Bedok, the bus interchange and hawker centre were very much a part of my life. Hearing that the hawker centre will be moving to a new location where the car park was, I decided to pay a visit to see what’s changed. As I walked out of the MRT station, I see nothing familiar at all, there’s a Bedok Mall entrance and the walkway is all boarded up. I followed the sign and as I turned the corner, I arrive at a familiar sight – the hawker centre. Things are very different and I understand from the hawkers that they are expecting even more changes.
See the Lor Mee stall? The one with the yellow sign (second from right). That’s the stall where my mother and I would enjoy our bowl of sticky lor mee and I’ll pass all the fatty meat in my bowl to hers while she passes me her fish cakes. I’ll ask for extra vinegar while my mum says “no vinegar”. This stall brings back memories and I’m glad it’s still there, though I don’t recognize the people selling it now. I didn’t approach them today as I’m heading towards my favorite “curry rice” stall.
This Ali San Curry Fish head is really famous. I remember going to the cinema during my teenage years and seeing the advertisement for Bedok’s favourite curry fish head, and indeed this is a treat for my family when papa brings us to Bedok Interchange.
Almost every day after school, I’ll have my lunch here ordering rice, with my favourite toufu and a dollop of curry, the auntie usually charge me $1. I’ll share the table with bus captains as those were the days before National Transport Workers Union (NTWU) started to operate canteens for Bus Captains. It’s kind of funny remembering how I was alone in my school uniform and sitting at a table full of bus captains chomping on their curry rice, probably rushing to keep the schedule.
Today, the selection at Ali Shan looks quite different and I still see my favourite toufu there.
I ordered my favorite toufu and was a little embarrassed to ask the xiao mei (little sister serving, as the auntie has probably retired) for a dollop of curry, so I asked for fish and meat ball instead.
This meal cost me S$5.70. The toufu is now only a quarter of what it was, so I had to ask xiao mei for a second portion for another S$0.70
The toufu was just as good, but the rice was lumpy and the fish fishy and pork was starchy. I was disappointed save for the toufu. Then I observed that the uniform the xiao mei was wearing was another brand, apparently, the boss of Ali Shan sold the business to a chain of “curry rice” operator as he retires, so this is no longer the same boss that I was buying from during my teenage years.
Walking around, I see some familiar shops, the corner noodle stall and the drink stall next to it, I used to eat there too.
If you live in Bedok, you’ll know Hollywood! I just have to go check out the dessert stall that my mum and I would share a bowl of ice jelly and it’s still there, speaking to the hawker, I found out that uncle has decided not to continue his business at the new hawker centre, and that he plans to retire. I guess that’s how life is, things just keep changing and we have to keep adapting to these changes, we can’t even stop ourselves from aging.
I remember there was a “NTUC coffeeshop” nearby and I realized that that has been changed too. It’s now “The Food Corner” and all the stalls have changed. I remember having meals with my family there as that’s an affordable coffee shop for us, and the food is good too, there was nutricious yong tau hoo and yummy claypot rice, all these are all gone. While there is another yong tau foo stall in it’s place, it’s no longer cheap.
I managed to Google and find this Foodfare picture, which I vaguely remember as the one at Bedok.
Bedok Interchange has been transformed and Bedok Mall is now seated on top of where the bus interchange used to be, the places which is very much a part of my memory, is no longer there. I can imagine that when the work is completed, it’ll be the jewel of Bedok as it was years ago when I was a young teenager. Friends would say “let’s meet at Bedok Interchange”.
What do we wish for in the hawker centre as they move to a new location? I want a clean hawker centre, where the food is tasty, nutritious and affordable, so children will continue to grow up forming good memories of the place.