Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Hometown Glory Part II: Joo Chiat, Katong Ride

A few weeks back, Gwyn and I did a ride along Joo Chiat and Katong. I spent a good part of my childhood growing up in Joo Chiat. My grandfather and father were both carpenters and they made their living at a shophouse along Joo Chiat Road, while the rest of the family lived above.

Things have changed quite a bit now. What used to be our furniture shop is now...ahem..Hotel 81.

I remember we had a cane furniture shop and a food caterer as neighbours. Further down the stretch was a "mama" shop. We used to park our pick up in front of the shop, where the pavement is now.

It's good to know that the general structure and design of the building has been preserved. Those bricks and window designs are exactly as they were back then. The colour of the building though is now different. We didn't have such funky taste then...

This was the back alley behind the shophouse, also where I honed my football skills. =P

Sometimes, the ball would go over the wall into the neighbours garden and we would climb over to retrieve it. Just some of the crazy stuff you do as kids...

There used to be a back door to the shophouse, which led to the dining and work area where my grandfather and father would build furniture from scratch. Things have certainly changed quite a bit!

This is Kway Guan Huat. They make the most awesome popiah skin.

If you haven't tried it, you should soon!

This junction between Joo Chiat Place and Joo Chiat Road used to be a petrol station...

We were moved from our place in Joo Chiat during the mid 90s. We settled for a shop space in Katong Plaza. Katong Plaza, known for its hairstyling saloons. You'll be amazed by the number of hairdressing saloons you can find in this pint sized shopping mall.

This was another back alley where i polished my footballing skills. I wasn't quite into cycling then. Maradona practised with tennis balls. I did the same, though not necessarily to the same effect...

This was a pathway where I would pretend to be Carl Lewis. Pardon me for that was before the times of Usain Bolt...

Just next door is Roxy Square and in there you'll be able to find this...

Excellent Wanton Noodles. It used to be my SOP breakfast on Saturdays.

We used to call the boss "Hui ge"...just look at the striking resemblance to Henry Thia...

Further up the stretch of Katong stands Katong Shopping Centre. During its heyday, it was like the Cineleisure of the 70s, very happening. Now, it's somewhat managed to transform itself into some domestic help service hub...

There is this Chicken Rice stall in its basement that remains quite happening though.

Reasonably priced. Generous in its serving. Tasty. The first time we brought our family there, the boss served us a complimentary plate of fruits to go along with our main course. He also conveniently rounded down our bill, which got quite a few members of our family very high...

Great strategy if you ask me. Within 2 weeks, we went back and fruits didn't return though...

The Odeon Katong! There used to be a cinema. I remember watching my first Jean Claude Van Damme movie here.... The theatre is now gone...

This is probably one of the more notable buildings along Katong. The Red House, Katong Bakery. It's not looking in the best of shapes though...

What is now 112 Katong, used to be Katong Mall. It was a tuition haven. Like how many hairdressing saloons in Katong Plaza, you'll find as many tuition centres here in Katong Mall.

Another ex-cinema in Katong! Republic Theatre. I saw Free Willy here. Funny how I still remember that. It used to be run by Shaw, where they have those giant sheets of seating layouts for you to choose from. The ticketing officer would then cross them out using some kind of crayon like pen...

No idea what the building is now used for...

Yamaha Music School. It's been here forever. A lot of my Saturdays were spent here, attending Music lessons...

Another classic building...Parkway Centre. I used to frequent this place quite often. Not just for the Mcdonalds below, but also Parkway Education (It has since closed down), tuition specializing in Mathematics.

Parkway Parade, jewel of the east. No nearby MRT, not quite accessible, but it's always crowded...

Around the corner, the current FairPrice Finest building used to be the Marine Parade Library.

Again, another ex-cinema, Liberty. It just makes you wonder why there used to be so many cinemas in the area, yet now, there is not one in sight.

It was nice riding down memory lane, adds emotional joy into pedaling. We rounded off the trip with a ride down the iconic Marine Parade to East Coast Park underground tunnel.

Hometown Glory Part II complete. Stay tuned for Part III!

To read about the rest of our Hometown Glory adventure, click here


  1. Hi Kevin,
    so nice to read about your revisit to Joo Chiat. I'm always excited to read stories of old families that lived in Joo Chiat. Here's a picture from the national archives that you may enjoy.
    These days, I'm mostly right across from your childhood home is.
    Drop by when you are next in the hood. We are foldie cyclists too.

  2. Hi Tony,

    Thanks for reading!

    Come to think of it, we remember seeing some bicycles outside your place.

    We love how you have converted the shophouse into a B&B and incorporated Joo Chiat tours in it. :)

    Maybe you could do tours on bicycles as well!

  3. :-)
    but we do...
    we using Xootr Swifts
    they are practically a hardtail and perfect for our 11 hr city by the water tour.... there's other bike tours too but they are all for small private groups...

    Alot of old joo chiat neighbours have been dropping by our new restaurant... this evening, we had a family that grew up above Song Seng Chan. I was hoping for old land reclamation off east coast road... but no luck...

  4. did i miss those cycling tours..

    We will definitely pop by your place the next time we're in the area. =)

  5. We are birds of the same feather. Nice blog and nostalgic too. Before the war, there was a railway line cutting across Joo Chiat Road to Joo Chiat Lane and all the way to Eunos. If you do not know, read it in my blog.

  6. Hi Philip,

    Thanks for dropping by. I don't recall the railway line, but my parents should know about it.

    Joo Chiat is truly rich in heritage and I hope it stays that way.