I had a chanced meeting with Uncle Vincent Chan. He was doing his weekly 'chi gong' at the open space close to the iconic playground and I was just cycling . I stopped my bicycle and waited for the bare-chested uncle to finished his exercise. He was totally immersed in his exercise and I didn't want to distract him. So I continued to cycle around to capture the last pictures of Dakota Crescent before the entire estate is demolished in 2017.
Tian Kee Provision Shop
After his warm down, we walked over to Tian Kee cafe for a morning tea.The current owner of the cafe, Mr CK Foo - came up with a brilliant idea of keeping the nostalgia of this former provision shop by decorating his cafe with old memorabilia and even kept the old sign board of the old provision shop.
Prior to this being a cafe, Tian Kee and Co. was a provision shop run by Mr Lim Tian Kee. The provision shop loyally served the Dakota residents for 54 years before its owner called it quits in 2013. (1) He cited rising rental and aggressive competition from large supermarkets such as NTUC. Age has also caught up for this 84-year old shop owner.
Uncle Chan had taken his morning tea together with his fried fritters over at the Old Kallang Airport Market. Still, he was extremely kind to spend two hours with me to chat about a wide array of topics - from the history of housing estate, to his life and life lessons that he has learnt.
Uncle Chan, 68, is one of the first pioneer residents of Dakota Crescent. Together with his father, Uncle Chan moved into his rental flat at Block 50 in 1958. He was 12 years old then.
In 1980, he was asked to move out as the government had wanted to develop that piece of land. He was then given another rental flat at Block 20. which he has been staying in with his son.
Uncle Chan went on to share -
1. Dakota Crescent was an ulu place in the 1950s. There were no public buses serving this area and in order to go to town, he had to take walk to Mountbatten to take the public transport
2. The blocks are generally even-numbered. The odd-number blocks have all been torn down
Updated December 31, 2016
1. Cheong, K. October 19, 2013. Shutters for 54-year-old provision shop. The Straits Times.
Yeo, S. J. December 31, 2016. Some haven't moved out of Dakota Crescent. The Straits times. B1. http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/some-havent-moved-out-dakota-crescent