For this project, I got the neighborhood…
→ Boon Keng !
I knew very little about Boon Keng but I do know about the very famous Chicken Rice outlet my family goes all the time that I realized my parents are friends with the manager… HAHAHA It’s called Boon Tong Kee . But other than that, I know very little about the neighborhood.
I asked a good friend ( – funny enough we call him BOON ) who stays there and I asked what’s good to check out when I visit, and it was the bakery shops and yep, Boon Tong Kee Chicken Rice.
Basic Information about Boon Keng
It’s on the North East Line (Purple line) of the MRT, 2 stops away from Serangoon MRT Interchange
Boon Keng has many roads such as three main roads: Boon Keng Road, Upper Boon Keng Road and Lorong 1 Geylang, leading to popular neighbourhoods like Little India, Farrer Park, Bugis, Kallang and within close proximity to CBD.
History of Boon Keng
Lim Boon Keng
Area is named by a Chinese Physician, Lim Boon Keng who promoted social and educational reforms in Singapore during the period of nation-building. He is a prominent figure in Singapore history.
After the war, Lim retired from public life and passed away on 1 January 1957, leaving behind his wife, six children, 30 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. One of his great-granddaughters is the playwright Stella Kon. Lim was buried at Bidadari Cemetery, which was cleared in the 2000s to make way for redevelopment. His remains were exhumed and the tombstone placed at the Bidadari Memorial Garden at Mount Vernon. Boon Keng Road and Boon Keng MRT station are named in his honour.
During a 2004 international conference, then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew hailed Lim as a role model of biculturalism that Singapore Chinese should emulate as the influence of China grows.
THE SUBZONE AREA
Boon Keng is a fairly new residential area and the housing estates are fairly new and more constructions are being developed to have Boon Keng prosper that is due to complete in the coming years.
It has a population of 10, 970 people living there.
As it is a subzone of Kallang, it’s history is related in which it was a home to early settlers and there were villages found in the area before modern developments took place.
It holds “historic sites” such as the Central Sikh Temple in which it stood there in Boon Keng during the Kallang Planning Area in 1986. The gurdrawa is the main place of worship for the 15,000 Sikhs in the country, and is also known as Wada Gurdrawa.
– about 22 schools are located in Boon Keng
– There are more private kindergartens/ preschool located within Boon Keng Area
– Only a few public schools; such as Bendemeer Primary & Bendemeer Secondary School
– NorthLight School has moved to Boon Keng recently
– shops/ markets/ cafes
– religious sites
– stats of people buying properties there
– age groups
– types of food ; western/indian/ chinese/malay/etc
– peak times when people visit for food ; dinner/lunch/supper
I had a short interview with a friend:Z: What do you know about Boon Keng? B: I know Boon Keng got the name from Lim Boon Keng, some wealthy Chinese physician and social activist. He also contribute in building Singapore. Z: How long have you stayed in the neighborhood? B: For 7 years. Z: Do you think it's a convenient area (in terms of yourself travelling from the places you go, e.g. downtown, school, church) B: Yeap, I think its extremely convenient. It takes less than 15 minutes for me to reach town (Orchard, Somerset), 5 mins train ride to both Dhoby Ghaut and Serangoon. Z: Have you thought of moving out of the area? Why? B: I'll probably move out when I get my own home in the future. Probably live somewhere near a park, for the quiet, chill and slow vibes. Z: Do you have friends or relatives who stay in Boon Keng? B: No leh Z: When asked about where you live, do people know where Boon Keng is? B: Haha, most of the time people don't really know where it is. I'll elaborate more like "purple line" or "3 stops away from Serangoon" Z: One particular place you like about Boon Keng. B: The park connector/canal near my house.
I went to take a quick search up on Google about Boon Keng and what I found was…
1. Bendemeer Shopping Mall
– parts of it were demolished for the construction of Boon Keng MRT
– small business such as barbers, clothing shops, bakeries, nail salons, kopitiam etc
– I didn’t know it was a shopping mall as it looked like a market in Ang Mo Kio near to where I live
2. A Residential Estate
– Boon Keng is a subzone ton Kallang
– not well-known estate
– usually eclispsed by its more famous neighbor estates such as Little India, Farrer Park, Rochor, Bugis
– however, it’s location near these estates, CBD and Orchard area make Boon Keng attractive
3. Boon Tong Kee
– Boon Keng has a Boon Tong Kee Chicken Rice outlet that many have come to visit, known as the “Whampoa West Outlet”
– Located near Boon Keng MRT Station Exit B
– this is an expanded outlet from the original in Balestier
– It’s always crowded during dinner, especially on the weekends, whereby they have a waiting system therefore it’s the outlet whereby big groups of customers don’t usually visit as an outlet…
So the first place I did was just a simple walk around the neighbourhood, finding what’s here for someone who visited there for the first time. I traveled by train (it’s located on the purple line) on the first day so, the first thing I realize was how scarce and quiet a train interchange was.
And the only few people who were there were students, and the elderly. The art in the MRT that was along the station.
But when I had stepped out at one of the exits, I was welcomed by Boon Keng’s wonderful array of pastel colours found in their HDBs. There was light purple, blue and even yellows.
Boon Keng is surrounded by both new and old buildings. There was another condominium near the MRT that was being constructed.
There’s a small park nearby the canal/connector and there were youths walking by after their school had ended, one elderly seated by the stone benches and joggers exercising along.
Not afterwards, I visited the Bendemeer Shopping Mall that I felt what Singapore is identified with because of it’s “no brand” business, barber and the kopitiams located there.There was an SKP shop, in which I also bought some art materials, a kopitiam (-that had yong tau foo, hor fun, chicken rice, western food and noodles), and they were selling fruits there. On the side, the neighborhood police were regulating their bag checks on a table. It felt like Ang Mo Kio Market, a bank, and lots of cheap clothing shops.
There was lots of people here -mainly the elderly and it felt like the whole neighborhood gathered here.
When I walked to the furthest exit of Boon Keng, there was more constructions opposite the residential HDBs. When you turn around, the Sikh Temple was nearby, decorated beautifully. It’s the very first Sikh Gurdwara here in Singapore and it is the main place of worship for said to be 15000 Sikhs here in the country. It was first a bungalow before it had turned to what it is today.
It is also called the Wada Gurdwara which means The Big Temple.
So, in the weekend, my family visited Boon Tong Kee to eat again and aunty was there greeting us. We ordered the “usual” of Sweet and Sour pork, Chicken , Fried Tou Fu with bowls of rice, Hor Fun and paired with a jug of cold Barley.
A short interview with "aunty manager", (it was short because it was busy peak period time with lots of customers)
Z: How long have you been working here? A: Since outlet was here so about 8 years? Z: Do you live near the neighborhood? B: quite near ah, I live Serangoon there. Z: Do you think it's a convenient area? B: I think so cause Kallang near and PIE also near. Z: Do people know where Boon Keng is? B: I think especially regular customers know Z: One particular place you like about Boon Keng. B: The park connector/canal near my house.
Overall, Boon Keng is a very small little estate and it’s a very quiet neighborhood. It felt like in comparison, the suburban part of Singapore. Most of the time, you can hear the cars on the main road bypass the area to get to Kallang.
And the people are very friendly, and welcoming when approached. They seemed suspicious of me when I was holding a camera but, treated me well when it comes to directions.