Bendemeer: A Snapshot of Past and Present Singapore
About Bendemeer is an old district that has been developed over time. Here, you can see a mixture of buildings from the colonial era, modern structures and everything in between. The newer roads in Bendemeer are wide and intersect with the narrower lanes of undeveloped Singapore. Bendemeer bustles with small and big businesses, labourers and executives, and people of all backgrounds. Divided into the Serangoon Road, Whampoa and Geylang Bahru areas, it is a district that presents physical evidence of Singapore 's progress over the past 50 years.
History With old buildings and ways of life still persisting in Bendemeer, the district is a mosaic of Singapore 's history. Bendemeer does not only show Singapore 's overall chronological development, but also traces the origins of the different immigrant communities in Singapore.
Whampoa, for example, was a settlement of immigrant Chinese traders in the early 1900s. This area was named after Hoo Ah Kay, a Chinese immigrant fondly referred to as Whampoa because he ran a business called Whampoa & Co. He was also the only Chinese to be elected into the Executive Legislative Council of British Singapore, earning him prestige and honour.
The Serangoon Rd area, in contrast, was and still is an area for Indian immigrants in Singapore. Serangoon Rd is a long road, which cuts across and surpasses the Bendemeer district. Also known as Little India, Serangoon Road has changed very little over the years. It still retains the charm, landscape and habits of the last century. Temples like the historic Sri Veeramakaliamman are still utilized today, remaining more a place of worship than a tourist attraction.
Whampoa The Whampoa area is still laidback and relaxed, with low-rise HDB flats, wet markets and shop houses. There is a large elderly population in Whampoa, who spend their days playing chess around the area. Most of the commercial enterprises in Whampoa are also run by the elderly, most of whom have been in the business for half a century or so. Here, you find small confectionaries, old dental clinics and sinseh (Chinese medicine) shops. Food in Whampoa is relatively cheap, serving mostly traditional Chinese dishes.
Serangoon Road Due to its association as Little India, Serangoon Road comprises many Indian eateries and businesses. Mustaffa Centre, Singapore 's only 24-hour department store, is located in the Bendemeer end of Serangoon Road. There are also temples and mosques everywhere. You can find money-changers at every row of shop houses Serangoon Road – this is a profession dominated by Indian Muslims. Despite the majority South Asian population, however, there are a few vehicle-repair shops and coffee shops that are run by Chinese businessmen. There are also many arts and design companies located in this area.
Geylang Bahru This area is the newer, more developed section of Bendemeer. A residential estate comprising mainly HDB flats, Geylang Bahru is clean, new and organized. There are also many industrial and commercial buildings here, dealing largely with automotives and vending machines. This is a good place to buy new or used motorcycles, as there are imports here that you cannot find anywhere else in Singapore. The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) Headquarters are located here.