Saturday, August 31, 2013

Singapore ~ Balestier Road (Kim Keat Road)

Walking along Balestier Road, from the previous check point Traditional Shop Houses. We will reach another check point

Kim Keat Road

Kim Keat Road is named after Chua (Choa) Kim Keat (1859-1907), a Peranakan merchant and the only son of Chua Kai Hoon, a native of Malacca who move to Singpaore and died in 1865. The youger Chua was also a son-in-law to Tan Kim Cheng (1829-1892), whose father Tan Tock Seng (1789-1850) founded Tan Tock Seng Hospital. Chua Kim Keat started out as a tin salesman for Lim Tiang Wah and Sons. In 1886, he joined the newly formed Straits Trading Co. Ltd and became a leading figure in the tin smelting company.

Chua, who also managed the rice business of Tan Kim Cheng & Co., maintained a country residence off Balestier Road by the road that bears his name. He also owned a lavish house at Pasir Panjang named "Fairyland", where he hosted garden parties that were well-attended by both the Chinese and European elites. Known to be a great lover of orchids and rare plants, Chua took part in flower shows at the Botanic Gardens, where he won prizes for his roses and dahlias.

Kim Keat Road once stretched all the way to the area around the Lian Shan Shuang Lin Temple in Toa Payoh. Built in 1908, this National Monument houses the oldest Buddhist monastery in Singapore. In the past, it was possible to walk directly from Balestier Road to Toa Payoh, but the two areas are now separated by the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) and many have disassociated Kim Keat Road from Kim Keat Link, where the temple is located.

Walk down Kim Keat Road, turn right into Kim Keat Lane, and you will come across a traditional bakery known as Sweetlands Confectionery. For more than 50 years, this bakery has produced bread loaves for coffee shops and provision shops across Singapore. Another traditional bakery, Sin Hon Loong can be found at 4 Whampoa Drive.

For decadeds, slided toast with butter and kaya (coconut jam) plus freshly brewed coffee have been the quintessential breakfast for Singaporeans. Households and coffee shops whould obtain their coffee from suppliers such as Lam Yeo Coffee Powder, which opened at 328 Balestier Road in 1960 and still stocks various coffee from around the region.

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