Tucked away on one end of Beach Road, is a veritable time capsule in Singapore. Golden Beach Vista, ostensibly named as a hybrid of Beach Road and Golden Mile Complex across the road, is a cluster of old government subsidised flats, on the fringe of the central business district. I chanced upon the surrounding area over the weekend on a last minute decision to visit Beach Road Market for food. It seemed as though the place was caught in a time warp, it definitely felt like the 70’s and the resident demographic was, for lack of a better word, ‘senior’.
A father and his son play football
In case of emergencies
In fact, it was probably designated as a retirement community for older folk, there was even an ‘emergency board’ on the ground floor of each of the blocks of flats which would light up when a resident in a certain unit needed urgent assistance. I imagine the other end of this board would be panic buttons in each of the flats above. This was Singapore’s equivalent of a retirement village, albeit a vertical one, for lack of space on this tiny island.
Entrance to the time capsule
The cat apparently did not get the memo on the benefits of exercise.
The pace noticeably slows down as you enter the area, although fringed on all sides by congested roads and major thoroughfares, it was like an island of calm in a busy sea. Einstein definitely had something going when he spoke about the relativity of time. Time, in short supply almost everywhere else on this urban island, where all timing is calculated down to the minute, is handed out in oodles here. Like thick treacle sliding down a pan, it moves, but slowly, and reluctantly. Its not too difficult to imagine that if one spends a significant amount of time here, it will cease to have much meaning, the minutes would fade into hours, the hours into days.
The faded signs and coin operated public phones harked to a different era, like fossils from a more vibrant past. A street football court set amidst the flats, perhaps once saw groups of youths playing in it, now simply sat in disrepair, the only sounds to be heard were from a young boy and his father kicking a ball about. Bicycles, both functional and broken, were chained to the bicycle stand, like rows of tired old men in their hospital beds, their various appendages barely working and rusty. Most of the shops were closed during the weekend, lending a somewhat abandoned feel to the whole place.
The old and the young
Amidst this, there was life, a community even. Groups of old men and women sat around on plastic chairs in the open spaces, chatting and laughing away. A few young children ran around, probably visiting their grandparents for the weekend. They darted about the pillars and ran around the playground, which stood out as a strange multi coloured plastic city within the muted colours all about.
Only shops catering to foreign workers remained open
Foreign Thai and Burmese workers also gather in small groups, sharing food and stories of home. They sat around in little circles on the ground, sometimes in front of closed shops, like a picnic, except that it wasn’t in a park. Perhaps they chose to linger in this area as there was no one around who would chase them away, no one around to judge them.
I walked to the edge of the city block, crossed North Bridge Road and was transported back into the present.
The rest remain firmly closed