#reclaimingsg is our series about all things related to our memories of and how we feel about Singapore. We are not so ready to “archive” yet, hence the word “reclaim”.
Boon Lay is officially a sub-zone of Jurong, and is, for some reason, sandwiched between the two Jurong West’s. I call the Street 41-51 area up till Jurong Canal the old Jurong West, and the newer estate closer to Boon Lay MRT station the new Jurong West.
Even within the old Jurong West, there’s a further differentiation. The wet market and hawker centre is known to my mum as the 旧巴刹 (which translates to “old market”) and the other half 新巴刹 (“new market”) where the first NTUC in the area was located. I spent my childhood and most of my formative years in these two old Jurong West’s running errands and staking out at stationery shops. Ah, nostalgia.
I digress. This post is about Boon Lay. I used to pass by the area rather often when I was living in Jurong. My buses would pass through the Boon Lay/Corporation Road neighbourhood and I always felt a little bad for the place because it had appeared so neglected to me. Certainly, there were no proper grounds for this observation except that I probably found the population a little sparse compared to the rest of Jurong West and that maybe the flats looked a little worse for wear. Alas, I suppose a young(er) me subscribed to the old-equals-bad-please-tear-down sentiment.
Four years ago, I found out that a number of HDB blocks was up for en-bloc. Within a few months, most of the residents had moved out. I first made a trip there in November 2008 and then again in February in 2009 to take some photographs. I had quite a bit of adventure exploring the place – it is always strangely eerie to visit places where there used to be so much human activity and to see all the things people chose to leave behind.
Strangely enough, another couple of months later, I found out that these blocks were made available for rental. A rather weird development, but I guess money works in mysterious ways.
(And if you’re interested, here’s a little more about the story behind Boon Lay blocks 216-220.)