Toa Payoh .com

Email: admin @ toapayoh .com

Welcome to Toa Payoh .com .

This is the Singapore town where I spent most of my childhood, growing up in an HDB rental flat on Lorong 1 in the 1960s and 1970s. (Toa Payoh history from Wikipedia)

The town has changed a fair bit with especially with the modern commercial complexes at Toa Payoh Central. A few landmarks remain. Toa Payoh Methodist Church, Toa Payoh Library (which I watched in great excitement as it was being built), Betheda Bookstore which has not changed its interior decor after all these decades.

The Braddell MRT train station has since been built right in front of my old block of flats at the junction of Lorong 1 and Lorong 2. How is that for location ?

I went to St Andrew's School which was then along Jalan Toa Payoh. The school is still at the same place but Jalan Toa Payoh is now a section of the Pan Island Expressway. I was told my mother stood in line for 3 days and nights to get me into the school because it was popular. Most of my schoolmates had elder brothers who were students there and got in easily. I came to realise that some of my friends' fathers and grandfathers were also ex-students.
Notable places in Toa Payoh are
- Toa Payoh Polyclinic (Google Location Map)
- Singapore Press Holdings (SPH)
- HDB Toa Payoh Hub
- CHIJ Toa Payoh
- Beatty Secondary School
- MotorImage / Subaru HQ and Showroom
- Church of the Risen Christ (Catholic)
- Philips Singapore HQ
- Toa Payoh Stadium
- Toa Payoh Library
- Uno Beef House
- Chung Hwa Free Clinic (Toa Payoh Central)
- VW Golf Centre
- First Toa Payoh Secondary School
- First Toa Payoh Primary School
- Toa Payoh Lorong 4 Market (Blog)
- Memories of Toa Payoh (Blog)
- Toa Payoh Trial (Community Blog)
- Dental clinics in Toa Payoh

Toa Payoh to me was much of the world. Most of my relatives had been relocated there after fire gutted their slum shacks. My grandparents were alloted a flat in Lorong 5. We ended up in Lorong 1. One uncle in Lorong 7 and yet another uncle in Lorong 6. Other than school, I had no reason to go anywhere else.

So life revolved around the nearest wet market and its surrounding shops. Lots of people in the neighbourhood spoke Teochew then. Not sure why but it must be the same reason that Hougang is like that too.

40 years later and I still eat at the same few noodle stalls in the same estate. Some say Teochews always return to their roots. So Toa Payoh must be my Swatow. The policemen in khaki shorts are gone. In their place, office workers in ties fiddling with their iphones occupy the lunch seats at the coffee shops. The retired butcher's hair is now totally white, much like his dog's fur. He, too, comes to the market often after giving up his pork stall a few years ago. Can't blame him - after all, he is Teochew too.

The Toa Payoh story is my story, and the Singapore story at the same time. It is the story of humble beginnings, of opportunities that gave an entire generation of children born into illiterate families the chance to survive and even do well. My mother would not have dared dream that her seamstress days could ever end. I thought maybe one day I would work in a factory, or maybe even become a welder.

Check out the black and white photo of Queen Elizabeth standing on the roof of Block 53, Lorong 5. I have a story to tell about that because I lived with my grandmother at Block 54.

Will continue soon ...

Toa Payoh Library with the original fountain
Toa Payoh Library with old fountain

Toa Payoh Swimming Complex
Toa Payoh Swimming Complex

Toa Payoh Block 116
Toa Payoh Block 116
An aerial photograph of Toa Payoh taken in 1967
Toa Payoh

Modern HDB Hub at Toa Payoh Central
Toa Payoh Hub

Block at Toa Payoh Lorong 6
Toa Payoh Lorong 6

Queen Elizabeth at Toa Payoh Block 53 Lorong 5
Queen Elizabeth Visits Toa Payoh