10th October 2015
Seletar has changed drastically over the years as the authorities transformed it into an aerospace hub, clearing much for its colonial architecture and the old RAF airbase, much of what was left is becoming more of a colonial façade, occupying a small portion of the original Seletar like a sort of theme-park now. The old soul has given way to something else. Yet at this intense transformation of Seletar, a couple of things still bring you back to what Seletar was.
One of them is Canteen 398, which has been sitting of the fringe of destruction by nature or encroaching development in the recent years. I am glad that this canteen dating back to 1969 is still standing and making its stand to preserve an institution of the old Seletar.
A painful sight, July 2015
Time and time again, I reminded myself to visit Canteen 398 and I am glad I did it last weekend. The canteen is a humble looking structure, they have just recovered from the damage caused by a fallen tree and the stalls are still going on with their own daily business, serving the workers around the area as well as military personnel from Seletar Camp.
We had breakfast. Two eggs and a cup of kopi, still made with condensed milk rather than sweetener which you could tell the difference as you add condensed milk to the kopi, it is thicker, and takes a bit longer to dissolve and the taste is somewhat different too.
There are two more stalls, one cai fan (mixed rice) stall and a Malay stall with excellent archar and a friendly auntie. The Malay stall was been around for at least 16 (or was it 60 years?).
The atmosphere here, a bit like Colbar reminded me of my childhood days hanging around the coffeeshop in Neo Tiew. Something you can’t quite get nowadays in Singapore. Seletar 398 is like another world on its own, going on with what they have been doing since 1969, while Singapore continued to change outside.
I was reminded of Shashlik which is closing at end of this year. The auntie sensing our disappointment of missing the Baked Alaska telling us to come back again. Regardless of what the future holds, they will keep on going.