Designed by Singapore’s first chief landscape architect, Otto Fung, the construction of Singapore’s largest coastal park commenced in 1972. The park’s 185 hectares is a fraction of the country’s first land reclamation scheme. Divided into areas A to H, each section is demarcated by drainage canals, complete with an underpass that traverses beneath the bustling expressway that connects this recreation getaway to the rest of Singapore.
East Coast Park has always been synonymous with fun and recreation. Runners and cyclists regularly flock to enjoy the scenery and the breeze while keeping fit. Many fondly recall the iconic seven-storey high, rainbow-coloured slides of Big Splash tower. The highest slide in the world then, families and friends regularly sped down the multi-coloured slides at incredible speeds before basking in surrounding swimming pools.
East Coast Park today still boasts a diverse range of leisure and recreation options. Singapore’s first skate park built to international standards stands a stone’s throw away from Bedok Jetty. Fishing enthusiasts dot the perimeter of Singapore’s longest fishing jetty while football enthusiasts further hone their skills at the futsal pitches before cooling off under the coconut trees.
The park is no less alive at night. A food haven, the distinctive eateries add colour to the array of food available in the park. People from all over descend onto the various eateries all along this 15-km coastline to fill their tummies. The East Coast Lagoon Food Village, clouded in smoke from the satay stalls and the sounds of furiously wok-tossed Hokkien noodles, is always packed with hungry patrons. Just a lagoon away, diners don bibs as they tear through tasty crabs soaked in a variety of sauces.
Many opt for nice walks along the beach after a full meal. Night cyclists roll past behind them, red brake lights blinking. On footpaths, couples link fingers while pets plod alongside their owners. They take in the salty breeze as ships twinkle in the distance, dividing the sky and darkened sea.
As part of HDB’s Remaking Our Heartland initiatives, Singaporeans will soon be able to cycle all the way from Bedok to East Coast Park through the 4-km Outdoor Play Corridor sometime next year. With a 1-hectre open lawn that faces the sea and four blocks of retail and dining, the recently opened Parkland Green further cements East Coast Park’s position as the destination of choice for recreation and relaxation under the sun.
With lots of great food and even more to do, it is not difficult to see why this humble coastline remains a popular urban oasis for both generations past and generations to come.
Photo Credits: National Parks Board