Dakota Crescent

Many of you might have passed by this tiny estate on your way to the Old Airport Road Hawker Centre.

But have you wandered inside?

Dakota Crescent

Located within walking distance from the new Sports Hub, Dakota Crescent is a world away from the hustle and bustle of urban Singapore.

The estate was built by HDB’s predecessor – the Singapore Improvement Trust.

And the 17 blocks of low-rise flats here have hardly changed since being built in 1958.

Dakota Crescent

Over the years, many of its residents have moved out, and today, only about 60 per cent of the flats are occupied.

Dakota Crescent dwarfed by surrounding developments

But the abandoned units and quiet surroundings almost makes you feel like you’ve time-travelled back to 1960s Singapore.

Dove-shaped playground, Dakota Crescent

While there, check out the dove-shaped playground nestled in the heart of the estate.

Such playgrounds, which used to be common, are rarely seen in Singapore these days.

Retro-looking lift

The lifts, too, are super retro.

So much so that the entire lift jerks when it reaches its level.

Tok-tok man, Lai Kok Chuan

The small estate is also home to quirky characters like tok-tok man, Lai Kok Chuan.

Mr Lai goes around the estate hitting on a wooden block which noodle-sellers in the ‘50s used to herald their arrival.

He’s also more than willing to show you his sleight-of-hand magic tricks, if you ask him to.

Chatting with Lam Tem Peau

And then there’s Lam Tem Peau, who used to be former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s bodyguard.

He can often be seen cycling around the estate, or practising his ‘kungfu’ moves.

If you see them, don’t shy away.

They’re more than happy to speak to you and reminisce about their past.

And in Mr Lai’s case, he might just show you how he crows like a rooster.

Tian Kee & Co Cafe

If the hot weather gets to you, pop by the new café which has taken over the premises of the Tian Kee Provision Shop which closed down in 2013 after operating for 54-years.

Due to insufficient electrical power, the café is not air-conditioned.

Tian Kee & Co Cafe

Pie & Chips and Iced Chocolate, Tian Kee & Co Cafe

But this adds on to its old-school vibe, what with its retro furnishing and the iconic blue signboard of the Tian Kee Provision Shop.

Looking out from Tian Kee & Co Cafe

However, Dakota Crescent’s days may be numbered.

Residents think the estate has stayed the way it is because the authorities have other plans for the plot of land, which is prime real estate.

Dakota Crescent

For instance, they questioned, why aren’t the lifts upgraded to stop on every floor when most of the residents in the estate are elderly?

So you might just want to pop by Dakota Crescent while you can, before it all goes under a wrecking ball, or redeveloped into another hippie hangout like Tiong Bahru.

Dakota Crescent

You might also want to catch the programme below about Dakota Crescent, which was filmed earlier this year.