Yong’s Teo Chew Kueh
The old Tanjong Katong was a coastal stretch from Upper East Coast Road to
Tanjong Rhu, and is now an estate. The name “Tanjong Katong” translated means
“turtle point” or “turtle cape”. Katong takes its name from the Javanese word for the
leatherback sea turtle, a species of sea-turtle which is now extinct. Such a turtle was
found on a beach near Siglap in 1883; its remains were taxidermized and are now on display at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum. This specimen remains the only record of a leatherback turtle in Singapore, and it is possible that it (or similar turtles) gave its name to the area. Singaporean poet Ho Poh Fun wrote a poem in 1994, named “Katong”, which describes the neighbourhood and the local turtles before and after land reclamation there. Katong also means “the rippling effect of a sea mirage” when looking at a shore-line.
Further down this street, the single-storey terrace houses with colourful facades
stand beside a former sea wall where the beach used to be. Before the land was
reclaimed, turtles used to come to the shore by these homes to lay their eggs. What
makes these homes unusual is that the living area is built on raised ground to protectagainst the rising tides in the past. The architectural style is also unique: an eclecticmix of traditional local architecture infused with Western influence, as seen in the elaborate fascia boards and decorative plaster motifs.