New Bedok Hawker Centre: Does It Deliver? By Adeline Ang | Tuesday, Dec 30, 2014
By Adeline Ang - Tuesday, Dec 30, 2014
Free wireless internet, cashless payment by NETSFlashPay card, a larger dining area and better ventilation; these are amongst the few things that the new hawker centre at Bedok Town Centre now offers. Now located at Blk 208B New Upper Changi Road, the hawker centre promises a better dining experience including installing large low-speed fans that will cool diners without them having to brush their hair away from their faces once every five minutes. But does the new hawker centre deliver on its promises, moving ahead and into 2015?
The spacious and relatively better ventilated hawker centre has left its patrons happy, but the large over-hang fans, realistically, does not eliminate much heat in a food centre full of stoves and sweaty feeders, especially on a blistering day. There are smaller pillar-mounted fans scattered around the hawker centre to further cool the environment. But with our warm climate and nearby current construction works affecting ventilation, some, especially the hawkers, would prefer having the height of the low-speed fans lowered or have their speed turned up a notch. But that’s a temporary problem.
Although the wifi system is up and running, be prepared for minor sporadic interruptions that are most likely attributed to by the infancy stage of the program. For the very wired and the impatient, the wiser move would be to stick to your 3G/4G for now.
The cashless payment system on the other hand, seems to be less popular amongst hawkers and patrons alike. With the system, an extra step of entering the quantity or price of the food is needed, something most hawkers would rather do without. As Xin Kee Signature Curry House stall helper Miss Wong sums it up, “must press the button so many times, if a customer orders 10 packets at one go during peak periods then how?” For the patrons, cash payments are still preferred due to old habits and the NETS FlashPay card is also associated with inconveniences such as having to constantly check the value of the card. In fact, when asked about her opinion on the cashless system, Wong Liang Ee, a 22-year old university student raised her eyebrows. “It’s such a hassle, I still prefer the convenience of using cash.” It will be yet a while before cashless payment modes enter the lifestyle system in hawker centres, what with old aunties and uncles still comfortable with counting monies.
The Tray Return Initiative that was first launched last year is also implemented in the hawker centre. Tray return stations are situated at convenient locations within the vicinity while hand basins can be found near the stations. Whilst patrons may be fine with cultivating the habit of returning used cutleries, the presence of cleaners will weaken that habit as folks will think they job is still left to the cleaners, as an old patron of hawker centres once said “if I return the cutleries, then the cleaners have no work to do.”
When asked to compare the previous hawker centre to the new, both patrons and hawkers are largely content with the change. For the patrons, the new spacious hawker centre equipped with more handicap friendly facilities has definitely brought about more comfort and convenience to their dining experience. Bigger kitchens and a cleaner working environment have also created some happier hawkers. In fact, when asked about the best feature of the new hawker centre, many with big smiles on their faces, replied “the kitchen is bigger lah”.
What could be improved for the new hawker centre? The top suggestion by both hawkers and patrons appears to be the installation of more fans or a greener way to improve ventilation. That aside, the new Bedok Hawker Centre would have successfully delivered what it promised.
Food wise, well, what can we say- if only there was as much thought given to improve and continue our local food heritage as they do for hawker centres, then this article would beckon a part 2 or 3 even.