Tuesday, 22 July 2008

0700 hours

This morning, I decided to break away from the Wednesday Macdonalds routine and bring SK for local breakfast instead. After dropping YK off at school, we drove towards the city.

At 7am, the traffic was heavier than usual. I haven't taken this route for sometime now and was surprised to see the large amount of cars on the highway. It has everything to do with the ERP (electronic road pricing) of course. Motorists were rushing into the city before 7.30am, before the ERP charges take effect.

I used to travel on this highway to work everyday merely 3 years ago. It used to be a leisurely drive but today, the pace was frenzied. A sedan was tailgating so close behind me as I was turning off the highway, it made me nervous going down the steep and curvy slope in my SUV.

We arrived at Killiney Kopitiam along Purvis Street, a place that CH and I used to enjoy breakfast together few years ago when his office was still in the city. I love the rich aroma of freshly brewed coffee and tantalizing fragrance of the warm kaya toast at Killiney whose origins go way back to 1919. It is so popular that there are many franchise outlets all over Singapore today.

It was empty except for a sprinkling of people when we arrived. The shop looks and feels a little different now. For a start, it is brighter. The people are different too. I believe the franchise has changed hands. The local aunties and uncles are gone. Instead, several young ladies who speak with a strong Chinese accent were taking orders.

I find it strange that our favourite home-grown kopitiam is now owned and managed by foreigners. The whole idea behind Killiney Kopitiam was to preserve the traditional Hainanese food that is fast disappearing in Singapore. Can the foreigners recreate or appreciate our local delicacies?

As I settled down for my cuppa, many yuppie types started streaming in. At 7.10am, it's an early start isn't it? It was never that crowded in the past. Again, the ERP has forced people to start their day earlier than before.

I sipped my coffee and was pleased to find the taste hasn't changed. SK enjoyed his mee goreng (fried spicy noodles). My kaya toast took a while to arrive but it's as fragrant and tasty as before. Being served by foreigners instead of Hainanese uncles and aunties in a traditional kopitiam takes a bit of getting used to. The service staff in food establishments and shops here is almost dominated by foreigners now. Singapore is getting more and more cosmopolitan.

Suddenly dark clouds started rolling in really quickly, fuelled by the strong coastal wind. Within minutes, the entire sky turned black and leaves were flying off trees. We hurried off before the skies opened up.

As we were leaving the city, a traffic jam was building up on the other side of the highway. At 7.30am, the motorists have already started paying to get into the city. I'm glad we avoided the ERP fee and the jam. Now I know why there are so many early birds.


charlie Hotel said...

It's an exercise in urban traffic control that's spawning all kinds of social and commercial repercussions.

Nick Phillips said...

Nearly all the local Chinese food stalls here have foreigners running it that the food just doesn't taste the same anymore.

And traffic jams. Let's not even go there. Every morning I wake up and look out my window and I can see a nice long steady stream of cars starting to build up and this is in my neigbourhood alone. Just imagine the highways.