Bedok is both a planning area and a town located in Singapore’s East Region. By population it is the largest planning area on the island, with almost 290,000 residents calling it home. In area it covers 2,157 ha (8.37 square miles), and has the coastline as one of its boundaries, as well as the planning areas of Paya Lebar, Hougang, Tampines, Geylang and Marine Parade.
Historically, Bedok is significant as it is one of the few place names in Singapore that still exists from the days of Sir Stamford Raffles, as evidenced by its presence in the map of the island drawn up in 1828. The history of Bedok actually goes back considerably further however. Manuel Godinho de Erédia’s 1604 map of Singapore features Sune Bodo, referring to the modern day Sungei Bedok. Bedok is thought to derive its name from the Malay word for drum – bedoh (pronounced bedok), referring to the large slit drums that were used to call worshippers to prayer. There is an alternative argument however that suggests it actually comes from the Malay word biduk, meaning a small fishing boat or canoe, that would have been prevalent along the east coast at that time, due to the large number of fishing villages that were dotted along the shore.
The most significant period in the area’s history was in the late 1960’s when development began along the East Coast and again in 1973 with the planning and development of Bedok New Town. With the town, new roads were built, not only in the area itself but also ones connecting it to other parts of the island. New Upper Changi Road – completed in 1979, was the perfect example of this and was a catalyst for further developments in the area.
Bedok is characterized by having a healthy mix of both locals and foreigners living in the area. The former are attracted by the good range of affordable public housing, a consequence of its relatively large distance from the CBD. The expats are drawn by its proximity to the coast and its related features such as East Coast Park and the marinas and water sports clubs, and as a result more and more condominiums are springing up in the area. Another characteristic the area is noted for, and it is hard to decide whether this was a drive for the international flavour of the area, or as a result, is the proliferation of restaurants and cafes that cater to all tastes and nationalities.
Bedok is actually divided into 8 subzones, namely Bayshore, Bedok North, Bedok Reservoir, Bedok South, Frankel, Kaki Bukit, Kembangan and Siglap. As well as the road network mentioned above, it has 2 MRT stations within its boundaries. These are Bedok and Tanah Merah, both on the East West Line, the latter being the station where the line splits into the respective Changi and Pasir Ris lines.
Notable landmarks and amenities in Bedok include the reservoir, a large number of schools (more than 20 primary and secondary schools are situated in Bedok), Bedok Jetty – the longest fishing jetty in Singapore, and Bedok Mall, which is linked to both the MRT station and bus interchange.
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