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Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Happy Times

yg's blog on 'those were the days' reminded me of my group of ex-colleauges. The group met regularly once a month at the Changi International Airport T2 canteen. It was was formed in 1995. Starting with a handful and ended up with 23 members in all. Our ages then ranged between 60 and 75 years. It was a joyful time getting ex-colleagues together like old times. Besides discussing anything under the sun, we also planned our holidays with those whom we could get along with. My travelling group consisted of 4 members. We called ourselves 'the four musketeers'. We travelled to Bali, Sydney and Haddyai. We also went on budget holidays by bus to Malaysia, such as Genting, Pulau Tioman, Kuantan and Trengganu. Our regular weekly day trip to Johore was for food and shopping.

Changi International Airport T2 canteen. Some are not in the pictures

Itinerant vendor selling souvenir in Bali

Sydney Kings Cross

Genting Highland

Hyatt Kuantan

Pulau Tioman

Lake Kenyir Trengganu

Durian at Kuala Trengganu market


four 'ah peh' going home

As the years went by our number became smaller. Some were called home and others had health problems. One widower age 75 was young at heart and decided to get married. He settled down with his new wife in Johore and left us. In 2001 we changed our meeting venue to an IT Hub in town where I am a volunteer tuitor. We not only met more often, that is once a week, but also learn to use a computer. Anti-aging guru said, browsing the internet helped to stimulate and improve our brain function. Here too our number was not spared by the heavenly Father. Two of our members died and one could not walk. Our joke of the day 'who will be next?'

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Geylang Serai

Geylang Serai area as I know in the 50s was along Geylang Road from Paya Lebar Road to Jalan Ubi. There was a Malay kampong by the side of Geylang Road. Due to lower ground level and poor drainage, it was often flooded on rainy days. The houses were therefore built on stilts to prevent flood water from getting into the houses.

Attap houses in Geylang Serai Malay kampong
Source: National Archives of Singapore

There was also a Malay Settlement called Kampong Ubi somewhere in Jalan Ubi. It was further inland and was not quite visible from the main road.

The land between Changi Road and the Geylang Serai market was a trolley bus terminus. It operated between Tanjong Pagar and Geylang Serai. The trolley bus was operated by electric power from two overhead wires as shown in the photo below

Singapore trolley bus
Source: National Archives of Singapore

The trolley bus terminus was later used by the Changi Bus Company as an interchange for bus services between Capitol Theatre and Changi Village and vice versa. HDB flats, Geylang Serai market and Taj cinema was buit in 1960s. I remembered during the Puasa month, there was a young Indian muslim hawker who styled himself 'Raja Lelong'. Everything he sold from clothing, household wares, accessories etc were at cut-throat prices.

At the present Malay Village site was a row of single storey timber shophouses facing the HDB flats. Behind the shophouses were many locked-up stalls. They were built very close to each other with a narrow passage in between. It was a fire hazard then. Fortunately, there was no fire.

Geylang Serai shops facing HDB flats

Geylang Serai looking from Joo Chiat Road before Malay Village was built.
Source: National Archives of Singapore

Geylang Serai looking from Joo Chiat Road now with Malay Village behind the sign post.

Geylang Serai locked-up stalls

Unique road junction where four roads meet
Geylang Serai/Geylang Road/Joo Chiat Road/Changi Road
Source: National Archives of Singapore

At Geylang Road opposite Onan Road was a row of shophouses. It consisted of a Chinese medicine shop, a wholesale banana shop, and two eating houses and another shop. One of the eating houses was Lai Tai Mohamadan Restaurant selling the popular Halal 'mee hongkong' for muslims. It was always crowded. When that block of building was demolished, the restaurant moved to Lor 101 Changi. Business was not the same anymore. The other eating house had the most delicious and finger licking soup kambing in town. I liked to eat the kaki and the tulang, yummy

Lian Tai Mohamadan Restaurant
Source: National Archives of Singapore

Residents from Joo Chiat crossed over to Geylang Serai for food and shopping. The goods there were cheaper than elsewhere. The spicy Malay food was good too besides the Indian soup kambing. The landscape has been transformed and the past is now a memory.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Kallang Park 1960s

I have many black and white photographs taken about half a decade ago. Occasionally I looked at them and reminescence of the happy days I had with my children when they were very young. I came across the photos taken at Kallang Park in early 1960. It was a park barren of buildings except for the children's playground. Going to the park was by your own transport as there was no bus service going to the park then.

Among the play areas was a wading pool for children to play in the water. It was later filled up with sand and became a sand pit. Children built sand castles and imaginery monuments. Other play things were sea-saws, swings, slides and merry-go-rounds. In addition there were colourful tunnels for children to play hide and seek. All the play areas were near each other and children moved easily from one to the other.

Today the landscape at Kallang Park has been transformed into a sports complex plus entertainment places and food outlets. Soon the famous 'Kallang Roar' National Stadium will make way for the Singapore Sports Hub.

Kallang Park looking towards the Old Airport Road HDB estates

This swing was for younger children. It had a seat with safety bars all round.

This guy broke the safety rule by standing on the swing. The swings for older children are on the background to the left.

Wading pool turned into a sand pit

Colourful hide and seek tunnel

My family at the merry-go-round

The slide is on the opposite side

Play areas in the background

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Charlee The Puppet

Charlee, the puppet was born more than 50 years ago. The first time I met him was during my honey moon with my wife, way back in the spring of 1962 on board the ship MV Vietnam sailing from Singapor to Saigon, HongKong, Japan and back the same way. He was introduced to the passengers after a magic show by the late Mr Khoo Teng Eng. Among the passengers was the then Singapore Minister of Education, Mr Yong Nyuk Lin and his wife. Charlee was very humorous and entertaining. He was one guy who never grow old and has the same handsome face today. Through Charlee, my wife and I came to know the magician and ventriloquist, the late Mr Khoo Teng Eng. They were on their 'second honey moon'. Our friendship blossomed after returning to Singapore. On one occasion a mutual friend arrived from Hong Kong. Charlee was introduced to him. After the introduction cheeky Charlee stole a kiss from my wife! So, ladies beware of Charlie the cassanova and do not let cheeky Charlee get too close unless you want to be kissed. I do not know where he is now. Anyway, I hope he continues to make people happy with his humour and wise talks.

French boat MV Vietnam at Saigon port

The late Mr Khoo Teng Eng and his magic show.
At centre: Mr & Mrs Yong Nyuk Lin

Charlee was introduced to a mutual friend from Hong Kong.

Cheeky Charlee stole a kiss from my wife.

Saying farewell to the host.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fire At Kampong Eunos

Map of Kampong Eunos

Kampong Eunos fire site in February 1963
Picture from the National Archives of Singapore

The original Kampong Eunos was a Malay resettlement in Kaki Bukit area at Jalan Eunos. My Kampong Eunos then was a Chinese village bounded by Changi Road/Lorong Marican/Jalan Yasin/Jalan Eunos forming a rectangle. A sign post 'Kampong Eunos' stood by the roadside between No 279 and 283 Changi Road showed the way to the kampong.

The kampong had a coffee shop for the villagers to socialise, a provision shop with a stall extension selling perishable food such as vegetables and fish and a Chinese temple to provide spiritual need. There were a few other shops in between. For products not available at the shops the housewives made their way to the nearby markets at Changi Road and Joo Chiat Road now replaced by Joo Chiat Complex. Diagonally opposite the temple was a 2 storey timber building Chinese school. Behind it was a cluster of attap huts. Further into the kampong was a coffee powder factory. In February 1963, a few attap huts situated nearer to Changi Road was on fire. The burnt area was acquired by the authority and a community centre was built. The building is now home to many artists.

Another access to the kampong was from Lorong Sarina. It was originally a foot path leading to a vegetable farm between Lorong Marican and the path. In the second half of 1950 the landscape changed due to housing developments in the area. Lorong Sarina, an earth road was built to provide an access from Changi Road to Jalan Yasin. There was a mixed of Chinese and Malay population in this part of the kampong.

Malay friends came for a visit during Chinese New Year

People in the kampong were very friendly and knew their neighbours by name. I had a Malay neighbour a few doors away. My mother would baby sit for her 3 months old son, each time she went to the polyclinic. The child called my mother 'mak' (mother in Malay). On festival day such as Chinese New Year and Hari Raya Aidilfitri, we visited each other's home.
We owned a black and white television set and children from the neighbourhood came to watch the programme every evenings.

In the morning, mobil hawkers on wheels came with vegetables, fish and pork. Besides marketing it was also the time for housewives to socialise and gossips. The men socialised by playing mahjong with the neighbours especially on week-ends. I had fond memory of the Magnolia fresh milk/ice cream vendor. He'd come in his mini van and I loved to eat his sandwich ice cream with chocolate flavour. Another favourite hawker was the Indonesian satay man. He never over burn the satay and the beef was succulent.

Today, Kampong Eunos has been transformed and become smaller. The terraced house where I lived and the land nearby had been acquired by the Government for the building of Sim's Avenue East and MRT line. Condominiums sprouted out facing Sim's Avenue East. Kampong Eunos is no longer a kampong.

A mobile hawker on wheels.
Housewives meet and chat

The dirt road also act as a playground for the children.

My children

Two good neighbours

A kampong beauty

My brother and our neighbours playing mahjong

Our black and white television set

Kampong wedding

The wedding entourage

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Chong Pang Village 1959

Cattle roam freely at Sembawang Road in the 50s and 60s
Above a cow was resting on the roadside at Chong Pang Village

Chong Pang village is so different now compared to 5 decades ago. Recently, I came across a few photos posted by hyacinthus in her blog. It is no longer a village with attap or corrugated iron roofs. The whole landmark has changed beyond recognition. Life within a small community then was more leisurely and the villagers knew almost all their neighbours. It reminded me of the days when our team chose Chong Pang village for our village report. The field works was part of our diploma course.

The wet market was off the main road and hawker stalls overflowed onto the market concourse. Most of the stalls were operated by illegal hawkers. At that time, Singapore was self sufficient in meat and market produce with some imported from the neighbouring countries. Housewives looked their best in sarong kabaya and Chinese samfoo for their marketing.

After the marketing hours, refuse could be seen all over the place. Picture above showed a daily rated worker cleaning the area. People like him helped to keep our environment clean.

In late 1950s the first Mayor of Singapore introduced public standpipes to most of the villages in the rural areas. Villagers were so used to getting free water from public standpipes that they continued to do so even when their homes had piped-in water supply.

Villagers walked quite a distance to the main road to take public transport to work and to school. In the picture, the centre house had attap roof whereas the neighbours on either side had upgraded to corrugated iron roof.

The village had a sago factory. Notice the unhygienic way of drying sago flour in the open.

One of the private clinic in the village. The doctor parked his car on the shop's pavement as there was no proper parking lot fronting his shop.

Mobile clinic from the Ministry of Health for the poor or was it an X-ray vehicle as TB then was the No 1 killer disease.

The Morris Oxford on Sembawang Road, was going towards Nee Soon. Most motor vehicles at that time were British, European and American made. Japanese car was not yet introduced to the population.