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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.