Saturday, November 29, 2014

Bus stops quiz


I like to take pictures of bus stops in Singapore. Here are 5 from my collection. Nos. 1, 2, and 3 are fairly common. But how about 4 and 5? Have you seen them before? Do you know where I took them?
No. 6 is a 1970s bus stop at Bukit Timah 7th Mile, near Beauty World. This photo is from the National Archives collection.

 
At Margaret Drive
 
 
 

I have seen another unique design in Jurong Island. But I dare not stop my car to take a photo for fear of being questioned by the security personnel. If you have such a photo, please share with me. There’s another one at Old Choa Chu Kang Rd that I have seen on Facebook. One of these days, when I am in the area, I will take a photo. Hope I’m not too late.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Memories of Queensway Shopping Centre

It is sad to see many parts of Queenstown that I have been visiting for decades disappear one by one. When I was living in Farrer Road, I often went to Queenstown for my shopping and leisure needs.

Even after I got married and moved to nearby Sixth Avenue, my family continued to go there regularly. Among the places that we frequented were the wet market at Tanglin Halt, Queenstown Library, the NTUC Fairprice Supermarket and Big Bookshop at Margaret Drive, Margaret Drive Hawker Centre, Tah Chung Emporium, the BP petrol station at Queensway and Queensway Shopping Centre. Most of these places have disappeared but Queensway Shopping Centre is still a landmark in that part of Queenstown; but I suspect that its days are numbered.




My earliest memory of Queensway Shopping Centre was in the mid-1970s when I was still doing my National Service. I remember going to a Malay barber who was operating from some makeshift stalls at the fringe of Rumah Bomba Circus just before returning to camp on Sunday evening. I think, at that time, Queensway Shopping Centre had not been built yet. Subsequently, after Queensway Shopping Centre was completed, these stalls moved into the complex and I continued to patronize the Malay barbers there. But when my favourite barber, a quiet, gentle old man by the name of Din retired, I stopped going.

Besides the barbers, I also became a regular customer of a tailor there called Benz Tailor until today. I cannot recall how I came to know this shop which is run by a gentleman by the name of Simon. 

During my NS days in Mandai Camp, our S1 (Manpower Officer), a Lieutenant Tay introduced us to a spectacles shop there run by his relative. Other than that, there are the famous photocopy shops on the third floor.

At one time when LDs were the rage, I signed up a membership with a video rental shop at the 3rd floor. Subsequently, the shop closed and moved out before I could redeem all my coupons. Also on the 3rd floor was Christian book store. I bought some books and CDs here. And I also bought some CDs from a shop on the ground floor; including this Bread CD.

There was also a Jumbo Coffee House on the 3rd floor which served pretty good western meals. You can see the name of the restaurant in big letters on the glass window facing Queensway. 

When I was working at the National Productivity Board in Bukit Merah Central, I had to pass by the Queensway Shopping Centre on the way home. Sometimes, I would stop here to buy some kueh tutu and muah chi for my children to snack at night.  It’s fun to watch them prepare the snack. Makes one feel like a kid again.

Another thing I remember about the Queensway Shopping Centre was the basement carpark. The layout of the parking lots were rather strange, like in concentric circles. The entrance is from Queensway and the exit is at Alexandra Road. Exiting the carpark is rather difficult especially if you drove a manual gear car as you have to stop for a long time for the heavy traffic at Alexandra Road.

Today, I seldom go to Queensway Shopping Centre. I feel out of place there with the many shops selling sports goods and shoes and the loud funky music. Still I will miss the place when they finally demolish it.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Here one day, gone the next (Braddell Rise School compound)

It’s finally happened! They’ve completely demolished the buildings that once housed my beloved primary school – the Braddell Rise School.



 Although Braddell Rise School itself had ceased to exist for a number of years now; having moved to Toa Payoh and adopted a different name, the old buildings had been retained and housed a number of different welfare homes such as the Minds Tampines Home, and the Society of Moral Charities. Hence, over the years, whenever I drive past this place; especially when I was on the MacRitchie Viaduct, I could catch a glimpse of my alma mater where I enjoyed many fond childhood memories.



Sorry, the date on the new photos should be 29/8/2014
Still I am comforted by two facts. One, the buildings were not torn down to make way for another condo; but for the expansion of its neighbour, the Assisi Hospice. Two, they had not done this earlier. When I first blogged about BRS in November 2005,  I speculated that when they started building the MacRitchie Viaduct, they certainly would have to clear this piece of land. But to my pleasant surprise, they did not; and over the years, I was able to visit it a few times. And in fact just last year, I was there with my friend James Seah for a photo shoot for an article in the Straits Times.

Still, I cannot help but feel a tinge of sadness when I pass by this place now and take a habitual glance towards where BRS once stood and realize the harsh reality of life in Singapore. We simply have no room for sentimentality on the little island ‘paradise”.

PS – You can read more about my memories of BRS, as well as those of my classmates Kim Aii Chan and Lee Sock Gek in my book, Good Morning Yesterday.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Golden Hairpin

When I was very young, our family’s favourite pastime was watching black and white Cantonese kungfu movies at the South Country (Lam Kok) Theatre in Kampong San Teng. This was in the 1950s. One movie that I cannot forget is The Golden Hairpin (碧血金钗). After more than half a century, all I remember about this movie, other than the title, is that the lead role was played by a popular Hong Kong film star by the name of Cheong Ying Choi (张英才) .

And the reason I cannot forget this movie is that I never got to know its ending. You see; this movie was a bit like the Lords of the Ring trilogy. Hence, after watching the first episode, we had to wait patiently for months before the next episode became available. I remember that after watching 2 (maybe it was 3) episodes, I was waiting eagerly to catch the grand finale …… but it never came! I waited and waited; but I never learnt how the story ended. How frustrating! (But, actually, it was not difficult to guess the ending, because it was one of those typical “kill villain and avenge si-fu’s death” type of story.

Anyway, thanks to YouTube, I am now able to find ‘closure’ because I discovered that somebody has actually uploaded all 4 episodes. In fact, in the comments section, one viewer expressed his gratitude because like me, he too did not see the final episode. Unfortunately, after more than fifty years; I have totally forgotten the story. And hence, if I wanted to know the ending; I have to go back to the beginning. Well, like we Singaporeans are fond of saying; “Where got time?”.

Nevertheless, out of curiosity, I did watch a few minutes of the beginning and was thrilled to see the names of many actors that I had not seen for ages; such as Chan Hou Kow (陈好逑) and Si-ma Wah Lung (司马华龙).  Anyway, if you have more patience than me; here you are. Enjoy.


Monday, May 12, 2014

Remains of my kampong

I have often been approached by students; usually from NUS or NTU, to assist them with their projects. Usually they found me through this blog or my Goodmorningyesterday Facebook Page. 

Much as I enjoy speaking to young people about the Singapore of my childhood, I usually turn down their requests because I simply could not afford the time. Besides students, my fellow nostalgia/heritage bloggers and I also get requests from media professionals and documentary producers. Usually, I would tell them that the information they are looking for; for example what it was like to visit the New World or Great World Amusement Park, can easily be obtained from their parents or older relatives and neighbours. If for certain reasons, they are not able to do that, I would accede to their requests. Here are two recent examples.

The first was a Malay boy from NUS who wanted an oral interview about the Chinese operas that used to be organised in our kampongs. The second was also from NUS. He interviewed me for his project about the everyday life of Chinese kampong folks. As part of his assignment, he produced a short video of the place where my home once stood. I share it with you here.




PS - One thing I have always wanted to tell anyone who approached me for such assistance; but was too shy to say so openly, was this; if you want me to spend a few hours of my time to assist you with your project, shouldn’t you at least show your appreciation by purchasing a copy of my book? Even if you don’t read such books, you could give it to your parents as a gift, right?