Thursday, September 15, 2005

Discovering Singapore On Wheels

Back in late 1969, my good friend, Chu Chun Sing (Simon) and I had this crazy idea to cycle around Singapore. The date was 29 November 1969. I just finished JC1 (only 1 JC in those days), and he was in the Poly (also only one poly in those days, I think). And so we set off from my house in Lorong Kinchir, off Lorong Chuan one fine morning and although we did not cover the whole island, we did visit quite a few interesting places. We also took several photos using our family’s new Minolta camera.

We set off at 8.30 am

First, we rode through the entire length of Lorong Kinchir (kampong road), emerging on the other end at Upper Thomson Road, near to the present Bishan Park (I think). There used to be a rubber smelting plant thereabouts I recall. You could smell the rubber from miles around. Incidentally, the kampong folks’ name for Lorong Kinchir was “Kao Tiau Kio”, or “9 Bridges” in Hokkien because there were altogether 9 bridges where the road crossed the Kallang River.

From there we headed north, stopping at Seletar Reservoir for some photos. After that we cut westward along Mandai Road to Bt Timah Road and then down to Chua Chu Kang Road and all the way to Lim Chu Kang Road. From there we headed north, detouring to visit the Sarimbun Scout Camp which Chun Sing knew pretty well being a scout. We reached the end of Lim Chu Kang Road at around noon time. This is about the only spot in our entire route that hasn’t changed much over the last 35 years.

The Signboard says: Royal Air Force Tengah

End of the road (Lim Chu Kang): Wonder where is this kid now

After lunch, we went down along Lim Chu Kang Rd stopping to visit a soya sauce factory owned by Chun Sing’s uncle. After that, we continued south along Jalan Bahar and turned west along Jurong Road to visit the Nantah where we took more photos. From there we made our way home; the exact route I cannot recall. We probably went along Jurong Road all the way to Bukit Timah, turned down to Adam Road, Lornie Road, Braddell Road, and back to Lorong Chuan and Lorong Kinchir.

The proud nephew standing outside his uncle's soya sauce factory
(Can't make out the words on the building)

The classic architecture of Nanyang University. (Anyone know if the buildings in this photo are still there?)

I remember we had a tough time cycling uphill along Adam Road where we had to stop next to the cemetery near the Sime Road junction because poor Chun Sing suffered leg cramps. As a badminton player (only a reserve on NJC school team lah – and even then, sneaked in by the back door. Will share the story another time), I guessed I had stronger leg muscles. But, my weakness was the sun. The next day, I had fever and had to rest for the whole day. On the other hand, my friend being a scout had no problems with the sun.

It was indeed a memorable trip. We were pretty proud of our achievement because it was no mean feat, considering that we rode kampong bicycles and not the hi-tech bikes kids ride these days.

For the younger readers, I hope you enjoy the photos of your Singapore of yester years. But I must apologise that the photos are mainly of us, and not enough scenery. Back then, we never dreamed that our photos would be posted on the internet in the year 2005.


Lam Chun See said...

Speaking of strong legs, would you believe that my father once cycled all the way from Segamat to visit my mother in Singapore. That was during the courtship days I suppose. I don't know what type of bike he used - but in comparison, when we drove up to Segamat last year using the North-South Highway, it took us half-a-day.

fr said...

Good that you have kept the old photos. Unfortunately I threw away many old photos and old chinese movie flyers, posters and magazines.

Anonymous said...

The name of my 'uncle''s factory was called 'Kwong Man Sang' meaning 'prosperity or life every where'.

I reckon that we cycled a total of 42 miles that day...cramp complaint has always been my stumbling block even till the present days...I went for a
mountain climb the other day with my kakis here and I was the only chap who had foot cramps....of course we scaled 5 mountains that day from 7am l 11:30 at night.

Chu Chun Sing (Scotland)

nimbu said...

Wow, it was so amazing to see NTU in its olden glory. I think the building that you are referring to is now called Chinese Heritage Centre and the one below still remains as Yunan Gardens (not sure if it the old structure or has been replaced by a new one that resembles the old).

john said...

There are photographs of the Yunan Gardens on the NTU website. Go to this link:

Click on 'Photo Galleries' link and then scroll down to the 'NTU Landscape 2' link. When that frame opens there are images of the Yunan Garden three quarters of the way down the list of 260 photographs..


John Larkin

Anonymous said...

Hey John,
Thanks for the web we could compare the past and the present!

Simon (Scotland)