Saturday, August 01, 2009

Return to “Police catch nuns”

The other day, I visited my primary school, the Braddell Rise School, with two former classmates Aii Chan and Sock Gek. Both Aii Chan and I have blogged about our beloved BRS here and here. It was also the first time that we have visited this place after more than 40 years. At that time, we used to call our school “mata lai siku” in Cantonese, which means “police catch nuns”.

When I blogged about BRS in 2005, the premises was occupied by MINDS (Tampines branch). This time, the tenant is the Society of Moral Charities (SOMC). Interestingly, whilst the ladies could remember much about our classmates and teachers, I fared much better when it came to places. Here is a sketch of the layout of BRS which I recall from memory, as well as some photos that we took.


Oops .. that should be 'principal'. But too troublesome to change lah.


I believe all the buildings within this complex are from our time. I don’t think any new buildings have been added because none of the tenants stayed for long. We were surprised to see that the place was much smaller than we remembered and the blocks were so close to each other. This reminds of a tall tale that one of my Primary 3 classmates told us. This chap claimed that he had seen a snake which was as long as the blocks in our school!

Can you see that huge tree? We spotted many red saga seeds at the base of the tree. I have a strong suspicion that this huge saga seed tree* is the very same one that was already there during our time. Many kids, including boys like me, liked to pick the saga seeds and play a rather girlie game which I will describe another time – or maybe one of you readers would like to take up this ‘assignment’. If my suspicion is correct, then this tree must be more than 50 years old! Can a saga seed tree survive that long? In that case, perhaps we should recommend to the National Parks Board that they gazette this tree as a "heritage tree". In fact it stands only half a kilometer or so from the famous Braddell Road Angsana tree.



This is a view of part of sports field. The second photo is from the National Archives collection dated 1955. I remember it was much bigger than this. Maybe part of it has been given over to the nearby Assisi Home or Marymout Road. On the right was a fence. Across this fence used to be some bungalows belonging to Caucasian families. As I mentioned in my earlier story, when we played hantam bola, sometimes the ball went across the fence and some brave soul would have to climb over the fence to retrieve it, risking certain punishment if caught.

I also remember this statue of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus perched on the roof of Mount Alvernia hospital. The hospital was constructed during the years when we were at BRS, which would be around 1960 to 1963. At that time, the statue faced the main road and when you passed by Thomson Road at night, you could see the statue bathed in soft blue light. Now they seem to have shifted the statue and it is no longer visible from the main road.

After we bade fond goodbyes to our former school, we made a short visit to the nearby MacRitchie Reservoir. Those days, our teachers often brought us for ‘excursions’ here. We would line up in pairs, holding hand and crossed the road to enter the park from a point just opposite the school.

Our last stop was the Saint Theresa’s Home. Aii Chan and Sock Gek were quite excited to see it because they used to live at a kampong just next it. At that time, it was called The Little Sisters of the Poor and the kampong was called called Hai Lam Sua (Hainan Hill). The present location of Hai Lam Sua would be around the Lakeview Estate. Even as I write this post, I suddenly recall that in those days, we used to call the Thomson Road area Hoi Lam San which is the equivalent in Cantonese. I was surprised to learn that there used to be a cemetery here which served as a playground for the two brave little kampong girls. Apparently, besides the huge, mainly Cantonese cemeteries at Bishan, there was also a smaller Hainanese one here.

As we bade our farewells, we promised to try and round up more former BRS students for a gathering to remember our beloved BRS. And one question lingers … would the authorities demolish it? I hope not.

*The saga seed has a very romantic name in Chinese. Do you know what is it? Answer here.

Response to suggestions that there used to be a badminton court between blocks 2 and 3. (posted on 04 Aug 2009)

Below is a photo showing Block 2, with Mt Alvernia Hospital in the background. On the left is Block 3, the highest block. As you can see, the gap between the two blocks is very small and the slope is very steep. Unless, block 2 has been rebuilt to bring it closer; it is unlikely that the badminton court could have existed here. And judging from the buildings which we saw on that day, I don't think anything new has been built. Mostly it was just retrofitting, I believe. Plus there simply isn't enough space to house 3 blocks and a badminton court.

72 comments:

Lam Chun See said...

BTW, the dates in my photos are not correct. Shd be 30/7.

Kim said...

Hi Chun See,

Very well done blog again. In fact, I was thinking of doing up the sketch of the old BRS too (great minds think alike!!) and even thought of asking any of my friends back in Luxembourg, who might be good at drawing to do a rough architectural sketch of it,i.e. with the trees, the staircases, etc. You are faster than me.. that's a good one. Initially on entering the present building, I was quite lost due to the changes but you orientated me back to the old building.
Thanks again for bringing us to our dear old BRS.
Aii Chan

Icemoon said...

who are the police and who are the nuns leh?

yg said...

icemoon, these days, very difficult to tell because they all wear long pants!

JollyGreenP said...

Thank you for including the photo of the Saga seeds Chun See. I remember seeing and collecting seeds like them from a tree lined area behind houses on the opposite side of Wittering Road to where we lived. We were attracted to them by their red colour and because they looked like Samrties. In fact we used to call the tree the Samrties seed tree as we did not know the name Saga seed tree. My brothers were in the cubs and for one of their badges they had to grow something from a seed. Our father brought some sawdust home from the workshops and we lined jam jars with blotting paper and filled the jars with sawdust and then poked the seed down the side of the glass so the seed was visible then moistened the sawdust so that the blotting paper just became wet. Within a day the seeds had germinated and within a week my brothers had sturdy looking miniature trees to take to cub meeting and get their progress recorded. It was shortly after this that we moved to Tengah and the plants were thrown out in the grassland near our bungalow. I don't know whether the trees continued to grow or whether they withered and died for lack of attention.

JollyGreenP said...

Oops, sorry my fingers seem to be suffering from dyslexia, for Samrties please read Smarties.

Zen said...

Chun See is correct, for example he is good in topo (while others can remember personalities better) and that means his drawing of the layout of the school is basically correct but where is the baminton court (on a paved hardstand) we used to play in? Could it be located between the second and the last row of the school buildings? Talking about the school sport field I recollected a sport event (100 yds dash) where I took part. Though I was easily the tallest of all the participants, but I finished second last, why? When the race started off, I felt my legs gone 'jelly' and the shortest runner, a malay by the name of mahmood who had powerful legs touched the finishing tape first. This taught me a lesson not to take things easy specially when coming to sport.

Thimbuktu said...

Nice blog topic, Chun See.

Initially, I thought you are blogging about some convent school with nuns :)

I like your amusing and interesting style of blogging and classic sense of humor while walking down memory lane.

Visiting the "virtual classrooms" to recollect fond schooldays memories is really fun!

Lam Chun See said...

Thanks for yr kind compliments Thimbuktu.

Zen. I don't think the badminton court was between the blocks becos (1) The steep slope of the ground, and (2) The gap is too narrow. We were quite surprised that the place was actually so small. In our memories, it always looked much bigger.

I think it must be on the same place as the basketball court.

BTW, sorry did not invite you along. Quite last minute arrangement and I forgot that you were also from BRS although not our class.

Lam Chun See said...

About the saga seeds, it's quite interesting becos I see many people picking up the seeds; including adults. There's one at the public carpark near my church. We park our car there every Sunday, and both last week and this week I saw adults picking up the seeds. At one time, my children liked to do that too and we now have a big jar full of them. But they have outgrown that habit now.

Lam Chun See said...

BTW, if you go to my 2005 article, you will see another view of the same saga seed tree and it looks much bigger in that photo.

I really must look into how to get this tree gazetted as a heritage tree. If they are not allowed to chop down the tree, then very likely they also will not demolish the buidlings, I trust.

Lam Chun See said...

Sorry I forgot to mention that one of the blocks; the one housing admin and pricipal's office had been demolished. The grass patch on which I stood to take the photo of the saga seed tree would pobably be where the block used to occupy.

Kim said...

Reading about Zen's " tallest & shortest" runners with the short one winning the race sounded like the hare and tortoise story, told to us in our young days. By the way, I also thought there might be a hard ground play field between the 2 highest blocks (in my mind) But after visiting the school, it seemed impossible because they were so closed to each other. Anyone else can help to re-confirm?

Teo Soon Ann said...

Zen & kim, you are right. The badminton court (hard ground play field) is located between the second and the last row of the school buildings. Could it be possible that they demolished the old second block and rebuilt a new one closer the the 3rd block?
Chun See, how did you and your former clasmates get to visit our Primary school? I would really love to visit it myself.

Victor said...

Icemoon, I don't know who are the police but I suspect that the nuns came from the Saint Theresa's Home. I had a relative who lived in the Little Sister's Of The Poor in the 1960s. It was an old age home for women only. (Still is?)

I used to visit her with my mum. I must have been no more than 10-year-old. I remember seeing several foreign nuns running the place.

fr said...

I think there are no police or nuns. 'Police catch or arrest nuns' came from pronouncing the school name loosely or maybe deliberately mispronouncing it in cantonese, especially the last two words.

Icemoon said...

How is Braddell Rise School written then?

Eh .. 布莱德坡小学?

How close was the name to "mata lai siku" then?

fr said...

I would say it is not very close.
This is my guess:

They used the english name ..
1. Braddell -- blada and conveniently converted to mata (police)
2. Rise -- Lise and then to lai (arrest)
3. School -- see ku (nun)

Lam Chun See said...

Actually if you want to transliterate an English name with Chinese characters, it is extremely difficult to get it to sound close to the original. For example, let’s look at some of the names in the Chinese bible. Matthew is translated 马太 (pronounced ma-tai in Mandarin), John is translated 约翰 (pronounced yue-han), and Timothy is 提摩太 (ti-mor-tai). Only Peter is quite close (彼得).

Icemoon said...

That is 'cos the Chinese remains faithful to the Jewish version for some cases, and did not translate from the English.

From my memory,

(English, Mandarin, Jewish)

John is Yuehan is Yochanan.
James is Yage is Yacob
Paul is Baoluo is Paulo

And of course,

Jesus is Yeshu is Yeshua. :)

Icemoon said...

The list goes on.

In the Old Testament,

Adam is Yadang is Adamah
Eve is Xiawa is Hewa

I think 'A' becomes 'Ya' in Mandarin, e.g. Adam, Abraham (Yabulahan).

KL said...

The red saga seed should be 相思豆. I used to pick up these seeds at Fort Canning near the National Museum when I was still a teenager.

Although the name of the red saga seed is quite romantic, the heart is actually quite hard. Doesn't live to the name.

Brian and Tess said...

Very common when returning to a place from childhood to find that it seems small - of course we always remember it as seen by a small person! Very interesting blog Chun See - I wonder what prompted this visit after so many years?

Zen said...

After hearing Teo Soon Ann attempted recollection of the paved playing ground, I feel confident that I could be right after all. I can still remember many open air film shows were shown from his hardstand (between the second and the last row of the school building). On one occasion I saw snr teacher Mr Lim Yong Lock's girl friend viewing the show from a higher ground building(probably from the last row of the school).

Lam Chun See said...

In response to Soon Aun and Zen's suggestion that there was a badminton court between blocks 2 and 3 (highest), I have added a photo showing the area between the two blocks.

I think the best thing to do is for the 2 of you to pay a visit to BRS - and better do it fast. In Spore, old buildings have a way of disappearing overnight :(

As to how this visit came about - I was chatting with Aii Chan on the phone and we just decided on the spur of the moment to visit. We simply drove in and explained who we were and the staff there were very understanding.

Zen said...

Chun See is correct. We need to visit our old school fast before it disappears into thin air. As far as I could remember, the sport field behind the school was not properly turfed, therefore the old a archive photo is accurate and the fence reminds me that the second and the third rows of the school was likely separated in the same way. The big question is whether the badmintion courts were located in the paved stretch between these two rows? Judging(a bit of detective work here)from the old and the latest photos, we are certainly unable to ascertain the exact location of the courts, especially when so many building extensions and renovations have since taken place. Another interesting feature I note is the existence of a large steel rectangular frame in the sport field. Could this steel frame been relocated to the badminton court area to hold a canvass screen for showing of films?

Lam Chun See said...

Zen. I suggest you go to Google Maps and get a satellite view of this place. I think you can still make out the buildings.

Of course it would be good if our IT wizard, Icemoon can help us to improve the quality of the picture and also advise us just how up-to-date are the Google Earth pictures.

jadelee said...

Chun See, looking at your last picture, I am quite certain the building is sitting on what used to be the hard-paved playground between blk 2 and blk 3 where games of badminton, hantam bola, rounders, hopscotch, etc. were played. we used to be able to look out of our Pr. 6 classroom in blk 3 which looked directly down at the playround, and hear the shouts and screams of the players.Off course, all our teacher, Mr. Pang Ting Chuan needed to do, was to stand outside the classroom and GLARE...and it will be quieter.

Kim said...

Chun See, I hv a feeling that Zen and Jadelee are both correct, the present workshop bldg might be just the badminton court area. I may be not good at orientation of building, but somehow I felt that the workship bldg might not be part of the old building. Jadelee has Pang Ting Chuan - so must be in our batch of students. If only.... we could get to the original architectural building plan of BRS - just to compare with the present. Old BRS students, don't waste time to do this memory walk (like we did) before the whole building disappears!

Lam Chun See said...

Ah ... it looks like my memory for places is not so good afterall. So we can conclude that of the 3 blocks, only block 3 has been preserved. I think, the school also must have lost some land to the widening of Thomson Road and the viaducts. How about the toilets and tuckshop blocks? I think they are still there.

I have discovered while blogging about old places that as different people contribute minor details, our memories come back.

As for the Saga tree, I have checked with a tree expert and he said that the Saga tree can easily grow beyond 50 years. So this must be the same tree. I must find out how to nominate it as a heritage tree.

Zen said...

I studied in BRS during the fifties, under the cigar-chewing principal Mr F Choo. If my memory does not fail me, we did celebrate an occasion called 'empire day' at the questionable hard stand and there were a lot of 'hoo ha' when an indian student fainted under the hot sun. (Note: Singapore was then administered by a chief minister called Mr Lim Yew Hock, but defence was still in the hands of the british. PAP came to power only in 1959).

jadelee said...

Chun See, I think the toilets are no longer there, being the bucket system type. My siblings referred to them as 'Chung Kiaw Banks' Sorry, no offense to those who worked for the real bank. The toilets were such a daily torture!
As for the tuckshop, I think a road has been built thru' its location.

Lam Chun See said...

I think the toilets area is being used as a kitchen now and the area outside the toilets is at present a canteen.

I think I mentioned before that we used to play table tennis outside the toilets and often the ping pong ball would stray into the girls toilets and we dared not go in to retrieve it.

As for the bucket system, I remember seeing the night soil carrier removing the buckets; speaking of which you may want to check out one of my previous posts about this humble profession.

Kim said...

Last thursday afternoon, in a taxi with my family from Chinatown to Shangri-la hotel for lunch, we passed a primary school (the building was exactly like BRS! i.e. the windows/doors etc) except that the 3 blocks were all on 1 level (the land was flat) Before I could see the name of the school, the taxi drove out of sight but I managed to see the name of a street nearby (Zion Road). This school must have been built the same period as BRS and yet it remains intact as a primary school. It is sad for the ex-BRS students to be deprived of their primary school....

Zen said...

Some schools built during the fifties resembled each other, for example BRS and Lee Kuo Chuan primary schools, Bartley and Beatty Secondary Schools, probably it was easier and cheaper to build such schools from same blue-print. As for the bucket sewerage system of BRS, it must have been quite well 'managed' hygienically, because I do not have a deep impression of it. Even the iconic century years old Raffles Institution (bras basah road) had to make way for development, what chance has BRS and other schools of simplistic design has?

Lam Chun See said...

I think the 'school' that Kim is referring to is the Boys Brigade HQ which is located near the junction of Zion Rd and Ganges Ave, next to the Alexandra Canal.

I went there once about 6 years ago. Although I did not make the connection with BRS then, now that Kim mentions it, I think there was some resemblance.

I checked my 1963 street directory. The school that used to occupy the buildings there was (if I read my map correctly) Havelock School. Maybe YG can confirm.

Kim said...

Yes, now that Chun See mentioned abt the Boys Brigade - I think there was a big poster along the fence (I thought it was an event announcement) It was that place I wrote about, though I must say that it situated quite central and yet unchanged. No choice, BRS had to be sliced into 1/3 (only 1 orginal block left) to make way for developments. So if the ex-BRS students want to see this leftover, make it fast, it might go too, when? no one can tell.
As for the bucket system, it is a wonder that Zen could not recall. I think we had it for maybe 2-3 years then the flash water system. I recall the bucket carriers coming to take the "full" ones to replace with the empty ones and the smell...... we covered our noses and what "scolding" we got from one carrier : Is it so bad ?(the smell) after all the contents of the buckets came from you all!!" After that, we just ran away before we got more "scolding". That was some experience to recall.

Zen said...

Now that Kim has elaborated on the BRS bucket system and an unpleasant encounter with one of the carriers, some memory is creeping back into my mind. Perhaps our family (including my younger brother chun see) were living in a kampong at lorong kinchir which had a worse sewerage system than the one at BRS, and that I suppose had 'numbed' our senses to noxious smell to a great extent, not to forget that we had also pig styles built by an irresponsible tenant at our backyard to content with. After saying this, our mind cannot be selective, it has to encompass good as well as bad memories. This is what our life is all about.

jadelee said...

When I checked out
Chun See's earlier blog about the 'humble profession' and comments from so many about their experiences, I have to conclude that the bucket system was anything but 'forgetable'. I,too, had lived in a kampong for 16 years and our 'jamban' was a large hole in the ground covered by some zinc slabs. The waste collected was occasionally cleared to fertilise the surrounding fields.I tried recalling what morning air smelled like, especially when the wind was blowing a certain direction and boy, who says country air is always good. I had expected BRS to have a better sanitary system, being a school and not a kampong house, but no, the toilets not only smell the same but had slippery, urine-reeked floors. I wonder if there were any cleaners during those days, or is it a case of the school jaga having to do everything.
I will always remember BRS for the good times and the bad. Thankfully, the good times surpassed the bad.

Kim said...

The smelly subject seems to get more and more interesting. Here in Europe, if I ever say abt this, I would think no one would believe that we experienced this in our generation.
When Zen mentioned about their numbed semses by noxious smells of the past surroundings and Jadelee talked about the "jamban" with the wind blowing "nice" country air, I must add that our generation is UNIQUE because we have the chance to get the past smelly experiences as well as the present sweet smell of today's developments. All agreed?
I let you all inside my "little" past secret: When I was young, whenever I had to use the so-called "jamban" I would bring a piece of newspaper to put on top of the bucket, why? In this case, I would not hv to see the contents of the bucket (of course there was just the smell to bear not the sight as well!!) In those days, I could not tell anyone becos if it leaked out, I might be reprimanded for bringing more weight to the bucket carrier (luckily there was no paper recycling to consider too).

Zen said...

While on this 'aroma' topic, I cannot help comparing the past with the vastly improved present day clean environment. However, as chun see has clearly pointed out in his previous bloggings (some in his 5S corner) that this improvement could only be sustained by engaging an army of foreign cleaners (externally) and maids (for homes) to follow up with our excesses. We have been praised sky-high by other countries of our reputed cleanliness, and in a way become a bit 'cocky'. During a nostalgic trip back to a sleepy Malaysian town Segamat (a place of my birth place - Johor) with chun see and my sister pat. We had breakfast in a humble coffee-shop and chun see at once noticed the difference between cleanliness this shop with some of those in Singapore. The coffee boys in Segamat seemed to take pain to keep the table tops and its surrounding spotlessly clean, whereas some shop assistants in Singapore may just sweep table remnant foods conveniently onto the ground, worse, with dirty looking towels. While being rated as a first world country now, we should ponder over our life-style attitude before feeling that 'we have already arrived'.

Icemoon said...

> and also advise us just how up-to-date are the Google Earth pictures.

Not very updated. Was doing research on Queenstown then saw the tunnel at Queensway under construction.

Let me do some research on BRS first.

Kim said...

What a coincidence! my 2nd elder sister also born at Segamat J.B. Never got to ask our parents why the rest of us born in Singapore. Just imagine if they settled there and what a BIG difference in our lives would be!!
Yes sometimes the coffeeshops in small villages can be clean. I can say that also for the little cafés found in the tiny rustic villages in France (my favourite holiday destination in Europe)

Lam Chun See said...

Kim. You must ask your sis to read my brother Chun Chew (Zen's) account of our visit to his birthplace here.

Icemoon said...

I get the impression block 3 is much older by looking at its 'peeling rooftop' and comparing with block 2.

I've checked, the present day block 3 is very similar to the 1950s version:

2009 version
1950s version

And the 1950s archive photo in this blog is not the sports field but the .......... badminton court!

Here is another photo from the same collection. I can see markings on the ground.

If the archive photo is the badminton court, then Zen's description of the steel frame makes sense. The frame wasn't shifted, in fact it remained in the middle of the court.

About the sports field, here is a photo showing what Zen meant by not properly turfed.

Finally I think I can spot the young saga seed tree here. The slope in today's photo should correspond to the steps in the old photo.

Kim said...

I really enjoyed looking at the old photos of BRS and to think that you kept them all the years!! For me I found that best photo is the one with the students/teachers standing near the steps with the young saga tree in the background. Are you able to give the names of ALL present in the photo? If yes, a real wonder.

Lam Chun See said...

Icemoon. Thank you very much for clearing up some of the confusion. I guess I had been a bit careless in identifying the places.

Fancy, a young man who was not even born when we were at BRS enlightening us about the buildings there. You remind me of a tv programme that was aired not long ago called "Cold Case". It’s about how detectives go back to solve crimes that had taken place years before.

But I suppose this "assignment" is relatively easy for you compared to the others that you have done. Anyhow, good job and thanks again.

Lam Chun See said...

Kim. I think only my brother Zen, who is about 9 yrs my senior will may be able to identify those faces which were from the 50's.

And that saga tree would have grown considerably by the time our batch got into BRS right?

Zen said...

My father, a Singaporean, met my Malaysian mother during the war years in Segamat and that was why I was borned there. I father being very commited to his job (at naval base at Sembawang) decided to return his homeland after the war. I read a book written by a Japanese in which he mentioned that he yearned to visit his birth place after leaving there for so many years. His reasoning was that the first gulp of air he breathed was from his birth place, and in order to satisfy his inner longing, just like ocean salmons drawn instinctively to the place where eggs were hatched, he made the trip. I subscribed to his theory and likewise went to Segamat. I feel extremely exhilarated after that visit. Perhaps Kim should also make a nostalgic trip to Segamat if circumstances allow.

Zen said...

Thank you Icemoon for providing photographic evidence whereas my old brain can only search for some clues. Still I am elated on two accounts no matter how hazy they are: no.1 the sport field was not properly turfed. and no.2 there was an existence of a paved hardstand, the steel frame for film showing and the dividing fence. The kid football team was formed before my time and the were no batmintion courts seen in the photo and I think the hardstand was newly tarred and the courts were drawn up during my years in BRS.

jadelee said...

Thanks,Icemoon for the posting the BRS photos from the archive. Reminded me of how quaint the school really was. I liked the fact that girls were allowed to wear any design of school uniform, as long it is white. That called for some creativity on our mothers' part, and the flexibility to sew according to our financial standing, i.e. using less material for less complicated dresses if you are poor. Don't remember what the guideline was for the length of the skirts.....no short skirts definitely...as the discipline was rather strict those days. I wish I kept the school badge...with the motto, "Be Ready To Serve"

Kim said...

Very interesting to read about the love story of your parents' history and how you came to this world. Yes, I shall take up your suggestion of doing that nostalgic trip to Segamat. Are there lots of mosquitoes? becos then I cannot bring my daughter along: If there are 100 people in a room and only 1 mosquito : just guess WHO will get the bit?? my daughter of course!

Zen said...

Kim - Four of us in chun see car drove into Segamat main street, and like most Malaysian small towns, there were mostly low rise buildings and shops and the usual clock tower. Perhaps in the outskirts, one can see the famous Segamat durian trees. The fruit is considered one of the best in Malaysia. I did elaborate much in my previous write-up of this small and sleepy town, which even by Malaysian standard, quite insignificant. Talking about the mosquitos, I suppose if we do not venture far into bushy area, or places of poor drainage, there should be no problem. However, the town Yong Peng (enrouted to Segamat) has some good eateries (some are airconditioned), serving delicious food at reasonable prices in a clean setting. If we miss our former kampong life, it is not a bad idea to make a trip to Malaysia to bring back good memories.

Note: Even in modern day Singapore the mosquito problem still persists. Segamat do have few good hotels - maybe 3 to 4 stars rating, although we hastily checked into a no frills budget hotel, but the cleanliness and services levels are acceptable(mosquito free as well).

Kim said...

Tks, Zen, for all the details and description. Sounds really like the old Singapore kampong of our young days. Wished I can say, OK what abt a trip next week or next month? For me it might be next year or two... I remember the town Yong Peng - bus tour stopped there for a meal (Wah, so nice and so happy to venture to Malaya at the adventurous age of 19!)
At least one can get 3 / 4 stars hotel at Segamat. By the way, my Malaysian geography gone back to our Singapore Geography teacher (now I am much better in central Europe Geography)What is the exact distance btwn Segamat / Singapore in Kilometers and based on the road condition : 3 hours enough?

Zen said...

Kim: talking about geography which was one of my favourite subjects in school, I am afraid those knowledge has since 'returned' to my former teachers. Chun See is different he is quite a frequent visitor to Malaysia and is topo-smart. Judging by the hours taken for a one-way trip to Segamat, it is something like twice the distance from Singapore to Johor Bahru town. We started the car journey late in the morning and reached our destination after lunch at yong peng (could be 4 hours at a leisurely pace). We wasted some time to drop in at Ayer Hitam just for a 'look-see' at this former stop-over place. As for the road condition, the NS Malaysian highway can be rated as excellent, a breeze for motorists, and smaller roads are just as good as that of Singapore, with the exception of those smaller and narrow kampong roads (experienced while travelling to Malacca in a different trip). I do not think there are any conducted tours to this town other than conducted tours enrouted to some other better known places e.g. KL, Cameron Highlands or others. I am not aware of any existing bus or taxi services to Segamat, as I am not a regular visitor to Malaysia except on selected occasions.

Icemoon said...

A trip to Segamat by KTM train will be fun. From JB to Segamat slightly less than 2.5 hours and ticket is 20 ringgit.

yg said...

icemoon, senior citizens (above 55 yrs old), half-fare. look old, can already. think old (like you), cannot.

Lam Chun See said...

I think YG also cannot qualify for 1/2 fare becos he not only looks young, but thinks young and talks young as well.

Kim said...

Zen: based on yr info, one can go Sing-Segamat and back within 1 day without any stopover at hotel? (Mosquitoes more active at night!)
Icemoon: Suggestion by train sounds good but then one cannot stop by Yongpeng and Ayer Hitam to have a look. Price: so cheap!! Although YG is trying to tell us to "look old" Don't they ask for I/D to see date of birth? Over here they certainly do.
Talking abt "old" yesterday at a friend's place, I heard abt an interesting couple: ages 94/95 respectively, just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary AND MOST IMPT : both mobile, good mind and still travel short distances within Europe. I remember Chun See's blog on "Tomorrow will be better" someone wrote: what abt the old pple? Well, folks - that's it, HOPE for 94/95 in good health :-))

Zen said...

Icemoon's suggestion that we can reach Segamat by train is a smart idea which I am not aware of(rather suaku). It really saves a lot hassle, but kim also correctly pointed out that it is quite worth while looking around other towns on the way. In her case making a day-time round trip is a good option, avoiding the mosquitos as well. We made a one day conducted tour to Malacca before and surprising many things many things could be done like: sight-seeing, peranakan lunch, buying of their famous coffee packs, top grade mee sua and so forth, took dinner on the way back and reached Singapore about 8pm. If we are mentally prepared for a hectic one day trip, it could end up in fun.

Kim said...

All options sounded v. promising, overnight stay with 3-4 stars hotel or hectic day-trip... (with or without mosquitoes becos we found a v. effective spray - they all run off day or night!) Malacca must be v. interesting to visit these days, will think of it for my next trip to Singapore. Are there such things as going on visits online internet?? I wonder!

Zen said...

Malacca, with its modern hotels (including boutique hotels), supermarkets and malls with its eateries can be quite a draw to Singaporeans. The historical sites are educational for the young. The upgraded sultan palace though small but is well managed, clean and reasonably priced - something like 1Rm per entry. The price of apparels and other items in malls are comparable to that of Singapore. Malacca has its drawbacks - the weather is terribly hot and according to the guide it is the hotest among all the states in Malaysia, probably due to lack of trees and extensive reclamation of the coastline. Even a small offshore island is turned into a housing complex. Another minus point we found out was when we visited a so-called good peranakan restaurant, though the service was good, but the food served was not better than that of Singapore. From one visit to a small coffee-shop in the town centre, we experienced the friendliness of the people there. We praised the top quality coffee served. The proprietress promptly offered her personal balance stock of coffee powder (100 bags), meant for her home consumption, and selling to us at its original purchased price, as a goodwill gesture.

Icemoon said...

I find Malacca becoming more and more touristy, judging from photos of her famous fort. It is like they laid a carpet in front? If I go back, I want to revisit the tombs of the three or four Hang heroes. I believe they have remained unchanged for many years, which is what I find most attractive. And practically nobody goes there.

Lam Chun See said...

Kim. I think the next time you return, you should spend a few days driving around Malaysia. You should visit the small towns and it will definitely bring back old memories of Spore for you.

Of course I would recommend a stayover in Ipoh, my wife's hometown. You can get a preview by clicking on the category "Ipoh/Malaysia" on the right side of my blog.

BTW, from here to Segamat is approx 3 hrs if I recall correctly. You have to exit the North-South Highway at Yong Peng and proceed northwards using the old trunk road. From Segamat you proceed northwards and then turn right and can cut eastwards and reach Kuantan in another 1/2 a day.

From Kuantan you can go northwards to Kuala Trengganu and you will pass by some very nice beaches. Then you cut westward on the East-West Highway and you will pass the Banding Island that I blogged about. From Kuala Kangsar in the West, (famous for its durians) you can come southward towards Ipoh using the North-South Highway passing the old town of Taiping that many Sporeans have visited before, or you can proceed north towards Penang. But I find Penang quite lousy becos it is too crowded.

Zen said...

I usually look forward to visit nearby countries, and even those further afield, but I often overlook our backyard Malaysia, which has many attractive tourist spots to offer, not to mention the travel convenience, time-saving, value-for-money packages for going there. The places enlightened by chun see, especially those in the east coast, are certainly worth considering for my future trips.

Kim said...

Hello to all 3 of you, you seemed to be "advertising" Peninsula Malaysia as interesting for visits. Chun See, I understand and esp. he seemed to know the way so well (reason his wife from Ipoh). In fact frds from Singapore invited us to join them to go Ipoh, but did not go : not enough time. Sure - will try to make up for the next trip : Ipoh and/or Malacca maybe.

Zen said...

Tourist perceptions of a place could be misleading. For example, Chun See and my wife abhor Penang because of its boring atmosphere, low level of cleanliness, neglected infrastructure, run-down buildings, in short a liveless place. However, my sister and her spouse who recently visited the place, sang a different tune, praising sky-high of the people's friendliness for patiently directing them around the city. She was particularly fond of the mouth-watering food (normal fares like laksa, char kway teow and the likes), with special mentioned to the deserts (including chendol). Overall, I conclude that good impression shown by local residents do play an important role in promoting their home town.

Kim said...

Yes, indeed Zen, as the saying goes "One man's meat is another's poison" i.e. also for holidays' destinations. A singaporean couple asked me for tips of some nice French villages S. of France. To be honest, I must really know their personal tastes / likings before recommanding. I do not like to disappoint anyone esp. during their holidays.

Zen said...

They say 'birds of the same feathers flock together and this is particularly true when people go traveling together. Sometime back we revisited KL after a lapse of many years and KL, in most ways, is not much different from Singapore - traffic jams, dusty, hot, crowded, having similar mode of shopping. However, we did find some joy in tasting some of KL speciality food, novelty in going up the Petronas twin towers, eating street food (including durians) and staying in a comfortable hotel, finding great pleasure for paying only eight ringgits for the set lunch ( on promotion) there. Surprisingly, it is the simple joy derived from doing things together like: eating nasi lemak (one ringit) washed down with a cup tea tarek at a sarabat stall at night, a tall tale (orginated from my daughter) of ghosts haunting the hotel which we had earlier planned to stay in, and that story terrified the ladies of our group, and demanded an immediate change to another hotel. This is what I say our group comprised of "birds of the same feathers..." This is the sort of thing which turns a boring trip into an impressionable one.

Kim said...

Hi Zen, v. v. interesting KL trip ! simple but well organized with no big grand issue, I like that too except 2 conditions:
- minus the durian (the smell makes my husband & daughter run v. fast!!) and
- minus the ghost story (now my turn to run from fright!!)
Once at a French B/B we met an English family, lady talked so much abt a haunty castle with Napolean ghost, it went on so real and till late at night.... Result: her 2 children were afraid to go to bed that night!! some of us too.

Zen said...

Many stories were told and are still being churned out on ghost encounters in hotels, but I myself have nothing to relate. My sister insisted that she once saw something unusual while staying in a beach hotel with her spouse in Thailand few years back. She claimed that in the middle of night she experienced an unseen force pinned her to the bed and she was unable to move or yell for help, meanwhile noticing a lady-like shadow moving towards the toilet. She attributed this incident to the many deaths caused by the tsunami that hit the coastal area in Thailand sometime back. The funny thing was that her husband did not see anything extraordinary.

HG LEE said...

If I can remember correctly, between the second and third classroom block, the multiple purpose court was resurfaced in 1975, before that it was very run-down, at the other end away from the "tuckshops" is the jaga-quarter. The school's field was downsize from 1977 to make way for Marymount Road.