I have enjoyed reading several posts by my fellow nostalgia bloggers like Philip Chew, Thimbuktu, YG, Victor and Jerome Li sharing their memories of Sembawang. Although Sembawang is not ‘my territory’, I do have some memories of that place which I too would like to share with you. But, unlike my other stories, my memories of Sembawang don’t go back very far. In fact they are relatively recent, going back to the early nineties when my kids were still quite young.
At that time, I often brought my family to places like the Changi Beach, Kallang River, MacRitchie Reservoir, West Coast Park, Seletar Reservoir and Sembawang Park on weekend evenings. My wife and I wanted our children to spend more time in the outdoors than in air-conditioned cinema halls and shopping centres. Recently, I read an article about research done in Australia which says that regular exposure to the outdoors is good for children’s eyesight. Maybe that’s the reason why all my three children do not need glasses – at least not until recently when my youngest started to use them – which is quite unusual by Singapore standards.
At Sembawang Park, we would visit the jetty and the kids liked to play on the beach. As night fell, we often went for dinner at a zhi-char coffee shop located in a cluster of HDB flats near the Sembawang Community Centre. On the way, we would pass by a row of shops on the left some of which had bright neon lights which I assumed were bars. I was a bit surprised to see these bars because that stretch of road was quite dark and deserted. Furthermore, I thought these bars usually catered to the British military personnel who would have long left Singapore by 1990.
I have not been to Sambawang area for a long time and have heard about the tremendous changes that had taken place there. And so when I recently had a chance to go to the Sembawang MRT station early one morning, I decided to go to Sembawang Park for my brisk walking exercise and check if these places were still around.
As expected, I was totally overwhelmed by the transformation of what was once the Chong Pang Village and Canberra Road. In fact, as I drove along Sembawang Way, I missed the turn (it was still quite dark) and I ended up in Yishun instead of Sembawang Park. Anyway I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the block of shops that used to house the bars is still there. In fact I had my breakfast there. But I was saddened, though not surprised that the cluster of HDB flat near Sembawang CC had disappeared. As for Sembawang Park and the surrounding; it didn’t seem to have changed much. Still very peaceful and quite.
Some things do not change
The Beauliew House which had two sections; one serving Chinese and the other serving Western food
This is the jetty and beach where we enjoyed ‘quality time’ as a family
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