Friday, May 29, 2009

The old Pioneer Road

Here is the answer to the Old Roads Quiz (1).

This road was part of Pioneer Road near the junction with Tanjong Kling Road. I took this photo recently when I happened to stop at the SPC station for some petrol.

This petrol station used to be a BP station. Unless you are very young, you’d probably know that at one time, BP used to operate a number of petrol stations in Singapore before they sold their entire fleet of stations to SPC, the Singapore Petroleum Company.

This BP station was located near a sharp bend in Pioneer Road. Here is a 1981 map of the area. Can you spot the changes?
1) A part of Pioneer Road was straightened and joined to Jalan Buroh to form a straight multi-lane highway. Instead of a sharp bend in the road, it is now actually two roads at right angles to each other at this new traffic light junction. But both roads are called Pioneer Road.

2) Tanjong Kling Road has been shortened and part of it ‘taken over’ by the new Pioneer Road. Thus a short stretch of the old Pioneer Road has become redundant and fenced up.

In the old days, this stretch of Pioneer Road was a very dangerous place with high volume of heavy vehicles (traveling at high speeds) and no central road divider. It was also a bottle neck with many vehicles waiting to turn right into Tanjong Kling Road.

Can you guess what road is in the photo below?

It is Liu Fang Road viewed from Pioneer Walk. I took this photo this morning. As you can see, tremendous changes have taken place. There used to be many old factories here. One of them was called Guthrie Engineering. While waiting to get re-enlisted into national service, I spent few months doing a temporary job there. This factory, which manufactured electrical switchboards, wanted to fine-tune their costing system. So they hired me and another fresh Industrial Engineering graduate to do time and motion studies and set standard times for their operations. The factories have all been cleared and lots of civil engineering works is going on.

I also remember this place because it was where I did my 10 km running test during the final days of my OCS course in Safti. I have described this before here.

In the seventies, as you approached Pioneer Circus, (no AYE or fly-over in those days) you will see 2 big factories on the left. One of them is Black and Decker. What is the other one?

Hint: It belonged to a well-known US multi-national company. At that time, they were the biggest investors in Singapore, having (if I recall correctly) a total of 7 plants in Singapore. Do you know the name of this MNC?

I give you a hint. The plant in Pioneer Road was known as XX Hermetic Motors, and they had a plant in Toa Payoh called XX Consumer Electronics. The Toa Payoh plant was located somewhere near the present SPH complex.

Answer: GE or General Electric.

Well there you have it – a history-cum-geography lesson of the old Pioneer Road. I must say, I am a bit disappointed that none of you got the correct answer to my quiz in spite of the many hints. Let’s hope you do better next time.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Old roads quiz (1)

When lazy old buggers bloggers (like this chap) are too busy to update their blogs, what do they do? They put up a quiz lor!

But I am not so lazy as to simply ‘plagiarize’ somebody else’s ideas. So I have come up with a new category of quiz called Old Roads Quiz. You have probably seen my Old Beauties quizzes, Old Roundabout quizzes and Old Building quizzes. So what is an Old Roads quiz?

You know; our Singapore gahmen is so hardworking. When they are not digging up the new roads which they have just re-dug a few months before, they like to straighten them or even totally remove them so much so that many of the roads that were once so familiar to oldies like us seem to disappear overnight. But sometimes we are lucky. They leave behind a short deserted stretch for us to blog about. One example is this short stretch of (Old) Holland Road which I blogged about here.

Here is another example. Can you please tell our readers what was the name of this road. Hint: It is in the Western part of Singapore.

Hint #2: (now surely Philip Chew will know the answer) - It is quite near to the Second bridge that I 'blew' up

Hint #3: I took this photo from the entrance of a petrol station.

Remember this stretch of the road is no longer in use. In fact it is fenced up. I took the shot from an opening in the fence. It used to run in front of this petrol station and it was a very busy road with lots of heavy vehicles using it!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Oldest Cock on the Blog

Mellow: July 2000 – April 2009

Last month, my children’s pet rooster Mellow, died peacefully of old age. At 8 years 9 months, he must be the oldest cock in Singapore – and the luckiest one too, I would suspect. Instead of ending up on the dinner table, he enjoyed nearly 9 years of tender loving care.

One day in July 2000, my wife brought back 3 chicks from the market for my children to play with. My children loved animals. It was a decision she would regret. As the chicks grew, they started to crow loudly at all sorts of hours. By then it was too late to get rid of them because the kids had grown attached to them. Finally in October when we had to move out of our house to do a major renovation, we struck a deal with the children to keep only 1 chick. Our renovation contractor’s Thai workers were only too happy to help us do the necessary, and Mellow had them to thank for escaping the chopping block, ending up on this blog instead.

Our many attempts to get rid of Mellow

Mellow had a powerful voice** and it soon became an embarrassment for us because he would crow in the middle of the night or early in the morning and disturbed our neighbours. We tried several times to get rid of him. Yes we did consider murder – after all the Sixth Commandment doesn’t apply to noisy roosters - but decided against it because the bible does tell parents not to tempt their children.

Once we brought him to an animal corner at Ghim Moh which was run by the neighbourhood residents’ committee but we could not find the person in charge. Another time, we brought him to an animal shelter in Jalan Kayu, but found that it was not suitable. Meanwhile we tried all kinds of methods to keep Mellow from crowing at unearthly hours or at least lower the volume of his crows. Once I bought a big piece of canvas to cover his chicken coop but his powerful voice easily penetrated the cover. I even surfed the internet to look for ways to keep him quiet. Perhaps there was some kind of poison that can cause him to lose his voice without killing him. Alas, the only information I found was that a healthy chick can live up to more than 10 years.

Finally I discovered a way to keep Mellow from crowing at night. By covering him with a carton box, he can be fooled into thinking that it was not yet daylight. So during the day, we would keep him in a coop in our backyard, but at night we would bring him into the back kitchen and cover him with a box.

I should mention that many of our friends and visitors were kind enough to volunteer to take care of Mellow for us. But when they found out how old he was, they changed their minds. Apparently old chicken meat is very tough.

Below is a video of my children playing with the rooster. Sorry – cannot figure out why there is no sound.

** I think Victor, YG and a few other Friends of who have been to my place can testify to how loud his crowing was.

Related Post: Oldest Cat on the Blog

Friday, May 08, 2009

Mas Selamat's Escape - Let's see whose theory was the closest

Last year I blogged about 'The Great Mas Selamat Escape' and speculated on the route he might have taken. Some readers have also put up their theories. Now that Mas Selamat has been caught, we can finally see whose theory was the closest.

1) My theory was that he escaped (with help) to Bukit Brown Cemetery and then to the forests of MacRitchies Reservoir where he hid for some time and survived with help from his friends.

2) YG who also blogged about this here, is of the same opinion.

3) Peter thinks he got onto the PIE and was whizzed off by a waiting car to either East Coast or Malayan Railway.

4) The police probably thought he was hiding in the Malcolm Road areas and concentrated their search there in the initial hours. They got a tip-off from a member of the public who saw someone looking like Mas Selamat there.

5) One reader said he was probably dead and the escape story was just a cover up.