Friday, January 15, 2010

The bars of Sembawang Hills Estate – Edward Williams

During the 60’s and 70’s, Sembawang Hills Estate had 3 bars which catered to the British and later ANZUK servicemen: the Sembawang Café, Kasbah and another which I cannot remember its name.

1983 map of this part of Sembawang Hills Estate
Sembawang Café stood at the corner of Jalan Batai and Jalan Leban, at the end of a row of two-storey shop houses along Jalan Leban. It served very good sizzling t-bone steak on a large wooden plate at $4 each. The café was a popular hangout for the Maoris from the early 70’s onwards. On one of its glass doors a kiwi sticker was stuck there, as a sign of their territorial claim.

Present day photo of corner of Jalan Batai and Jalan Leban

Kasbah, an Indian bar and restaurant was situated along the row of shop houses in Jalan Kuras. This bar was run by a Sikh family who lived in the village not far from Sembawang Hills Drive. Mrs Singh managed the day to day operations of the bar with the help of her daughter Muni. I think the owner of the bar was an English woman who was related to Mrs Singh. The bar served a wide range of Indian cuisines. Of the three bars Kasbah was the “late comer”. It started in 1970 or 1971.

Present day photo of Jalan Kuras

A few doors away from Kasbah, at the end of this row of shops, sat the third bar whose name escapes me. This bar was located at the corner of Jalan Kuras and Jalan Gelenggang. It was an “open plan” bar – people walking along the street could see right inside. Like Sembawang Café the bar was more western oriented where fish and chips and steaks were served. Since this was an “open plan” bar it was bathed in full sunlight during the day. Obviously there was no air conditioning here and ventilation was not an issue. I observed that this bar had a family atmosphere with a more sober crowd. I supposed being an exposed “open plan” bar it tended to discourage the rowdier groups.

Present day photo of corner of Jalan Kuras and Jalan Gelenggang

In contrast the interior of Sembawang Café was always dark, mysterious and intimidating, particularly late at night. The brightest spot in the café was the dart board, lighted by one solitary lamp above. It took about a minute or two to get accustomed to the interior once you stepped inside. Kasbah’s interior was bright enough during the day, with sunlight streaming through the glass window which formed the front façade of the bar.

There was one common item which could be found in all 3 bars – a dart board. In fact I dare say that all bars frequented by servicemen had dart boards as this was a game everybody played, mostly for fun but sometimes for money or drinks.

According to Freddy Neo, “From 1958 to about 1969, about 25% of the houses in the estate were rented to British Servicemen and their families.” During this period the corner bar and Sembawang Café were patronised mainly by British servicemen and their families. In the early 70’s the British presence was scaled down and was replaced by the ANZUK forces. At this stage Kasbah came into existence. The Maoris from the New Zealand contingent made their presence felt especially in Kasbah and Sembawang Café. They practically “colonised” Sembawang Café.

Amongst the British, Australian and NZ servicemen, the Maoris (from the NZ contingent) were the wildest of the three. I recall one Maori wedding celebration at Kasbah. They booked the entire bar that afternoon and by the evening everybody was drunk (as usual) and the bar sustained quite a “trauma”. All of the brass ornaments that decorated the bar’s interior became objects of souvenir hunters. So the bar was stripped bare and the Military Police was called and order was eventually restored. Many of the servicemen ended up in the guard room (military lockup) and some compensation was paid to the bar. Within a week the incident was forgotten and hardly spoken about. Bar owners generally accepted such incidents and the occasional fights as a part of the life cycle of their businesses, and as long as the incidents did not go overboard they were tolerated. If you ban one customer from your bar you lose the patronage of that person and his mates as well.

The Maoris also enjoyed communal singing. Give them a guitar and they’ll have a hearty sing-a-long. It doesn’t matter if they played or sang well. They were prepared to give it a go and everybody seemed to enjoy themselves tremendously. Once I even saw a Maori strumming a guitar with only 2 or 3 strings left. Nobody seemed to mind, or perhaps they couldn’t tell the difference after a number of drinks!

I think Thursday was pay day for the servicemen. They’d go on a “pub crawl” starting from Sembawang, then to Nee Soon and finally ending up in Sembawang Hills Estate. By the time they reached our estate, most would be inebriated. However this did not stop them from partying through the night. Sometimes they drank till the early hours of the morning, on the night before a major exercise. Of course some would end up in the lockup the next day.

In the early 70’s Kasbah was my favourite weekend hangout. I played 301 and Micky Mouse with anybody who cared to have a game of darts. It was mostly for fun although some of the patrons would insist on having a wager. There were 2 legendary dart players at Kasbah whose reputations were entrenched in the bars as far as Nee Soon and Sembawang. One was a local at the estate (from Jalan Lanjut) and the other hailed from Nee Soon. It was not uncommon to see one of them “splitting” the darts, so deadly accurate were his aims. Most players demanded a big handicap to play them, unless it was a “friendly” game i.e. no bets involved. On rare occasions when these 2 played against each other, everybody watched in awe as the game of 301 usually ended within a few minutes.

Jason, another weekend regular at Kasbah, was a commando sergeant who taught me how to ride his motor bike one night after the bar closed. We were both not quite sober but I was having the ball of my life. I remember racing uphill along Jalan Kuras with Jason frantically chasing after me, yelling at me to slow down. I wasn’t sure if he was more afraid for his precious motor bike or me! One night he said to me, “Hey these guys (the ANZUK servicemen) are supposed to defend our country. How can they be, in that state? Tomorrow many of them would be too drunk to participate in our joint military exercise. So they’ll do time in the lockup.” I guess seeing the servicemen in such a drunken state the day before a major exercise does not inspire much confidence!

When Jimmi Cliff’s “Vietnam” was released in 1970 it immediately became Muni’s favourite song. She’d play this song on a little portable cassette recorder during the bar’s quiet moments and danced her home-made reggae steps together with her cousin. Some of the boys would join in as the steps were pretty simple to follow. So the waitress Muni acted unofficially as the bar’s dancer when business was slack. Her mother Mrs Singh did not mind this unlicensed addition to the bar’s services as it kept the local boys happy and out of mischief.

One colourful character in Kasbah was Ah Kow (not his real name) who was also from the SAF commando battalion. Ah Kow had tattoos all over his body and arms right down to his wrists, which explained why he always wore a long-sleeved shirt buttoned at the wrists to conceal his tattoos. A short story of his life was tattooed on his back. I was told that Ah Kow was a boxer and when took off his coat in the ring his opponent freaked out at the sight of the tattoos! Now wasn’t he literally a “colourful” character?

During the early days in Singapore it was mostly the secret society members who spotted tattoos, as a symbol of membership and allegiance to their gangs. Apparently Ah Kow had a tattoo on his left shoulder which was a gang insignia. I heard that he ran away from home when he was a kid, slept in the streets and ended up joining a gang for protection and survival. Anyway I knew he was a reformed character after he joined the army and I noticed the he had a strong sense of loyalty to his friends. The army provided the much needed comradeship and security to his previously unsettled life.

Kasbah closed at midnight but the Sembawang Café was opened till the early hours of the morning. They did a roaring trade with the Maoris. One night after Kasbah closed a group of us went to the Sembawang Café. Imagine the shock we felt when we pushed open the glass door and saw the bar packed with Maoris in various stages of inebriation. The worst affected ones were asleep on the sofa and floor. The air was hazy with thick cigarette smoke by this late hour. The Maoris were generally big men and one was nicknamed Buddha. I suspect this was because he was shaped like a Buddha, somewhere around his belly. One of the guys from our group proceeded straight to the dart board and played a few games for drinks. Buddha was still standing (unlike some of his friends) and he cheerfully obliged. We won several free drinks which kept our spirits high. Of course the more our friend drank the quicker his skills deteriorated but the more he was convinced of his invincibility. Fortunately for him, his opponents were usually in a worse state of sobriety! I staggered home around 5 in the morning. That was my last memory of Sembawang Café.

It has been almost 4 decades since I last saw Sembawang Café, Kasbah or the corner bar at Jalan Kuras. Sometimes I wonder if they still exist today. Most likely they’d have given way to other shops many years ago. These bars thrived during the colonial and post colonial era, up to the mid 70’s. As the ANZUK contingent was scaled down businesses in these bars would have been increasingly less viable. It will come as no surprise to me if all the bars, including those in Nee Soon and Sembawang, have long been confined to the historical past.

Footnote: My thanks to Chun See for taking the photos of Sembawang Hills Estate to go with this story. Now I know the answer to that last question above.


peter said...

Edward, I ahve to ask you these questions since u are native to Sembawang area.

1> was there not a stretch of bars on the left side of Nee Soon Road - outside Transit Road?

2. The above bars were more hankie-pankie type.

Edward said...

Peter, I have never patronised any other bars except those in Sembawang Hills Estate. But I do vaguely remember the Upper Thomson Road (or Sembawang Road) and Nee Soon Road area. This place had many hawker stalls during the night. One of the stalls inside or just outside a coffee shop sold dried pig’s or duck’s blood, pig’s stomach, intestines etc, which you could have with porridge or congee (“choke” in Cantonese). It sounds disgusting but it is quite delicious. This is the stall where customers sat on little stools about 1 to 1½ feet above the ground. The junction of Nee Soon and Sembawang Road was the start of a market which operated every morning. There were lots of makeshift stalls selling food (such as chye tau kweh, chwee kweh, triangular peanut cakes, hung chee pang etc) and fresh food (veges, meat, chickens, including live ones etc).

I heard that the bars in the Sembawang area were quite notorious, the “hankie pankie” type where girls hung around, offering more than just waitressing services. This happens in every country where there are concentration of bars and nightclubs serving foreigners, particularly servicemen.

The bars in Sembawang Hills Estate were not of the “hankie pankie” type, although some of the servicemen who patronised our bars may have sought such experiences in Sembawang or Nee Soon.

Sembawang Hills Estate is quite a distance from Sembawang and Nee Soon.

peter said...

Thanks for the information Edward.

There might have been a couple of marriages at the end between the British Servicemen and the bargirls. As the saying goes, "You can take a girl out of a bar but you can't take the bar out of a girl".

Most people that I came across were usually marriages between servicemen and non-bar girls.

Recently I read in the New Paper, the tragic story of an RAF man who was based in Tengah Air base. That RAF chap fell in love with a Chinese girl who worked in the base canteen. Not many people in Singapore would consider that as a suitable marriage partner not just because of the skin colour but the social disparity. the Raf chap returned to UK because of the British Pull-out in 1971 but kept in touch with her through the snail-mail. He kept this going but did not know that she had died for the past 17 years and after 2 unsuccessful marriages

Still a bachelor till today and in his 60s, he was devastated. the only memory he has of her beside her photos were two Chinese paper lanterns she made for him on the eve of his departure from Singapore.

Edward said...

Yes Peter, relationships between the servicemen and our local girls were often frowned upon. One of my maternal cousins dated an English seaman in the late 60’s. She was staying with us at that time, working as a domestic hand in one of the British homes. The guys from the kampong behind our estate did not like it whenever they saw the couple walking past the hawker stalls in Jalan Leban. Anyway my brother spoke to the kampong lads and was able to cool the situation. My cousin later married this guy and settled in England with him. The marriage did not work out. Another cousin also married an Englishman and left for England with him. They lived there for about 20 years and migrated to Canada 22 years ago. She’s 66 and he’s 71. They’re still happily married after 43 years. Recently they went back to Singapore for a holiday. So like all marriages, inter-marriages sometimes have a fairly tale ending. Sometimes they fail. Leaving your family and friends to settle in a distant land can be very daunting. It takes a lot of courage to do that. The story of the RAF serviceman and the Chinese girl was tragic in the way their lives evolved after his departure. It’d still be hypothetical to say that they should’ve taken the plunge and eloped. The point you made about ethnicity and social standing has always been an issue, even to this day.

Edward said...

In the first photo the shop IVINS used to be Radiant Store which sold comics, magazines, shoes etc. The shop was run by the Chia family who migrated to Canada many years ago. Sembawang Café was situated besides Radiant Store. Kasbah used to be in one of the shops along Jalan Kuras (second photo), somewhere near the middle. The third photo shows the corner of Jalan Kuras and Jalan Gelenggang where the “open plan” bar used to be.

Many thanks to Chun See for the trouble he took to have a number of photos taken from which these three were selected. All the old businesses from the 60’s and 70’s are no longer operating, except for the taxi stand in Jalan Leban.

Lam Chun See said...

Peter's romantic love story reminds me of the one that Chun Chew narrated here.

Lam Chun See said...

Edward. I have posted the answers to the many questions in your email about my photos in the description section of my photos at Flickr (

Judging from your questions, you really do seem to have difficulty recognizing the new Sembawang Hills Estate. I think you must make immediate plans to 'balek kampong' for a visit. Your 'old friends' from GMY will be only too happy to drive you around and see the shock on your face as you see what they have done to your Spore of old.

Lam Chun See said...

When my kids where still young, and that would be in the early 90's, I often brought them to visit the Sembawang Park. On the way, just after Canberra Road and the present Yishun Ave 2, there used to be a row of bars on the right side. You could recognize them by the bright neon lights. They seemed to be quite out-of-place as that stretch of road was quite dark and quiet. I think they were probably relics from the days referred to by Edward. Wonder if they are still there.

Zen said...

I spent second part of working life in Sembawang Port, and were quite familar with the surrounding area. The bars mentioned by chun see were located on lst floor of a row of shop houses. The area was quite dark at night because of many tall trees along that stretch of road (leading to sembawang park and the beach) which had poor road lighting. I believe these bars were decent drinking place for servicemen, not those hanky panky type basing on obervation of the place, which I did not see any indecent looking ladies straddling along the frontage of these bars.
Beside this row of shops, there were several makeshift sheds (with fanciful english names) selling fish-n-chips and malay food during the day. Note: the shops were mainly owned by Indians selling a variety of electronic goods mostly to servicemen stationed in

Anonymous said...

Beautiful blog! Nice to see other baby boomers on the web.
Greetings from Canada.


Unknown said...

Hi Chun See and Peter how have you guys been? Thanks for the beautiful series of posts which provide a great blast from the past.

I used to stay in the Yio Chu Kang/ Upper Thomson area when I was a teenager and used to run from my place to the Sembawang Hills Estate area on occasional whims. Its pretty interesting, rustic and quiet. Now I know that there used to be places there to indulge in some intoxication in the past. Just as there used to be a Formula One race in the Upper THomson area.

Zen said...

Now I come to the subject of rowdy servicemen. Sembawang Port shared facilities with ANZUK forces co-operating side by side, most noticeable at the main entrance gate. On one side we had the port police and the other side ANZUK police checking on their respective personnel. Whenever naval vessels berthed alongside our wharves, large groups of off-duty naval crew (almost all males) would dress smartly, perfumed themselves heavily, and cheerfully marched out of the gate enrouted to their targeted destinations, more often than not - drinking places. Now we know why bars flourish at the fringe of military bases (a world-wide phenomenon). Havoc began after the 'happy hours'. We found many sign posts being twisted or simply knocked down and shattered window panes. On one occasion a hopelessly drunken crew drove off one newly imported car (usually with key on) for impending delivery and landed himself together with the car into a muddy pitch. Another episode, one tipsy guy climbed over a railing, falling into a deep monsoon drain, and seriously injured himself. The number of incidents dropped accordingly when the scaling down of ANZUK forces began. Naval note: The US and other (friendly) countries navies also used the facilities here on application through RNLO (royal navy liaison office)

peter said...

I frequently see US sailors at Changi Naval Base or at the Tanah Merah Station waiting to get to town. These days the sailors look so decent looking, average age = 22yrs and so handsome. Overhearing some dialogues, I dont get the impression they were looking for bars or boobs. On the other hand I could be wrong. There are even American women in the US Navy.

In Singapore when the military vessels don't dock you can't find bars but over in Subic Bay, Philippines, you can still find many nottie bars although the US Navy no longer calls it a port of call.

Edward said...

Thanks Chun See, for the answers to my queries on the photos of Sembawang Hills Estate. I could not recognise any of the streets or buildings. The estate did not have any 2-storey houses up to the late 70’s. Neither were there any big trees along the streets. The original food centre was pretty basic, almost “open plan” unlike the current one which looks completely “covered”, so customers are properly shielded against the driving rain. None of the old businesses have survived. The only building I recognised is the taxi stand in Jalan Leban but even this has been upgraded since the early days. I am sure Freddy Neo would be just as surprised at Jalan Batai, the street he grew up in. Up to the late 70’s all the homes in the estate were simple, terraced 3 bedroom uniform structures; nothing unique in their designs. What a big contrast to the homes in your pictures! Yes, I will certainly pay you guys a visit if I return to Singapore for a holiday.

Edward said...

Zen, as a matter of curiosity, how did you get to work at Sembawang Port? Did you travel by the Tay Koh Yat bus along Upper Thomson Road to Sembawang Road? Was this bus no. 3? If you drive, I assume you’d be travelling along this route too. The furthest I’ve been on this bus was just after Nee Soon Road. Until today I still don’t know if a there was a straight bus journey from our estate to Sembawang.

Zen said...

Edward - When I was posted to Sembawang Port in 1978, the whole bus system had already revamped, knocking off STC and other chinese related bus companies, leaving major transport companies SBS and TIBs to operate . At that time I had already moved to AMK, and took any bus from AMK to Thomson Road first and to connect with TIBS service 167 which brought me to the end of Sembawang Road (a bus terminal), situated next to the sea (straits of Johor), which is at the fringe of Sembawang Park. If I had time I would leisurely go to a make-shift sarabat stall (operated by a chatty malay man named Aziz), which was shrouded partially by trees, located between the bus terminal and the sea, to eat a small banana leaf- wrapped packet of warm home-made nasi lemak topped with delicious belacan chilli and ikan bilis (50 cts per pkt which I need two to satisfy my morning appetite), to be followed by a cup aromatic teh tarek with milk(also 50 cts per cup). After this breakfat ritual, I would walk along the beach to a side gate and there upon entered the port to face another day of hectic port operations. Sembawang park is considered huge and the beauty of this park lies in its uneven topography - at its very top lies beaulieu house which was abandoned by its german house owner during WWII and now turns into a quiet and a serene restaurant specialising in sea food and has a commanding view of the straits. Due the the unique landscape of the park, I often found Medicorp shooting parts of their TV serials here.

Edward said...

Zen, I don’t recall the SBS or TIBS services. I’m sure I have travelled on STC buses since the Tay Koh Yat bus company ceased operating before 1978. You lucky thing … having your breakfast by the sea and a beach walk before starting work! Sounds like you’re on vacation! OMG I used to like nasi lemak too. The ones I had came with a small fish (ikan pasir?), sambal paste and a thin slice of cucumber. No belacan chilli. It’s so yummy. We used to have belacan chilli at home every day. The chilli is pounded with grilled belacan into a paste form. Some lime is then squeezed onto the belacan chilli paste during meal times. We call it “sama belacan”. This was a compulsory item for all our meals. Just the thought of it makes my mouth water.

Zen said...

Edward - Do not judge a book by its cover, meaning that I enjoy nice breakfast, walking along a sandy beach (very romantic), enjoying the sight of the Johor straits, breathing its fresh sea breeze, refreshed by the greenery of the park, BUT once inside this small side gate hellish conditions were awaiting for me This place is called Sembawang Port. Whatever it is, there is always two sides of a coin.

Zen said...

Edward - During the seventies the bus transport system in Singapore was really chaotic. It improved only after the number of companies were reduced to two main players namely the SBS and TIBS. You are probably right to claim that STC buses were still running after the demise of Tay Kok Yat, because the situation was still messy and bus services were in the process of a major revamp. I can still remember there was not a single bus terminal in AMK when I moved into this town (1978). Buses had to park along a stretch of Ave.6, near to the present bishan park. One day I took SBS service 166(the first bus service operated in AMK)from the SGH bus terminal back home. The playful conductor asked me where I wanted to go and I replied Ang Mo Kio (which can mean red tomato in hokkien). He cheekily asked: "what type of kio?"

Edward said...

Ok Zen, so Sembawang Port wasn’t the best place to work in. At least you could take solace in your morning nasi lemak and teh tarek ritual. I worked in a brick works for 3 years in the 70s. The conditions were pretty bad – but I had no nasi lemak or teh tarek to turn to. The best I could hope for was a hamburger. Believe me, nothing beats nasi lemak. Hopefully the working conditions in Sembawang Port has improved since. By the way I’ve heard that the standard of the transport system in Singapore is now world class. Colleagues of mine who returned from holidays there were really impressed with our MRT system.

Are you sure that Ang Mo Kio means “red tomato”? Ha, all these years I thought it meant “English Kio” (whatever “Kio” means).

Zen said...

Edward - It was not the grinding work that put me off, but the amount of office politics was incrediable, being played out so 'deftly' by many players so much so that the decent chaps would like to head for the exit doors. One of my officers cautioned me: "Lam, please watch out. You may be shot and do not know where the bullets came from!" There were words of wisdom from ancient china and they were: If the emperor listened to evil court officials, it was time for the good ones to excuse themselves, giving a lame excuse that they were now old, unable to contribute, hence requested to retire and returned back to ancestral homes. Coming back to 'kio', it can be the name for a vegetable belonging to the eggplant family. For nasi lemak, many living in this region knows that it widely known as a common and humble food equally fond by the rich and poor, but now a tourist minister of a neighbouring country dropped a bombshell, claiming that this dish originated from her country creating disquiet among singaporeans. In other words, she is calling Singapore a copy-cat - how preposterous can it be!

Edward said...

Never mind Zen, now that you have retired you can look back on all the “bad old days” and proudly say “I walked straight”. Unfortunately political infighting is fairly common in large organisations and this can have disastrous consequences for productivity. I’ve worked in the education sector for over 25 years and witnessed similar issues in many departments. Like you I no longer have to confront these debilitating daily experiences. They’re all history now. But I’m sure we both have happy memories of our working lives … and I’m not just referring to your morning rendezvous with Aziz the sarabat nasi lemak man. Which brings me to my final point – I’ve always thought nasi lemak was a typical Singapore hawker meal. They are sold in Malay stalls and even by vendors who don’t have a permanent stall – who may carry their food such as nonya cakes, curry puffs and nasi lemaks in big aluminium pots or baskets from their kampong. I recall a number of Malay children selling all these home-made food outside the gates of Mt Emily swimming pool. They stood on the ground with their wares displayed on open baskets which included bottles of chilli sauce and sweet sauce. OMG my mouth is starting to water …

Anonymous said...

I was staying in the neighbourhood until 2 and half years ago. From Jln Batai, I moved to Yio Chu Kang Gdns in 1979, then to Thomson Green in 1986. I moved to the West only in 2007 so that it will be easier for my sons to attend an all boys school in the West. So Edward, I saw the changes in Sembawang Hills Est. I moved along with the changes. E.g. After Radiant Store closed, a cakeshop occupied the premises, then a farmers' Co-Op (SAHE)supermarket occupied both the former Radiant Store and the Bar premises. When SAHE closed, a Chineses Restaurant took over, followed by Ivin.

The essence of the Estate is still there...the same quiet, unhurried pace of life.

Freddy Neo said...

Sorry, the previous was mine. I must have clicked wrongly and appeared as anonymous.

Freddy Neo

Lam Chun See said...

Yes I remember SAHE. Haven't heard of them for a long time. Just a few years ago, I came across their food factory in AMK Industrial Park 3 (I think its 3 ... near to TIBS)

Edward said...

Interesting changes to the Jalan Leban shopping strip Freddy. The only restaurant I knew (apart from the bars) was a Bak Koot Teh restaurant along Jalan Kuras. I gather it’s no longer there. From Chun See’s photos I also note that there is a row of shops along Jalan Gelenggang. These must’ve been built after the late 70s. Have you seen your old house in Jalan Batai lately? Is it still the same or has the new owner rebuilt it? What about your grandmother’s house in Jalan Chengam?

Outwardly the estate appeared to have undergone radical changes over the past 3 decades. So you feel that the essence of the environment is still unchanged … “the same unhurried pace of life”? I wonder what contributes to this impression of Sembawang Hills Estate. Perhaps it’s the sleepy look of the homes on undulating streets, the afternoon heat blazing across the estate while everybody remains indoors. You don’t see residents rushing about on the hilly terrain of the estate, and activities in the shopping strip and food centre must’ve remained the same as before, quite subdued even during its busy moments. At home, on hot afternoons we used to lie on the cool terrazzo floor of the hall with the ceiling fan going. Sometimes we indulged in an afternoon siesta. I think you must miss your old home at Jalan Batai as well. After all that was where you spent your growing years.

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Freddy Neo said...

Dear Edward,

The old house is still standing. My dad sold it to a widow in 1979 but it has changed hands. A young couple with young children now stay there. The house is next door to the house of the two spinsters who were in the news in 2006. A skeleton was found in the two spinsters' house and it was determined to be that of one of the sisters who was determines to be dead for more than a year.

Matthew Tan said...

I dun spend my childhood there, but I kinda like that place.
There is a taxi terminal there, looks old enough, has it been there since the 60s? Also, wat about the 2 drinking pubs there, were they drinking pubs in the olden days as well? How long they been operating there?

Dogcom said...

Hi Chun See, thanks for pointing me here about stories of British soldiers creating mayhem in bars and Military Police coming after them. I am still enjoying your blog and I guess it will be some time before I cover all of it.

About local girls going out with serviceman, yes I remember they were very much frown upon. These girls were called derogatory term "Oh you tongue" (Hokkien and/or Teochew for bucket of tar. Pretty mean I would say. I guess the world have change and now inter-marriage are very very common. Nowadays whenever there's a big social gathering it is common to see a united nations of sorts within an extended family : )

Erwin said...

Hi Edward. I used to live along Jalan Chempedak some 2 years ago. At the end of Jalan Chempedak (top) is a barren land and I have a feeling it used to be an old chinese cemetery.( I believe there is still 1 tombstone there. I'm surprised to see a 1983 map that says Shangri-la Park! What kind of park was it!

John said...

Hi there,
Just stumbled over this very interesting and informative blog. Back in the day 1969 - 1971 I lived in Jalan Galenggang above the shops near the bottom, number 12 I think and there used to be a bar/restaurant called the Johnson Bar where I enjoyed many a nice quiet meal.
Across the other side of Thompson Road down Seraya Crescent I knew some local people who lived there in a quite nice semi-detached bungalow, now I see on google what looks like million-dollar two and three storey mansions!! How times have changed. Would love to revisit the area for a couple of weeks and have a look around the area. If anyone knows of a decent, not too expensive hotel nearby I would be grateful for the info. Selamat tingal. JH