Sunday, March 28, 2010

Whatever happened to ‘The Batik Inn’ by Russ Wickson - 20.03.10

Last night rummaging around in a box of old papers I came across a copy of The Ballad of East and West by Rudyard Kipling and the first four lines sent me scurrying for my old Singapore photograph album and wondering whatever happened to ‘The Batik Inn’ in Orchard Road. (next to C.K.Tang?)

(Above advertisement copied from 1970 Papineau’s guide to Singapore)

In the mid 1960’s The Batik Inn used to be a favourite of mine. I would often ‘live dangerously’ and catch a bus outside of RAF Changi main gate and for a few cents take a death defying ride into Singapore city and then walk along Orchard Road to The Batik Inn.

I can no longer recall the actual entrance to The Batik Inn but passing down the side of the building one came into their ‘garden’ laid out with tables and fringed, to us Europeans, by exotic trees and shrubs. Here I would sit dreaming away the warm tropical evenings with a Tiger beer, absorbing that most heavenly of fragrances from the Frangipani and listening to quiet, seductive oriental background music as table top candles flickered and danced in little jars.

I recall their superb Chinese cuisine and in particular their spicy Indonesian Satay which was absolutely mouth watering.... (but could never surpass my favourite ‘satay man’ by the roadside in Changi village, but that’s another story)

In spite of being in the city limits, moths and bugs abounded, fluttering about the garden and occasionally one was treated to a glimpse of an Atlas Moth as it silently and majestically winged its way across from table top to table top.

The connection with Rudyard Kipling is in this photograph....

Leaving by the same way, alongside the building, one walked through this arch way and under those very thoughtful third and forth lines of ‘The Ballad of East and West’.

But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, tho’ they come from the ends of the earth!

(NB looking through the archway, is that a little Fiat 500 travelling along Orchard Road, right to left, and now revamped and recently introduced by Fiat to the European market)

My many memories of Orchard Road do not end here.... with my girlfriend at the time, we often walked bare footed along Orchard Road during the day and frequented a little Italian coffee house (not the Magnolia Bar?) and I’m pretty sure it was near C.K.Tang, where would order ice cream with our coffee. Our favourite ice cream was known as ‘Cassata’, I seem to recall the coffee house may have been called ‘Sorrento’s’, but I can no longer be 100% sure.


peter said...

Batik In was behind and next door to the old CK Tang. Today the exact spot is the driveway into Marriot Hotel, next to Lucky Plaza.

Before u drive inside that lane into Batik Inn (from orchard Road) was a row of single storey showrooms - Champion Motors, agent for Volkswagon was there. In later years there was a Hertz car rental company there also. That row is now the driveway into Lucky Plaza taxi stand.

jean said...

Wow *goosebumps* I remember The Batik Inn too.Passed by it sometimes but never went in.Sah to learn its gone as well.*sigh*
I wonder if the Italian Coffee in question could have been Tivoli Gardens or something like that..?

R. Burnett Baker said...

By the time I came to Singapore, Batik was already gone, but I often went to CK Tang. Now I can't even remember what was there before Lucky Plaza...

Jean... I used to visit Tivoli regularly, but my memory is failing again: Where exactly was it??

peter said...

Tivoli (with all the Campari umbrellas at the tables for protection against the sun) was at the corner of Bideford Road and Orchard Road. Now sure what's the name of that building, could be Orchard Building then. Now it is the Paragon on goggle.

I think there was a car showroom then selling Vauxhall cars.

Super Ngor . Silly Han said...

your blog is an interesting read for youngsters like me! really enjoy it!

yg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jean said...

Oops I dunno how or why but I think I just deleted my post*blank stare*

Anyway like I said Peter is right about the Campari umbrellas outside on the patio of Tivoli's Gardens.I can still picture them LOL!
The building in question that housed Tivoli & the Vauxhall showroom was perhaps the Orchard Inn...?

Lam Chun See said...

Yes I remember there was a Vauxhall workshop around there. At one time our family owned a Vauxhall (see photo here)and we brought our car there. Don't remember much becos at that time I had not learned to drive yet.

Thimbuktu said...

Was there a "Cozy Corner Cafe" nearby to C.K. Tang if I remembered correctly?

peter said...

Beside Vauxhall brand, the agent Orchard Motors distributed the GM Chevrolet brand also. I think the car workshop is now where the Pargon carpark drop-off point from Bideford Road. There were 2 blocks, the front facing Orchard Road and a rear block facing Thong Sia Building. In between was this open space where cars sent for servicing were parked.

But I think later when Orchard Motors moved out in the early 1970s, it became some retail mall, I can't recall exactly who took up the space but I do remember walking inside to enjoy the aircon. I think there were a couple of ladies boutiques inside (maybe even METRO before they opened in Liat Tower?????). This was when Tivoli Garden opened.

jean said...

Hmmm I don't recall a Metro store ever being in there.Peter's elephant memory is impressive I do remember now the little ladies boutiques.Quite classy indeed and there was also a magazine shop on the exterior.It was a rather austere & exclusive little mall but the name of it escapes me although I feel it at the tip of my tongue lol.

peter said...


was the ladies boutique Glamourette or Links Boutique?

yg said...

remember, i have the match-boxes of batik inn and trivoli, among others here

Lam Chun See said...

Peter's mention of Metro Dept Store got me quite confused. I know there were two Metro's within walking distance of one another. One was at Far East Plaza, next to Hyatt Hotel; in the basement. But the other one I thought was just across the Scotts Road next to the Holiday Inn. If it was at Liat Towers, then what dept store was the one at Scotts Rd (I think the same building where the famous Tropicana once stood.

Russ said...

As much of this particular blog centres around Orchard Road, a little history and solely for fun....
.... Orchard Road arrived at its name because of the fruit trees and spice gardens which grew and were cultivated in this area and along its route in former days. In the 1840's, beyond Tank Road, there were no houses on the left side of the road and on the right stood only three or four houses in nutmeg plantations.

Back to now...browsing through some old Singapore magazines today, late 1960/early 1970's I found three advertisements for motorcars in Orchard Road...

Universal Cars (pte) Ltd (Ford dealership) at 59 Orchard Road.

Progress Motors (pte) Ltd at 46 Orchard Road (no dealership mentioned)

The Associated Auto Co Ltd (a Jaguar dealership) at 41 Orchard Road

As Jean above refers to boutiques, I also found a mention of two in Orchard Road...

Poor Little Rich Girl located in the Liat Towers (where the Troika was situated)

B&B Boutique at 430 Orchard Road.

I mentioned Sorrento's in my opening of this blog, I actually found an advertisement for this place and it was listed at 304S Orchard Road, which appears to be pretty close to C.K.Tangs at 310 Orchard Road. I am now happy with where I went for my Italian ice cream....unless someone else knows more!

Victor said...

Yes, I remember the Metro store inside the building which Peter mentioned. Can't remember the building though.

jean said...

OMG yg just burst open a dam in my memory with those matchboxes!Never ate in those places but all of us seemed to have Troika & Omar Khayyam's matchboxes in the house for some odd reason LOL!I know Skillets so well as I used to have their Set Lunchs there often as it was quite cheap then.$2.50 for a 3 course meal in the late 70s.

Peter I think you're right about the 2 boutiques but I'm not 100% sure as they were beyond our means so I never went in.I know Glamourette later went on to Lucky Plaza and Link disappeared or went to a hotel.

OMG *again* my older sister worked for awhile at the B&B boutique Russ mentioned.Later it became Bibi & Baba I think.

OMG *thrice* Liat Towers did have a little Metro store way back then which then changed to a little Yaohan and eventually MacDonalds & Hermes.I'm talkin about the 80s here so I have no idea what's there now as I left S'pore 25yrs ago.

Lam Chan See there actually was a Metro store next to The Tropicana Niteclub/Holiday Inn bldg on Scott's Road and in front of the Far East Plaza Metro you mentioned.Odd business emplacements but true.One had to cross an overhead bridge to get to either one of the Metros.

The mystery triggered off by Russ of the name of the mall that housed Tivoli Coffee House & Vauxhall Motors still remains......not for long I'm sure.

peter said...

Metro was at Holiday Inn annex building facing Far East Plaza at one time. In the 1990s Metro at Scotts I think. This kind of things must ask women bcos they window shop a lot.

Skillets was at Supreme House.

Progress Motor (next to MacDonald House) represented Volvo or Renault agency.

peter said...

There was also a second-class METRO store in the 1970s in Clemenceau Avenue. I think it was called George Lee Building or something like that. Now called Singapore Shopping Center. The Metro Store was called METROTEX. Unfashionable designs of branded labels sold here. I work here during school holidays for $5/- for an 8 hour shift.

Lam Chun See said...

My goodness Russ. You still have magazine from that far back? Can I request a big favour from you? Can you pls scan those advertisements and email to me. I am sure readers of GMY would be very curious to sea these old ads. Thanks.

Brian and Tess said...

And can I add a request to Russ and Chun See that we hear more of Russ's memories of Spore, very evocative piece! I will only add that I remember at least the Jaguar car showroom - my father and I went along to it to see the first Jaguar E type to arrive in Singapore. He was looking to buy a car at that time but of course this was a bit of a pipe dream - could not afford it and how would the family fit into it?

Anonymous said...

Before Paragon became poshed up, there was a Metro Grand in there I think, in the early 80s?

And in the late 60s/early 70s the store in Liat Towers was John Little I think. I remember going in with my mum to a sale when I was little.

Around that time I think there was a cafe called Mont d'Or along that stretch of Orchard Road but my memory may be playing tricks on me. Cakes and chicken pies I think.

peter said...

Before Liat Towers was built, there was another building - cant recall name - but it was used by the East Asiatic Company as a showroom for VESPA scooters.

Before VESPA, it was an empty plot of land and had a bungalow house on it. In front of the bungalow house but before the canal, there was an open stage and a pasar malam in the early 1960s.

Mont D'or was at Ngee Ann Building, now Takashimaya.

Even Far East Plaza was formerly a hotel.

jean said...

Anon is right about the John Little's at Liat Towers.I was little but I remember my older brother buying a pair Levis jeans(a luxury at the time) there and it was quite an event for him on his 1st payday.

Icemoon said...

Was Ngee Ann Building built over the old cemetery or alongside? In the 1950s cemetery was still around. Tang should be facing the cemetery, reputedly the source of "bad luck".

sgporc said...

Hi Chun See,

As you may know I have been following your blog for quite a while and have tried to contribute my comments whenever possible. Your blog is great, but I would like to provide some feedback with regards to the photos in your posts.

You have amassed a huge collection of valuable photos and scans, and I see you requesting them from others too. But those in your blog are really too small for us to see the details. Especially for those old photographs which were taken of people as the main focus, what often interests us most here at GMY are actually the background and surroundings that had been surreptitiously captured at the same time. It would be great if we can click on the photos in your blog to get to bigger versions for closer scrutiny. Thanks.

peter said...


The old cemetery reached the edge of Grange Road - facing Orchard Building. So Meritus Mandarin and Orchard Cineplex were once cemetry grounds. So was the back of ION, which was the back of orchard Road Police Station..

peter said...


By the 1960s, there was no cemetery left. As far as I can remember, the former cemetery land in the 1960s was one big empty plot and only Ngee Ann Building, Orchard Cinema, SHELL Station (now Orchard MRT station entrance) and the police station were the landmarks. Mandarin Hotel came in 1971. Further north was the former RJC which was the Teachers Training College on Patterson Road. Orchard Boulevard was not built until the mid-70s.

jean said...

Peter no pun intended but you and icemoon really have elephants' memory.Its all coming back to me now after reading your comments especially about the TTC & the Shell station.Forgot all about them eventhough my sister was at TTC.I think the bus from Katong to the Orchard area was No.14 or 12.
Here we go about Coffee Houses again but I remember a Coffee House at Ngee Ann Bldg.Maybe called Wonderland.

peter said...

#12 from margaret Drive thru River valley Road to Bedok Corner.

Mont D'or @Ngee Ann Building.

Icemoon said...

Peter, do you remember whether they flattened the land (the big empty plot) in the 1960s?

I never seen a photo of the cemetery before. Imagine standing on the top of Tai Shan Ting knoll, with tombs and Tangs as backdrop!

peter said...

The cemetery ground sloped from the TTC down to Orchard Road; so Orchard Boulevard was on higher ground than Orchard Road, which is still the case. The flattening took place more on the Orchard Road side where there were more commercial developments. The persent Patterson Road going towards Grange Road was once cemetery ground, and part private property - someone told me Richrad Hu's family used to own a wooden bungalow on top of Patterson Hill
but acquired by government for road widening.

In fact when the Indonesian Embassy (now Wisma Atria???) was next to Ngee Ann Building, the back of the embassy had a steep slope at the back facing what is now Orchard Boulevard. Driving into the embassy front entrance from orchard Road, the car had to claimb a slight gradient. Now to to think about it, the Indonesian Embassy was on higher ground than Orchard Road.

Anonymous said...

Tivoli Coffee House which opened for business in June or July 1971 was located in The Orchard shopping Complex. I remember the wonderful cakes and chicken pies. There were few places in Singapore back then that was so nice. It had a large covered car park at the back. By the way, does anyone remember Jade Room Peking Restaurant in the rear portion of the building?
Great blog - brings back memories of the Singapore I used to know & love
Great blog

jean said...

So there we have it at last.Anon above hit it on the nail about the name of the mall that housed Tivoli Coffee House.So it was The Orchard Complex.I did feel it had the word Orchard in it.
Coffee Houses at the time were considered Hot places to go to.For me anyway.

peter said...

Orchard Road in the 1960s a haven for entertainment like Chinese restaurants. Maybe influenced by the movies of William Holden and Nancy Kwan, we got Peking food.

Jade Room (restaurant) was at the back of that Orchard Building. Peking Restaurant (later famous for tim sum on trolleys)was at International Building ; second floor via an elevator which was next to an airline company - maybe BOAC.

There were other popular Peking style restaurants such as The Mandarin Room at the corner of Buyong Road and Orchard Road. later Szechun style became hot favorite like The Szechuan Room in the former Hotel Singapura (next to Singapore Hilton). There was also one at the Prince Garni Hotel (but can't recall the name).

All I remember that these Peking style restaurants had bands (chinese and latin, 8 pc band in size) and female singers to entertain diners. one singer in my mind was Ms Peggy Tan whose father was the leader of a band at the Flamingo Night Club in Kim Seng Road.

For some reasons I cannot recall any Cantonese restaurants in the Orchard Road area except Wing Choon Yuen at Great World Amusement Park, one other at Murray Street and those at Cantonment Road (now The Pinnacle).

Anonymous said...

Now I recall name of that building, it was called "The Orchard" in the 1970s.

peter said...

Now I recall name of that building, it was called "The Orchard" in the 1970s.

Sorry press wrong key.

Russ said...

In answer to Peter just above, I found this article today, but written in 1970, and I quote ...

... The new Hotel Malaysia has just added four new restuarants to the gourment's rounds ... is The Golden Lotus, probably the largest Chinese restaurant in South-East Asia, offers some of the most exotic specialities since the days of old China. Suggestions by the chef include such delicacies as 'Eight-jewelled Lotus Rice' and 'Thousand Phoenix in the Nest' and 'Lion Heads'.

Wow!!, can anyone explain these delightful sounding dishes to me?

The guys in my local 'takeaway' here in the UK are scratching their heads!!

peter said...

I think there were 2 more chinese restaurants in Orchard Road area in the 1960s One was on second floor of the fornmer LIDO Cinema - cant remember name.

The other was TROPICANA which had Orchid Lantern Theater and restaurant. TROPICANA now is Pacific Place. Still can remember after dining over at 10pm, LES FOLLIES dancers came on the stage. Although most ppl had the impression it was highkly x-rated, I found that they went topless but got stickers in the nipple area. The dance was not like striptease but well choregraphed show. TROPICANA was popular for corporate functions. I think Jose Daroya (and the Neptune Theater Orchestra) started his career at TROPICANA. TROPICANA prospoed for many decades unlike CRAZY HORSE at Clark Quay. Goes to show you need Chinese restaurant concept not just watering-hole concept.

Russ, would you like to touch base with me? Send Chun See your email address. Thanks.

Zen said...

During my early years food, drinks and shopping were the furtherest from my mind, hence I could not gather much impression of this famous thoroughfare, except that the theatres there screened unforgetable shows like Guns of Navarone(Lido), Mckenna gold(Orchard), evergreen epic Gone with the wind (a remake coloured version-Orchard). If I could recollect correctly, one day, with a few colleagues, we went to see a sword-fighting mandarin film (one arm swordman?) at Lido. Nothing very special except one of my friends was a malay who was crazy over kungfu films even though he could not understand the chinese dialogue spoken in the film.

Tom said...

I remember A Hotel called the Orchard hotel back 1961 I went into once I think it had big class windows, and it had a lovely drive way I all ways thought it was a very posh place It was not for me I preferred going to the Hawer stalls for food that is where you got the best, I never went into any shops or restaurants in orchard road , I wonder if that Hotel is still there.

Tom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
peter said...


Yes you are absolutely right. That was The Orchard Hotel with a small carpark in front of the hotel. The building gone but now a new hotel stand in its place - I think Copthorne Orchard which expanded and took over the petrol station and a row of shops (392 Club was here).

scavinger said...

I am born in 1973 and when I was really young about (5-6 yrs old?), I remembered my mum used to frequent these 2 restaurants along Orchard road. One was the famous late night porridge place called Gold Leaf, situated at a shophouse at the junction of Orchard Road and Orchard Road. The shophouses are long gone but I believe you can still see remnants of the base layer of these shophouses, if you walk down Orchard Road behind the Killiney Post Office, just next to the canal.

The other restaurant - a steak house I think - was also housed in a shophouse along Orchard Road at where The Heeren presently is. If my memory doesn't fail me. These shophouses looked like those along Cairnhill Road just after Hullet Road, where you had to climb a few steps to get into the premises. Can anyone remember the name of this coffee house?

peter said...


The porridge shop u refer to was at the corner of Oxley Road and Orchard Road - facing Le Meridien Hotel today. It was on the ground floor and corner facing in the direciton of Cavanagh Road. It had red colored doors with designs like those of an Imperial Palace. The building was 3-storey high. It was famous for cold see-hum and we use red chilly garlic sauce as a dipping sauce. The toher dish was kong bak. later the shop moved to Sin Min Plaza area in Thomson Road.

The steakhouse you refer to was Bamboo Inn in a row of 2 storey shophouses with a small laterite carpark in front of the shops. Now 286 Orchard Road or Yen San Bdlg in the 1980s.

peter said...

Can anybody confirm if my memory is accurate. There was a satay celop stall along Koek Road when it was a haven for street dining in the 1960s. This was before the opening of the Orchard Road carpark hawker place.

Edward said...

Hey Jean, I also remember Skillets coffee house which served a good steak, Tivoli Beer Garden and its happy hour where beer is offered at a fraction of the normal price. I think Skillets was located in Penang Road. Another hangout for many was the Tamasek Beer Garden (near the Marco Polo hotel) where George and Jack played their guitar and sang, backed up by a little rhythm box. There were other venues with lively bands. During the 60s and 70s Orchard Road was the trendy place to go for its night life.

jean said...

Yes Edward,Skillets was located(as Peter pointed out)at the beginning of Penang Road in Supreme House with the convenient bus stop in front.Cheap Set-Lunches and nice air con in those days.
'Happy Hours' seemed trendy in the 70s.A lame but cheerful adventure back then compared to dangerous Pub crawls these days or worse.
I do remember lively bands like Tania at the old Forum Hotel and Dixie & Bianco.Dunno if they play anymore or if anyone even remembers them from the late 70s.
*feeling nostalgic & missing the old days*

Edward said...

Jean, it’s interesting to note your use of the term “pub crawl”. I don’t recall the word “pub” being used in Singapore up to the mid 70’s. The first I heard of “pub crawl” was in Australia. In Singapore we usually say “lounge” or “coffee house”. In the case of Tivoli or Tamasek, “beer garden” would be more appropriate since they were partly “open air”. Bars usually refer to the sleazy Chinese bars near the city (I guess?) and those in the Sembawang and Nee Soon district. I suppose there were nightclubs (Chinese and western) as well. But pubs … no I’ve not heard that used in Singapore up to the mid 70s.

I don’t know Tania or Dixie and Bianco but I remember a group with make-up like the band KISS. They played in one of the lounges in the Orchard area. One played a bongo and their music usually sent the European patrons raving and dancing at the back. At the end of the song the singer would politely request that everyone be seated as the lounge does not have a licence for dancing! There was another group called “Sugar and Spice” who played at a place near Havelock Road. This band hailed from the Philippines and was quiet popular in the early 70s. I am now deviating from the Orchard area. Ahhh what memeories!

peter said...

TANIA played at the Singaproe Forum Hotel. Dixie & Bianco were part of the Ferdiland Brothers (later called Mel & Gypsy ....)

In the mid-70s there was this Filipino group The New Minstrels which appeared at the Hyatt Hotel second floor (cant recall the anme of the music lounge, there was this Babes Condes as the music director of the group and the talented DING MERCADO) and later at the KASBAH.

jean said...

Edward I agree Pub crawling was unheard of in S'pore in those days and the word Pub was probably less glamourous than Lounge so it didn't get much attention perhaps.I dunno.
I hope I don't sound like a lounge lizard that I'm Not but I do believe there was one Pub in existence in S'pore in the late 70s.Twas probably at a big hotel or in Katong or Changi.I've forgotten its name but I remember ads of it in The Straits Times cinema section.
That KISS-like band you mentioned might have been Tania you know.I recall they wore some make on their cheeks like KISS.Tania were an excellant band and the singer was fabulous.

Peter Yes Dixie & Bianco were made up of 2 Ferdinand bros one of whom did his NS with my late brother.Its all coming back to me now.They even participated in Talent Time on TV back then.The show had a similar 'IDOL' system with professionals judging the contestants.I believe Larry Lai was at the helm of the show.It was such an annual event back then!

Edward said...

Jean, were you referring to Lawrence Ferdinand (from Katong) who used to sing with Sam Quah (By the Way, Ape Man, Lola etc) in the Singapore Talent Time during the late 60s/early 70s? They won 2nd prize one year. I think the Tit Bits was first. Lawrence had 2 younger brothers who also participated. I remember they sang “I play and sing” (by Dawn). They were very talented young kids … good performers.

Russ said...

In the late 1960's there seems to have been an effort to reproduce the atmosphere of an English pub ('pub' short for public house)in The Tangle Inn located at 23-25 Tanglin Road. The establishment was under an English manageress at the time and described as a 'country pub' with low ceilings, dim lights, quaint wood panelling, cool stone floors and latticed windows. (no mention of real ale and roaring log fires)

With all the other exciting places to go to in Singapore the last place I wanted to visit was an 'English style pub' so I never actually went there myself.

jean said...

Edward altho I'm from Katong we didn't know the musical Ferdinand family until my late bro did his NS with I think Mel who wore glasses.Peter & Chuck here on this blog helped me awhile back in locating the camp my bro was in & it was ITD in Sembawang.I recall my bro scaring me by caling it the Terror camp.Anyway I think the Lawrence Ferdinand you mentioned is the oldest of the brothers.I think all the Ferdinand brothers probably participated in Talent Time one year or another.
Wow The TidBits is really going way back.The trio were quite popular.We had their 45s and my family knew singer Bernadette's family.I believe the group remain lifelong friends.It wasn't really my era but they did mark our household for years after.

Interesting point Russ made about The Tanglin Inn.Inns did have a Pub-ish atmosphere probably to cater to the British expatriate community and the curious.
Sorry for going off topic Russ but you know how the snowball effect is & thanks to Lam Chun See too.

peter said...


what happened to bernadette D Souza? Last time I met her she was a senior stewardess with SQ. That was >10 yeras ago I guess.

Edward said...

Russ, “Tangle Inn” would probably attract the long-term homesick expatriates and servicemen longing for the old familiar setup of their home town pub. For those who were able to return on home leave every year, such needs would be minimal. The long-term “sufferers” might just want to wallow in an atmosphere which reminds them of their old hangouts.

There is a café/restaurant recently started in Melbourne called Kopi Tiam Mamak. They have marble top tables, ceiling fans and chairs which resembled those of the kopi tiam in Malaysia and Singapore. The chairs were the typical wooden ones with backing or the rounded marble top ones without backing. Of course there are no spittoons under the tables (sigh). They serve typical kopi tiam food like roti chanai (we call it prata in Singapore), satay, mee goreng, laksa etc. Most of the patrons there are Asians, probably home sick students and residents longing for familiar surrounding with hawker style foods.

The beauty of Chun See’s blog is that you start with a story and relevant comments would come in from his readers which eventually lead to other unrelated issues. The “snowball effect” as Jean calls it.

jean said...

Peter - No idea about B.I asked my elder sister who knew Bernadette better but she lost touch with B as often happens with childhood friends & in the whirlpool of life.

Edward - That Kopi Tiam Café in Melbourne sounds great.It would be nice if there were a chain of kopi tiams around the world for homesick S'poreans & Malaysians.Clever entrepeneurs could make it the next Asian...Starbucks.

Edward said...

Zen, your Malay friend who likes Chinese films reminds me of my brother who used to watch Indian films on tv in the 60s. Sometimes the films featured romantic scenes where the couple serenaded each other around the park by singing and dancing along. The man usually chased the girl from one tree to another. My brother doesn’t quite understand the Indian dialogue but decided that when he grows up he’d not marry an Indian girl. We asked him why and he said it’s hard work having to chase them all around the park. Lots of stamina required for courting an Indian girl. Sorry for digressing again … better get back to Orchard Road story.

Can someone tell me if Tek Kee Pow used to be near the Car Park area? That’s the stall that sold char siew pow, bak pow, siew my etc. It operated around Orchard Road area at night and was very popular with the locals. I wonder if they’re still around.Their pows and siew my's are so yummy.

Anonymous said...

Used to frequent this place in the mid 60's when I was posted at the American Embassy. It was a favorite of my then girlfriend later wife who was orginally from Ipoh.

Dogcom said...

The Tangle Inn located at 23-25 Tanglin Road.

Hi Russ, I happened to living on the opposite side of the road No. 37 as a child. I remember this place was frequented by British Army Personnel, hardly any locals. It is particularly packed on every Christmas season. I still remember the British military police were often called because of fights or disturbance by some drunken soldier. They are handled rather rough by the MPs. Two MPS will lift the drunk soldier and just chuck him into a land rover and take him away.

Lam Chun See said...

Dogcom. My guest blogger Edward Williams too described scenes of mayhem when the MPs came around to the bars of Sembawang Hills Estate to round up drunken servicemen. You can read his account here.

Unknown said...

Club 392 which was where Orchard Hotel now stands. The Pink Pussycat club in the Orchard which was a really a temporary building were now Paragon Building stands. When it was demolished and foundation works were being done, they found a WW2 500lb bomb in the ground. The Orchard had the relocated Tivoli club and there was a fracas one night when drunken soldiers disarmed a detective of his service revolver when he waved it around to quieten them down. Sorrento was along Orchard Road and Mont D'oR was a popular cake house in the apartment block that was in the Ngee Ann Kongsi land that is now Takashimaya. Where Specialist Centre once stood, was a row of old shophouse that had Red Sea aquarium, Schawb Lorenz showroom and Cycle & Carriage selling Mercedes Benz, there was a cinema there but I forget the name. Koek Road had a Teck Kee Pau opposite the shop was two satay celok stalls and in the lane was the famous goreng pisang stall now on on Somerset road next to PUB Building. The stall is in a building which was the NAAFI store and where the open air carpark is opposite Orchard Cineleisure was a row of shophouses and upstairs offices. There was Evershine Florist in that row. Prince's Flower shop was along Orchard Road and if you wanted a Raleigh bicycle, you went to Hock Swee Leong next to the monsoon drain in Killiney Road. So many memories....

Dogcom said...

Hi TK, wow you are very familiar with this area. Brings back lots of memories. I know all these places cos I grew up at Tanglin Rd, one of my aunties lived at Emerald Hill and my late maternal grandma at Killiney Road. So you can say these are my "territory" haha. Your list helped me to recollect some otherwise forgotten names; age catching up. The Cinema is PAVILION (see this photo by iceman

Ah yes Hock Swee Leong, very well know bicycle shop in those days. The couple of bicycles my family owned were bought from them. Those days bicycles were real workhorses. Cycle to school, work and play.

Do you remember the Indian Barber shop named 'Modern' I think, at the end of the row of shop where Pavilion cinema was. It's probably more "high class" barber in those days. I had the privilege of just one hair cut there. I had to cos every time I walk past the shop it smelled so.. good 4711 cologne.

I was told by a number of elders that as a child (we are the same age) PM Lee Hsien Loong went there for his haircut and he would grab hold of all the comic books he could get hold of to read while there cos could these are forbidden at home. I don't know it's true.

Unknown said...

The Indian Barber Shop was called Modern Youth. After a cut, they would pour Bayrum on my hair and rub it in.

And yes they always had comics there. Dandy and Beano were my favourites.

There was a toy shop nearby called Orchard Store. Where I will buy die-cast Dinkys and Corgi cars with the pocket money I saved.

Unknown said...

Yes, Timbuktu. As I remember it Cosy Corner used to be next to the old CK Tang building. I remember visiting my great grandfather and going next door to window shop at CK Tang. This is in the mid 70's

Anonymous said...


Wow, this is incredible that you all remembered Batik Inn, it was legendary for my family! My parents would take us kids for set lunch every Saturday afternoon. The set lunch was so reasonable. I remembered my mom was sad when Batik Inn closed down. This really brings back wonderful memories, after eating, we would go window shopping at CK Tang.

My parents still talk about Batik Inn. Where did the owners of Batik Inn go? Bring back the great food at reasonable prices!

Benny Tan

Kaatje said...

Yes we too used to go to the Batik Inn. My parents would take us and we would always sit outside and eat the delicious satays. We lived in Singapore from '61 to '71. Absolutely loved living in Singapore, and was heartbroken when we had to leave.

Anonymous said...

OMG, this really gave me goose bumps. My dad used to take us to this place to eat at least once a week! I liked the Chicken noodle soup!

Yes, I remember CK Tang (next door), mom would buy me toys from that department store.

I am from the United States. I used to live in Singapore in the 1969 through 1977. My father was posted in Singapore to work overseas. I was only 3 years old when I came to Singapore with my parents and my elder brother. I remembered going to Fitzpatrick and Cold Storage in Orchard Road. My mom loved shopping at high street.

We all loved Satay Club where you eat outside. The 8 years living in Singapore was a fun time for me.

We lived in a beautiful Single family house off Holland Road (I think you guys call a Bungalow). We were living in luxury compared to what we were living before in cold and snowy Minnesota. My brother and I went to Singapore American School and we had a great time living in Singapore living in the nice warm climate. I went to elementary school while my brother went to high school at Singapore American School. My Grandma came to visit us in Singapore and loved it. Apart from my Dad, none of us has ever been to to the Orient.

I didn't know how the rest of Singapore lived until I visited my amah's house and found that a lot of Singapore at that time were not living in luxury.

We moved to Hong Kong as my father's job was posted there. As much as I like Hong Kong, I missed living in Singapore. I wished we stayed there longer

I must now save up some money to visit Singapore. This is really a blast from the past! I am sure Singapore has changed big time since 1977.

Thank you so much for posting this!

Jim Davidson

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Paterson Rioad, from 1962. Adding to the memories commented here and filing in some of the blanks. Walking down Orchard Road,
Noritake plate shop
sri dewa hair dresser
mont dor cake shop in ngee ann bldg
Majories speedo shop
Bamboo house steak restaurant
persian carpet shop
Peter Chews next to Melwani tailor
toy shop, Modern Youth barber shop and Chew Nam Seng grocery
Magnolia Snack bar and Cold Storage

Anonymous said...

And Modern Youth once had Playboy magazines, gave neck massages, clean ear and slapped back, in addition to haircuts

Tah Chung said...

There was a restaurant/pub decorated with corals on its front yard. They sometimes (possibly Christmas) put up mechanised cartoon characters that could turn their heads or move their arms. Vaguely remembered this to be at where the current Delfi Orchard was.

Unknown said...

I grew up in Orchard Road where my family lived. Somewhere at the back of my mind, I remember two more places in Orchard Rd to party. Anyone remember a Tangle Inn, housed at a bungalow along Tanglin Road that came alive at night with parties?

Or Bill Bailey's Coconut Grove at Cuppage Road, next to the Chinese temple that still stands till today?

makan said...

I still remember the days in Singapore during 1969 to 1972. Batik Inn outside restaurant was one of my favorite steamboat and satay restaurant. It was located right back side of C.K.Tang. That Italian spaghetti restaurant was where Lucky plaza is located now. On the table there was a red color cheese pot and I loved to sprinkle plenty of cheese on the spaghetti. The next to Italian little restaurant there was a four story building with some Arabian carpet shops. Then Fitzpatrick super market was there.
Now I am living in Singapore again(^^)

Anonymous said...

Re: The Tangle Inn, Orchard Road. My father worked in Singapore for two years from 1968, when I was a teenager. I had school holidays with him and we used to go to the Tangle Inn. It did try to be like a British pub, but I was too young to judge how well they'd done it! The manageress was an old lady called Hannah, she was from South Shields, near where we came from. My favourite meal was the 'air-flown' steak from New Zealand, served with a 'free' glass of red wine. On Friday lunchtimes they served 'curry puffs' as a free bar snack. Goodness knows what was in them!
I can remember shopping at CK Tang, Cold Storage. There was a shop called ? the 'Beethoven Record Shop' , where they would record from vinyl onto new-fangled cassette tapes. No copyright scruples!
Loved the Botanical Gardens and Johore Bird Park, Haw Par Villa etc. National Day celebrations on the Padang, seen from the Cricket Club.
Can remember the Tropicana and the dancers - very exotic for an innocent Geordie schoolgirl.
Happy Days.

Mike Day said...

Strange that no one recalls the Pink Pussycat which was close-by to Tivoli. There was a fracas outside Tivoli in 71 or 72 in which a S'pore police constable had cause to draw his weapon and wound a NZ Maori servicemanfrom Sembawang:
There was a bookshop close-by in an old detached house ,I seem to recall .I used to go there regularly to read the latest car magazines from UK.I recall the Chinese shop assistant remarking to her colleague one day:
" Chelay Ang Moh lai chitau tapussi " To which I replied Hokkien that the magazines were too expensive to buy ." Anair Kwee !"
Anyone remember Dolly the large Indian lady who used to play the piano and sing at the horseshoe shaped bar, The Bistro bar,on the Tropicana ground floor:
And anyone recall Rowland Chow's florist shop which used to stand in the row of shophouses ,just before Orchard Road Car Park eating stalls ? I remember its demolition and the building of the Specialists Centre
I finally left S'pore in 2007. Too expensive in retirement !

Unknown said...


The Batik Inn - I used to go there as a child with my parents. I was born in Singapore BMH in 1958, left in 1959 and was back for another posting from 1962 - 1965. My fondest memory was the BBQd crabs claws and the amazing satay at the Batik Inn. I went back to Singapore for a couple of weeks in 2007 and the first place I asked my taxi driver about was the Batik Inn, was sad to hear it was no longer there - not that I had expected it to be but was hoping it was.

We lived in a black and white "bungalow" in Rochester Park"(I don't know to this day why they called them bungalows as they were 2 story, anyway, some of them have been turned into bars, restaurants, spa's and art galleries - one of them, cant remember the name ,does wonderful cocktails and nibbles which was exactly the same as the villa we lived in so that was nice ! It was like going "Home" !

Happy memories of my childhood in Singapore :-)))

Hydrospace Harry said...

Liat Towers was built in 1977; I remember because my office overlooked its construction floor by floor that year.

Unknown said...

I've just been going through a photo album belonging to my parents from the time my dad was posted to the RAMC Hospital in Penang, which has a great picture of the front of The Batik Inn.

Also, I have photos of the nearby CK Tang and two buildings (Shaw House and Khartoum Lido) which I assume are in the same vicinity. Also an impressive entrance to Tiger Balm Garden.

All from January 1967. I'd be happy to share if I knew how!

Dogcom said...

There's a Facebook Page "Nostalgic Singapore" You may want to share it there.

Unknown said...

@Dogcom Thank you. I might take a look