Dec 14, 2012

Gunung Pulai from Singapore Again

With a dormant blog like this, I do not expect to receive many comments or emails from readers, if at all. Therefore you can imagine my surprise when one reader Timothy emailed me a photo (above) of a mountain taken in Choa Chu Kang from his iPhone. The familiar plateau towering and basking in the background sunset, it is our old friend I have blogged about in the past (here, here and here).

Oct 20, 2012

2nd Shot: The Basketball Star of Singapore

Teck Ghee Community Club

The PM National Day Rally is typically where and when stars aka role models are born literally over an evening from the stage of University Cultural Centre at NUS. For this year's rally the PM listed out, as usual, the folks across the various demographic groups who would become our role models. What's unusual is the role model for active ageing whom the PM met after one of his constituency events. From her age and hobby-mismatch witnessed by the PM that day, I guess she must have left a deep impression in him.

Sep 27, 2012

The Inaugural Tiger Flight out of Terminal 2

Inaugural Tiger Flight from T2!

History is made on the morning of 25 September 2012 as the inaugural Tiger flight made its way out of Changi Terminal 2. Four hours before an arrival flight at Changi Budget Terminal saw the disembarkation of the last group of passengers to have used the airport and with their clearing of immigration and collection of luggage, the curtains finally came down drawing the era of our no-frills terminal to a close.

Sep 18, 2012

Where the Canal and River Meet

Sungei Seletar Simpang Kiri

While I blog about geographical heritage, I do not usually pay much attention to the nature heritage around us. This has not changed much since 2009 when I failed to find the nutmeg trees in the Istana (what to do, without an identification guide, this city boy still can't). Few weeks ago however, this interesting sight of a transition between the man-made and the natural, where the canal meets the river, caught my attention.

Sep 10, 2012

"Postcards From the Past" Memory Project

No, I'm not showcasing postcards from the past. Today I received an email from Isabel Ong of the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) informing us the collective memory project they are currently running. Wait a minute, why is the environment and water ministry also running a memory project when they should be tackling once-in-50-years floods?

Aug 21, 2012

Witnessing the Syawal Moon of Hari Raya Aidilfitri

Syawal Moon of Hari Raya Aidilfitri

For a long time I had this small dream for Hari Raya Puasa. To witness the young crescent moon that announces the end of Ramadan month which also marks the start of the festival of Eidul Fitri. Last Sunday evening I got my chance. The thin crescent appeared in the west at dusk, the gleam sharp yet the illumination was not overpowering. It was as if to remind me, gently, that my modest dream had been fulfilled. Snapping out of what seems like an eternal fixation on the lunar beauty, I reminded myself that this was all temporal, the moon would disappear below the horizon later that night. I am glad to have wasted no time in retrieving the camera.

Aug 16, 2012

Our National Stadium … Recycled!

Pasir Ris Sports and Recreation

When all have been blogged (example) and recorded (example) following the demise of the Grand Dame, a chapter closes in the history of Singapore. But is it true that nothing more could be said of our National Stadium? Not really. In this short pictorial post, I'm going to show how even when our heritage are destroyed, they do not always disappear. They get ... recycled!

Aug 11, 2012

45-65 at the National Museum and A Surprise Discovery

45-65 Liberation, Unrest ... a New Nation

When I got wind of this new exhibition at the National Museum, I was pretty much excited for two reasons. First, admission is free; secondly, it talks about our pre independence history, the period between 1945 and 1965, that I recently found an interest in. Let this short introduction whet your appetite:
The exhibition brings visitors through the tumultuous period of post-war recovery and illustrates the challenges and hardships of building a nation then. At the same time, the awakening of a national consciousness further contributed to the determined struggle for decolonisation and self-rule. The events of these 20 years of rebuilding a nation, independence from the British and separation from Malaysia - set the stage in our quest for a national identity.
The surprising thing is, through the exhibition which I visited on 8 July just one day after its opening, I made a discovery of a "second shot nature", which incidentally has nothing to do with the exhibition at all.

Jul 10, 2012

Co-Speaker for Past Forward: A Heritage Blogging and Social Media Workshop

Hi, I'm back from my hiatus. Stopped for a few weeks as I badly needed a break from all the information overload. A good time to think about future directions for the blog too. Recently I received quite a few emails regarding the blog, which shows despite the site being stagnant for a while, the blog has not faded into oblivion. They woke me up from my slumber, and made me feel those past efforts have been worthwhile, so I obliged their requests whenever possible.

May 20, 2012

Hougang SMC Shape Like Lightning?

It was only last night while reading my facebook feeds that I realized election rallies for Hougang by-election has started. Honestly, my interest in the by-election waned after it was announced polling day would not be a public holiday; furthermore the government has clarified this by-election would be on local issues in the ward, not national ones, so that is no need for non-Hougang voters to be overly excited. Still I clicked on the link, which brought me to a YouTube video on the WP rally, uploaded by Today Media (the last point is to assure everybody the video is nothing subversive).

May 17, 2012

Free Entry to Museums in May/June 2012

Just received this from public relations and thought it may interest some of you. This June holidays, NHB and Museum Roundtable are co-organizing Children's Season 2012. The event is now in its fifth year and you can read the details on the website. The piece of good news, even if you do not have kids, is that there would be free admission every weekend to different museums between now and 24 June!

May 15, 2012

Plug for International Museum Day 2012

A sign that I have not been keeping up with happenings in our heritage institutions, I was somehow taken aback to receive not one, but two emails from one external public relations company of NHB which reminded me that International Museum Day (IMD) is just around the corner this weekend. Do mark this date down, if you are an avid museum-goer, or if you are simply waiting for a free lunch from NHB, because IMD is an open house day for the 7 NHB museums, so visitors get to enjoy free admission to the exhibits.

May 10, 2012

Secret of the Attic at Kingsmead Road

NHB Marker - Chen Wen Hsi

I stumbled onto this NHB heritage marker at Kingsmead Road one day while wandering in Bukit Timah. This came as a surprise, as I did not expect to find one in the middle of this posh landed housing estate. Even more puzzling was the fact that the blue marker supposedly commemorates an artist, whose fence wall at his former residence the marker now adorns.

Apr 30, 2012

My First Contribution to the Singapore Memory Project

Joo Hwa Gateway Arch at Yuhua Primary

I have not updated the blog after the Sembawang Hills porsche post more than a week ago and, thinking blogging activity would be quite dead for a few more days, was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from NLB.

It was regarding a short post I wrote after visiting Yuhua Primary for a project where I found a cute Chinese gateway arch (above photo). NLB is working on an exhibition as part of Yuhua Open House Carnival in May and thought stories and photos on Yuhua would be useful. Examine the characters and lettering in my photo carefully; the name 'Yuhua' does have a longer history than most people realize. They intend to show an excerpt of my story, which I have edited slightly for consumption by a wider audience. The whole story is also on portal as they have done the uploading for me. Read it here. Hooray, my first contribution to the Singapore Memory Project though it was contributed not under my account.

Indeed this is like killing two birds with one stone. I got my first story up in the SMP, "a national initiative to collect, preserve and provide access to memories and stories related to Singapore", and NLB is well on its way to collect their target of 5 million personal memories.

Apr 20, 2012

The Porsche at Sembawang Hills Estate

Sembawang Hills Dr

Having solved the mystery of elephants @ Seraya Crescent in Chun See's post, I ventured across Upper Thomson Road to check out Phase 2 of Sembawang Hills Estate beyond the row of shops and the food centre.

Apr 14, 2012

Traditional Provision Shops Exhibition at Tiong Bahru

Traditional Provision Shops Exhibition by NHB

After a hearty lunch at Tiong Bahru Food Centre, I would usually take a stroll around the neighborhood. The community centre is a good place to escape from the mid-day heat and on Valentine's Day I was back again. This time round, I was surprised to see a familiar little set-up in front of the centre's history corner. What's with this mock-up of a provision shop?

Apr 7, 2012

A Short History of Pasir Panjang Park

Ponding at Pasir Panjang Park

Recently it was announced that 20 new parks would be opened in the next five years and at the opening of the $76 million Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, we were told that some of the existing parks like East Coast Park and Jurong Lake Park would be rejuvenated. It is laudable of the planning authorities that despite the built-up, of buildings and population, we are still very much a garden in a city. One park, however, seems to have been forgotten by the authorities and regrettably, part of its history - a cannon - had been erased. This is not your normal neighborhood or seaside park; it does not sit on reclaimed land like East Coast Park but on the old shoreline of Pasir Panjang.

Apr 1, 2012

The Cannon that Disappeared from Pasir Panjang Park

Pasir Panjang Park

Previously I blogged about the disappearing Old Jalan Kayu Post Office. It is kind of insidious and many may not even realize it; slowly but surely we are losing bits and pieces of our heritage. Small objects disappear too just like buildings. With no fanfare, one relatively unknown cannon had disappeared from a small park in Singapore.

Mar 24, 2012

The Old Jalan Kayu Post Office Demolished

Old Jalan Kayu Post Office

It was perhaps fate that the bus to my new workplace took me round the junction of Jalan Kayu and Yio Chu Kang Road and a quaint two storey colonial building came into view. My first impression was one of curiosity, what was this building and why it was sited so close to the filter road. I had initially assumed it to be an outpost of RAF Seletar fallen into disuse; it did not appear to be inhabited. Nearby is another unusual structure but taller, could these have belonged to the air base?

Mar 19, 2012

The First SIT Flats in Tiong Bahru

Blk 55 Tiong Bahru Road

When I got a little bored with Chinatown for my lunch, I ventured into Tiong Bahru; and it was then that I began to have a good look at the pre-war section of the estate. It was disconcerting at first, for at what is possibly Singapore's first UNESCO World Heritage Site (see the dream), streets run parallel and at right angles, and every corner of those art-deco buildings looks identical. I panicked when surrounded by these unfamiliar buildings in white: how was I to get back to Si Pai Por? Eventually I managed to find my way around the estate, thanks to the frequent makan session and little exploratory walk before heading back to work. There are so many things in this pre-war estate that we can talk about, other than "bird corner", "art-deco", "delicious food", "bomb shelter" and what have you. Where shall I start then?

Mar 12, 2012

2nd Shot: Reconstructing Tiong Bahru

Tiong Poh Road

Before I was posted to Si Pai Por, I could count the no. of times I visited the pre-war SIT estate of Tiong Bahru with my fingers. It was either a drive past along the main road or a food hunt - I remember Chwee Kuei - at its famous hawker center before it was rebuilt. I could not remember any of the Trust flats nor did I look out for them. All in my mind was the grave of Tan Tock Seng, which I used to associate with Tiong Bahru; my neck would be craning inside the car as it made it way around or out of the estate. Was my effort rewarded? I think so, for I remember catching a glimpse of a solitary grave on a hill beside the estate.

Mar 6, 2012

House of an Old Guard off Holland Road

50 Oei Tiong Ham Park Driveway

I accidentally stumbled onto this driveway with a wounded mushroom somewhere off Holland Road during one of my KTM railway explorations last year. Do you know the significance of the place? Clue: one of the Old Guards is living or used to live here. Today, there are reputedly four members from Singapore's first cabinet in 1959 still with us: one needs no introduction, he is the Primus inter pares; another was spotted at a recent Old Guard's passing; the third keeps a low profile; the last vanished without a trace. Who am I referring to?

Feb 28, 2012

How the Fort Canning Tunnel Altered our Road Landscape

Fort Canning Tunnel

If we do a poll on the most detested and ugliest structure in town among heritage lovers, I suspect the honor would go to this tunnel through Fort Canning Hill. That time I checked out Orchard Presbyterian Church to investigate the 1984 curry murder, I saw its exit at Penang Road for the first time since it opened in 2007. I was momentarily at a loss for words staring at this edifice. Just as surprised would be the ancient kings of Temasek who could not have imagined a tunnel cutting right into their sacred Bukit Larangan.

Feb 23, 2012

Death by Gunshot in this Vivocity Toilet

Camomilla Vivocity

A toilet in Vivocity caught attention for the wrong reason on 22 December 2011. A Cisco police officer was found dead inside one of the cubicles with his service revolver beside him. There was a gunshot wound to his head though the actual gunshot was barely audible to most shoppers and staff in the mall. The cubicle was locked from the inside and a security guard was the first to discover the body. Just where is this toilet in Vivocity? For me, sitting behind the computer, I was intrigued.

Feb 19, 2012

70th Anniversary of Sook Ching in Singapore

Sook Ching North Bridge Road

2012 is a special year. Even though the nation observes Total Defence Day every Feb 15 and for some, remembrance day at Kranji, this year happens to be the 70th anniversary of the Fall of Singapore. NHB has a series of events lined up under the heading "70th Anniversary of the Battle for Singapore, 1941-1942". I do note the nationalistic spin on it, the "Battle for Singapore" instead of "Fall of Singapore", though some events actually use the latter title so we have a little consistency issue here. Many netizens recounted the events from Pearl Harbor, which brought Japan into war with Britain and USA, and the landing on and attack down Malaya which finally culminated in the Fall of Singapore, the greatest military defeat in British history. For most people, the commemoration ends on Feb 15, though some may still visit the museums (free admission to Bukit Chandu, Ford Factory and History Gallery at NMS from 13 to 19 Feb) and the Four Days in Feb exhibition at the National Library. For the folks in February 1942, however, this was only the beginning, of the 3 years 8 months living under Japanese rule on Syonan-to. For many, it would be a nightmare.

Feb 11, 2012

Soft Launch of Good Morning Yesterday @ Peranakan Museum

Congrats Chun See!

After "many many hours of disciplined hard work", the baby is finally out of the oven. For Chun See, with the publishing of Good Morning Yesterday the blog into Good Morning Yesterday the book, all those hours toiling in front of the computer to write and rewrite the chapters must have been worth it. Congratulations to Chun See for achieving the next milestone in his heritage blogging career!

Feb 5, 2012

Big BiblioAsia Ang Pow from NLB

As I blogged before, NLB very kindly put me in the subscription list for BiblioAsia, their "news journal to promote collection services and programmes of the new National Library". This is frankly misleading and an understatement as it carries very good and scholarly articles on history and heritage. They have it up online. With no complimentary BiblioAsia in my letterbox for months, I thought they had struck me off the list during their annual review, so I did myself a favour by self-servicing a copy off their shelf when I went to the National Library for the street exhibition open house.

Jan 30, 2012

Where was this Elephant at Seraya Crescent?

In his series of articles by guest bloggers on Sembawang Hills Estate, Chun See blogged on a 1966 photo from Robin Brewster that shows a young elephant strolling - purportedly - along Seraya Crescent. With no clue from Robin, many of the estate's old timers believe the elephant came from Tai Thean Kew Circus when it pitched its tent in the estate in the 1960s. However they are less sure about the exact location in the photo. Was the photo taken at Seraya Crescent? One old resident has his doubts and so far nobody can pinpoint the exact location. The lingering question remains. While I know nuts about Sembawang Hills Estate, I decide to do what I do best in this blog - explore the estate, nail down this old spot from 4 1/2 decades ago … and take a "second shot" of the same location.

Jan 19, 2012

Oldest Surviving Public Pool Bites the Dust

Yan Kit Swimming Pool from carpark

After I was relocated to Sepoy Lines last April for my work project, Chinatown became one of my many lunchtime playgrounds. There were times I walked to Yan Kit Road, to try out the food centre and coffee shops at Tanjong Pagar Plaza. It was an never-ending discovery, as I would try out a new eating place each day, never to repeat the same shop later. In this latest adventure, I found out at last where the nasi biryani stall from Tanjong Pagar Railway Station relocated after June 2011. However food is not my topic today.

Jan 10, 2012

NLB Exhibition - Stories Behind Singapore Streets

I start my first post in 2012 with a piece of good news.