Dec 25, 2010

Amazing Red Dot Quiz (8) - Where is this building in Singapore?

Guess this building!

This post is automatically published using Blogger scheduled posting feature.

As you read this at the end of 2010, I will not be around in Singapore but elsewhere, doing the things I enjoy that has nothing to do with "office" or "work". With no lack of sun and sea, even mountains, at my side, not to mention opportunities for some historic "second shot" research, I will be savouring the last few days of 2010 in good company.

It is good to end the year with something light, like a dessert to mark the last course. I apologize if the main course throughout the year was too heavy, causing a little indigestion. I do hope that the food was tasty and healthy this time round. Hopefully next year it would be better.

So here is your dessert, something sweet of course.

Make a guess, where is this building in Singapore? Be specific, like name the road where the building is located. The answer will be revealed when I return in Jan 2011. I hope the leaves on the ground do not give the game away!

Enjoy yourself this holiday season guys! Thank you for all your support. Unfortunately I will not be around to blog about the countdown and fireworks this time. Do read about my experience in 2009 (here and here) and 2010 (here) watching fireworks with Ah Tiong.

Dec 18, 2010

Our Minister Mentor sang this song .... in his bath!

Do you sing in your bath? Not many people will readily admit they do, down to the song name. Thus I was pleasantly surprised to read the confession by our Minister Mentor in his memoirs. He was candid about the episode and I thought it was even a little hilarious after I listened to the song online. Do you know the title of that song?

Dec 9, 2010

The First Air Raid in Singapore - 8 Dec 1941

Singapore Bombing - Life Magazine, Feb 2, 1942
LIFE Magazine: Feb 2, 1942

Every 8 Dec when the world’s attention is focused on Pearl Harbor, we tend to forget the date is a historical one for Singapore too for on this day 69 years ago, the island experienced her first air raid. Three hours after WWII broke out in the Pacific with the Japanese landing at Kota Bahru and two hours after their surprise attack on Pearl Harbour, seventeen Mitsubishi G3M "Type 96" naval bombers appeared over Singapore after a harrowing 1000km journey from Saigon. The attack force consisted originally of sixty odd planes from the 22nd Air Flotilla but due to foul weather (thick clouds and rough winds, thanks ah), only 30% were to reach their destination; the rest called off the mission and returned to base. Bombs fell on Seletar and Tengah aerodromes; also the heart of the city at Raffles Place and Chinatown. The predawn raid just after 4am took the city by complete surprise.

Dec 6, 2010

Cards and Canals - My Marina Bay Sands Experience

Sun and Sands
Sun and Sands

After 5 months, I decided to re-visit Marina Bay Sands in October to check out its "progress" (this integrated resort seems to be perpetually under construction, even after its official opening on 23 June 2010). In my Great Casino Report, I highlighted the long queue outside the Casino and a canal with no water in the Shoppes. Both sights were not very encouraging. After my October visit, I had a better feel of the place as more areas are now accessible after the progressive opening up. My experience in Sands can be summed up thus: cards and canals.

Nov 29, 2010

How did Bishan Junction 8 get its name?


The other day I was reading my Facebook news feed when I learnt from yg on his wall that Sheng Shiong was having a closing down sale in 10th Mile Junction before its last day on 25 Nov. In case you do not know, the quite lifeless 10th Mile Junction would be developed into another concept mall leveraging on the railway history of the area and rebranded Junction 10. As if to remind us of the scarcity of land, 338 SOHO apartments would be built above the commercial podium.

Nov 24, 2010

Our Singapore Flag with its Communal and Communist Origins

We are so used to seeing our Singapore flag – a familiar sight at our morning assembly and during national day celebrations – that we probably never stop and think about its origins. I must have been very young, probably during an eraser game or while admiring my box of flag erasers, that I became acutely aware of the similarity between our flag and Indonesia’s. The crescent moon with its religious connotation dawned on me only later when I realized the “star and crescent” as a popular symbol for Islam. I used to speculate on its origins until this evening, when I had the chance to read from one person his authoritative version of the origin.

Nov 20, 2010

A Land of Hope and Wealth from Marina Bay Sands

Marina Bay Singapore

I revisited Marina Bay Sands a month ago to find out what has changed since the last time I went in May. It was reassuring to know the casino – the raison d'être for the Integrated Resort – is still there but with less crowd. In addition more shops have opened and the canal is no longer dry. After the visit, I decided to try out a new return route. Instead of walking back to Promenade Station using the Helix Bridge, I would walk the other way to Raffles Place Station via Marina Boulevard. At One Marina Boulevard or One Raffles Quay would be an entrance to the MRT station via the underground shopping mall.

Nov 11, 2010

Missing Capsule and Missed Opportunity at the National Stadium

Kallang Sea Sports
Tranquility on the other side of Kallang Basin

Few weeks ago, I finally stopped procrastinating and set off to the National Stadium. I can’t remember the last time I had a good look at the place; my last major activity was NDP almost a decade ago as a conscript and other activities in the area – at Indoor Stadium and Tanjong Rhu – also took place many moons ago. I was not alone. The authorities also procrastinated - on the demolition of this great sporting venue. It was only 3 years later after the official closing ceremony that they started to strip the grass pitch bare and confirm the writing on the wall. Ironically I was not propelled to action by the eventual demise but a small historical event before the birth of the National Stadium.

Oct 31, 2010

National Art Gallery Open House – From where did our PM see the Cows?

City Hall and Former Supreme Court

As I stood dejected in City Hall, having missed out the goodie bag and the organized tour despite being an early bird, I resigned to fate, became my own tour guide and found my way to the Chamber. Alas, it was darkened for some architectural video screening. Then it hit me that I am now lost, wandering along the corridors of City Hall and not knowing what is my objective. At this moment, my mind recalled a photo in Dr Tan’s stamp book and instantly my interest in City Hall was re-aroused.

Oct 27, 2010

Thank You for the Stamp Book - Singapore Stamps: Anniversaries & Milestones

I decided to put off writing this until I could produce something more exciting than …. words.

Two Saturdays ago, I attended an oldies gathering at a food court. Now, if you read what yg and thimbuktu blogged about the session, it was supposed to be a soft launch for Dr Tan Wee Kiat’s new stamp book at SingPost Paya Lebar HQ. Confused? Well, turned out none of the attendees were below 50 (I was the youngest), the venue for the launch was the food court and the soft launch was actually a "soft launch" – a meeting to present autographed copies with "soft drinks" going around. That’s really funny, Dr Tan! Except that we did not order soft drinks – I had teh peng, a treat from yg and others drank mostly coffee or tea.

Oct 22, 2010

National Art Gallery Open House - Gather Moments While You May

National Art Gallery Open House

To be honest, I have not heard of the song that has in its lyrics my title for today (I’m not that old, hor). Incidentally the two most famous heritage bloggers in Singapore - Chun See and Laokokok – got their blog names from the song. Which reminds me, maybe I should change my blog to "The Memories You Left Behind" or "Do you remember, baby" to ride on the good name of the song, heh. My title was inspired by Chun See when he blogged, using the same title, about fast disappearing scenes in Queenstown. I will do the same today but for "fast disappearing scenes" in our future National Art Gallery.

Oct 16, 2010

National Art Gallery Open House - I was in the Chamber

National Art Gallery Open House

I have to admit I am not a person who likes going to art galleries, which explains why after so many years I have not stepped into the Singapore Art Museum at former SJI. However when the future National Art Gallery had its Open House last weekend, it was a different matter. Visitors like me flocked to the former Supreme Court and City Hall, not to look at artworks, but to learn about the rich history of the two grand national monuments. Quite literally the Open House was a last chance for the public to visit before the two monuments close for redevelopment into the National Art Gallery.

Oct 9, 2010

2nd Shot: The Last Tiger of Singapore

Choa Chu Kang Tiger, 1930

Since I was in school, this photo of a tiger and its hunters along a country road is a familiar one in textbooks and references on local history, used to illustrate the early days when Singapore was plagued by tiger menace. A signpost in the photo tells us it was taken at Choa Chu Kang Village. In fact if you step into Choa Chu Kang Library today, you can see it proudly displayed as a "pictorial artifact" of the new town (see here). Before the library was renovated it was displayed even more prominently, behind the information counter. After I started this blog, I took a closer look at the photo and asked myself - would I be able to do a second shot?

Sep 28, 2010

1951 Air Crash at Upper East Coast – Final Resting Place of Sergeant Pilot Howson

House #494 Upper East Coast Road
Royal Air Force clearing the debris with the family of Paul looking on in the background. (Source: NAS)

** This post is dedicated to relatives and friends of George Edmund Howson, RAF who lost his life in the Aug 1951 air crash at Upper East Coast Road.

Since my blog post on the 1951 air crash at Upper East Coast, I have received comments and emails from unexpected quarters. There was this cheery young lady Ling who live at Calypso whose friend Paul’s grandparents own the house that was almost hit by the plane. The family was delighted to read the news articles; a photo of them standing outside the house looking on at the debris clearing can be found in the archives, captured for posterity. Even more unexpectedly was a comment earlier this month from Matt who made a shocking revelation – the pilot who perished in the crash was his granduncle!

Sep 23, 2010

Lesson from Passport Terrorism - Which are our National Icons?

Singapore (biometric) passport

Earlier on, I blogged about the declining standard of our Singapore passport. Of course I don't mean the embedded technology used in the new biometric passport. Look carefully at the landmarks chosen as the backdrop for the passport page. Does the skyline (and choice of Esplanade in the foreground) remind you of Singapore in 2010?

Sep 15, 2010

Answer to Quiz (7) - A Rainforest in the Best Airport

That I found the fabled rainforest inside Changi Airport was the result of serendipity. For many years I have heard of some very unique "attractions" in our airport but never got to find out their location. Honestly, how many of us have actually made used of those world-class amenities and facilities in the best airport?

Sep 7, 2010

Acts of Terrorism in My New Passport

My Singapore Passport

What has Terrorism got to do with Passport? You see, recently I renewed my passport and I must say the online system (APPLES) has made it so convenient to renew our passport now. On collection day I dutifully presented myself at ICA and couldn't wait to lay my hands on the little red book. Finally the tangible feeling that citizenship has its benefits! On flipping the pages, I reeled back in shock and horror.

Sep 3, 2010

Yours Truly In International Conference - When Nations Remember

I am deeply honoured to be invited by NLB to speak at their international conference - When Nations Remember.

This two-day event brings together renowed international and local speakers who will share with us their work on the creation and preservation of memories. From the programme outline, day 1 will be sharing and discussion of memory-building initiatives from an institutional perspective. Day 2 will have a more local flavour where sharing and discussion will be based on personal and community perspectives.

I will be co-presenting with Chun See - local heritage blogger of Good Morning Yesterday fame - in the morning session 0900 - 0930. From 1345 - 1500, we will have an Up Close session with the audience. Our focus will be on capturing memories through blogs.

As a panel speaker, I get to participate in the different sessions - free of charge. Lunch and tea breaks are provided and there is even a conference dinner on the evening of the first day.

Though it is a conference, not all activities are conducted within the hotel. Do look out for these walking tours which participants can sign up:
  • Mad About Singapore Buses
  • How The City Built Itself
  • Kampong Nostalgia
  • Singapore Brands
  • Vanishing Sights and  Trades of Singapore
  • Behind Street Names

Aug 25, 2010

I Found a Brick at Old National Library Site

Red Brick at Old National Library

A red brick - that is what I found at the site of our old National Library in June this year. After massive redevelopment - behold, a black hole is born - might even a brick from the building survive the wholesale destruction of the site?

** The brick was discovered - moist - on the grass slope lining the tunnel just beside the car park. Apparently the soil under it was not exposed to sunlight due to the thick foliage. I kicked the brick down onto ground level so you guys and gals can have a good look. Hope it is still there.

Aug 22, 2010

Putting Heritage Right at Old National Library Site

Ruins of Old National Library

Since the demise of the Old National Library in 2004, I have read many netizens reminisce about our national icon; the more nostalgic ones even blogged about their pilgrimage to its ruins - a pair of wretched red pillars standing forlorn on the grassy patch. Finally in 2010 the turn came for me to make the pilgrimage. As I trampled up and down on what was once Stamford Road, comparing what I read with what I was seeing, my mind just kept screaming - bo ko leng, bo ko leng, this cannot be the second shot.

Aug 14, 2010

2nd Shot: Two Shots of Stamford Road MPH Junction

Junction of Stamford Road and Armenian Street
Original photo c. 1950

It is not very often that you get to attempt two shots of the same location. My search for places in old photographs brought me to this cross junction where (surprise!) we meet our old friend Stamford Canal again.

Aug 3, 2010

A Most Noteworthy Relic at War Memorial Park

Source: Google Street View

Can you see that? Imagine for a moment you are driving from Esplanade Dr. to Nicoll Highway. As the Chopstick Memorial loomed before you on your left, shift your eyes to that inconspicuous brick wall underneath the tree (hint: yellow arrow in Google Street View). What is that?

Jul 25, 2010

2nd Shot: Stamford Canal Uncovered

Swissotel Stamford

The arrows flew and the nation was treated to some superb archery display, for they seem to hit everybody and everything else except the archer. Finally, their choice of targets exhausted, the arrows made their way back to Stamford Canal. Two months of amazing tai-chi solid investigative work and the conclusion, sobering.

Jul 20, 2010

2nd Shot: Where's the tree outside National Museum?

National Museum, 1890s

For over a century, the National Museum stand guard at the junction of Stamford and Orchard Road and bear witness to the changes in her surrounding. While geography has not changed - the building sitting at the foot of Fort Canning Hill and embraced by the gentle downslope curl of Fort Canning Road - a significant landmark visible in the old photo has gone missing.

Jul 15, 2010

Why is there an underpass in a subterranean mall, why CityLink is built the way it is

Even today, 10 years after CityLink Mall's opening in July 2000, I still have that magical feeling strolling along Singapore's first subterranean mall. It seems pretty amazing to me from City Hall MRT Station, you can enter a passageway and somehow end up at Suntec City. I have never tried to orientate myself to the world outside and wonder what is actually above us everytime I follow the crowd blindly to my destination. A pity, as we can make some pretty interesting observations from the way CityLink is built.

Jul 8, 2010

2nd Shot: Old Man and Old Mayfair Hotel

Armenian Street 1980
Source: NAS

A lot of "second shot" has to do with the right timing and opportunity. The other day I chanced upon the above photo and wondered whether a second shot was still possible. As usual NAS does not tell us where exactly the photo was taken, only at Armenian Street. Singapore Infopedia gives only cursory mention of Mayfair City Hotel (visible in the photo) in its article on Armenian Street, which does not add much information.

Jul 3, 2010

Where exactly was the Infamous Toilet in Bugis Street?

Bugis Street Toilet 1980
Source: NAS

In typical Singlish, "happening" would be too mild a word to describe Bugis Street. Back in the good o'days, before the squeaky clean cobblestoned Bugis Junction was bequeathed to us, 'Boogie Street' was known for the food, booze, transvestites and most dramatic of all, a fiery performance on top of a stinky public toilet.

Jun 28, 2010

2nd Shot: Raffles Scouts Cross Stamford Canal

1971 Raffles Scout over Stamford Canal
Source: NAS

Stamford Canal was in the limelight recently for the wrong reason. A blocked culvert at its Orchard section caused an unprecedented flooding in the area, the most serious in 26 years since 1984. The waterway that begins its life somewhere in Tanglin and ends when water is discharged into Marina Barrage is one hell of a beast but we are not here today to help the ministries pass the buck.

Jun 22, 2010

A Jungle before the Merlion Claimed One Fullerton?

While the oldies are busy with the quiz on the north bank, I will blog about the Merlion on the other side of the Singapore River. I have blogged about this mythical creature aka 'mascot of Singapore' before, when it was struck by lightning. The topic today is nothing fishy and I promise it will be short.

Jun 17, 2010

Amazing Red Dot Quiz (7) - Where can you share a toilet with the opposite sex?


This is scandalous. Few days ago, I found a toilet that is actually .... unisex! I am not joking. Look at the photo. This is not your typical dirty kopitiam cubicle; I am talking about a first-class lavatory with showering and "business" facilities.

Jun 10, 2010

Amazing Red Dot Quiz (6) - What's UOB up to?

To quote from UOB website:

United Overseas Bank (“UOB”) was incorporated on 6 August 1935 as the United Chinese Bank. Founded by Datuk Wee Kheng Chiang, the Bank catered mainly to the Fujian community in its early years. The change of name was effected in 1965. Over the past 75 years, UOB has grown from strength to strength. Through a series of acquisitions, it is now a leading bank in Asia.

Jun 5, 2010

The Great Casino Report (First Visit to Marina Bay Sands)

Marina Bay Sands from Bayfront Bridge

I was getting impatient. Since Resorts World Sentosa opened its door in January, my Facebook has been inundated with photos taken in the integrated resort (IR). Uploaded by my female friends, they show the girls having fun at Singapore's first IR and gosh, how you wish you were there with them as well. Unfortunately none of them checked out the most important attraction and I am not referring to the theme park.

May 24, 2010

A People's Farewell for Dr Goh

Flags at Half-Mast

Over 18,000 people paid their respect to our late Deputy Prime Minister Dr Goh Keng Swee in Parliament House over the weekend. Young and old, male and female; some even wept. While not part of the multitude, I paid my respect in another way. On Sunday, I gave our great architect a silent farewell outside Parliament House.

May 20, 2010

The Passing of our Great Architect

Goh Keng Swee Pulau Samulun
Photo credit: PICAS

The news got across to me in a most unusual way. I guess most people came to know the demise of our great architect through the local radio, TV or newspaper. If you are tech-savvy your source could be Twitter. Not for me. I did not receive the news from the local media, or internet.

May 2, 2010

I Helped Old Ladies Find Their Way in Chinatown!

Photo credit: Google Street View

The incident happened this afternoon at Hong Lim Complex. I was about to cross over to China Square Central when a middle-age voice asked the group of youths behind me for direction. The inquiry was done in Mandarin. The youths, also Mandarin-speaking, were clueless about her destination. I was already halfway up the stairs to the overhead bridge (see cover photo) but chivalry got the better of me. Determined to save the damsels in distress (old ladies, not the youths), I rose to the occasion. What was the inquiry?

Apr 24, 2010

Why are they facing the same direction in the Bangkok metro?

Photo credit: Demotix

While not a frequent tourist to Thailand, I'm glad that the few times I was there, there was no visible trouble from the red or yellow shirts. To be held hostage in Bangkok airport for eight days (just because you jumped in at the 0 dollars promotion from budget airlines) must have been an excruciating affair; in December 2008 how you wished you were holidaying in Europe instead. After my overland exploration in January, Thailand is now low on my radar so I'm not overly concerned about the security situation in Bangkok. When I heard troops were deployed in Silom to prevent the Reds taking over the area, however, that caught my attention.

Apr 17, 2010

Second Shot from a Malaysian Magazine

Hi it is me. I'm back from hiatus. Last weekend in Malaysia, I spotted this interesting magazine at the news-stand in Dang Wangi Station. The cover was enough to send my heart racing. It could not have been more coincidental, as the day before I was at the same place in the cover doing .... research. I gave the unwrapped magazine a flip and was sold on this RM5 copy.

Mar 29, 2010

Tongue Twister Road Names of Simei, the Four Beauties Revisited

Artist's impression of the four classical beauties

After I blogged about the toponymy of Simei here and here, a journalist from U Weekly emailed me about his work on the same topic. It is no coincidence that Jin and I are both males and interested in the four renowned beauties of ancient China who gave the estate its name. His work never came to fruition unfortunately and I lost the chance to read a more professional presentation on the topic. Thankfully Jin shared with me his research and tipped me on two most important piece of information.

Mar 24, 2010

The Old East Coast (3) - On the Seashore in front of 23 Amber Road

23 Amber Road (Photo credit: Google Street View)

You know what? While rummaging through my hard drive last week, I finally found my precious photos taken in June 2007 behind Butterfly House. Yay!

Mar 19, 2010

The Old East Coast (2) - Remains of Cemetery "Kubor Lansam" at Siglap

Remains of Kubor Lansam at Jalan Sempadan

It is the occassional chinese tomb in the wild that gets reported while not much is written about their Muslim counterparts. Hence I was delighted when Siew Min alerted me to a pair of solitary Muslim tombs in Siglap area.

Mar 10, 2010

2nd Shot: The MacDonald House Bombing, 45 Years Later

MacDonald House Bombing, 1965

March 10 is the 45th anniversary of the MacDonald House Bombing. In our Singapore annals of terrorism this attack is the worst, claiming three innocent civilian lives and injuring even more people. Windows were shattered, cars were damaged; MacDonald House itself suffered $250,000 in bomb damage. For most post-65er, the bombing remains our only impression of Konfrontasi. My other impression is that some of our fathers were drafted into the vigilante corps to "beat the rats" (or something like that). The more I read about the incident in textbooks and articles, the more I am intrigued about one aspect of the account - where exactly did the bomb explode?

Mar 4, 2010

The Old East Coast (1) - Original Fence Wall at Nallur Road

Original Fence Wall, Elliot Walk

Collecting ang pow and stuffing yourself silly with bak kwa or pineapple tarts are traditional New Year activities for youngsters. The more "outgoing" ones may visit the Istana and Museum for free during the annual Open House. I was more "outrageous", visiting the ex-cemetery at Jalan Tanah Puteh which I blogged about here, to Victor's bewilderment. On the same day I also visited Marine Parade, to begin my search for the original coastline of East Coast, Singapore.

Feb 28, 2010

Cemetery no more at Jalan Tanah Puteh

Ex Muslim Cemetery @ Jalan Tanah Puteh

In land-scarce Singapore, exhumation is the norm and not exception for cemeteries. Post independence, tracts of cemeteries were cleared and what was once house for the dead became home for the living. The clearing is ongoing and gone will be for my subject of fascination. On Day 2 of Chinese New Year, I visited one such plot, where headstones could still be seen some months ago.

Feb 23, 2010

Chilli Crab and Palm Trees from Palm Beach Seafood

Chilli Crab from Roland Restaurant

I had a reunion dinner of sorts late last month. Call that premature but since Ah Tiong had to return home for Chinese New Year, it was then or never. It was a double occasion as Ah Tiong got his pay increment and to ride on his happiness give the team a treat, I suggested we have the celebratory dinner at Roland Restaurant.

Feb 19, 2010

On the Quest for Immortality at the National Museum

Quest for Immortality Banner

NHB had the customary Chinese New Year Open House on Tuesday, which marked the end of the long weekend Chinese New Year holidays. While people were stuffing themselves silly with bak kwa, pineapple tarts and their pocket with red packets, I took to the streets on Monday and Tuesday brandishing my camera ready for action mission. I had a "field day" looking for trees, walls, buildings and cemeteries. The National Museum I visited with this mentality, that the imaginary crowd were still chewing on their tarts at home.

Feb 11, 2010

2nd Shot: Air Crash at Upper East Coast Road

Air Crash, Upper East Coast Road, 1951

The Singapore Airshow at Changi Exhibition Centre drew 71,000 people over the weekend. Many must have came for the heart-stopping flying displays by the display teams. Unfortunately, this year's displays were a letdown as they featured mainly single aircraft. On Thursday, an aerial display was aborted in front of hundreds of trade visitors after safety was breached - The T-50 Golden Eagle's flight this afternoon was observed to have infringed the safety boundaries and the pilot was instructed to terminate his flying display as a precaution.

At $20 a ticket, the air show was not a free event of course. Now imagine you could watch one free outside your home. Some East Coast Road residents had this "privilege" in 1951, of seeing an aircraft performing aerial stunts over their house. Unfortunately the "performance" did not end with applause nor disappointment, but shock and horror as the aircraft ended in scattered debris with fatalities.

Jan 30, 2010

Left or Right for the Toilet?

The first leg of my "Singapura to Chiang Mai by Train" ended at Kuala Lumpur 1500 hours. The plan was to change into another set of clothing for the afternoon exploration before the next leg up Padang Besar by night train. Unfortunately it was public holiday (Jan 1) and the station shower room "tutup" (closed). So where can I change and do my business comfortably?

Jan 27, 2010

From Singapura to Chiang Mai by Train

Singapura Station
Chiang Mai Station

The year got off to a good start at the promontory. The spectators were treated to a dazzling display of fireworks ushering in the new year, cheering and filming as the pyrotechnic display danced to the music accompaniment. For most revellers, celebration ended after the fireworks, or at dawn, when they hit the hay. Back in my room, I poured over the last bit of data and finished the final preparation. For me, celebration had only just begun.

Dawn is approaching in 2 hours. I have better use the remaining time to catch a wink. Hit the hay. The date now is 1 Jan 2010 and I have a mission at 6am.

Jan 18, 2010

The Pod and The Plaza

Photo credit: jugalbandi

Where can you find a pod in Singapore? How about a pizza plaza?