Saturday, December 30, 2006

Ice Balls

One thing about operating a nostalgia blog like Good Morning Yesterday is that sometimes it is very difficult to help my younger readers visualize what I am talking about without pictures. A good example is the ice balls that we enjoyed as kids. Both my friend Victor and I have blogged about it earlier.

Last week, whilst visiting my in-laws in Ipoh, I spotted a roadside vendor selling chendol using the first generation ice shaver that Victor blogged about here. I immediately stopped my car by the roadside and bought 2 packets of chendol from him whilst my son, who happened to be with me fired away on his new Canon EOS400. I am pleased to share a few of the photos with you today.

Photo No. 1 – This vendor was selling chendol from a tricycle along Jalan Bunga Raya in Ipoh.

Ice shaver (4)

Photo No. 2 – A close-up of the first generation ice shaver.

Ice shaver (7)

Photo No. 3 – Can you make out the details of the price list which our friend has pinned on the tree behind him. Apparently, he has ‘choped’ this particular spot for his business. This is what it says:

Cendol Malaysia

1 Packet Cendol: RM1.20
1 Mangkuk Cendol: RM1.20
1 Packet Cendol campur Pulut: RM1.50
1 Pulut: RM0.30
Terima Kasih … K. Idrus

Ice shaver (8)

Photo No. 4 – Using 2 hands, he slides the block of ice back and forth over a blade mounted to the base. The right hand holds a wooden block with nails to grip the ice and the left hand restrains the ice to prevent it from slipping out of position.

Ice shaver (10)

Photo No. 5 -
Notice how rusty the nails are. I have a confession to make here. I took 2 sips of the chendol and discarded them when I got home; knowing that neither my son nor I have the same resilient stomach that I had from my kampong days. My older brother Chun Chew (Zen) will be able to testify to what an upset stomach can do to your holidays.

Photo No. 6 – This is a 2nd generation ice shaver. I took this photo in June 2006 along Jalan Pasir Puteh, Ipoh.

Ice shaver (1)

Related post: Our Kampong

Thursday, December 28, 2006

More On Bartley Secondary School - Lam Chun Chew


Before I enrolled in Bartley, the school had a gangster problem. When I started study in the school, this problem seemed to have dissipated, thanks to the enforcement of discipline by our fierce principal Mr Jesu. He would not hesitate to call for the police if he knew any of his students took part in this nefarious activity.

A case in point. One of my primary school mates named Ah Leng, a Hainanese boy, whose father owned a coffee stall in our kampong, was misguided into a secret society. In fact he was a smart boy doing well in the primary school and when posted to Bartley, things changed. He was caught by the principal for taking part in a gang fight outside school and was referred to the police, ending his school career in a most unfortunate way. Later on, when I was working in the port, one day a stevedore called me: “Lam – how are you?” I turned around, and to my surprise, I found my long-lost friend, Ah Leng calling me. Imagine; a bright kid with a good future before him had turned into a hardened labourer, eking out for a living .. to hell with organised crime!

Me (extreme left) and some of my buddies trying our best to look 'cool' and macho.


One of our most colourful Indian graduate teachers was my Physics teacher, Mr Chettiar. He graduated from Travancore U, southern India, with a science degree. A tall, bespectacled and skinny guy with a moustache, he had a very boring dress sense. He liked to wear white long sleeve shirts, with white pants to match, throughout the year, with an occasional switch to grey trousers.

Mr Chettiar, I must say, was a benign teacher. When he got angry with naughty students, he would grimace, raising his right hand high, pretending to execute a karate chop, not quite reaching the culprit’s neck, causing a ruckus in the process. When coming to his lesson, he was like being charged with a megawatt of energy, moving swiftly from one end of the black board to the other. Just to quote one incident during his physic lesson, acting like an Indian Enstein explaining a theory of the universe, he would enthusiastically expound with a heavy Indian accent : “angalar aaxe + angalar wwhy (angle x + angle y) ….and so on and so forth…One board of calculation not enough, he rubbed off, starting another full black-board of calculations, and finally the answer. Meanwhile, I was in twilight zone. One of my class’ smartest chaps, P Chiew sprang up and said: “Mr Chettiar, I think there is a shorter cut to find the answer!” Mr Chettiar: “Oh, is it. Come and do it on the board”. P Chiew went to the black board and wrote out all the calculations and out popped the answer, done only with half a black board. Mr Chettiar felt embarrassed, and unsmilingly said: “Well the calculation is short, but still quite misleading; and worse not clear!” The class became very quiet after this.

Another lady bespectacled Indian teacher named Mrs Bess, was really a beauty, as pretty as a Bollywood star. She taught us English in the lower form. A very quiet, dignified, composed person who drew plenty of unwanted attention from the male population, especially from the Indian teachers. There was another short, very good looking lady teacher (Chinese) who drove a sport car to work (forgot her name), who one day requested a mini library behind the class-room, so as to improve our English. At once Mr Jesu granted her wish without much query. It was rumoured that this lady was from Penang and was formerly working in an airline. To the disappointment of everyone, she taught only for a short period and left the school.

Indeed there were many stories of my school, but I would like to stop here, and for further inputs, I would like to fill them up in the comments section.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

On the Buses – Brian Mitchell

I found Chun See’s excellent blog through the links at Memories of Singapore and its pictures of Changi Village and Upper Changi Road - taken near Toh Drive where I lived in the early 1960s when my father was stationed at the then RAF Changi airbase. He kindly invited me as a UK friend of Singapore to contribute.

A Stretch of Upper Changi Road near Toh Crescent and Toh Drive today.

What struck me about the pictures of Upper Changi Road was how quiet the road looked – and there were no buses! In the 1960s Upper Changi Road was the main route between Changi Village and the City and buses flew down it every few minutes at busy times.

And what buses they were! They were old and well used, rattled like mad and travelled with all the windows down – and that was just as well because they had shaken and rattled so much that the window glass had gone crazed and was opaque, nothing could be seen through them!

Those buses were the main means of transport for me and my friends – no Mass Transit system existed in those days. We would wait on Upper Changi Road for our frequent trips to the Village and the airbase swimming pool. Suddenly a bus would fly over the brow of the hill near Changi prison – and it might be more than one, they seemed to race each other and sometimes arrived in groups. Then we would rush onto the hard seats and spend the journey sliding around and hanging on as the bus flew onwards.

There are two other things I always recall about those buses – if you travelled at night you might see the biggest cockroaches ever. And then there were the bus tickets. Well the tickets need explaining - they were small coloured card tickets and they had numbers on them. Being teenage boys we had a game with those numbers – add up the digits and if they came to a special number, like 18 or 21, then you were in luck with your girlfriend - I won’t go into more detail! I wonder if similar games go on today.

So what are the buses like today? Air-conditioned and cockroach free? Driven carefully, with comfortable seats and with no rattles? I would be interested to hear from today’s Singaporeans.

Brian Mitchell

Footnote: Thank you and a big welcome to Brian for sharing this story from the 1960's. We look forward to more stories from him. Thanks also to Peter Tan for the photo below of 1960’s bus tickets of the Paya Lebar Bus Company. Notice the interesting way of writing "5 cents" in Chinese – Lam Chun See.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Bartley Secondary School – Lam Chun Chew

Many schools in Singapore are named after the place in which they are located. Whitley Secondary, River Valley, Dunearn, Naval Base, Bukit Merah are just a few examples. The strange thing is that, many of these schools have been relocated to other places, so much so that their names no longer reflect their geographical locations. Whitley Secondary School is a good example. It used to be located at the junction of Whitley Road and Dunearn Road. However, it was shifted to Bishan some years back and the land is now occupied by the Singapore Chinese Girls School. Another example is its neighbour, Swiss Cottage Secondary School which was shifted to Bukit Batok.

Recently I passed by Bartley Road and found that a great deal of construction was taking place at the location where my alma mater, Bartley Secondary School used to stand. They are constructing a new MRT station there. I thought to myself - Bartley is probably going to suffer the same fate as Whitley and Swiss Cottage, by being relocated to one of the HDB housing estates and thus losing its historical character. Later, I was relieved to learn that Bartley was only shifted ‘next door’ to Jalan Bunga Rampai.

I take this opportunity to share with you about my days in this school.


This is a 1960 photo of our class, Sec 4A. I am standing on the extreme right. Behind us is the Gurkha camp at Mt Vernon. To see a clearer version, please click on it to go to the Flickr.

Bartley Secondary School was born in the same year as my younger brother Chun See; 1952. It was named after a British Government Official, and started as a co-ed school with 81 boys and 10 girls. The girls left in 1956 to join the all-girls Cedar Secondary School a stone’s throw away. My sister Pat is from Cedar, incidentally.

Like the rest of my siblings, I went to Braddell Rise School in my primary school. But from 1957 to 1960, I attended Bartley Secondary School. Although my father was an old boy of ACS, he did not send me there. I do not know why. But all my 3 younger brothers went to ACS in secondary school. Maybe it was too far, and thus transport cost was too high at that time.

The first two years I spent in Bartley were my happiest because most of the time I indulged in seeing my school soccer team, led by Quah Kim Siak (Quah Kim Song’s elder brother) beat the daylights out of other secondary schools. The school also had a very dedicated gymnastics teacher – Mr Loo. Even weaker students under his charge could perform simple basic gymnastics such as head-stand, parallel bars swings, jumping over the vault-horse, whilst stronger students were able to perform advanced gymnastics.

Our school also pioneered the National Police Cadet Corps with the first unit being established in 1959. It was founded by a teacher by the name of Bobby Kway, who later joined PSA, the Port of Singapore Authority as a senior officer. (Any young people below 30 can tell me the old name of PSA?)

The school had many Indian graduate teachers with colourful personalities, including the principal. Among the teachers, we had a Chinese maths teacher who was an expert magician (more about him later), a Caucasian Geography teacher, a motherly Chinese language teacher and others. This school also had a fair share of naughty boy students with girls confined only in the two Pre-U classes.

My main idea of writing this article is to encourage other senior bloggers to share their nostalgic experience of their alma maters.

……. to be continued.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Disgraceful Singaporeans

I was at the Grand Blue Wave Hotel in Johor Bahru this morning to deliver a paper at the (Malaysian) National Productivity Corporation's Regional 5S Convention. 5S is the Japanese technique of Good Housekeeping and Workplace Organisation.

I spoke about how to utilise 5S as a tool for continuous improvement or 'kaizen' at the workplace. I took the opportunity to share with the delegates about my trainining in Japan.

The photo below was taken in 1985 at a plant called Aisin Seiki in Nishio, a company that manufactures brake pumps for Toyota Motors. I am standing, 3rd from the right. There were altogether 6 of us Singaporeans. The rest are the company's staff and interpreters. We were attached to Aisin Seiki for 2 weeks. This attachment was part of our three-and-a-half months fellowship training at the Japan Productivity Center. Would you believe that we are at a rock garden right in the middle of the factory. The factory was so clean that it was a 'shock' for us Singaporeans.

Anyway, as I was leaving the hotel, I came across a disgusting sight in the car park. Somebody had discarded several used HDB/URA car park coupons on the floor. I presume the culprit was a Singaporean, although there is a slight possibility that he could be a Johorean who works (and drives) in Singapore. I hope none of the delegates at the convention saw this because if they did, I would be their chief suspect. Imagine what they would be saying to themselves. "This hypocritical Singaporean. Dare to come to our country and preach to us about how to keep the workplace neat and clean ......."

Come to think of it, I should have picked up the rubbish. I wish I had.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Mystery Solved

Remember this quiz question I posed 1 year ago asking you to identify this plant which supplied Chuck with bullets for his toy gun?.


Thanks of my friend Dr Tan Wee Kiat and his friend Joseph Lai, I have found the answer. It is known as Thunbergia Fragrans, common name White Lady or Angel Wings. In Chinese it is 碗花草。 This is what Wee Kiat informed me through email:

"Incidentally, there are 2 members of this family of plants that I come across frequently. One is at Blk 60 playground, off Bedok Avenue 3 near Bedok View Secondary School. The other, a very extensive one, is hanging all along the fence, off the ECP at Tanjong Rhu. This where they are now building the Fort Road end of the Kallang - Paya Lebar Expressway which connects with the PIE ."

Another mystery is this one.


Chuck was told by the gardener that it was used to catch crickets. They put some chemical in the pail to attract the crickets.

So it’s 2 down and 1 more to go. So far no one could solve the mystery of these strange fruits.

Strange Fruit (2)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Cool Speak

The other day, I received an interesting email from an officer with the National Heritage Board asking for permission to quote a line from my earlier article, Blogging For Seniors, for one of their publications. The line in question says … "Blogging is cool. It helps us to connect with the younger generation."

Re-reading my article, I began to see why they should be amused at the unusual language used by this 54-year old. I realize that at the time I wrote the article, the adjective ‘cool’ came naturally to me. I guess it is due to my frequent interaction with my teenage children and their cousins. For example, my 14-year old daughter’s verbal vocabulary of adjectives virtually consists of two words only – cool and lame.

I remember a remark she once made when she heard that I had more than 100 hits a day in blog: “Wah, so cool.”

While on the subject of being 'cool', I think what one of the so-called P65 MP’s, Mr. Hri Kumar said in parliament makes a lot of sense

“We do not need to dress down or dance to a younger beat – younger and older Singaporeans did not elect us because of our fashion sense or the fact that we can party at Zouk. We are and must always be the party with the broader mind, the better argument, the creative solution, the inclusive policies and the bigger heart. Let others pretend they are cool and hip. Let us show the difference between smart and not. Between qualified and not. Between honest and not. We may not be cool in the eyes of the youth, and we should not act like we are. But I believe that if they see us as determined, intelligent and sincere people, little else will matter. “

If that's the case, I hope they, the post65 MP’s are ‘intelligent’ enough not to go ahead with that foolish idea to dance the hip-hop in Chingay 2007.

Photo courtesy of : young grasshopper

Breaking News

I think my friend Chris would love this one.


  • He was only 19.

  • He shared Clooney's Hollywood Hills home, and sometimes, his bed.

  • He died "peacefully" of natural causes.

  • Clooney gained custody of the porker 18 years ago, after breaking up with his then live-in girlfriend Kelly Preston, who is now married to actor John Travolta.

  • The actor said that Max (the pig) was his longest relationship.

  • He said, "I think Max covered all my pig needs."

As for me, my 'pig needs' would include this one.


Picture courtesy of: Geminio

Max, say hello to Mellow, my children's pet rooster. He is coming to 6 and still going strong.

Chicks13 2001-02-04

Friday, December 01, 2006

Another Story Our Mother Told Us

(Left: 1951 photo of our mother with my brother David)

My brother Chun Chew recalls another story ....

Once there was a poor scholar by the name of Lui Man Chui who sold vegetable for a living in Guangzhou. He lived with his childless young wife, in a run-down hut. During the New Year festive season, Lui was in dire financial straits, and was unable to make ends meet. However, he still decided to bring festive cheer to his wife by buying a piece of pork from a certain butcher to celebrate the occasion. Having no money he intended to purchase the piece of pork on credit. The butcher was not around at that time. His assistant took pity on Lui's and allowed him to purchase on credit. So Lui happily went home to surprise his wife with the purchase and the wife did cook up a delicious meat soap dish but without rice to go with.

Meantime, the butcher returned to his stall and found out that his assistant had sold Lui the piece of pork on credit - flew into a terrible rage, scolded his assistant profusely, at the same time marching out to Lui's home. The poor couple were about to consume the soup with the meat, and in came the butcher shouting: "How dare you eat my piece of pork without payment !"

He snatched the piece of pork out of the bowl of soup and hastily rushed out of the hut, but an evil thought struck him - "Hey, wait a minute. I may have retrieved the meat but these two hungry idiots still have soup to drink Really enjoying ha!"

He returned to the hut, marched up to the couple's prayer altar and scooped up some incense ash from the altar incense holder and splashed it into the soup, leaving the poor couple speechless.

Lui was so humiliated that he vowed that should he acquire power one day, he would settle score with this 'sub-human'. Later on, Lui did pass the imperial examination and was promoted to a magistrate in Guangzhou. He returned to his home town with pomp and pageantry, but his wife had already starved to death in the hut - that was why there is a Cantonese saying: "Let your wife starve to death and stench the whole house".

Lui was inflamed with hatred and soon rounded up all the town butchers. He passed a decree that all butchers had to chain one leg to their stall in the course of doing their business, thus making their lives difficult.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Traditional Food Packaging

I was at the Ayer Rajah Food Centre yesterday afternoon when I spotted a Fried Hokkien Prawn Noodle stall selling their noodle wrapped in opeh leaves. I have not seen this for ages and so I promptly bought a packet even though I wasn't hungry.

In our kampong days, most food were packaged in leaves. The most popular were the banana leaf, the simpoh air leaf and opeh leaf. Others included the coconut and pandan leaf. Whilst banana leaf is still quite commonly used today for foods like nasi lemak and otah the other two are quite rare. In the old days, banana leaves were often used to hold slabs of tofu in the market. But they seemed to have stopped this practice.

The Simpoh air (also spelt ayer) leaf was also known as the te-bak-heok or 'pork leaf' in Hokkien, according to my friend Chuck. In the old days, so he claims, pork was often sold in the markets wrapped in this leaf. Frankly, this fact is new to me. I only remember it being used to pack rojak and chee cheong fun. They would fold the leaf into a conical cup shape and hold the edges together with a tooth pick. In my kampong, there used to be a rojak stall at the coffee shop opposite our house. As a kid, I enjoyed watching the hawker prepare the rojak. As for chee cheong fun, every time I eat this snack, I think of our kampong days. Sometimes, we would tell the hawker; "si yao suk yao" in Cantonese, meaning we do not want the sweet sauce; just plain light sauce and oil will do. Of course, we wanted lots of sesame seeds sprinkled on it.

I do not know why this leave is no longer used nowadays. There are so many such plants all over our island. Chuck thinks that it is because of cost. I suspect it is due to hygiene reasons. I hope somebody can enlighten us.

As for the Opeh leaf, it is often used to wrap takeaway fried foods like kuey teow, carrot cake and also chui kueh. I really miss this particular style of packing. Nowadays they use waxed paper like the one below. Somehow, fried kuey teow seems to taste better when wrapped in opeh leaf. I read here that the leaf infuses its contents with a subtle, woody fragrance that enhances its taste. No wonder the hawker who sold me the hokkien noodle told me to wait about 15 to 20 minutes before eating it. In any case, because our sense of smell is associated with memory, the smell of the opeh leave brings back fond memories of our kampong days and adds to the eating experience. The hawker also told me that he got his supplies from Indonesia. He complained that it was quite expensive, each piece costing 40 to 45 cents.

As for the fire for frying, of course nowadays, they use gas cookers. But I have been told that kuey teow fried with wood fire tastes better. I wonder if there is any truth or merely psychological.

In the picture above, the hawker had used a rubber band to bind the packet of noodles. In the old days, they used a kind of reed or straw to tie the packet. No plastic bags were issued. You just hook your finger around the loop and carried the packet. I remember those happy evenings when my father bought back packets of fried hor fun dangling from his fingers this way. I believe this same type of reed/straw was used to tie bak changs (rice dumplings) but of course these days, it is replaced by a raffia string.

In addition to the use of leaves for packaging, paper was often used to wrap food. The most common of course was newspaper, which wasn't very healthy I suppose. The other one that comes to mind is the exercise book pages which was used to pack kacang puteh.

These dead leaves from the row of palm tree outside my office block certainly look like the opeh; but I don't suppose they are they same, are they?

Why Seniors Should Blog

Yesterday, myself and Ivan, another Friend of, gave a talk about blogging to a group of more than 100 senior citizens at the Queenstown Community Library. We want to thank the participants for their warm response and we do apologise for any shortcomings in our presentations.

As Ivan and two other 'Friends of', Victor and Walter have already blogged about this event (
here, here and here) I will not go into the details again. What I would like to do instead, is to report on what I covered in my presentation.


The aim of our talk was basically to encourage the seniors to take up blogging as a means of sharing their stories of Singapore's past. My part was to share my own experience, as one of the oldest bloggers in Singapore in starting Good Morning Yesterday, whilst Ivan gave a demonstration on the basics of blogging.

Essentially I touched on four points.

1) Why I started Good Morning Yesterday
2) The Stuff I blog about
3) The challenges I faced in blogging
4) The satisfaction I derived from blogging.

These 2 senior gentlemen arrived half an hour before the commencement time and sat in the front row.

I also spoke about why seniors should blog.

1) We have more stories to tell.

In his 2006 National Rally Speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong exhorted senior members of our society to share their stories with the young. "Keep alive the Singapore story", he said, "Celebrate our heroes and remember the good times and hard times we’ve been through together ... Our young generation need to know the heart of the Singapore story and understand how we got here ... Parents and grandparents play an important role. You provide the links to our past. Pass down the stories, emotions, and values to your children and grandchildren."

I say, what better way to do this than through blogging. As Kenneth Pinto, another Friend of, put it so succintly in his blog, "The personal is powerful. The personal is as valid a history as any textbook, perhaps even more so."

2) We, at least some of us, have more time.

3) We can write better. Most of us have decades of experience in expressing ourselves in English. Many have gone through the old fashioned but tested rigours of learning English, and are more disciplined in its proper usage.

4) Blogging is good for our brains. Health experts have found that exercise is the best way to keep our brains healthy and beat back the effects of ageing. Blogging involves the exercise of the brain in 3 ways. Firstly, writing is a strenuous mental exercise. So is digging up all those memories of long ago events. And it involves learning many new things with the computer and internet.

5) Bloggin is "cool". It helps us to connect with the younger generation. It helps to bridge the so called 'digital divide'.

6) Everyone's doing it. So why not we seniors.

7) It's Fun. After more than a year of doing it, I can testify to that.

8) It can even be profitable. It is not unkown for bloggers to make some money through advertisement and sponsorships on their blogs ... well maybe not much in a small country like Singapore, but who can tell.



I concluded my section by asking the participant to do at least one of the following 3 things. If possible, start your own blog and post your stories there. If that is too much of a hassle, then send your articles to or Good Morning Yesterday and we will gladly publish it for you on our blogs, as what I have been doing for some of my friends. At the very minimum, visit our blogs and share your short stories and annecdotes in the comments section.

Friday, November 24, 2006

A Story Our Mother Told Us

I heard some discussion on radio 938Live this morning about family values and filial piety and that sort of thing. I am reminded of a story my brother, Chun Chew posted in the comments section of one of my earlier posts about Cheng Meng. In case some of you missed it, I reproduce it here.

Tomorrow I am giving a talk to the senior citizens at Queenstown Library about blogging. I intend to tell them that one of the aims of this blog is to educate the young about Singapore of yesteryears. I guess no harm in sneaking in a bit of moral education.

Once upon a time, there was this unfilial farmer who often beat up his aged mother at his whim and fancy, especially when she brought his lunch (food) to him late.

One day the farmer saw a mother goat suckling her kid. The baby kid had to kneel down in order to suckle the milk from her. This incident made him reflect on his atrocious behavior towards his mother. So when his mother came to serve him lunch the next day, he rushed forward, this time thinking of assisting her. The mother on seeing her son running towards her, mistakenly thought that the son was again going to beat her up for being late, panicked and fell into a pond, and drowned. The farmer was so remorseful over his misdeed that he mourned over his mother's grave for three years.

The moral of the lesson is that we should be filial while our parents are alive and not to regret after their passing. Here's our mother's favourite quote:



- Confucius

"Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be prolonged upon the land ... " - The 5th Commandment, Exodus 20:12

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Places I Remember (4) – Lorong Chuan

Last week, I was rummaging through my old things, searching in vain for my father’s birth certificate and citizen certificate to donate to the National Heritage Board. But to my delight, I found 2 long-lost photographs of Lorong Chuan where I grew up in. These photos are especially valuable as they are amongst the few that do not have people posing for the camera. As I have explained before, in the old days, it was considered a waste of film to take pictures of places and things.
And so I take this opportunity to tell you a little about what Lorong Chuan was like in the 1960’s. I hope some of the residents living in the many HDB apartments and private condominiums along Lorong Chuan, as well as the children at the St Gabriel’s Primary School are reading this blog. The younger ones would be surprised to see what Lorong Chuan was like in the 1960's

Did you know that Lorong Chuan was quite picturesque in those kampong days? Of course it was surrounded by mainly farmland then. There was one particular stretch close to where the present St Gabriel’s Primary School stands, where there were some ponds. At the edge of the ponds were rows of trellises covered with climbers like cucumbers and gourds. In Cantonese, we called them ‘chit kua pang’. It was quite beautiful really. There was a certain rustic charm alike to those you sometimes see in old Taiwanese romantic movies. And so, when we bought our first camera, a Kodak Brownie camera, we headed down to this place to take some photos which I will share with you here.

Left – My sister Pat, aged around 17 or 18. Can you see the rows of trellises and some palm trees in the background. Right – Siew Tin, her best friend from Cedar Girls School. Would you believe after more than 4 decades, they are still in contact with each other. Indeed, blessed are the ties that bind.

On the left is the same bus stop where our dog Napie was knocked down and killed by a car. Directly facing this bus stop was one of two dirt tracks that led to our kampong, Lorong Kinchir. As you can see from this photo taken last month, there is some construction going on. No doubt another condo project ….. sigh.

Another notable landmark along Lorong Chuan was the crocodile farm where they slaughtered crocodiles for their skin. The stench from the farm was quite strong and well-known to the nearby residents and passers-by. In fact, when I was interviewed on the 938 FM Breakfast Show earlier this year, the host, Mr Keith De Souza asked me if I could remember this place when he heard that I used to stay at Lorong Chuan. Apparently, he used to live at Serangoon Garden.

Further down, on the opposite of the road was another dirt track called Plantation Avenue. We only got to know this place when my eldest brother, Chun Chew got to know a pretty lass from this kampong ….. who later became my sister-in-law. I don’t think I am permitted to reveal more details. I was surprised to learn that a short stretch of Plantation Avenue is still exists today.

The land on which we stayed was acquired by the government and we moved out of the area in 1974. But some of our neighbours were more fortunate. They sold their land to private developers at a much higher price. One of the new buildings that emerged was the Timex Factory. I believe it was later renamed Newton Factory. Today, it is occupied by a spanking industrial complex called New Tech Park.

Related Posts:

Places I Remember: Serangoon Garden
My Kampong Best Friends
Our Kampong

Friday, November 10, 2006

Horses, Camels and Other Animals – Chuck Hio


Mention Crazy Horse and the younger generation will think of the topless cabaret show at Clarke Quay. But mention Crazy Horse to the 'laodies' (‘lao’ as in 老, meaning Old, a term coined by Chun See’s naughty daughter) like Adrian, Chun See, Peter or Chun Chew, and immediately they think of the Malaysia Cup soccer matches at the National Stadium in the 1970's.

Yes, those days were the prime of Singapore’s soccer craze and every match had the stadium filled to capacity. The most well-treasured match was the one between Singapore and Penang in 1977 which attracted a capacity crowd of 70,000, and which we won by the score line of 3-2 in extra time.

During that time, tickets were sold on match day and I went with my brother and another friend. We paid for tickets at the entrance. But it was really shocking to see so many people all pushing one another to get in. In the end, we entered the stadium without paying as it was complete mayhem. I will always remember the sight of the pile of slippers, sandals and shoes near the entrance. Many supporters actually took off their footwear and climbed into the stadium via the pillars!!! After that incident, the stadium authorities put up barbed wires around those pillars.

Anyway, I do not intend to try and describe the experience of watching one of these games live. But I just want to share with you some of the famous and funny names of those days; Let's see now ... there was;

  1. Nasir Jalil better known as The Crazy Horse, or Siow Bay in Hokkien; and also known as the Super Sub. He was famous for running about for nothing but scored a crucial goal in a final.
  2. Rajagopal, our defender who was famous for his banana (corner) kicks and galloped confidently down the flanks. He was known as The Camel.
  3. Dollah Kassim was known as the Gelek King because of his feints with which he was able to shake of his defenders before scoring.

  4. Quah Kim Song was known for his bursts of speed.

  5. Mohd Nor was the handsome one and known for his style and grace. He married the gorgeous singer Rahimah Rahim.

  6. Seak Poh Leong, the captain was notorious at penalty kicks; some called him “Sack” Poh Leong.

  7. Leong Kok Fann, another speedster, was effective coming in at half time.

  8. Goal keepers: Lee Bee Seng had good anticipation & catching shots at high crosses. Edmund Wee was short but good at saving penalties, especially grounders.

  9. And many other well-loved names like Robert Sim (The Tank), Hasli Ibrahim (hard tackler), Samad Alapichay (uncompromising) chest-out, and Malek Awab, short midfielder, speedy, good turning, a team player.

  10. Dollah Kassim

On the Malaysian side (These guys seemed to perform extra well whenever they do battle with Singapore.), we had:

  1. Arumugam, The Spider, the goalie of Selangor – he had the reputation of having arms that reached below his knees; all eight of them.

  2. Soh Chin Aun the captain of Malacca was known as The Towkay.

The most memorable goal was Ashad Khamis’ 35 meter goal that caught the goal keeper sleeping. Can't remember which match.

But the man we loved most in any match was the referee. The poor guy got booed every time he made a decision against Singapore and everyone loved to chant Referee Kayu, Referee Kayu (for foreign readers .. kayu is Malay for wood). The other guy we loved to hate was the linesman - Linesman Bodoh, Linesman Bodoh (Bodoh is stupid in Malay) was our favourite chant.

But any trip down the Malaysia Cup memory lane is incomplete without mentioning our most beloved commentator, Brian Richmond. His collection of unique and colourful expressions include:

  • “It was raining cats and dogs”.

  • “The defence was in sixes and sevens”,

  • “He put his big boot to the ball”, and my all-time favourite,

  • “He plucked the ball out of the air like a bunch of ripe rambutans”.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for the misleading title of this article. The owner Chun See responsible for that one.

Forgotten Blogo-Generation

Blog Survey

Victor, aged 50 and I, aged 54 are officially part of the forgotten blogo-generation. No wonder the Zaaboa article referred to us a Ah Gong (阿公).

In the newspapers today, you can read of a survey by the Media Development Authority about blogging in Singapore. The survey found that 49% of those aged between 20 and 24 years, and 18% of those aged 39 to 49 years blog.

The survey was carried out on a sample of 1,000 Singaporeans aged 15 to 49 years. But what about those above 50? MDA probably thinks that people of that dinosaur group do not even know what is a blog, so what is the point of asking them.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Selfish and Inconsiderate Lovers

Torn Pages of Library Book (4)

I doubt my regulars readers like Victor, Zen and Chris, who know of my fondness of employing misleading titles for my blog articles, will be tricked into believing that this one is about love and sex. Actually, I am referring to people like myself - lovers of old photos of Singapore.

The other day, I borrowed a nice book from the National Library entitled Singapore Changing Landscapes, which had lots of lovely old photos. I discovered that there are other Singaporeans who have a strong love for old photos; to the extent that they would not hesitate to desecrate these lovely public properties by cutting out the objects of their love.

A picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words.
There were 3 or 4 such missing pictures.

Torn Pages of Library Book (3)

Torn Pages of Library Book (2)

Torn Pages of Library Book (1)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Grandfather Stories

Last Tuesday, this blog was featured, together with others, in an article in the Chinese daily, Lianhe Zaobao. The article was titled 阿公讲古也 e了or Even Grandfather Stories Are Told the ‘e’ Way.

Thanks to my friend Victor who has painstakingly put up all the relevant links, those of you who missed the article by the reporter who called himself ‘Wei’, can read it here. Victor’s blog was also featured in the article.

Actually, this is not the first time that I have been interviewed by a Zaobao reporter. In December last year, a female reporter spoke to me over the phone. Unlike Wei, who is Singaporean, and spoke excellent English, she spoke only Mandarin and sounded like a Chinese national. I offered to put down in writing the reasons why I started Good Morning Yesterday and email it to her. However, after reading my essay, she said she did not want to use it at that point in time. In order not to waste the essay, I posted it on this blog on New Year’s Eve under the title Why I Started Good Morning Yesterday (see links section on right).

Thanks to this blog, I have been interviewed or reported on more times by reporters over the past year than I have in the previous 54 years (which was zero times). First there was TODAY reporter, Juliana June Rasul who has written twice about this blog. I was also interviewed live on the Morning Breakfast Show on News Radio 938. As for the Straits Times, I have been interviewed twice by them. The first time was by Sandra Leong. But in her article which appeared in the Straits Times Life Section on July 30, there was only 1 line about me and my blog, which was not a bad thing because her article was highly critical of bloggers. Then in September, I was again interviewed by Serene Luo of Digital Life, who wanted my views of how IT has affected our way of life over the past 25 years. I have yet to see the article. I guess she must have decided not to use my inputs.

On the whole, I think I liked most to work with Ms Juliana of Today. Not only does she email me in advance to let me know when the article would be appearing, she even took the trouble to send me the PDF copy of the article.

But the article that made me feel the proudest was the famous Mr Miyagi’s article of November, 30, 2005 in TODAY, when he recommended this blog to readers of his weekly column Chip of the Old Blog. You can read his article here.

Incidentally, I will be collaborating with Ivan Chew, the Rambling Librarian, to give a talk to senior citizens at the Queenstown Library on 25th of this month. This is part of NLB’s activities for Senior Citizens’ Week. If you know any senior who is not familiar with blogging, please ask him to come for our talk.

Blogging for Senior Citizens
Date/Time : 25 November 2006 , 3.00 pm to 4.30 pm
Venue : Queenstown Community Library - Programme Zone
Admission : Free admission

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Places I Remember (3): Beauty World

I too have some memories of this place called Beauty World that Tom wrote about in the previous article. I used to drive my mother to see a Dr Chang at a clinic in the same row of shops where Tom bought his comics. That was in the mid-seventies to mid-eighties. At that time, we were staying at the HDB estate in Farrer Road. While waiting for her, I used to loitre around the many shops and stalls and did a bit of shopping. I remember this cassette stall just outside Chang’s Clinic that played loud music. One particular song I remember was John Denver’s Annie’s Song and another was called Fly Robin Fly.


This photo shows the vacant plot of land and carpark that used be the Beauty World. It is flanked by 4 roads (see sketch below). My apologies for the poor picture quality. It was a hazy day and sky was overcast.

Around 1980, the shops and stalls at Beauty World were demolished. If I am not mistaken, there was a fire. Subsequently, most of the shops were relocated to 4 new shopping centres at Bukit Timah Plaza, Beauty World Plaza, Beauty World Centre and Bukit Timah Shopping Centre. For example, Dr Chang’s Clinic was relocated to Bt Timah Plaza and my mum continued to see him there. .

Beauty World Sketch

My other memories of Beauty World, which I have described before in my blogs on National Service were about the Sunday evenings when I took the pirate (unlicensed) taxis from Jalan Jurong Kechil to return to Safti in Pasir Laba Camp. In the mid-70's, there was only 1 bus service, Green Bus service number 175 going to Tuas. It simply wasn’t enough to cater to the many NS boys going back to the army camps in Safti and Tanjong Gul Camp (6 SIR). As such, many soldiers resorted to desperate measures like going all the way to Queen Street, next to the Rochore Centre, to take the 175. So by the time the bus reached Bukit Timah, it was usually packed. As for me, I would take a bus from Farrer Road to Bt Timah 7th Mile to catch the pirate taxis.

We were really thankful for the pirate taxis. They were illegal of course, and charged a standard fee of, I don’t know, a dollar maybe. They waited for us at the Jalan Jurong Kechil entrance to Beauty World. Like its counterpart in Queen Street, this area was very busy (热闹) on Sunday nights, with lots of stalls selling sundries, music cassettes, food, snacks and fruits. Each taxi would fetch 4 passengers, each clutching his baggage and packets of snacks and fruits. Like all third world taxis, they were fast and had blaring music.

I remember there was a cinema in Beauty World, but I never patronized it and cannot remember the name. If I am not mistaken, there was also a temple and a wayang stage along Jalan Seh Chuan where the present Tua Pek Kong Temple is. Besides this, I don’t remember much about the old Beauty World.

As you can see, my memory of the details of this place is rather sketchy, and so I consulted my friends Chuck and Peter who happened to live nearby and this is what I learned.

CHUCK says:

I used to live at the Princess Elizabeth Estate at Hill View area near Bt Timah nine-and-a-half mile. I often took the no. 173 bus to Beauty World to watch movies. There were 2 cinemas. The first one was the Nanyang Theatre which was actually not situated within Beauty World but across Chun Tin Road, at the junction with Yuk Tong Avenue, where the present Chun Tin Court stands. Tickets were priced at 50 cents for the front rows and $1.00 for back rows. The seats were wooden type with fans above and the sides. Facing the cinema was an Indian sup kambing (mutton soup) stall. The soup cost 50 cents and was served with bread which cost 10 cents. This was the best sup kambing I have ever tasted.


This photo shows Chun Tin Road and the junction with Yuk Tong Avenue. Nanyang Theatre would be on the left.

The other theatre which was located within Beauty World was the Tiong Hwa Theatre. Tickets cost 50 cents for front rows, 80 cents for middle rows, and $1.00 for back rows. Outside Tiong Hwa Theatre, there are several stalls selling drinks and tidbits like kacang puteh (nuts), kwa chi (melon seeds), sng buay (What’s that in English?) and jiu her (cuttle fish).

PETER says:

I lived in the Chestnut Drive area between 1954 and 1979 until I got married when moved out. Chestnut Drive is about 2 miles from Beauty World opposite Bukit Gombak. As a child, I often went along with my mother to the wet market in Beauty World.

Old Beauty World (9) - market

The wet market had many stalls fronting Jalan Jurong Kechil and there was a concrete building (if I can recall with the words 1921 inscribed) which was the older section of the wet market. The wet market sold veggies, pork and fish. In-between were the makan stalls. The electrical shops were facing Chun Tin Road and the clothing/toys stalls faced Bukit Timah Road. Actually the market had a gradient that sloped downhill from Chun Tin Road towards Jalan Jurong Kechil and Bukit Timah Road.

The fire started at the shop area (facing Bukit Timah Road and Chun Tin Road) but it must have been in the 1980s. But it was not the fire that saw the end of Beauty World. I think in 1971, the present hawker center cum wet market was built (facing the old post office). The government relocated the hawkers and wet market operators to the new place. I used to take midnight supper in 1972 on the second level so the hawker center was opened by 1971.

This is the recently renovated Bukit Timah Market cum Food Centre.


Jalan Jurong Kechil in the direction of Bukit Timah Road. Here's where we boarded the pirate taxis. On the left is the Old Beauty World. Across the road was a row of shops. Today, there's a petrol station.



Like Tom O'Brien, I too could not find much information on the internet about the old Beauty World. Even the recently published Singapore Encyclopaedia makes no mention of Beauty World. I thank my friends Chuck, Peter and Tom for their contribution. I hope these 2 articles have helped to fill that gap. I do hope that some of my readers can contribute more information.