Saturday, July 21, 2007

Tom Brown Remembers Army Life and Singapore (Part 2)

I would like to continue about what we used to do, in Selarang Camp.

To get used to the weather, we did a lot of outdoor sports, like football, running round the track, on the football pitch, volleyball. That was one platoon’s favourite game, and we took on anybody who would like to challenge us.

At night, if we were not on duties, we would clean up our kit for the next day. After that, it’s off to the canteen to have few Tiger beers. Wow! it was lovely to drink, but very strong. And Anchor beer was just as strong.

Then we would go out of camp happy to a bar, it was called the Changi Bar. It was a very good bar. It was located along upper Changi Road, further down to the right side as we get out from the camp gate.

Then we would get on a pick-up taxi to town, and ask the driver to take us to the Britannia Club at Beach Road. After that …… wait for it … it’s to the famous Bugis Street. The first time being there, I could not believe it - the place was so busy. I remember an Indian woman telling us who was good and who bad. I think she must have lived in that area.

Taxi back to Changi village to get something to eat at Freds sandwich stall. I remember; if we asked for an egg sandwich, he would go into his big box and bring out a long bit of bread, like a French stick. He would cut in half and put three fried eggs on it for 50 cents. And across the road, the Indian guy would make a minced curry and naan bread for 60 cents.

Finally, it’s back to camp to get a good night’s sleep. I will tell you more later on.

Below is a photo of the barrack where I stayed.

9 comments:

peter said...

Tom
Are u sure the Indian woman was not a "Katoey"? She seem to know who was who. Maybe Victor who lived in that place can provide some directions???????

Tom said...

Tom..
peter, this Indian lady, could not speak she use sign lanquage,she was well known, and had alot of gold bangles, on her wrists and ankls, I remember her as mary thats what we called her. she was a nice person, Peter you are right she did know every body .

Victor said...

Peter, sorry that I don't know what does "Katoey" mean. Is it Hokkien "Ka Tui" (literally "foot and leg") meaning a workhand or staff of someone?

In Bugis Street, I only knew of people called "Ah Kwa" (transvestites) and pimps.

Victor said...

Ah, so the meaning of katoey is here. I was close enough. (Sorry Chun See, I didn't bring in this subject first.)

peter said...

My friend told me that in Bugis Street there was this famous dance called "Flamed of the Arse" (Tom you like to help out on this???).

No wonder when I was a kid, I saw a large group of ang-mos gathering together; cheering, clapping, singing and drinking cans of beer. If I am not wrong (again Victor you got to confirm this for me) there was a public toilet somewhere in Bugis Street (a cross-road maybe...i think Albert Street was joined to Bugis Street then) that was often used as a stage by the British soldiers until the British Provost came to make the arrest. I think that was 1960 for me.

Victor said...

As far as I can remember, Albert Street was never joined to Bugis Street. That was because there was a major thoroughfare running perpendicular to the two streets and separating the two, i.e. the traffic-laden Victoria Street.

Victoria Street is still there today but the place where Bugis Street used to stand is part of Bugis Junction Shopping Centre now. And the part of Albert Street which is directly opposite Bugis Junction has been converted to an open-air shopping street. In the 1960s-70s, this was the location of a pasar malam (Malay for "night market").

I think I remember a public toilet at the junction of Bugis Street and either Malabar Street or Malay Street.

Victor said...

For a photo of the area where the night market used to be, please refer to my post here. (The old Bugis Street was located near the tall building in the background of the photo.)

Incidentally, I didn't even know that this short stretch of Albert Street has been renamed to New Bugis Street.

Tom said...

Tom said...
Peter, Yes I have heard of that dance, it was performed in bugis street, you Could not see see mutch, because to many people singing shouting and drinking beer,I did not see the dance .The public toilet, that was at the top of the street, if you were needing the bog ,there were no chance of you geting in.was there a street called Sago street that led into Bugis am I going the wrong direction ?

Victor said...

Tom - Sago Street is in Chinatown, some 2.5 kilometres southwest from Bugis Street. Unlike Bugis Street, Sago Street is still in existence today.

The two streets that ran perpendicularly to Bugis Street till the early 1980s were Malay Street and Malabar Street, both of which are no longer around.