Archive for May, 2007

Merlion (鱼尾狮)

It’s been a long long time since I took a walk along the Esplanade, not to mention together with my family – my wife and my 2 kids! I must admit I’ve never been there together with my family at all…what a shame. Why? As usual, no place to park; must walk very far; MRT station also dunno where hehe….all my shit excuses I must say!

The 8.6M tall and 70 tonnes Merlion was built in 1972 at the mouth of the Singapore River before the Shifting of Merlion. It was built by the late Singapore craftsman, Mr. Lim Nang Seng at a cost of about S$165,000 if I didn’t remember worngly.

30 years later in April 2002, the Merlion has to be shifted about 120M from it’s original position.

The operation involved;

– hoisting the Merlion on to the barge

– sailing the barge to the foot of the Esplanade Bridge

– hoisting the Merlion over the bridge back on to the barge

– installing the Merlion at its new home just next to One Fullerton building

Below shows the old and new location;

The relocation cost is about S$7.5M, much more than to build it right? I’m not too sure what this cost include too.

But why the need to relocate the Merlion? After the Esplanade Bridge was built, views of the Merlion from the waterfront were blocked. Also the Merlion has stopped spouting water since 1998, so there was a need to relocate it. You may wish to read the URA web site for more details. The relocation process can be found here too.

Whenever I see this Merlion, I remember how my mother brought me and my brother to look for the sculptor of this Merlion Mr. Lim Nang Seng’s sister. His sister was my mother’s secondary school classmate. They were staying at Chinatown then and my mother sense of direction is very poor, so we had a tough time looking for their house. That was probably one of my longest walk at that time.

Beach Road Pt.1 – NCO Club

Whenever it’s Chinese New Year time or rather before the Chinese New Year, I will always made a trip down to the then NCO Club at Beach Road. During the early 80s (1982) when I was first enlisted, we were still allowed to buy duty-free cigarettes and liquor (beer). So it’s always such a long long queue to buy such ‘New Year Goodies’ as there was a limit on how much one was allowed to buy. Later in years, only the duty-free beer were allowed to buy and as times go by, even beer also not allowed anymore!

First known as NAAFI Britannia Club in the 50s… then in the 70s it was the NCO Club (my time)… later in the 90s, it was converted into Warrant Officers and Specialists Club. See this link of The CHEVRONS.

Here is an old army map showing the location of the NAFFI Club;

You can see the old Alhambra Cinema along the same side of Beach Road then. Below is the NAAFI club in the 50s;

Photo Credit :

A postcard view below of the club;

Credit : LimYap Collectibles

Frankly, I didn’t make full use of the facilities there during that period. But the swimming pool don’t seems to be much difference compare to in the past (during NAAFI period). The pool still look more or less the same as in the past;

Below is an interesting map showing the NCO Club in 1976;

This map even show the original shoreline before the first land reclamation. Also some of the landmarks are not built yet while some were still there.

Here is the aerial view in 1969 by Mr.Boey YB;

If we walk past the former Beach Road Camp to the NCO Club, you may find that it’s all ‘boxed up’ for construction works. This 3.5-hectare site could be transformed into a mixed-development – with more than 600 hotel rooms as well as commercial and retail space, which to be ready probably in year 2010.

The following are some

beautiful photos from URA site;

Below shows the plan of the 4 buildings that will be conserved in this plot of land;

Let’s take a look at how the NCO Club changes over the years;

Here is the Beach Road Camp;

Beach Road Camp is what I normally called, do you know the actual name of this camp?

Photo Credit : All 4 photos above from URA.

If you wish to know more about this re-development of this Beach Road site, pls check it out at URA Web Site.

Of course what I enjoyed most in this NCO Club is probably the Tombola nite. Those who frequent the club will know what I’m referring to. The other thing I enjoyed was shopping at the SAFE Superstore at this outlet at that time.

I bought my first SLR camera from SAFE hehe, and that was a Nikon FA! Wonder if the SAFE superstore is still operating now? Any idea?


BMT; ROD; 11B; Loose it and you’ll sign the 1206; Drop 10; Book in by 2359; etc…. What’s all these? SMS jargon? For those who have been thru the National Service will know very well what I’m talking about haha. These are the things that most of us wouldn’t like to hear it…. lucky for me, I’ve already completed my Reservist cycle 5 yrs ago.

A recent visit to the NS40 exhibition at the open space near Tampines Mall had prompted me to make this post. Of course the visit brought back many beautiful memories of my army days…

The first thing we received from the 1st booth is this NS40 booklet which you have to get it stamped when you visit the other booth. Upon completion, you can redeem a mini Ali Baba bag! My goodness, I’ve been waiting for so many years to get rid of that bag, and now my wife and kids are trying to get a few more Ali Baba bags….

Here is the NS40 booklet; look like our Reservist Booklet right;

My real Reservist Booklet when I started using it in 1988 till 5yrs ago;

Here is the inside of the NS40 booklet;

While this is the inside of my reservist booklet. Every time I attended my reservist training, I’ve to get it signed and stamped – else….. ;

Many things have changed…even ROD (Run Out Date) has been changed to ORD (can’t remember what it stands for, sorry). National Service was implemented in 1967;

Credit : Straits Times, SPH

Saw this No.3 uniform in the exhibition, which I think should be about 1 ‘generation’ before me;

I didn’t get the chance to wear this No.3 during my army time but was wearing such during my school’s NCC (Air) time.

I was enlisted into the army in 1982. I remember I was picked up by buses at the Geylang Serai (at Haig Road near Blk.1) Community Centre. I was rather nervous (my parents were not there to send me off and I was all alone) as no one brief me what will be happening to me during my stint at NS. We were then taken to CMPB (Central Manpower Base) first and then to our training camp ITD (Infantry Training Depot) at Sembawang.

I didn’t know that the first chin up I was told to do was to sort list me to the respective fitness category – for me it’s Delta (the worst one). Since then, I hated this chin up bar – we had to do chin up before every meal;

Above shows our platoon waiting to do our chin up before a meal (1982).

Though life was though or rather training was tough then, but luckily we had a very good PC (Platoon Commander) who was also going to ROD soon. So he treated us very well even though he was strict at times. The most memorable time during BMT is night time when the laundry van came. The laundry girl was everybody ‘dream girl’ at that time as one hardly find any girl in the camp. I even managed to make friend with her and invited her to my 21st Birthday party at my home – she did turned up…but with her boyfriend…sigh…

My PC always like to have our photos taken whenever there was a chance. So our platoon, D14 was probably the most “switch off”. See our No.4 uniform also different from now;

Here is another one showing us all cramped on board heading towards Pulau Tekong for a 3 days field training;

Of course the most memorable training was at the “Pencang Hill” where we were told to infiltrate thru the jungle. My buddy and I were taking our own sweet time as there were too many papaya trees for us to enjoy. Not to long after that, we were lost in the track and almost ended up trying to take a bus with our rifles! Luckily we didn’t and lady luck really on our side – our camp 3 tonne truck happened to past by and we took a lift. The whole camp was punished by doing extra exercise while waiting for us and until now I still don’t understand why my buddy and I were not punished…

Very soon 3 mths BMT training for us were going to end soon.

Wait before we end the BMT, here are some little things for you older guys to reminisce about…

See that P.T. shoes on the right side? It’s really a far cry compared to the current ones the army is using. Below shows the real bunk during my BMT in 1982;

It’s one of our favourite past time – cleaning our rifles (M16 at that time).

The P.T. shirt and shorts were the same but the underwear given were green in color;

This is what we used to contain our meal;

Of course after eating, we had to clean and wash it very clean before returning the tray!

What I wore during BMT;

Just before completing our BMT, they had those recruitment excercises for the 3 forces. I signed up 6 years with the Air Force and ended up as the 6 DE (Direct Entry). If I knew earlier, I should have signed up earlier so my BMT will became SBMT (Shortened to 9 weeks only).

These were what I wore then (exclude the Good Service Award of course). The pair of aeroplanes were wore on the collars;

Even the Name Tags have been changed since the day I joined the force. From top to bottom – Orange side bar for Mandarin and Green for English spoken;

A group photo of us during our training at AETI (Air Engineering Training Institute) at Changi in 1982/83;

After completion of training, I was posted to Paya Lebar Airbase. As a Air Communication technician, I was posted to the base to service the aircrafts’ communication sets used by the pilots. At that time, some of the planes were S211 (for trainee pilots), Stridemaster, Skyvan, Hercules, A4 and then later F5. After a year, I was then posted to Tengah Airbase where F16 and A4 became the ‘norms’.

My Awards after 6yrs of regulars and many years of reservists’ cycles;

and not forgetting the Swiss Army Watch that I don’t wear at all (given to me upon completion of my reservist cycle);

Finally upon receipt of the above, ends my Reservist Training cycle at the age of 40.

70s English Textbooks

Here are my Higher Primary (Pri.4 to Pri.6) English textbooks from 1972 to 1974. They were Primary Situational English Book 6 to 8;

If you have read my previous post on My Pri. 2 Chinese Textbooks, you will not be surprised that I still have my Primary School English Textbooks. There is something which I do not understand until now – why are the textbooks labelled Number 6 to 8 for Primary 4 to 6? Anyone, any idea?

Here is how my Pri.6 (1974) English Textbook looked inside;

It’s not as colorful as the current English textbooks and that is expected. But there were some very interesting stories even my son enjoy reading them.

Let’s compare it to my son’s last year Pri.6 English textbook (2006);

The front cover is very similar for Pri.1 to 6 and thus rather monotonous compared to mine. Now let’s check the inside;

Woh, it’s definitely far much more colorful.

No matter what changes they have done to the English textbooks or syllabus, I personally find it difficult to understand how English is taught in our school. So what’s the best way to teach our kids Grammar, Vocab, etc…?

From Kachang To Popcorn (Part 2)

…continued from Kachang To Popcorn (Part 1)

Well guess it’s Ben Hur the first long hour movie I have watched in the cinema! Can’t really remember how many hours was that show, but it really very uncomfortable sitting in the cinema for so long especially those cinemas in the past. The seat spacing was so narrow and hard compared to now. Of course, in the past there was a price difference for those who choose the seats nearer to the screen and those who choose far behind – it was cheaper to sit in front but be prepared for stiff neck!

Of course some other nice English movies then were Ten Commandments, 101 Dalmaltians, etc… Among them, Towering Inferno definitely leave a deep impression in me. It’s probably the first movie that reported someone fainted while watching the show due to excitement.

In the 60s, you can find these type of movie flyers or posters at the ticket counter for you to take;

Credit : National Archives of Singapore

Kwan Tak Hing (seated on the left) was probably the first actor well-known for his role as Wong Fei Hong in the olden Cantonese movies;

Of course he shot to fame way before Jet Li. On the right was his all time opponent Sek Kin;

One played the good guy the other always the bad guy haha. If you will to ask me, I would prefer Kwan Tak Hing to Bruce Lee movies.

Cantonese movies were so popular in the 60s and 70s. Shows like this one were popular;

Some of the popular actors and actress then were:

Lui Kei – the so called handsome actor and then cheeky movies director;

He is probably well known in the 60s Cantonese movies together with Connie Chan (Chan Po-Chu,  陳寶珠) . Here she is appearing in the old movie Black Killer in 1967;

Since retired, she seldom appear in public. Connie Chan appearing in a HK concert in 2006;

Just as famous as her were Fong Bo Bo, Josephine Siao Fong Fong, Lydia Shum and Nancy Sit Ka-Yin.

Fong Bo Bo;

Lydia Shum and Lui Kei;

Credit :

Nancy Sit album;

and now;

Josephine Siao;

Credit :

For the guys, there were Wu Fong, Patrick Tse Yin and Kwan Shan – mother’s era idol.

Wu Fong;

Patrick Tse Yin in the past without the “pigtail” ;

Kwan Shan;

I remember once there were some kind of live appearances by some famous actress like Nancy Sit or Josephine Fong in one of the cinemas after the show. My godsisters were overjoyed and went to get their signatures and shook hands. They refused to wash their hands for a few days after the hand shake!

Before I end, here is the 2001 stamps issued in Hong Kong on some of the old HK movie stars. Can you identify them?

From Kachang To Popcorn (Part 1)

When was the last time I visited the cinema? My son is probably the one who is very keen to watch the large screen while my daughter prefer to snack (especially the popcorn) in the aircon and cushioned comfort. Definitely much have changed for the large screen since my time till now – at least in the past we were cruching 5 cents or 10 cents kachang puteh and now the popcorn is more expensive than my movie ticket in the past!

I came across this DVD Oliver Twist when I was shopping at that new Giant outlet at Pasir Ris/Tampines sometime last month.

The first time I watched this movie was probably in the 70s when my godsisters brought me to Cathay Cinema (or Capitol…?).

Prices of movie has gone up trememdously and also the movie ticket appearance has changed too. Here is a peep at the old movie ticket in the 60s and it’s price;

Credit : Singapore National Museum

Here is a postcard of the Cathay Cinema in 1954;

You may see the Cathay Building in the background of this photo of Bras Basah Road in the past;

The Capitol in the 60s (you may still see the Tram line hanging in the air);

Frankly I’ve not been to this 2 places for a long long time. It’s so convenient to watch a movie nowadays – just drop by any Cineplex in any town centre and you have the whole lists for you to choose. In the past, we had to travel quite a distance to the cinema if we were not staying nearby. Luckily, my godmother was staying at Beatty Road which was walking distance to those cinemas at New World Amusement Park. In fact in the past, most cinemas were standalone buildings and there was no such thing as cinemplex. So you went to the cinema in the past and the sole purpose was to watch a movie; nowadays it’s shopping, eating, game arcade, library, etc…all in one building.

Though eating and shopping were not in the same building as the cinema in the past, but they were usually located nearby like those at Odeon Cinema in the past. See this 70s map below;

The above map shows the location of Odeon and Jubilee Theatre (directly opposite to Odeon) in 1976. The Odeon Theatre is now Odeon Tower while the Jubilee Theatre was gone and the space occupied by Raffles Hotel (expansion).

How many of us still remember the bomb scare at Odeon in 1963? See the Jubilee Theatre in the below photo of that bomb scare;

Here is a better view of the Odeon Theatre;

Photo Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

Frankly between Odeon and Jubilee, I find Jubilee much more attractive theatre to “archive” if possible. Let’s take a look at the old Jubilee.

Jubilee Theatre in the 50s;

In 1985, the Jubilee getting ready to go;

Before it go, take a final look at this pair of lion head;

and not forgetting the grand interior;

Here is the favourite snack for the movies in the past – Kachang Putel which probably cost about 10cents to 20cents depending on types;

Above 5 Photo Creadits : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

So that’s how the Victorian style playhouse theatre named Jubilee Hall located on the 3rd floor of Raffles Hotel come about.

OK here is another cinema where one usually will not be able to go unless he/she has a car or some form of transport in the past – Jurong Drive-In Cinema. It was opened on 14 July 1971 and closed on 30 September 1985.

Credit : Adeline Tan and Cathay Organisation

I remember I’ve been there twice only as I really don’t find it comfortable watching the movie inside a car. The aircon was usually turned off as the car engine was off too and the speakers are put into the car. It looked something like this;

Photo Credit :

Those who drove there to watch the movie were usually couples, but did they really watch the show or ….?

Now most of the old standalone cinemas building have been converted to Church or other uses. Came across this Fairfield Methodist Church in March 2007 at Maxwell Road;

and who can tell that it’s actually the Metropole Theatre (shown in the postcard during the 60s) in the past;

So the R(A)s movies were finally approved to be screened in the cinemas in the 90s, I think, but it didn’t seems to survive for long…except for one cinema that is still surviving – Yangtze Cinema. Though I’ve been there before but I’ve yet to watch a show in that cinema! Heard it’s called the “Cheekopek” cinema (a cinema for those cheeky old men).

The Yangtze Cinema located at Pearls Centre, Eu Tong Sen street;

Here is The Majestic theatre nearby;

It’s was converted into a shopping mall since 2003. It was built in 1927 by the tin mining and rubber magnate Mr. Eu Tong Sen specially for his wife who loved Cantonese Opera. So it was known as Tien Yien Moh Toi Theatre for the Cantonese opera then. Later the Shaw Brother rented it and renamed it as Queen’s Theatre for screen Cantonese movies. After the Japanese Occupation in 1945, the Majetic Film company rented it and renamed it as Majestic Theatre. In 1956 Cathay Organisation bought over it from the Eu family, and continued screening Chinese movies until 1998.

We should not confused this renamed Queen’s Theatre with the one at Geylang Lor 42 which was also known as Queen’s Theatre in the 70s.

So we have Majestic Theatre, Queen’s Theatre; do we have King’s Theatre? Yes we did, at Kim Tian Road (Tiong Bahru) then;

The King’s Theatre is now gone and the area is occupied by housing estate. The King’s Theatre and the Jubilee Theatre were owned by Eng Wah Organisation in the 60s.

Also not to forget about the once popular Prince Theatre located at Beach Road. Yes, think I watched that fantastic JAWS movie there. I used to go there as after watching the shows, I would shopped at that building. There were 2 shops inside selling those “branded” products like lighters, pen, wallets, belts, etc… Of course when the movie business went bad, the Prince theatre later became Prince 1 and Prince 2 as like most other cinemas. Of course in the same building, there was Jade Theatre too and then later Jade 1 and Jade 2. Both Prince and Jade were opened in 1977 by Shaw Organisation at located at Shaw Tower.

This is the new Shaw Plaza Twin Heights which is a total “Face Lift” from the old Hoover Cinema at Balestier Road;

I remember driving to the multi-storey carpark behind on weekend to sell my used car as it was popular to use some designated multi-storey carparks  as “Used Car Mart” then.

Whenever I pick up my wife at Concourse, I will passed by Golden Theatre at Beach Road;

Though now I will think of the delicious curry puff at the basement of that building, but in the past it’s totally different. I used to patronise one shop there selling posters. I bought some and resell them house to house when I was 17 or 18 years old earning some pocket money – my first outdoor sales job hehe!

Well watching a movie and going to the theatre or cinema was such a memorable thing in the past but not now anymore. It cost much more to watch a movie for a family of four including meals and snacks. So renting a dvd to watch at home quickly catches up for us, at least. Unless it’s English shows like Harry Potter where the kids enjoy it, else it’s no go to the large screen.

To be continued in Part 2…

1 School 3 Generations (Part 4, The Final Part)

…continued from Part 3;

Well during my time, I could never imagine that the school can be that grand and nice! Of course after 30 over years, things have changed – Victoria School has shifted it’s location from Jalan Besar to Geylang Bahru and now settled down at Siglap. It’s really a much more nicer building and even with a hostel (though majority who stayed there are not VS students haha). Now it’s a strictly boys school as there is no more Pre-U in the school since there is another Victoria Junior College (VJC) located just further down the road.

The main gate of the current VS;

I’m impressed by the design of the school  – the school motto “Nil Sine Labore” is ‘shadowed’ onto the ground when the sun shine;

This is how it looks like – the parade square located on the upper floor;

Nowadays, managing a school is like running a business. The school need to promote their “products”. See how the school “market” it’s brand;

Besides the normal school badge and tie, you can even find the school name on their Khaki shorts, school socks and shoes. Now the school allowed running shoes to be worned as school shoe as long as it’s 70% white compared to the old boring canvas white school shoe.

How I wish to be a student of this era…


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May 2007