Archive for July, 2007

Kampong Bugis or 火城

When you mention 火城 in the past, most people will know you were talking about Kampong Bugis or Kallang Junction. Specifically 火城 referred to Kampong Bugis instead of Kallang Junction. But why named it 火城 (Fire City – direct translation)? It’s probably due to the installation of the Gas Work at the Kallang Juction or Kampong Bugis.

So when Kallang Gas Work started? Maybe 1861, take a look here. Maybe it’s easier to know the Kallang Gas Works ceased operation on 23 Mar 1998. This big blue cylinder is really a landmark at Kallang. Most people will know of it’s existence in the past.

Let’s take an aerial view of this blue cylinder from an old photo;

Photo Credit : National Archives, PICAS

This was how it looked in 1961. Take note of the surrounding buildings and landmarks.

Take a look at this very old street directory;

Credit : Singapore Street Directory, Chief Surveyor

The Gasworks was shown clearly on the map. Below is another old street directory showing the Gasworks location and it’s surrounding;

Credit : Singapore Street Directory 1976 edition, Chief Surveyor

So what memories did it bring back for me?

1. Chicken shops at Kallang Junction

These are the row of shophouses located along the Kallang Road near the junction of Crawford Street shown number 2 in the above map. There were a couple of shops selling chicken and eggs. I remember my godmother and godsister brought me there to buy those eggs that were about to hatch. They used to check it by holding the egg against a light bulb. The popular coffee shop was a much later event.

2. Kwong Fook Chinese School

This was a local Chinese School where my father once studied there. Its premises were now occupied by the Tai Pei Buddhist Centre;

3. Old houses along Kallang Road

These were the old houses located along Kallang Road towards the Gasworks before the Hindu Temple shown on the left below;

Photo Credit : National Archives, PICAS

4. Hindu Temple and Trespass Sign

Photo Credit : National Archives, PICAS

The familiar red white stripes on the side wall of this Hindu temple is another landmark just before the Kallang Gasworks along Kallang Road or Kampong Bugis. This Manmatha Karuneshvarar Temple was built just after the gasworks were established.

Also you will find this no trespass sign if you pass by that place at that time;

Photo Credit : National Archives, PICAS

To others, the Kallang Gasworks may made them recall the 1964 Racial Riots;

Photo Credit : National Archives, PICAS

So what is left behind now? Here is how the Kallang Junction looks like in 2005;

Photo credit : Wikipedia

See the blue cylinder was gone (above photo). What you can see now is the remains of one of the gasholder located at the Car Park of Kampong Bugis;

Map credit : Mighty Minds, Singapore Street Directory

See how this gas holder looked like in 1900;

Photo Credit : National Archives, PICAS

The other remains are the hardware used in Gasworks incorporated into this Spirit of Kallang Sculpture;

Photo Credit :

You will find this sculpture on the left if you are driving along Crawford Street towards Beach Road.

And this is how the place looks like now in 2007;

Some Old Tin Toys

The above wind-up tin toys may ring a bell to some but maybe not to the younger generations. They may be rather dull toys to the kids now, but these are some of the fabulous toys that I’m keen to get my hands on in the past.

To play, you just need to wind-up the toys and it will “action”! No batteries needed! But be careful, if you “over-wind” then the toy will breakdown.

If you take a closer look at these toys you bought in Singapore then, majority were made in China;

All the while I thought such tin toys originated from China but I am wrong until I read up on it – History of Tin Toys. In fact, such tin toys only started producing in China in the early 1920s.

Show me yours if you have! Oh, by the way the above 3 tin toys shown are still available at a shop here in Singapore – maybe of limited quantities…

Some Old English Songs

Do you still remember which is the first English song you listened to? I don’t but I remember which song that triggers my love for listening to nice songs haha. OK, it’s this song “Tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree” that my Primary School teacher taught us during Music lesson. She brought along a portable record player (like this one shown below) and played that song;

Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree by Tony Orlando and Dawn in 1973.

Yes that was in the 70s during my Primary school music lessons. Of course you will not forget his “Oh my darling knock 3 times” as you always heard it on radio then.

Knock Three Times by Tony and Dawn

Here are some of my favourites songs of the 60s;

Puppy Love by Paul Anka in 1960;

He wrote this song “Puppy Love” for Donny Osmond (if you remember the Osmond family).

Puppy Love by Donny Osmond

Talking about Paul Anka, a singer as well as song writer, was popular in the late 50s and 60s. Here are some of his songs that I loved to listen to;

– 1957 Diana by Paul Anka

– 1959 Put Your Head On My Shoulder by Paul Anka

– 1969 My Way by Paul Anka

– 1974 Having My Baby by Paul Anka Duet with Odia Coates

– 1974 I Don’t Like To Sleep Alone by Paul Anka Duet with Odia Coates

– 1974 She’s A Lady by Paul Anka. This song he wrote for Tom Jones.

– 1971 She’s A Lady by Tom Jones (Tom Jones version)

– 1975 Times Of Your Life by Paul Anka (This is the popular Kodak Ad Song, remember? maybe also Chun See favourite song too)

Tom Jones is another sexy male singer of the mid 60s. One of his popular song was “She’s A Lady” mentioned earlier.

In 1969, he was;

and now;

Photo Credit :

Some of his songs that I love;

Green Green Grass Of Home by Tom Jones

Delilah by Tom Jones

It’s Not Unusual by Tom Jones

So how popular is this song “It’s Not Unsual”? Just quote ” I dare anyone over forty to listen to Tom Jones’ “Its Not Unusual” without singing along to the chorus and attempting a brief Jones like hip swivel.

Not forgetting the King of Rock & Roll – Elvis Presley!

Love Me Tender 1956

Jailhouse Rock 1957

Are You Lonesome Tonight 1960

Can’t Help Falling In Love 1962

In the 70s my godparents got this type of radio cassette recorders where I used it to listen to radio and try to tape down the songs that I liked.

Here is a photo of those old radio cassette recorder;

And the typical TDK blank cassette tapes that I used;

Luckily in the past, radio had less talk and commercial and they played more songs. Here is another song about racing that I loved best.
Tell Laura I Love Her by Ray Peterson in the 60s.

Another of his top hit;

Corina Corina by Ray Peterson.

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow by Shirelles in 1960. Of course there were many version for those songs in other languages.

I Can’t Stop Loving You by Ray Charles . Though he was gone, but this was a top hit too in 1961.

When I talked about Ray Charles, I tend to think about Stevie Wonder too. Another great singer!

Part Time Lover by Stevie Wonder

I Just Called To Say I Love You by Stevie Wonder

My Cherie Amour by Stevie Wonder. Those head shaking action of his seems to become his icon.

Blowing In The Wind by Stevie Wonder. You must watch this one and listen to what he said before singing.

The original version;

Blowing In The Wind by Bob Dylan in 1963.

Another version by Bee Gees too;

Blowing In The Wind by Bee Gees
In 1962 the year I was born, one of the best song was by Neil Sedaka. Another famous singer of the 60s.

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do by Neil Sedaka in 1962;

Same song when he was older.

Laughter In The Rain by Neil Sedaka.

Solitaire by Neil Sedaka. Another great song! I love to see him playing the piano as he is a good entertainer.
Remember I told you I loved to record those songs broadcasted on the radio during my Primary School days on the blank audio tapes. Some of the songs I recorded were;

Take Me Home Country Road by John Denver in 1971.

Photo Credit :

A popular country song singer and song writer. Almost everyone who played the guitar then will play this song. In fact, I love quite a lot of his songs;

Leaving On A Jet Plane by John Denver in 1969.

Follow Me by John Denver in 1970. Because of him, I then came to know that guitar can have 12 strings and not just 6 strings hehe.

Sunshine by John Denver in 1971.

Rocky Mountain High by John Denver in 1972.

Annie’s Song by John Denver in 1974.

Perhaps Love by John Denver in1982.

Perhaps Love by John Denver and Lene Siel. This is a beautiful duet version you shouldn’t miss.

When I looked at John Denver’s hair, of course that will lead me to recall Olivia Newton John. A beautiful singer who fell victim to breast cancer. Maybe you remember her better through that movie Grease with John Travolta.

Photo Credit :

If You Love Me (Let Me Know) by ONJ in 1974.

Have You Never Been Mellow by ONJ in 1975.

Please Mr Please by ONJ in 1975.

You Are The One That I Want by ONJ with John Travolta in 1978. This song from the popular movie Grease then. Movies like this one and Saturday Night Fever were very popular with youngster then. Of course we were all trying to dance like them like the fingers pointing slanting up.

Summer Nights by ONJ with John T. also from the movie Grease.

Hopelessly Devoted To You by ONJ in 1978.

Magic by ONJ in 1980.

Xanadu by ONJ in 1980.

Suddenly by ONJ and Cliff Richard in 1980.

Physical by ONJ in 1981. This video will help you to recall the TV entertainment show Solid Gold. Solid Gold was a TV programme to countdown the weekly top ten with their Solid Gold Dancers. A popular TV show from 70s to 80s.

Heart Attack by ONJ in 1982.

Another popular lady singer during my Primary School time was Anne Murray. Her are some of her songs that I love best;

Snowbird by Anne Murray in 1969.

Danny’s Song by Anne Murray in 1973.

Killing Me Softly With His Song by Anne Murray in 1973. My favourite at that time.

You Needed Me by Anne Murray in 1978.

In the late 70s, my parents bought a HiFi set comprised of cassette deck, record player, radio, amplifier and a pair of speakers. That was the time where I started buying albums and more blank tapes to record my favourite songs. Here you can see of of my favourite singer Lobo;

See that big headphone on the floor. That was the trend I think at that time haha. Another trend, or rather fashion trend then was the “bell bottom” jeans or pants I wore. It was the fashion at that time hehe!

Some of my favourite songs from Lobo are;

How Can I Tell Her by Lobo

Me And A Dog Named Boo by Lobo

I Love You To Want Me by Lobo

There were simply too many too many nice songs and good singers in the past. It will be never ending if I attempt to list them all here (though after trying for a week, I gave up hehe). Before I end, I don’t think I should before listing Beatles.

Hey Jude by Beatles

Yesterday by Beatles

Beatles had inspired other pop groups to form in other countries like the Bee Gees. In 1966, the Bee Gees. Barry, Robin, and Maurice worked together as a group to create and record their own songs. Though they were already singing as Gibbs brothers way before that, but most of us came to know about them maybe through the movie Saturday Night Fever.

The Gibbs Songs – if you wish to know more about this 3 brothers.

Words by Bee Gees

I Started A Joke by Bee Gees

Same song but in the past. Let’s compare.

Last but not least this song for you;

Holiday by Bee Gees.

Big Splash

Photo Credit : The Big Splash postcard by LimYap Collectibles.

When you mention Big Splash now to the youngster, they may ask you “Where ah?”. It is of course located at the East Coast Park. Not surprising as it now not only lose its colourful slides but also its past glory. Probably built in 1976, and it was then Singapore’s first water theme park. Not only that, the top slide was about 7 storey high too!

How the Big Splash looked like in 2004;

Whenever I see these colourful slides, it brings back beautiful memories – how I enjoyed those slides down especially from the top one. But after sliding down, the walk to the top slide again was really exhausting! Saw the following video on Youtube and it really brings back good memories;

Video Credit : Chikopeh Big Splash Stunt Team

Though in recent years whenever I passed by the Big Splash, all I see is the Seafood International lobster sign – the colorful slides view seems to be a thing of the past. Though it tried to have a seafood restaurant, a mini indoor golf – Lulliput, etc… it still cannot revive this seawater aquatic complex. All these were after the major renovations in 2002 and now, another major refurbishing is going on. What will happen after… we won’t know….

The familiar lobster signboard;

Still undergoing the major refurbishing in May 2007;

Note that the colourful slides are gone;

The Big Splash site is still around but not updated.

Haw Par Villa Re-revisit

If I didn’t post the title “Haw Par Villa”, you will never guess that this is the public toilet in the Haw Par Villa – and it’s free entry!

It’s so clean and no charges for it’s use except for 10cent if you want to have toilet paper. Usually when the public toilet is clean – it means not many visitors or it’s a “paid” toilet where a cleaner is stationed there.

I’m glad that after 70 years (built in 1937), this “attraction” (at least to me) is still around and the entry is free again (though parking charges is $5 per entry but now can park all the way inside besides Hua Song Museum);

This villa was built in 1937 at a cost of probably $1 million by Mr. Aw Boon Haw for his younger brother Boon Par, for helping him to market his medicated ointment Tiger Balm. This is the model of his grand 7 domed shaped villa;

Below is the old photo of the real mansion, but too bad it was destroyed in the war from 1942 to 1945;

So are there any changes since my first visit to the Haw Par Villa in the 70s till now? Of course there were many changes…

It was such a crowd puller in the 60s and 70s as can be seen in the below postcard;

Note that the entrance gate name was “Tiger Balm Garden” in the 60s and the Chinese name “10 Thousand Golden Oil Garden”.

Now in 2007, the crowd is gone;

Understand that the name was changed to “Haw Par Villa” in 1990 and same goes for the Chinese name too.

The most drastic change was in the early 90s when it was converted into a Theme Park named “Dragon World” in 1990 and managed by International Theme Parks, a joint venture between F&N and Times Publishing. You may not notice that it had actually expanded to 3 times it’s original size to include those 2 water rides “a slow boat through the 10 courts of hell” and “a rollercoaster like flume ride through a mountain and down a river”, etc. Many sculptures were relocated or stored in the “graveyard”.

Below shows the Buddha sculpture relocated to the main entrance in 90s;

This was the same Buddha sculpture I had a photo taken with my brother in the 70s, and it was then inside the garden;

And now in 2007, it’s back to it’s original position but with a thick and long “necklace” added and those joss sticks offering boxes placed in front;

Of course in the past when I was young, every sculptures seem like a giant to me, but not now haha. Do you realise that a lot of these sculptures now have these joss sticks offering boxes placed in front of them. I note that the caretaker goes round to offer joss sticks and cigarettes to the sculptures;

When it was converted into a Theme Park in the 90s, the entrance ticket was the highest priced – S$15 or S$16.50?

Though the slow boat ride was one of the main attraction thru the 10 courts of hell then, but we missed out a lot when viewing the sculptures. Below is the slow boat ride thru the 10 courts of hell via the Dragon Mouth;

It’s difficult to view the sculptures in the 10 courts of hell when in the boat ride as we need to turn our head left and right;

See the difference in the above 2 photos of the same 1st Court of Hell! The top photo was view from the boat ride in 90s and the bottom one is now in 2007.

A lot of sculptures were surrounded by water in the 90s to match the Theme Park;

Now, most of the water were drained off and the ground resurfaced;

The amphitheater constructed in the 90s where plays were shown in the Theme Park;

Now it’s gone… and the whole place is much quieter than in the 90s.

This used to be a place where the parents will tell their kids not to be bad or evil, else they will be punished like those shown in the 10 Courts of Hell!

After the trip, I asked kids if they like the place… “No” is the answer and the reason is the same as mine in the past – “scary”! Hopefully, we get to retain this beautiful place as long as possible, else what’s left to us is this 1980 stamp issue on Haw Par Villa;

If you ask me, I hope it will remain forever….


Tikam tikam – a very popular gambling game in the past – guess during the 60s or around that time. Saw the below mock-up Tikam board at the Singapore Philatelic Museum;

I almost burst out laughing…couldn’t they find the real thing?

Managed to find the real one at the Grandfather’s Collections shop at Kampong Glam;

Don’t worry I’ve no relationship or any link with this shop. It’s a shop selling those old “collectible” items, pricing rather reasonable. For those like me, it’s worth paying the shop a visit.

Now here are the real Tikams, and how it looks like;

Sorry, a partially hidden one above.

Here is a better one;

Personally I feel that this is a highly addictive game as I’ve personally experienced it. I will keep going back hoping to win the “Big One”! I won’t stop until I’ve emptied my pockets…

How to play the game then? In the past, it cost about 5 cents to 20 cents for a try. You will pull a piece of paper off the Tikam board and check if you have won any prizes. Prizes depending on what is written or printed on the paper, varies from different types of cheap toys and sometimes money in terms of coins like 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, etc.

The current “Gashapon”(gachapon) :Capsule toys, plastic spheres containing all sort of items like action figures, snap-together models, etc.. is probably evolved from our old Tikam board game. Now you just need to drop a few coins (probably $1 to a few dollars now depending on what’s inside) and turn the knob and the capsule will drop out;

Photo credit :

Ah Gong’s Boxers

It’s been quite sometime when I last seen this type of boxers (briefs or underwear) worn by my godfather in the 60s and 70s;

Saw this pair of boxers at the “Stamp Museum” second floor. Yep, most of them were like pajamas stripes type of pattern, though some were just dark blue plain color – those worn by my father.

I’ve always wonder where do they sell such boxers or all are self-made? Of course, nowadays the boxers come in plenty of nice design. Why I call it Ah Gong’s Boxers? Simply because I think it’ from my Grandfather’s generation up haha.


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July 2007