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Location: Singapore, Singapore

A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Sep 30, 2010

Walk Down Memory Lane - 62nd Birthday

The photo of the birthplace taken on 28th September, 2010. Birthplace location: No. 608-A, Havelock Road, Singapore

The Colony of Singapore birth certificate to show the Place of Birth: Singapore. Street and Town: 608-A, Havelock Road. Did you notice that nationality as indicated: I was born a British Subject? However, due to an accident of history, I became a true blue Singaporean since the birth of our nation, the Republic of Singapore on 9 August, 1965. No longer a "subject". God's Will - "Majullah Singapura"!

The little red dot on this old map marks my birthplace.

Before construction of the new HDB estate site along Havelock Road.

Before construction of the new HDB estate site along Havelock Road.

The HDB Bukit Ho Swee Estate under construction in progress. Photo taken on 28 September, 2010

Google Map search for birthplace at Blk 608A, Havelock Rd.

Please try it out yourself if you haven't done it yet at Google Maps (formerly Google Local). It is a web mapping service application and technology provided by Google, free (for non-commercial use) for almost everywhere in the world for "Google Map location" .

I was excited like a dog with two tails with this discovery!

Fantastic...this could be done on iPhone too! I am really 'suaku'. So I cannot stop learning techno stuff to keep up useful knowledge on the Internet.

Google Map is awesome. I learnt something new after my son, Wei taught me the Google Map thingy which I could show-off in this screen-captured photo above.

Isn't it wonderful that I could walk down memory lane by foot, via cyberspace and even Google satellite to blog on this! Of course, not to forget that I still need to use personalised time-machine for astral travelling and meditation to visualise by memories back to the past...not to the future ;)

Photo on left showing Blk 22, Havelock Road. Taken on 28 Sept, 2010.

Current HDB new estate in the background. Pointing towards Delta Primary School behind Ganges Road.

The Delta Primary School where I attended in 1956. The same building now known as the ASPN Delta Senior School at 20 Delta Avenue Apsn (Delta Senior School), Singapore 169832

Obviously this is a personal walk down my own memory lane on 28th September, 2010, my 62nd birthday. To avoid unwanted public attraction, the announcements were made in small, unbold, standard font size. Hahaha...just kidding!

I would also like to take this opportunity on this blog to acknowledge all my Facebook friends for their nice wishes and birthday greetings on my Facebook profile page. Early birds, dot on date, or belated greetings are much appreciated. Thank you very much, dear Facebook friends. Its the first unprecedented birthday greetings through Facebook which are reciprocated with "I Like" to everyone. Isn't Facebook great for reminding the birthdays of our Facebook friends and to remember them?

It doesn't matter to share it with whoever are interested for reading pleasure.

The "memory lane" on this blog to express the personal experience is in public domain. Certain private thoughts, unless expressed, are not blogged aloud though. The blogs which are welcome as I have enjoyed the many blogs by other fellow bloggers I frequently read and learn from.

People like to learn from others' experience and to enjoy an experience where they do not get elsewhere and everywhere.

After the physical walk down the memory lane, it is inevitable to take time to sort out an outline to juxtapose old photos of the same place to the current photos...just like a time warp. The sequence of the "memory itinerary" for the collection of relevant photos as posted.

The "walk down memory lane on my 62nd birthday" companions are Uncle Dick Yip, Peter Chan and Loh Kah Seng. My acknowledgement of thanks to them without which this experimental "birthplace on birthday memory tour" of mine spanned 62 years in "compressed timeframe"; and their personal "memory aids" with collective memories and recollection of our respective own places during our era. Different times, same places!

Photo (left to right) Peter Chan, Loh Kah Seng and Thimbuktu taken in front of Jalan Klinik.

This special "birthplace on birthday memory tour" is not a "memory travel package" is not customised for me alone. Everyone is invited to do it yourself for a sentimental walk down memory lane to your birthplace on your birthday.

There is a criteria for this special tour though.

Most young ones after the 1980s, including my children, were not born at home. They were mostly born in private hospitals or government hospitals (eg Kandang Kerbau Maternity Hospital ).

Thus the memory lane to a birthplace at a hospital would not have the significance of the sentimental appreciation as compared to the children born at home. Meaning, the birthplace will have to refer to birth records of the hospital's delivery ward at the date and time, not a home address.

In those early days when I was born 62 years ago and earlier, only the rich mothers will give birth their children in the hospitals. They are lucky to have the modern medical equipments and amenities, specialist gynecologist, nurses and treatments. They are considered "hor mia" (好命)("Good Life" in Hokien) to the young children today.

The blog topic on how children were born at home by midwives and traditional ways among Singaporeans at another time for discussion.

Please feel free to share your personal experience of birth at home by midwives on the blog comments are most welcome.

The "Bukit Ho Swee Walkabout" map. The single red dot is the birthplace at No. 608A, Havelock Road. Several blue dots on the map are the locations along the "walkabout" route from Tiong Bahru Plaza and completed at Blk 50, Havelock Road.

The itinerary (listed as old place names) of the "Bukit Ho Swee Walkabout" are:

1. Meetup at Tiong Bahru Plaza on 28th September, 2010 at 5:00 pm.
2. Delta Community Centre.
3. "Globe" playground facing between Blk 13, Jalan Bukit Ho Swee and the back of Blk 29, Havelock Road.
4. Bukit Ho Swee Primary School facing Blk 9, Jalan Bukit Ho Swee.
5. Taman Ho Swee (upgraded HDB flats built in the 1960s).
6. Seng Poh Primary School.
7. Tan Boon Liat Building along Zion Road.
8. Jade Emperor Temple at Havelock Road.
9. Hong Lim Pasat.
10. Kusu Island "Tua Peh Kong" Temple.
11. Pepsi Cola factory at Havelock Road.
12. Blk 29, Havelock Road.
13. Kim Seng Community Centre.
14. Blk 29, Havelock Road.
15. The birthplace at No. 608-A, Havelock Road (facing Blk 22).
16. Beo Crescent, at corner of Lim Joo Hin Eating House (Teochew Porridge).
17. MCA Shophouses (the prominent landmark on Havelock Road).
18. "Teochew Porridge" dinner at Lim Joo Hin Eating House
19. The oldest tenant - Chew Dispensary
20. Another loop of Beo Crescent which previously lead to Beo Lane before the Bukit Ho Swee Fire.
21. Completion of the Bukit Ho Swee "walkabout".

Blk 3, Jalan Bukit Ho Swee before demolition.

The cyclist on the right looking at "globe" playground.

The Jalan Bukit Ho Swee "globe" playground in 1962.

The "globe" playground at Jalan Bukit Ho Swee, opposite Blk 13. Photo Credit: Mr Ng Toh Siong.

The old photo of the rear of Blk 29 Havelock Road which faced the "globe playground" at Jalan Bukit Ho Swee. Photo Credit: Mr Ng Toh Siong.

This photo of Jalan Bukit Ho Swee "emergency flats" Blks 1, 3, 5, 7 & 9 completed and occupied by the Bukit Ho Swee fire victims in 1962.

The Jalan Bukit Ho Swee former "emergency flats" demolished and replaced by the upmarket HDB apartments at Boon Tiong Ville in 2007.

Same place at Blk 9, Jalan Bukit Ho Swee in 1962. Different times on 28 September, 2010 at Blk 8B, Boon Tiong Ville where I stood.

Bukit Ho Swee East Primary School.

The former Bukit Ho Swee East Primary School converted to the building used as the "Singapore Examinations And Assessment Board".

The "Or Kio Tau 1949 Map"

Unk Dicko taking a photo of the tomb of the late Mr Tan Tock Seng (a successful businessman, philanthropist who offered funds for the construction of a Tan Tock Seng Hospital in 1843) at Outram Road.

I guess Unk Dicko will post the next blog about Tan Tock Seng Hospital, the British government set up as a "pauper's hospital" in the 1820s.

Photo in front of Poh San Dance Studio at Outram Road.

Peter posed in front of the drain beside Poh San Dance Studio.

Over to you for your next blog about this memorable drain, Peter. Please share with us.

Photo in front of the former Chung Khiaw Bank at Tiong Bahru Road branch.

The Apollo Hotel and Isetan along Havelock Road under construction.
Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

Jade Emperor Temple at Havelock Road

The stone lion sculptures (Left & Right) at the entrance of the Jade Emperor Temple.

The attap village behind the Hong Lim Pasat at Havelock Road.
Photo Credit: Mr Yong Robert

The attap village behind the Hong Lim Pasat at Havelock Road.
Photo Credit: Mr Yong Robert

The site of the former Pepsi Cola factory at Havelock Road.

Blk 29, Havelock Road. The first HDB which Kah Seng lived in.

Wondering why Unk Dicko playing a game of badminton with the residents at Blk 29, Havelock Road during the walkabout?

Photo of the MCA Shophouse at Havelock Road. Circ 1960.

Photo of the MCA Shophouse at Havelock Road today.

The photo of the ice-ball vendor (similar to this one) at the former location of the Beo Crescent (only a muddy path) before the Bukit Ho Swee fire.

Photo of the loop to Beo Crescent today.

Kheng Nam Lee Restaurant, an extension of Lim Joo Hin Eating House.

"Teochew porridge" dinner with (Left to Right) Kah Seng, Peter, Thimbuktu and Unk Dicko.

Photo of the "wet market" at the corner of MCA Shophouse. Circ 1960)

The corner of MCA shophouse to the entrance of Beo Crescent shown today.

The Straits Times news headline on 26 May, 1961.

Scene of the Bukit Ho Swee fire.

Another scene of the Bukit Ho Swee fire.

The 1961 map of former Beo Lane (sketched in red lines and added with location of Blk 50, Havelock Road and MCA Shophouse).

According to the Singapore Guide and Street Directory (1961), the direct soiled trunk road as I remember Havelock Road to Tiong Bahru Road was known as Beo Lane. After the fire, the Beo Lane was closed and re-constructed as a loop on one end (beside Lim Joo Hin Eating House) of MCA Shophouse to another end (former corner of the "wet market" opposite Blk 50 Havelock Road) as Beo Crescent. The Beo Crescent was subsequently replaced the former Beo Lane shown on the map.

The Beo Crescent entrance before the Bukit Ho Swee fire.
Circ 1960. Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

The "Beo Crescent" signage in this photo is the same location as "Blk 50" in the colored photo below.

The Beo Crescent entrance today. Blk 50 is the location of the same spot now and then.

Beside the MCA shophouse, there was a vacant plot of land which was fenced up with zinc cover, wooden benches and a projection screen.

When night falls, the villagers of Bukit Ho Swee kampung would make a beeline to the "open-air cinema' running third-run movies after dinner to watch movies (mostly Hokkien-dialect movies of Hong Kong actors and actresses such as Ng Eng, Or Tong, Sio Kuan (later the Taiwanese actress was switched to Mandarin movie and her name later known as popular Ivy Ling Po).

Ivy Ling Po was best-known for Shaw Brothers' the Chinese classic opera "Dream of the Red Chamber" (梁山伯與祝英台)and cast as Liang Shanbo in Love Eterne (Liang Shanbo yu Zhu Yingtai also known as Liang Zhu) in 1962 with Betty Loh Ti.

I remember how my mother had the happiest time in the evening for recreation and entertainment with our neighbors. The movie ticket at only ten cents each. When the limited benches are packed, we will bring along our chairs to the 'open-air cinema' and then return the chairs home after the movie show.

The evening entertainment scene at the Bukit Ho Swee kampung ended after the fire ways of life for the villagers.

The Delta Circus. Circ 1960.

The Singapore Steam Laundry. Circ 1960

Updated Related Posts:

"Chap Goh Meh" Celebration at Havelock Road in 1958 at: "here"

Memories of Bukit Ho Swee Fire at:: "here"



Blogger Icemoon said...

Happy Birthday James!

September 30, 2010 at 11:40 PM  
Blogger Lam Chun See said...

Happy birthday brother. I have to call you Ah Hia.

October 1, 2010 at 10:20 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thank you for your birthday greeting and wishes, Icemoon and Chun See. Appreciate from a Lau Ah Hia ;)

October 2, 2010 at 11:16 AM  
Blogger professor said...

After seeing the photo of former Chung Kiaw Bank branch at Seng Poh Road, I recall there were 2 bank runs that I witnessed. The first was Chung Kiaw Bank at the Seng Poh Road branch where busy housewives on the way to market queued all the way to the present SHELL station. The second was when UOB suffered a similar fate in the 1970s, their Eng Hoon Street branch (now place is selling eggs) had a queue to Bo Bo Tan Garden.

October 2, 2010 at 3:25 PM  
Blogger FL said...

Your photo of Blk 50 Beo Crescent reminded me of the row of hawker foodstalls operating nightly infront of the said block, along Havelock Road. These stalls operated well into the wee hours of the night and the place was usually crowded with late night patrons. My family lived in Bt Ho Swee from 1963 to 1975, therefore, I know the Havelock Rd area quite well.

October 3, 2010 at 11:20 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thanks you, FL.

Pls check the active discussion about Blk 50 Havelock Rd at the "I grew up in Bukit Ho Swee" Group on Facebook at:!/photo.php?pid=4892635&o=all&op=1&view=all&subj=21314871472&id=517773431&fbid=425811643431

Pls invite your family, neighbors and friends to join the Facebook group to keep our nostalgic memories of Bukit Ho Swee.

October 4, 2010 at 11:40 AM  
Blogger Unk Dicko said...

The "Memory walk" was truly a memorable one for all of us.
When I have solved this "Blogger technical" problem with picture uploading...may take a few more days, I can then do something about that day.
Good archive pics in this post, James.

October 5, 2010 at 4:08 AM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thank you for your kind encouragement and input to this blog, Unk Dicko.

No hurry as you have other more urgent matters to attend.

Looking forward to these interesting stuff (as always from a memory agent like you) to bring us happy memories as our friendly "memory aids". Cheers!

October 5, 2010 at 12:19 PM  
Blogger PChew said...

Happy belated Birthday James! It must have taken you quite some time to put up the blog post. Putting so many picturs in place is quite time consuming. Anyway, well done! I am quite familier with Beo Crescent in the 50s/60s. In the morning Beo Crescent Market was crowded with hawkers and housewives. The hawkers at the market concourse were all illegal. The sights and sounds then could not be found anywhere in Singapore now. Beo Crescent was also a notorious place of gangsters. Gangs fight occured quite often there.

October 5, 2010 at 12:30 PM  
Blogger Lam Chun See said...

James. I notice that the writing on my birth cert is just like the one in yours. Could it be in the old days all the scribes were all programme to adopt a certain 'font style.'

October 5, 2010 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thank you for the birthday wishes, Philip. Its never late for a birthday which is never old until the next new birthday arrives.

Pls check out the active discussion on Beo Crescent at the "I grew up in Bukit Ho Swee" Group on Facebook here .

The notorious gangland in Bukit Ho Swee were cleaned up with the HDB heartlands after the hidden gang dens were gone.

Most of the foodie haven are still at Beo Crescent though.

October 5, 2010 at 3:05 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Hi Chun See,

The "Colony of Singapore" birth cert were issued by Registrar of Birth on 5th April, 1954 as an extract of the original. It was a procedure in those days to be recognise the extracted birth cert as official.

The birth cert you mentioned was handwritten in cursive script, not printed in any fonts. In those days, the staff must be qualified a handwriting test under the London Chamber of Commerce exams.

October 5, 2010 at 3:18 PM  
Blogger yg said...

happy belated 62nd birthday, james! i have problem accessing your blog, once in a while...i get this 'oops, error message'. you are about 2 months older than i.
i recognise some of the places in this post, like the seab centre on jalan bukit ho swee and the jade emperor temple. i have had teochew porridge at the shop on havelock road before.
i also recognise three persons there - yourself, peter and dick yip.
whenever i go to seab for some ad hoc work, i usually have lunch at havelock road food centre and sometimes at the beo crescent food centre. the coffee shop near the entrance to the havelock food centre has a popular char kway teow stall. over at beo crescent, there is a very popular hainanese curry rice stall. i like the crispy pork shops and the vegetable curry.

October 5, 2010 at 5:04 PM  
Blogger PChew said...

James, I remember there was a restaurant at the corner of either block 22 or 29 Havelock Road. The owner was my friend and he served very yummy cantonese food.

October 5, 2010 at 7:20 PM  
Blogger Tomyng said...

Best Wishes & Many more happy birthdays, Kok Thim. Is have been some time that We recall past events & related stories. I was one of the victim of Bukit Ho Swee Fire. The famous Beo Cresent Block 50, the "Pah Ong Cheah" which All NS men will be thankful for the ferry service to SAFTI/ 7 ms Beauty World." Hor Kio Tau", is the place many activities happen.Cheers, Tomy Ng CS

October 6, 2010 at 3:50 PM  
Blogger Ivan Chew said...

This is something new to me: "In those early days when I was born 62 years ago and earlier, only the rich mothers will give birth their children in the hospitals."

Ha! The reverse seems to be true by today's standards, where the rich would give birth at home :)

Nice post, James. Nostalgia, learning and friendship all rolled into one mini-epic here. Oh, why did Unk Dicko play badminton with the residents? I'm curious!

October 6, 2010 at 7:48 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thanks for the birthday wishes, yg. pls check back the blogsite whenever it is busy.

most of the food stalls at bukit merah, havelock road and beo crescent are still there. pls walk down memory lanes of those food stuff we still remember. thanks for the memory.

October 8, 2010 at 6:59 AM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thanks Philip. Yummy cantonese food much recommended with details of shop name, specialised chef dishes, open/closed time/days to visit much appreciated. Foodie bloggers would be interested.

October 8, 2010 at 7:06 AM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Tomyng, thank you for the birthday wishes. Wonderful to find you and your wife here on this blog. Kok Thim (aka "Thimbuktu") here. Pls join me to revive our nostalgic memories of those places you have grown up in our neighborhood, Jalan Membina and Bukit Merah. Hope to have your own blog or to invite your kind courtesy as guest blog on this site. Cheers!

October 8, 2010 at 7:16 AM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Ivan, thank you for dropping by the blog. Your comments for encouragement and sharing the stuff about the young ones noticed of the "youngonce" ;)

To your query: "Oh, why did Unk Dicko play badminton with the residents? I'm curious!"

Answer: Unk Dicko is an appointed C3A Active Ager Silver Ambassador and Wise Old Owl with his joys and positive experience on his infocomm learning journey, travel,music,badminton,fishing,ukulele, history and everywhere he goes.

While passing Blk 29 at Havelock Rd shown in the photo, Unk Dicko couldn't resist the young residents a badminton imprompto demo game with a tip or two...enjoy!

Unk Dicko was then reeling off to us about Wong Peng Soon a four-time winner of the All-England singles Thomas Cup title, late 1940s to the late 1950s.

Unk Dicko is a walking encyclopedia who is enjoyable and to learn from his lively experience.

October 8, 2010 at 7:59 AM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thanks to "Professor" for the memories of the photo of former Chung Kiaw Bank branch at the junction at Seng Poh Road and Outram Road.

The Chung Khiaw Bank at this branch I opened the first bank account there with $10.

It was because new bank saving depositors were given a free savings box as shown here .

October 8, 2010 at 5:52 PM  
Blogger PChew said...

Out of curiosity I compare my birth certificate with yours and found that the format remained the same. The form was also filled up with cursive hand writings.

October 10, 2010 at 11:07 PM  
Blogger Victor said...

Nice story, James. Happy belated birthday too.

October 11, 2010 at 12:18 AM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Hi Victor,

Thanks for your birthday greetings and words of encouragment.


October 11, 2010 at 9:50 AM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Philip, the birth certs were handwritten by staff who are qualified with London Chamber of Commerce for handwriting with distinction or credit. With more professional-looking and personalised. No special fonts for PC wordprocessing application software in those days.

October 11, 2010 at 9:57 AM  
Blogger Lam Chun See said...

Hi James. I was at the When Nations Remember Conference yesterday. At the end they showed us some slides. I saw you leading a tour of Bukit Ho Swee. Well done man.

Active blogger, Memories activist and Active Ager. You and Unk Dicko do the Foyers proud.

October 13, 2010 at 1:56 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thank you, Brother! Well done for an excellent presentation for the "Nation Remembers" convention on 12 May, 2010.

So sorry I could not attend as I had an afternoon walk down memory lane Bukit Ho Swee firesite on 25 May, 1961 for the participants.

I had fun and enjoyed everyone organised by NLB and NBS. Thanks to everyone for memories and several of them would like to share other parts of Singapore with their parents and grandparents to share with us.

Looking forward to places like Serangoon, Yio Chu Kang, Punggol and all parts of Singapore for our nation to remember. Cheers!

October 13, 2010 at 3:27 PM  
Blogger aero125 said...

ah .... early 1960.... i wasn't even born.

look at the faces of Singapore then and now, Singaporean should really feel blessed and fortunate on how the country has progressed in past short 50 years.

Vincent Ng
Class 1982

October 16, 2010 at 7:36 PM  
Blogger aero125 said...

ah ... early 1960s, i wasn't even born yet.

looking at the faces of Singapore then and now, Singaporean should really feel blessed and fortunate on how the country has progressed in the past short 50 years.

Vincent Ng
Class 1982

October 16, 2010 at 7:39 PM  
Blogger 张老师 said...

hi everyone, my parents told me they used to stay in hor lim pasat, or covent garden, at the triangular junction of ganges ave and zion road, where blk 87 and boys brigade is situated. can anyone tell me where i can find more info or photos of hor lim pasat? anyone who had been to the area can describe to me how it was like there? whats the school that occupied boys brigade campus in the past?

March 29, 2014 at 10:49 AM  
Blogger 张老师 said...

hi everyone, my parents told me they used to stay in hor lim pasat, or covent garden, in the triangular junction of ganges ave and zion road, where block 87 and boys brigade are situated. can i know where to find more info or photos of hor lim pasat? anyone who had stayed or been to hor lim pasat can tell me more about how life was like there? who knows what school(s) occupied boys brigade campus in the past?

March 29, 2014 at 10:56 AM  
Blogger MSCheo said...

Was researching my childhood place and stumbled upon your blog which detailed the area I spent my childhood. I remembered spending my early pre-5-year-old years in zinc-roofed with attap covers wooden house nearby a cemetery ringed by Frangipani and "cherry" trees. Then we moved to a block behind the MCA house in Beo Lane as my mother worked in the Tin-Box/Biscuit Factory. Some nights, we would played hide-and-seek in the cockroach-infested drains! Two years or so after the fire, we were allocated an unit in Indus Road and I frequented the Globe playground quite often after my primary school morning sessions.
Thanks for the memories!

April 14, 2021 at 5:45 PM  

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