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A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Sep 30, 2012

Ways Done in the Past - Air Travel in Singapore

Entrance to the Kallang Airport c 1945
Crowd at Kallang Airport during Singapore Air Display 1949
These archived photos are shared on this blog with acknowledgement and thanks to the National Archives of Singapore (NAS).

Kallang Airport

Kallang Airport, Singapore's first civil airport, located in Kallang was completed at a cost of S$8 million and opened on 12 June 1937, functioning as an airport until it was replaced by Paya Lebar International airport in 1955.


In 1923, the British government decided to construct an airbase for seaplanes at Sembawang, near the proposed naval base, and a Royal Air Force base at Seletar. The Seletar aerodrome was completed in the late 1920s and at first served civil aircraft as well as the Royal Air Force. However, regular air communications did not come until the 1930s.

On 31 August 1931, Governor Sir Cecil Clementi announced that the government had decided on Kallang Basin as the location for the new civil aerodrome suitable, for land planes and seaplanes, replacing the Royal Air base at Seletar.

Proposing this new civil airport, Sir Cecil Clementi had proclaimed: "Looking into the future, I expect to see Singapore become one of the largest and most important airports of the world ... It is, therefore, essential that we should have here, close to the heart of the town, an aerodrome which is equally suitable for land planes and for sea planes; and the best site, beyond all question, is the Kallang Basin."

Work on the massive reclamation task began in 1932, with the filling and reclamation of mangrove swamps and land from the sea around Kallang Basin. Kallang Airport was officially opened on 12 June 1937 by the Governor, Sir Shenton Thomas. A few years later with the introduction of BOAC Comets, the airfield had to be further extended, and in the meantime Comets used RAF Changi.


Its grassy landing zone, slipway for seaplanes, as well as a handsome terminal building, gave Kallang a reputation as the "finest airport in the British Empire". During a 1938 stopover, Amelia Earhart called the airport "an aviation miracle of the East". Its magnificent grass landing was made into a concrete runway by the Japanese who built a concrete runway in World War II , extending to 5,500 ft. It was further extended after the war, but it was not until 1949 that all civil traffic operated again in Kallang.

The main terminal building had a control tower and two side blocks with attached hangers. Reflecting early-modernist British architecture, its interiors were detailed with Art Deco ornamentation like its intricate railings and columns.


21 Nov 1935 : The first aircraft to land at Kallang was a flight of Hawker Ospreys off the aircraft HMS Hermes.
1940s : Increased traffic through Singapore strains the capacity of the airport.
1951 : Plans set up to build the Paya Lebar International Airport.
13 May 1954 : Kallang airport sees its first air-crash when a G-ALAM touched down too soon at the seaward end of the Kallang runway.
1955 : With the new Paya Lebar Airport operational, the Singapore Youth Sports Council moved into the old Kallang airport.
Mar 1956 : The Kallang Airport became a historical meeting point for 20,000 gathered for a mass rally headed by Chief Minister David Marshall in a call for independence. His merdeka salute led several people to climb on stage with him. The weight of the masses caused the stage to collapse, the disaster marking Marshall's credibility in the first Merdeka talks in London merely four days later, delaying negotiations over the independence of  Singapore.
1960 : The People's Association (PA) make the building its head-quarters. They occupied the terminal and one of the side towers whilst the other was used by the Public Works Department (PWD). The later block was renamed the Youth Block when the PA took it back from the PWD.
Mar 1994 : The buildings are reopened after conservation works of S$4.16 million. Restored are its green tinted windows; the original main entrance located in the middle, facing Kallang Road; its four tiers of steps at the base of the building giving a podium-look; and a reconstruction of the airport's emblem, a lion against a coconut tree.

Vernon Cornelius
Source:  singgapore Infopedia - An electronic encyclopedia on Singapore's history, culture, people and events.

Kallang Airport  c 1945

The Kallang Airport is Singapore’s first purpose-built civil airport and was touted as one of the most modern airports of its time. With the iconic architecture of the Terminal Building, and its rich social history adding depth as a backdrop for the area, the conservation of the selected buildings and structures at Kallang Airport serves as physical reminders and markers of the humble origins of the development of Kallang and its role in establishing Singapore’s position on the international aviation map.  Gazetted on 5 Dec 2008 for conservation.  (Source: Urban Redevelopment Authority).

Malayan Airways plane at Kallang Airport  c 1950

Nostalgia friends who have travelled from Kallang Airport in Singapore in the past are invited to share their memories and experiences at Singapore Memory Portal .

Uploaded by on Oct 28, 2010
How could this 4-storey building, which is even shorter than kite-flying or a typical HDB block, be an international airport of Singapore in the past? Join NUS student Jonathan Lim, as he rediscovers the birds and bees of the Old Kallang Airport.

My blogger friend, Philip Chew of "My Chew Joo Chiat Story" blog share his nostalgia blog on other modes of travel in Singapore in the past  -  "Joo Chiat Railway Line" .


Sep 27, 2012

From Ferris Wheel Joyride to Singapore Flyer

I remember this ferris wheel joyride in the Great World Amusement Park which I rode many times when I was ten years old in 1958. The ticket per ride was 20 cents or 30 cents each. It was located directly opposite the Globe Theatre and operated only in the evening.

It wasn't very its highest point on top of the ferris wheel, I could see the roof of Globe Theatre and the roof-top of the former "Times House"  facing the back entrance of Great World Park at Kim Seng Road.

It was an experience which I thought was fun to ride on the ferris wheel the first time in my life.

My favorite kiddie ride in Great World Park was the racing cars with speed and excitement (not like Singapore F1 or Grand Prix though).

There was no thrill or excitement compared to the joyrides my children often visited Uncle Kenny Fun World at Parkway Parade in Singapore.  I blogged "A New Generation Funworld" at Singapore Memory Portal .

If somebody said "I wasn't born yet..." please do not assume that these words are mentioned by a young child.

Yours truly, 63-year-old Thimbuktu, would honestly declare that "I wasn't born yet in 1930".  But not a child.

The description of this photo: "Night scene of a bazaar with ferris wheel in the background" was taken in 1930 and contributed by Mr Lee Hin Ming, a professional photographer. With acknowledgement and thanks to National Archives of Singapore for the archived photos posted on this blog.

Any nostalgia friend could share with us the answer of this place in Singapore where this photo was taken long ago in 1930. Thank you in advance.

Other than the "three worlds" of my times - Great World, New World and Happy (later Gay) World amusement parks in Singapore,  there's Wonderland Park in Kallang in the 1980s with a bigger ferris wheel as shown in these two photos below:

Other Joyrides in Wonderland Park, Singapore

Does this look like the miniature MRT trains in the early days?

My blogger friend, Jerome Lim's "Wonderland and the thrill of Bangkok" here .

Go experience the ferris wheel of today in Singapore at the Singapore Flyer . The Real Thing!

In the not too distant future, would kids be taking flights in spacecrafts as common as the planes now to Mars or some other planets in the galaxy...


Sep 23, 2012

Chinatown On A Hot Saturday

Yesterday (September 22, 2012, Saturday), I decided to make a trip to Chinatown on a hot Saturday afternoon to update the recent blogs here and here.


Chinatown in the day during the Mid-Autumn Festival 2012 is as colorful as it is in the night.  The place was  crowded with visitors and tourists and shoppers.  Photographers are everywhere to snap photos as memories to share to the family and friends at home or post on the spot to their Facebook friends from smartphone cameras.

The gaily decorated 16,800 lanterns in Chinatown brought joy and excitement to the packed shoppers.  The shopkeepers in the shops and hawkers in the stalls on the streets with brisk business for lanterns, pomelo (柚子) and a wide variety of flavor and designs of mooncakes on sale at special discount and at offer prices.

Mid-Autumn Festival (Chung Chiu), the third major festival of the Chinese calendar, is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month.

This festival is also known as the Moon Cake Festival.  It is held in conjunction with the annual Lantern Festival .

Chulia Street

I walked on little streets and lanes in Singapore which I remember the places I cannot travel alone by myself as a child unless accompanied by my mother in the 1950s.

With the use of the above Google map picture, the red and yellow numbers indicate the location of the places shown on the photos I have taken..

The white building of  former Fook Onn (福安) department store for sales of winter clothings at the junction of New Bridge Road and North Canal Road ( No. 1 ).

 The street signboard of Lor Telok ( No. 2 ) with OCBC building and UOB building in the background.

The location of the former public toilet at Chulia Street.  Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore.
 The photo below is the "guesstimated" location of the former public toilet at Chulia Street in the 1950s, without using Garmin GPS devices or instruments.  The judgement of the location was based on topography training I learnt during my national service days. (Marked   (  3  )

 The street signboards of Chulia Street, South Canal Road and the OCBC Bank logo on the building is self-explanatory to indicate where this photo was taken ( No. 4 ).

 The original UOB building (hidden behind the taller UOB Tower) in this photo ( No. 5 ).

As it was a quiet Saturday afternoon where there were few people and vehicular traffic in the well-known commercial hub in Singapore today,  On the road divider between North Canal Road and South Canal Road/Chulia Street, I stood alone at the former public toilet at Chulia Street almost 60 years ago.

My mind was frozen in thought as a "human time-machine" of a little 6-year old boy at that spot, telling his mother he wanted to go and "pan jeoh" in the nearby "long kow" so many years ago.

Public toilets like the one at Chulia Street are no longer required in Singapore any more.  Pay toilets and those which are free of charge are now everywhere in Singapore.

Over the decades, the public convenience are found every office buildings, restaurants, fast food outlets and those with food and beverage to serve the public are provided with many clean toilets with efficient cleaners with "happy toilet programs" in Singapore.  Gone are the days of the "bucket system" public toilet at Chulia Street.

"Have you seen our toilets at Changi Airport?"  Passengers remarked that the toilets are spotless. "That's our competitive advantage, " the airport authorities commented.

There are also no exposed drains (long kow) on public roads now...

Looking up at the skyscrapers surrounded by me,  I wondered to myself how many hundred of  thousand Singaporeans have worked and later retired from these commercial offices, banks, major international businesses and companies at this business centre their jobs for decades in Singapore.


Sep 19, 2012

Colours of Mid-Autumn 2012, Singapore

[组图] 新加坡各界中秋庆祝活动拉开帷幕
星期一, 9月 17, 2012



亮灯仪式后,来自新加坡当地和中国的艺术家为观众献上了多元民族特色的音乐歌舞。有歌颂中国维吾尔族、汉族青年男女美好情感的舞蹈,有新加坡四大种族共同 演绎的《月亮代表我的心》,也有孩童、老人等祖孙三代表演的象征中秋团圆的情景剧。在演员的邀请下,台下观众也走上舞台同庆中秋佳节,焰火表演更是将整台 晚会推向了高潮。


15日晚,新加坡庆中秋的另一项活动“月圆河畔庆中秋”也在陈庆炎总统的见证下放飞天灯,鸣锣开幕。本次活动是主办方第一次与中国贵阳地方政府合作,除延 续以往在新加坡河畔克拉码头的彩灯展示活动以外,还首次在牛车水附近的芳林公园设置灯组,来自贵阳歌舞艺术团和新加坡本地的艺术表演团体也将每晚在这里为 游客呈现精彩的歌舞表演。

开幕当晚,贵阳苗族绝技“刀尖上的舞蹈”让现场观众叹为观止。光着脚丫的苗族小姑娘在一排明晃晃的刀尖上行走自如,时而还做出惊险难度动作,让观众的心都 提到了嗓子眼。芳林公园布置了形态各异的灯组,有神话传说中的孙悟空,也有以“龙生九子”为主题的系列灯组。为吸引更多民众参与,活动组织者辟出专门互动 区域,民众可以在这里猜灯谜、品茶、用象棋灯笼下棋等。



Nanyang Post, People's Republic of China. The article published on 17 September, 2012 reproduced with acknowledgement and thanks.

The Official Light-Up & Opening Ceremony of the Chinatown Mid-Autumn Festival 2012 by Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, President of Singapore on 16 September, 2012 (Sunday) at 6:15pm at New Bridge Road in front of Lucky Chinatown.

Mr Vincent Tan, Chairman of the Chinatown Mid-Autumn Festival 2012 Organising Committee receiving the Singapore Book of Records for the "largest display of street lanterns" while Dr Lily Neo, Grassroots Adviser & Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar GRC looks on.

Four streets - New Bridge Road, Eu Tong Sen Street, Smith Street and South Bridge Road - are lighted up by 16,800 lanterns over 2km of road in Chinatown.

Chinatown Mid-Autumn Festival 2012 celebration is organised by the Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng Citizens Consultative Committee. This is the 15th year Chinatown's Mid-Autumn Festival organised by them.

Mr Vincent Tan said,  "We hope the festival will attract more people to Chinatown and help people understand more about Chinese culture,"  He noted that work on the festival began in April, 2012.  "Hopefully this will also help to bring more business to the shops here."

The festival will run till Oct 14. During this period, lantern exhibitions and stage shows will be held at Kreta Ayer Square.

On Sept 29, a mass lantern walk - stretching from Banda Street to Eu Tong Sen Street - will be held.

Some roads will be closed during the festival. For information on the festival program and road closures, visit Chinatown Festivals .

Greatest Show in Chinatown - Colours of Mid-Autumn 2012

Celebrate the traditional mid-autumn festival in Singapore.

Experience the Mid-Autumn Festival—a celebration of family unity at a time of year when the moon is at its fullest and brightest. For this grand community event, Chinatown has been decorated with bright vibrant lanterns. Enjoy fun activities like lantern painting and shopping at a festive bazaar with over 300 stalls. It’s a rich cultural experience that’s not to be missed.

Join in a grand celebration of family unity and thanksgiving during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Also known as the Chinese Lantern Festival, the festivities traditionally happen on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, when the moon is at its fullest and brightest. (Source:  Your Singapore - What's On)

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