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Location: Singapore, Singapore

A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Aug 31, 2013

Growing Up in Sungei Road in Early Singapore

The Singapore Ice Works in Sungei Road in 1958

Nobody in the world can be born at the same time (except maybe as twins or more siblings) and grown up in the same place with everyone.  Even the twins have different experiences, memories and perspectives. There are some who are born in one place and then moved to another place to stay and grow up.

I have never grown up in Sungei Road in Singapore at anytime since my birth.  However, I have a few schoolmates who grew up in Sungei Road in the 1960s and shared their fond nostalgic memories of  a notorious area in Singapore and over the world with an infamous name - "Thieves' Market".

Although I have heard the name "Sungei Road" from my schoolmates during our schooldays, I had never been there.

The first time I visited the place with my former colleague Ng Chin Beow, a long-time nostalgia friend.  It was his favorite haunt for good bargains to buy spare parts for his motor-cycles, radios, amplifiers and other electrical devices.  Almost every Saturday afternoons after work, he would bring me along on his motor-cycle and we roam around Sungei Road to stroll and "look see, look see".  There were many new or rather second-hand products to learn and conduct "market research" in case we needed something suddenly and remembered seen them at Sungei Road.  Memories of Sungei Road was stored in my "memory bank" for about three years while we were working together, lots of fun and enjoyment of our young adventurous days in Singapore.

It was like a very different world in Singapore, a new place of a different era never seen before to discover, explore and experience  ...

For decades, the residents of Sungei Road rooted on to live, study, work resiliently to their businesses  despite an undeserving "offensive reputations" because of the place nickname which was picked for fun and easy to remember. The residents and their families born and lived in Sungei Road are not dealing with stolen stuff.  They are traders with entrepreneurship spirit to provide a much needed services not found elsewhere in Singapore in the early days.

Over the centuries, little known stories of Sungei Road of famous people born at a  small place in Singapore.

Many descendants of the forefathers from "rags to riches" as second-hand goods traders who brought up to groom the successful younger generations, educate them and taught them decades of valuable business experiences the ropes of the business and "tricks of the trade" for a better Singapore for many decades.  Many Singaporeans who grew up in Sungei Road have businesses in Jalan Besar and the present computer and electrical shops in Sim Lim Square.

It is better known as the "Sungei Road Flea Market" as published by the National Heritage Board    Portal.

More nostalgia blogs about Sungei Road by my popular blogger friends are available at "Remember Singapore" here . Yeo Hong Eng's "Old Robinson Petang" here contributed to the Singapore Memory Portal and Images of Sungei Road in Chronological Order .

Fellow blogger Lee KL shared a related blog topic in Chinese here .

Sungei Road - Then

Sungei Road, Singapore  c 1950
Sungei Road (literally River Road) is a road in Singapore situated between Serangoon Road and Jalan Besar.

Sungei Road got its name because it runs along the banks of the Rochor River (Sungei Rochor), hence its Malay name sungei meaning "river". Sungei Road start opposite the former Kandang Kerbau police station, hence it was known to the Chinese in Hokkien dialect as "tek kah ma ta chu" meaning "tek kah police station"

A family walking along Rochore Canal to cross the bridge in 1970s
The Rochore Canal towards Sungei Rd under construction in 1974
A roadside cobbler in Sungei Road  c 1970s
A  small tool electrician at work in Sungei Road  c 2009.  Thanks to Geraldine Soh for sharing.

The second-hand goods shops at Sungei Road c 1970s

Foreign visitors to Sungei Road  c  1970s

The coffee-shop in Sungei Road with the trishaws outside was where I had the first taste of  Kan Chia Mee   which is now found at the Maxwell Road Food Centre as reviewed by the "Hungry Island".  I loved the best cheap and good Trishaw Riders' daily meals cost at only 20 cents a bowl in those day.

Another favorite food to remember of Sungei Road was the specialty laksa sold at 50 cents a bowl..  The foodie blog by Dr Leslie Tay here .

Sungei Road - Now

The archived photos of "Sungei Road - Then" are shared on this nostalgia blog with thanks and acknowledgement of National Archives of Singapore and the respective contributors for photo credit.  The present photos with credit and thanks to Google Map website.


Aug 27, 2013

Her Majesty's Birthday Parade in Singapore

What's the biggest event at The Padang in Singapore on 10 June, 1954?  Did you notice the professional heavy-duty antique cameras used by the photographers from the newspapers and other mass media?

Touched with splendour, Singapore's traditional birthday parade under British colonial rules was a gallant tribute to Her Majesty it was the biggest and most colourful Queen Elizabeth II's birthday party ceremony ever seen in the colony.

The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was the ceremony in which the newly ascended monarch, Elizabeth II, was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ceylon, and Pakistan, as well as taking on the role of Head of the Commonwealth. Elizabeth, then aged 25, ascended the thrones of these countries upon the death of her father, King George VI, on 6 February 1952, and was proclaimed queen by her various privy and executive councils shortly afterwards. The coronation was held more than a year after the accession, on 2 June 1953.

Source:  The Singapore Free Press, June 10, 1954  (Courtesy of NewspaperSG)

In brilliant sunshine at the Padang this morning, Singapore saw the most colourful Queen's Birthday Parade ever.

The splendid ceremonial uniforms of the Malay soldiers - scarlet sarongs and white bajus - blended with the jungle green of the Gurkhas, the white of the Royal Navy and khaki of the airmen, among the 3,000-odd strong Parade force.

And thousands of Singapore's citizens cheered as the Governor, Sir John Nicoll, took the salute when the contigents marched smartly by in review order.

For the benefit of those who could not see the parade because of crowds, the Parade marched up to Raffles Quay and round Raffles Place.

Later, the Governor sent loyal greetings to the Queen from Colony subjects wishing that: "Her Majesty's reign will be long, peaceful and prosperous".


A Sikh man remains seated while guests stand up for the national anthem during parade at padang on the occasion of the Queen's birthday.  The spectators stood in attention to sing "God Save The Queen".

Her Majesty's Birthday Parade -  Flypast

Her Majesty's Birthday Parade - Marchpast

 Ships and boats decorated with flags at the waterfront

The archived photos with "For online reference viewing only" watermark are posted on this blog for educational research purposes only.  Photo credit:  National Archives of Singapore with thanks and acknowledgement.