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Location: Singapore, Singapore

A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Jul 30, 2014

Queenstown Heritage Trail on July 27, 2014

Former Queenstown Driving Test Centre

It was raining heavily when I arrived at the Queenstown MRT station on July 27 2014 at about 8:10am.

Since I was almost an hour earlier, I recce the surrounding areas under the sheltered linkways near the station.

The first colorfully painted building which caught my eyes was the former Queenstown Driving Test Centre at 15, Commonwealth Avenue.

The SLA (Singapore Land Authority) signboard at the locked gates to show that the place is "State property reserved for future development".  That means its "akan datang" ... and not left there for doing nothing, to be neglected for wild lallang to grow and "bochap" by the SLA.  Every little plot of land to utilise is precious in land-scarce Singapore.  Land cannot be grown like plants or trees in our garden city or "Garden by the Bay".  Many places have been developed and redeveloped, build and rebuilt in Singapore over the decades.  Planning to use land (eg MRT network) on the surface, underground, underwater and with buildings higher and higher in the air.

I grew up in Bukit Ho Swee where large areas of land centuries ago were used for cemeteries to redevelop for public housing.  The corpses of our buried ancestors were respectfully cremated according to their respective traditional religious rituals.  In other countries with more land, the cemeteries were untouched for land burial.  Many places in Singapore, including the busy shopping tourist belt of  Takashimaya at Orchard Road, once upon a time, were Teochew cemeteries, land owned by the Ngee Ann Kongsi.

Thanks to Kwek Li Yong, founder of My Community, a civic group that champions the preservation of history and heritage in Singapore to invite fellow bloggers to the media preview of the Queenstown Heritage Trail.

It was cold and chilly in the morning's rain, which drizzled and the rain subsided at 9.00am. The gloomy dark clouds disappeared and the sun arise brightly in the sky. 

The warmth and smiles of fellow nostalgia bloggers who recognize us in person or from our blogs was glad to meet them.  A blessed day indeed.  So nice to say "hello" to everybody.

I am pleased to meet in person for the first time,  Andy Lee, "Daddy of the Sengkang Babies" who posted this blog .

Courtesy of Andy Lee for the "selfie" photo.

My long-time friend and blogger Philip Chew who blogs here

Philip said:  "I was a little disappointed with the Heritage Trial. Blogger James Seah and I were the only two elderly people in the group. The rest was young people interested to know the history and changes of the place".

I  disagree with Philip though.

The younger generation of nostalgia bloggers who are interested in collective memories of Singapore would keep our fond nostalgic memories of Singapore alive.  They would be inspired by old stuff which are worthwhile to remember and learn about the history of Singapore long before the young ones were born.

One of our young energetic and enthusiastic friends, Cheng Pei Yun, blog at "My Queenstown Heritage Trail: The charms of the Queenstown Community".

KL Lee, our "like-minded" nostalgia blogger friend who blogs in Chinese here .

Li Yong describe the coffin-shaped market in Queenstown

 The kinda morbid description of the "coffin market" when the lady covered her nose on hearing this  ...

Not everyone, (especially the non-Queenstown residents in the past) who attended the heritage trail could visualise this empty plot of land at Queenstown in this photo once was the Queenstown Bowl, the NTUC supermarket and the shops in the Queenstown heartland.

Tour leader Li Yong had many stories of this place to share with us at the entrance of the Queenstown Public Library.

The young librarian had more stories to share the history of the Queenstown Library which was built over four decades ago.  She showed us the archived photos which were displayed on the walls of the library at the staircase.

Me too, to share the 40th Anniversary celebration of the Queenstown Library here .

Next on the itinerary of the heritage trail were decades-old church and a Hindu temple at Tanglin Halt, located side by side in multi-religious Singapore.  These places of worship of different religions in Singapore are found common in many places of churches, temples, mosques and religions of various denominations.

The Church of the Blessed Sacrament – Queenstown’s first Catholic church opened on 9 May 1965.  The Church’s most striking feature is the dramatically structured slate roof, which was constructed in folds in the shape of a tent that symbolised the “tent of meeting” in the Old Testament of the Bible.  The Church of the Blessed Sacrament was also gazetted for conservation.

Just beside the church, you will find the Sri Muneeswaran Temple at Commonwealth Drive which is believed to be Southeast Asia’s largest shrine for the Sri Muneeswaran deity.   Many years ago when I worked at the HDB Queensway Area Office at Tanglin Halt, I remember that the Sri Muneeswaran Temple was just a small shrine.  The temple devotees have donated generously to the building fund over many years to build this temple with faith and gratitude.

My memories of Queenstown are shared on these blogs here , here and here .

Happy fond memories of Queenstown shared by all our nostalgia bloggers.  The young generations of Singapore are looking forward to better memories of Queenstown for everyone, the pioneer generations and the current generations to build and develop them for the future.

Happy 49th National Day!  Happy Birthday, Singapore!

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Blogger --andy-- said...

Nice to catch up with you James!
Agree with you that the best way for us to document heritage is though photos, archives and even blogs.

Who knows how many more towns would have been bulldozed by the time my kids grow up :)


July 30, 2014 at 1:26 PM  
Blogger PChew said...

James, you misunderstood my 'disappointment' of MyQueenstown Heritage Trails. We had personal memories. I was there to impart my experiences. Instead I had an easy time following the crowd.

July 30, 2014 at 2:58 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thank you, Andy. We have connected in conversation via Facebook and our blogs for quite awhile. So we are no strangers. The virtual memories shared on the blogs with "memory aids" you mentioned.

Singapore is forever under construction to remake the physical transformation in the country. Every current generation of Singaporeans would need to bulldoze the places for even better and modern living designs and building materials to suit their new future tastes and fashion. Life is forever moving forward to improve the young generations to work together for a better Singapore.

July 30, 2014 at 7:08 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Hi Philip, we have no misunderstanding or misinterpretation as grandpa which you are more experienced and seasoned than me as a "newbie".

We are non-ageist bloggers who share our memories and experiences with everyone... young and old, gals or guys. Happy blogging, Philip!

July 30, 2014 at 7:14 PM  
Blogger FL said...

Hi, James, you did not highlight the famous Tah Chung Emporium (not sure the spelling)next to the existing 2-storey wet market (originally known as Duchess Estate Market). I visited this area frequently during the late 1960s. The emporium was an attraction during the heyday. I used to shop and window-shop as well at this building. In those years, the two cinemas (Venus & GoldenCity) were a big draw. I also remember make-shift hawkers near the cinemas, and there was a makeshift stall selling vinyl records, and it used to play records like "The last waltz"by Engelbert and another hot song "Mr Simon says". Once a week (I think it's Thursday or Monday), there used to be a pasar malam along the roadside fronting Tah Chung Emporium in the evening. Just imagine the sound and noise in the evenings back then !! It a dead place now.

August 1, 2014 at 1:02 AM  

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