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Dec 28, 2011

School Excursion in 1950s

A school excursion to Ho Ho Biscuit Factory in 1950s.

In 1950 when I attended Primary One at Kai Kok Primary School at Bukit Ho Swee, I had looked forward to the year-end school holidays.

When the teacher announced in class that the students would be allowed to join a one-day tour to various parts of Singapore on a bus, we were delighted. However, we would need to obtain written permission from our parents.

A printed form from the school was brought home for my father to sign on it and return to the school. After my father explained the form in Chinese to us, my mother appeared concerned because it was my first time leaving on a bus tour with only the school teachers to guide us. We were instructed to obey the teachers, cannot roam around the place by ourselves throughout the excusion.

Myself and I were "country bumpkin suaku" classmates in the neighbourhood to go on a first time excursion to the Changi seaside from 8 am to 5 pm. Each pupil to pay $2 but to bring our own food. My mother cooked early that morning to prepare my favorite dark-sauce stewed prawns with rice in a tiffin carrier for me. The "take-away lunch" was prepared with mother's love and tasted very good; perhaps it was because I was hungry and I brought little pocket-money on the tour.

The unforgettable memories of a little boy outside of the Bukit Ho Swee kampong without my mother to accompany me.

At about 8 yrs old, I knew little about the places in Singapore. Outside the boundaries of Beo Lane, Delta Road, Alexandra Road near Delta Circus and the other end of Havelock Road at the junction of Kim Seng Road within the "In of Bound" marker on IB marker defined by my mother.

Some older friends had scolded me for being "over-protective" to wherever I went by my mother. But then, I am grateful to my mother as I grew up in a notorious part of Bukit Ho Swee where the "beng" (brave) guys with tattoo all over their bodies with fierce looks were walking around. (I beg your pardon, body tattoo is a fashion trend now. Not associated with triad gangs). No wonder when I walked passed them with head lowered.

Many gang clashes in the kampong were started with "staring sessions". The phrase I remembered was "ka ninpeh kua si mi, chit toh si mi". (Translated in Hokien: "What are you staring at your father (that's the guy speaking), what 'number' you play). The 'number' refers to the "gangland code" referred to the triad group eg: 24, 18, 369 etc.

My blogger friend Yeo Hong Eng had more blogs on this topic. Please refer to my nostalgia blogger friends under the "Blogs Of The Same Feather" blogroll on this page link.

Many years later when I started working, I then learnt from legal terms that the form the teacher wanted my father to sign is known as a "Disclaimer Form".

I didn't know then. No wonder my mother appeared worried although she agreed to allow me to join the school excursion. Most likely what my father had told mother was something like that, and mother sternly which I thought was as argument. She had said: "Don't anyhow sign anything that we don't know".

Fortunately, my father signed the form and I was given a chance on my first experience on an educational excursion through various places from Bukit Ho Swee to Changi Point over fifty years ago...

The standard sample (with modification as appropriate) of "Disclaimer Form" could now be found on a Google search:
I confirm that my child’s/ward’s participation in the school activity and the related activities/ entirely voluntary and I accept all risks involved therein. Accordingly, the (name of School) and or any of their respective employees or partners shall not be liable for any loss, damage, injury or illness of whatsoever nature and howsoever caused, suffered by me (to my person or property) or my child as a result, directly or indirectly, of attending the activities/Event and/or participating in the activities and (name of school) and/or any of their respective employees shall not be liable for any loss and/or damage (including indirect or consequential loss and/or damage) arising therefrom, and I hereby indemnity (name of school) and their respective employees from any loss, damage or injury that would otherwise incur arising from any loss or injury suffered by me or any abovementioned child arising from or incidental to the participation in the event.
We were too excited to fall asleep the night before the school excursion. I remembered my friends told me when we were travelling on the bus. Kids as kids whether in the past or as now... I was once a kid long, long ago!

It was my first experience to visit Changi seaside, travelling to a "faraway place" on a bus for about one or two hours. The route included Chinatown where my mother had brought me there several times for marketing to buy Chinese New Year goodies.

Throughout the journey in the 30 or 40 seaters in the chartered bus (non-aircond), we kids were shouting with excitement, looking out of the windows to store in their memories many years later to remember their excursion experiences. There were many tall buildings, lots of people, cars and buses on the roads in the city.

At Bukit Ho Swee kampong where we grew up, there were almost no high-rise buildings in the attap settlement.

It was a new experience on the trip to many places in Singapore, the first time during our childhood.

Today, 50 years later, how would be the first-time experience of the young school children on school excursions to various places in Singapore?

The modern-day parents who are more affluent to bring their children to travel overseas frequently for school holidays, the experience of the children would be so different. Would the youngsters today be as excited as we were 50 years ago on school excursions?

With the courtesy of photos from National Archives of Singapore (NAS) and the contributors posted to this blog. Unfortunately, I do not have my schooldays photos here to share.

The names of the schools are omitted intentionally as the persons on the photos have the rights to privacy. However, the places of the school excursions are located in Singapore, but many of them are gone. Nevertheless, those who know them will have fond nostalgic Singapore memories to remember and share them with their young. Have fun!

Please join me on a photojournal blog on school excusions to Singapore in the 1950s here:

Eveready Battery Factory c 1951

Kranji river mouth c 1952

Lam Soon Cannery c 1951

Nanyang Shoe Factory c 1950

Lee's Pineapple Factory c 1950

Singapore Cane Factory c 1951

Pepsi Cola Factory at Havelock Road c 1950

Tanjong Kling Fishing Village c 1951

Johore Bahru Sultan Palace c 1950

Sembawang Shipyard c 1970

Lunch Break during the school excursion

Teachers and parents with food for picnic. c 1946.

Sembawang Shipyard c 1970.

Teachers teaching Singapore geography lesson during the school excursion in 1950s.

Teacher and students during an excursion to the Straits Times Press c 1950.

Botanic Gardens c 1950.

Botanic Garden "Bandstand" c 1950.

Mount Faber Signal Station c 1952.

Pierce Reservoir c 1951.

Soya sauce factory c 1951.

Lee Rubber Factory c 1951.

Jurong Brickworks c 1952.

Bukit Timah forest reserve c 1950.

A swim at the Bukit Timah forest reserve c 1950.

A display at Raffles Museum c 1950

Tiger Balm Garden c 1950.

Tiger Balm Garden c 1950.

Tiger Balm Garden c 1950.

Tiger Balm Garden c 1950.

School excursion group in 1950s.

Singapore Zoological Garden c 1986.

Singapore Zoological Garden c 1986.

Before the school holidays closed, have a family activity funtime with everyone at home to look through the photo albums or videos of past school excursions for iremember memories to enjoy!

iremembermySchoolDays , part of the irememberSG initiative, is a collaboration between MOE Heritage Centre and the National Library Board. The aim is to add to the collection of stories from the teaching fraternity. These can then be shared through platforms like Facebook ( or the blog. Teachers can also contribute stories via This is part of the larger national project – the Singapore Memory Project, to collect, preserve and provide access to memories and stories related to Singapore.



Blogger lim said...

Going on school excursion is one of the most enjoyable periods of my school education. We visted factories in Jurong, had lunch breaks at the Jurong Lake or the Botanic Gardens. Even a visit to the Museum was exciting as we shared tales of the haunted attic. We were poor, yet we enjoyed our childhood.

December 28, 2011 at 9:40 PM  
Blogger dashing hongeng said...

We were studying in Bedok Boys'.Those days for excursions the teachers would take the whole cohort to walk around the neighbourhood such as Jalan Tiga Ratus, Somapah Road, Mata Ikan, the beach at Bedok etc. The teacher would let us play on the sand and water. There was once we went to the Johore Zoo by train. Some went to my father's farm. Today if we take the the children to Haw Par Villa, some of the children would go home feeling traumatic by visiting the 'Ten Gates of Hell' (formerly eighteen). Then the parents would complain to the principal. The principal would advise the teachers not to bring their pupils there.

December 29, 2011 at 12:20 AM  
Blogger dashing hongeng said...

We were studying in Bedok Boys'. Those days the teacher would take us to Jalan Tiga Ratus, Somapah Road, Mata Ikan, the Bedok beach and sometimes my father's farm. The teacher let us play on the sand and seawater. There was once we went to the Johore Zoo by train. Today, if the teacher were to bring the pupils to Haw Par Villa, some of the pupils would feel traumatic after visiting the 'Eighteen (now Ten)Gates of Hell. The parents would complain to the principal about the teacher not feeling sensitive to the condtions of the pupils. The principal would caution the teacher about bringing their pupils to such a place. Today few school groups visit the Haw Par Villa.

December 29, 2011 at 12:30 AM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

I share your sentiments, Mr Lim.

While watching the photos of the children on school excursion, it was not the clothing or shoes they wear but the happiness on their faces to learn new things and the new places to visit on their educational trips.

December 29, 2011 at 1:07 AM  
Blogger Lam Chun See said...

In my primary school, Braddell Rise School, sometimes the teacher brought us to MacRitchie which was just across the road. I also remember one excursion to Botanical Gardens. I remember the monkeys climbing all over our bus.

We also had a teacher who brought a few of his favourite pupils out for excursions in his car - it was either a Hillman or a Ford Prefect. I was one of those pupils :)

December 29, 2011 at 7:13 PM  
Blogger Lam Chun See said...

I think nowadays, one of he favorite places is the farms at Lim Chu Kang.

December 29, 2011 at 7:14 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thanks to dashing hongeng for sharing his comments about the traumatic experience of some school children to the "Ten Gates of Hell" or "Ten Courts of Hell" at Tiger Balm Garden (Haw Par Villa).

More information about "Haw Par Villa" are available at Sunshiny website here .

December 30, 2011 at 8:31 AM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Chun See's excursion to Botanical Gardens by his teacher is an interesting experience to share his memories of schooldays. Thank you.

December 30, 2011 at 8:39 AM  

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