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Feb 9, 2014

Walk Down Memories of Queenstown Singapore

Aerial view from Blk 50, Commonwealth Avenue, Singapore

These breath-taking aerial view from the topmost 40th storey HDB apartment block was captured in my "memory bank" and stored in the camera to share on this blog.

Thanks to my nostalgia and heritage friends Hercules Lim and Lina Koh, who invited me to meet her Facebook friend Victor Khong.  Victor is currently located at Illinois, USA and on holiday in Singapore to celebrate the Lunar New Year with his mother.

Victor's mother stayed in Queenstown for over two decades.  Victor, Lina and Hercules grew up in Queenstown and this trip posted on this blog was a walk down memory lane in Queenstown in Singapore.
(There is another Queenstown in New Zealand for the clarification of my foreign friends).

I have not visited Queenstown since I last posted about Boh Beh Kang in 2010.

With appreciation to Hercules Lim as heritage "tour guide" to Commonwealth Avenue and Tanglin Halt, I did not realise that so much have changed the physical landscape of a place where I once worked at the HDB Queensway Area Office about 20 years ago.  More about this on another blog to share my Singapore memories of people, places and events which are worthwhile to remember for a lifetime.

After meeting at the Commonwealth MRT station for our meetup, we then walked towards Blk 53, Commonwealth Avenue for an aerial perspective and panorama bird's eye view of Queenstown.

The team discuss the aerial views and what best photos to shoot.

Commonwealth Estate, fondly remembered as chap lak lao chu (sixteen storey tall flats) is the third estate developed between 1962 and 1964 under HDB. One prominent flat, Blk 81, has received numerous foreign dignitaries over the years because it offers panoramic views of the developments in Queenstown as well as Holland Road. Some of these prominent figures include Emperor Akihito of Japan and Prince Phillip.

The newly completed 40-storey apartment blocks at Commonwealth Avenue we visited is a popular HDB estate with high demand by the applicants.  However, priority was given to the residents who had formerly stayed at the older designed low-rise flats demolished and then rebuilt now.  Many of these residents considered to be a blessing in disguise to be selected for this precinct and lucky to have a better view to many parts of Singapore.  The following photos were taken from the corridors and the views were obstructed by the walls on both sides like frames in the photos.

Fortunately, there were other camera lens angles from the apartment block for us to photograph the place.  Please enjoy the aerial views to share on this blog.

Look beyond the old HDB estate in the foreground, across the few bungalows and terraced houses and then we could see the sea and the ships berthed in the harbour of the Port of Singapore.

What a place in Singapore to stay for the scenic views of the sea?  Thank goodness, the sunny weather and haze-free day for the photo-shoot was a blessing.

Wow!  The scenes was awesome!  In whispers, we expressed unanimously that how we wished to be the lucky owners at this special choice site in Singapore.

As we were only visitors to the public corridors of the apartment block, we had to be considerate and mindful not to make too much noises to disturb the residents there. It was a privilege to capture the views in our minds' eyes with our cameras.  Not to trespass the privacy of the flat owners.

 In the distance, we could see the giant mechanical cranes at the container port and harbour of Pasir Panjang.

Beyond the sea to the left, the forest of the hilly ridges and the recognizable buildings in these photos.


In the distance, we could spot Tangs and all the tall buildings in Orchard Road, including Takashimaya and Ion which have grown up over the years.

Please take a closer look at the blocks of HDB flats which are earmarked for redevelopment in the near future.  The residents and shop tenants in the estate have moved out and found alternative dwelling and shops.  The last 2 coffeeshops, on both ends of Blk 75, Commonwealth Avenue, would terminate their shop tenancy latest by 28 February, 2014.

Blk 64 (above) and Blk 76 (below) are the older HDB flats at Commonwealth Ave

Some other buildings under construction for business offices, residential and industrial purposes.

Back on our foot at the ground floor of Blk 50, Commonwealth Avenue after leaving the aerial views from above.

The newly-completed 40-storey HDB apartment blocks at Commonwealth Drive

Walking down from the 40 storey lift like from the air and I felt dizzy!

We then moved on to Blk 75, Commonwealth Avenue, the most talked about the oldest coffeeshops in Singapore to be closed on 28 February, 2014.

With thanks to Gary Lim, our Facebook friend who posted to the "On a little street in Singapore" group with photos to share with us:

[Blk 75 Commonwealth Drive this old offeeshop will cease business on 28th Feb Last chance for those who love old coffeeshop to drop by n brings u back to the 60's I had a great time here for the past 10 yrs most mornings ( before tat was sitting ard those old Tiong Bahru coffeeshops till those locusts start crawling in n turned old TB into a Hello Kitty Estate....oh locusts = hipsters lor hahahaha )]

Thank you very much for the lead and information, Gary Lim.  Photo credit:  Gary Lim on 21/12/2013

Blk 75 Commonwealth Avenue Coffee Shop


The taste of the "wanton mee and wanton soup" before bidding goodbye to the stall
Collectors' items on the shelves of the coffeeshop

This is my favorite one. Victor looked at me with all seriousness when I asked him whether he knows why I was drinking coffee from the saucer? He then paused and told me it was to cool the hot coffee ...

Actually I was just poking him as "poke in Facebook".  I told him that when I was a young boy to drink coffee with my father at an old coffeeshop for the first time, I asked my father why drink coffee from the saucer instead of the cup. The same question I asked Victor because I thought he didn't know. I guffawed and got caught in Lina's camera fun!  Anyways, Victor accepted the joke sportingly with a good sense of humor.

At the request to take a photo of Lina and the kindergarten she attended as a little girl for childhood memories and keepsake.

These are the stuff which memories are made of.  We will never be able to recreate the past: the coffeeshop, the favorite "wanton mee" stall in the coffeeshop, the kindergarten which Lina attended, would be gone with effect from 1 Mar 2014.   True, we had a sense of sentimentalize, romanticize or even glamorize the past once gone.  However, all conditioned things are impermanent and whatever have to go, will go.  Like these old HDB flats at Commonwealth Avenue.  The hundreds or thousands of residents in the estate are living and have moved out to upgrade or relocated to new flats and shops for better designed buildings, playgrounds, kindergartens and schools with better planned amenities built by the HDB or private condominiums or landed properties.

We say "goodbye" to the affected demolished buildings at Commonwealth Avenue as the bulldozers moved in. It is not the end of the world or nothing happening to leave the place to be neglected or left to die.

There are already plans to redevelop and rebuild the site for a better use for the 30-year-old estate.  Building may be demolished but not "death".  The most important are the living to have better homes for the present and the future generations as long as there is peace and stability in Singapore for everyone to work together as "One People, One Nation".

Looking forward to a better place for home at Commonwealth Avenue in the near future!



Blogger BigHeadRabbit said...

I saw Lina Catcat :)

March 1, 2014 at 5:35 PM  

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