The tour was led by fellow blogger and friend, Jerome Lim who is like a walking dictionary for Singapore history.
We were using the hashtag #sgmemory on instagram and twitter throughout the tour. Do use this hashtag if you encounter anything worth documenting to tell the Singapore Story through history. It need not be just old, retro stuff, but anything worth preserving – eg. the recently phased out camo-print no.4 uniform for SAF soldiers.
Check out my instagram @alvinology for some examples.
Many of my #sgmemory posts on instagram were taken at the various places Asher and I visited during the nostalgia tour:
1. “Playsets of Yesteryears” at Raffles Place
This special roving installation by NParks features a variety of swings, see-saws, and a merry-go-round in the most unlikely place – right in the heart of our CBD at Raffles Place. Visitors can read about the history of 12 parks including Toa Payoh Town Park, Kent Ridge Park, Mount Faber Park and the Singapore Botanic Gardens:
The exhibition will remain at Raffles Place Park until 19 May and subsequently rove to East Coast Park (June to July), Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park (mid August to mid October), and Singapore Botanic Gardens (November to December).
2. Albert Centre Wet Market
Albert Centre was one of the residential / commercial complexes put up by the HDB around the 1980s to house some of the residents and traders in the city displaced by urban redevelopment in the 1970s and 1980s. Some examples of similar developments include: Bras Basah Complex; Waterloo Centre; Rochor Centre; Chinatown Complex; Hong Lim Complex; and Tekka Centre.
Several had wet markets including Albert Centre which housed many traders and hawkers from the street markets found around Queen Street and Albert Street up to the 1970s.
Wet markets were not only to provide an important source of fresh food in days when the refrigerator was a luxury, but also served as important social spaces for the community. It was where many people often speaking different languages would interact.
Nowadays, I would say most wet markets are replaced by modern supermarkets run by NTUC Fairprice. There is still one right in front of my flat though. My wife and I like to bring Asher for marketing with us on weekend mornings. He is always intrigued by the full sensory assault on sight, sound, noise and smell.
3. Bras Basah Complex
Bras Basah Complex is a residential / commercial complexes put up by the HDB and completed in 1980s.
It housed residents and traders from the area who were displaced by urban redevelopment in the 1970s and 1980s, including:
- Watch and optical shops many of which had a presence at North Bridge Road
- Book and stationery shops from Bras Basah Road (which was a source of school text books and revision books such as the ten-year series for many); North Bridge Road (Popular Bookstore had its origins on North Bridge Road); Victoria Street (a now shut-down bookstore Shanghai Bookstore had a shop on Victoria Street)
For me, I mostly remember Bras Basah as a place to buy comics in my youth and graphic, art and design books when I first started working. Asher seems enjoy looking at watches at Bras Basah. Maybe this will be his memory of the place:
4. Esplanade Park
Esplanade Park was the location of the Satay Club from 1971 to 1995. It also house a quaint European-style ornate water fountain, erected in 1882 to commemorate the donation of funds by Tan Kim Seng for a water works.
Asher had fun running his hands along the edge of the fountain:
5. library@esplanade – My Home, My Library exhibition
Organised by the Singapore Memory Project, NLB recently launched a My Home, My Library exhibition to bring visitors on a trip down memory lane, documenting and showcasing the precious collection of memories that Singaporeans have of their neighbourhoods, libraries and homes.
The exhibition was launched at various libraries island-wide. Asher had a lot of fun at the one we visited. He even stamped and drew two sets of his own “Singapore memory”, bringing them home to give one to his mum and one to his grandmother!
This is a small private museum featuring many toys and games of yesteryears Singapore. This is my second visit to this museum. You can read more about it on my previous blog post.
Asher loved this place very much and was in tears when we had to leave. He was totally captivated by a vintage rattan push cart for babies and was pushing it all around before I sat him in it which got him even more excited:
Visiting all these nostalgic sites in Singapore and hearing Jerome talk about the “good old days” makes me realise that change is the only constant.
The Singapore I know today will be vastly different from the Singapore Asher will grow up to in years to come.
I was born in the 80s, growing up with much more recorded memories than any previous generations due to the advent of audio and visual technologies as well as the Internet. My generation is among those who grew up in a near utopia Singapore when we were really prosperous and hailed as one the ‘five tigers’ in Asia on the strength of our people capital and economy.
I did not go through the transformation of Singapore from third world to first like my parents and my grandparents generations did. However, I did experience in recent years, a decline in quality of life and steady erosion of an evolving national identity with the relentless import of foreigners into Singapore by our current government.
What is happening to the good old Singapore I grew up in?
Will it become worse than it is now as Asher grows up? Or would our lives improve, like that of my parents and grandparents generations?
There is the Singapore Memory Project to remember all of these by. This is a national initiative started in 2011 to collect, preserve and provide access to Singapore’s knowledge materials, so as to tell the Singapore Story. More details are available on the official website.
If you are interested to submit your memories of Singapore and view memories contributed by others, here are some useful resources:
In addition, there are also social media platforms like the irememberSG Facebook page, @irememberSG Twitter and the iremember.sg blog. As mentioned at the start of this blog post, the #sgmemory hashtag can be used on Instagram and Twitter to upload and access interesting photographs shared by residents of Singapore.
If you are interested to visit NLB’s My Home, My Library exhibition, it will be held from Monday, 25 March to Monday, 29 April 2013 at the libraries listed below. Admission is free:
1. Ang Mo Kio Public Library
2. Woodlands Regional Library
3. Yishun Public Library
4. Sembawang Public Library
5. Bukit Merah Public Library
6. Marine Parade Public Library
7. Bishan Public Library
8. Central Public Library
10. Queenstown Public Library
11. Serangoon Public Library
12. Toa Payoh Public Library
14. Bedok Public Library
15. Cheng San Public Library
16. Pasir Ris Public Library
17. Seng Kang Public Library
18. Tampines Regional Library
19. Bukit Batok Public Library
20. Bukit Panjang Public Library
21. Choa Chu Kang Public Library
22. Clementi Public Library
23. Jurong Regional Library
24. Jurong West Public Library