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Singapore Memory Project Nostalgia Tour and #SgMemory

Singapore Memory Project Nostalgia Tour and #SgMemory

The previous weekend, Asher and I went on a Singapore nostalgia tour as part of the Singapore Memory Project together with the National Library Board (NLB).

Asher doing his part for #sgmemory

Asher doing his part for #sgmemory

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:

This is such a loving family moment isn't it? To think this is right in the heart of our CBD!

This is such a loving family moment isn’t it? To think this is right in the heart of our CBD!

There were many swings and benches of yesteryears for people working in the CBD to get a brief escape into nostalgia

There were many swings and benches of yesteryears for people working in the CBD to get a brief escape into nostalgia

Asher checking out one of the swings

Asher checking out one of the swings

Contrasting photo collage between the playgrounds of yesteryears and the ones now

Contrasting photo collage between the playgrounds of yesteryears and the ones now

The playground in Singapore today which Asher is familiar with

The playground in Singapore today which Asher is familiar with

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.

Albert Centre

Albert 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.

Vintage looking signboards in Albert Centre

Vintage looking signboards in Albert Centre

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.

Contributing pictures of a wet market in Singapore to #sgmemory

Contributing pictures of a wet market in Singapore to #sgmemory

Aunties doing their marketing

Aunties doing their marketing

Fishmonger

Fishmonger

Vegetable stall

Vegetable stall

Meat and poultry

Meat and poultry

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.

Iconic spiral staircase in the middle of the building

Iconic spiral staircase in the middle of the building

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)

There are still many books and stationery shops in Bras Basah Complex today

There are still many books and stationery shops in Bras Basah Complex today

Not many shops use this kind of gate anymore

Not many shops use this kind of gate anymore

Group picture with the other bloggers and Jerome

Group picture with the other bloggers and Jerome

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:

Asher checking out watches

Asher checking out watches

“I want this one”

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.

The ornate fountain in Esplanade Park

The ornate fountain in Esplanade Park

Asher had fun running his hands along the edge of the fountain:

Asher walking round and round the fountain

Asher walking round and round the fountain

Checking out the splashing water

Checking out the splashing water

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.

An introduction to the exhibition

An introduction to the exhibition

Singapore memories around library@esplanade

Singapore memories around library@esplanade

Old ticket stubs

Old ticket stubs

You can vote for your favourite kampung game like what Jerome is doing in this picture

You can vote for your favourite kampung game like what Jerome is doing in this picture

Jerome brought his old library card and school books to share with us

Jerome brought his old library card and school books to share with us

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!

Asher busy creating his

Asher busy creating his “Singapore Memory” masterpieces

Asher playing with chops featuring retro Singapore motifs

Asher playing with chops featuring retro Singapore motifs

Asher chopping a dragon playground

Asher chopping a dragon playground

Drawing after chopping

Drawing after chopping

One of his completed piece

One of his completed piece

Asher and I

Asher and I

Group picture with the other bloggers and Jerome

Group picture with the other bloggers and Jerome

6. Children Little Museum at Bussorrah Street

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.

Children Little Museum...

Children Little Museum…

meets Singapore Memory Project!

meets Singapore Memory Project!

Old soft drink glass bottles

Old soft drink glass bottles

Asher and I on a vintage scooter

Asher and I on a vintage scooter

Street barber anyone?

Street barber anyone?

Group picture

Group picture

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:

Asher playing with the rattan push cart

Asher playing with the rattan push cart

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:

• The SingaporeMemory.SG web portal 

• The free SG Memory iOS application from Apple iTunes app store

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:

North
1. Ang Mo Kio Public Library
2. Woodlands Regional Library
3. Yishun Public Library
4. Sembawang Public Library

South
5. Bukit Merah Public Library
6. Marine Parade Public Library

Central
7. Bishan Public Library
8. Central Public Library
9. library@esplanade
10. Queenstown Public Library
11. Serangoon Public Library
12. Toa Payoh Public Library
13. library@Chinatown

East
14. Bedok Public Library
15. Cheng San Public Library
16. Pasir Ris Public Library
17. Seng Kang Public Library
18. Tampines Regional Library

West
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

About The Author

alvinology

Alvin is a marketer by day and blogger by night. He is a 100% geek who spends too much time surfing the web.

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