Saturday, November 7, 2015

[Singapore Islands] History of Singapore's Coney Island

Welcome to Coney Island

The island was bought over by the Haw Par brothers - Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par, who built a beach villa on the island.  (22) "The 600 sq m building is the only known villa remaining from the Aw family. It has a central hall and an open verandah that surrounds the house. A separate single-storey 100 sq m house was a service block. Its architect was likely to be Ho Kwong Yew, a leading architect of the Modern Movement in Singapore during the 1930s."(23)

A tender was published in the newspaper seeking for companies to bid for the erection of a bangalow on Haw Par Island (Pulo Serangoon). (29) 

The villa fell into disrepair during the Japanese Occupation and a auction notice was placed in the newspaper for the sale of the island and its building. (22) (25) (30)

Previously named Haw Par Island, Indian businessman Ghulam Mahmood bought over the island from Mr Aw Boon Haw and called it "Singapore's Coney Island". He had planned to spend $100,000 to turn it into a resort. The resort would include a dance hall, bar and restaurant. (24) (25)


Advertisement in the newspaper (27)

The owner did try to get the resort off the ground. There was a launch every 1/2 hour and arriving on the island, visitors would be entertained by singers and also, the Coney Island Band. (26) (27)

"Pleasure isle for sale" - headlined a 1955 The Straits Times article. It was said that the owner, Mr Tarlok Singh, had intended to sell this 32-acre island (12.8 hectares) located off Punggol. At that point of sale, there was "a building with a dance floor and several seaside cabins." The island also had its own electric power plant. (1) By then, the island was already deserted. (28) Though Singaporeans would head to the island for picnics, the idea of having a Coney Island similar to what was in New York failed to take off.

In 1971, it was said that a Thai owner of Coney island was looking to sell off the freehold island for S$1 million. By then, the island was already a hot spot for swimming and water-skiing. Visitors could visit the island by taking a 30-minute boat ride via the Punggol Jetty. The article had also mentioned that there were remains of old army barracks. Hmm, so who built those army barracks? (2)

In the same year, there were talks about damming the sea to build a mega reservoir so as to meet Singapore's growing water needs. (3) The damming of the sea did not happen, but a more palatable damming of the river - Sungei Serangoon was completed in 2011 - 40 years after the idea of such a reservoir was first discussed. (4) Sungei Serangoon has an entire history on its own which I plan to cover in another post.

Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) then purchased the island in 1972 and laid out its plan of wanting to develop the island into a recreational resort. The statutory board had also hoped to expand the island through a S$14.5 million reclamation work that started in March 1974. (5) With this reclamation, the plan was to increase the size of the island to 154 acres (54 hectares). (6) (7) It is said that the island would be linked by a bridge to the mainland. (8)

Alas, it was not all about white sandy beaches. In 1976, the island had faced with issues such as pollution from the pig farms in Punggol that had afflicted the island till the late 80s. (9) (10) Oil-slick waters was also a perennial issue. (9) 

In 1982, the complaint was about a pack of mongrels that were left on the island by owners to fend for themselves. (11)

In 1987, PSA released the rights of the island to Singapore Housing Development Board. The plan was to reclaim the Punggol foreshore and with that, the island will be joined to the mainland. (12)

In 1994, boatman Lu Song Fa opined that Coney Island has remained pretty much the same as it was decades ago. He was the only boatman operating the service to Coney Island. At one time, there were as many as 14 boats that took visitors to the island. These were beach goers and anglers. (14) The water off the island was also good for water-skiing.

More concrete plans for the island came about in 1995 when the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) talked about land reclamation of the island. The plan was similar to the previous suggestion of land reclamation. However, there would be a river that separates Punggol and Coney Island. There were further plans of building either private or public housing on both banks. (13)

Work on the island started in earnest in 2008. The decision was to build a coastal promenade and also a rustic park. (15)

The final decision, lauded as a victory for nature lovers, was made by NParks to turn into Singapore's ninth nature park. (16) Nature lovers have been calling for the island to be preserved in its natural state as migratory birds such as the blue-throated bee-eater and jerdon's baza would usually make this little island their temporary home. (18) However, this is only the immediate plans as suggested by NParks. In the future, it is said that there will also be other developments, other than it just being a nature park. This will include a housing estate on the island itself. (17) (19)

The 50ha island was officially opened by Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure, Mr Khaw Boon Wan on October 10, 2015. There are five beaches and two bridges that are linked to the eastern and western ends of Punggol Promenade and Pasir Ris Coast Industrial Park 6. The park is opened from 7am to 7pm. (20)

The park cost S$3million and took a total of 15 months to complete. There's a 2km stretch of shoreline and 2.4km path that stretches from the eastern to western bridge. Interestingly, there is no electricity or piped water on the island. So in comes solar power and harvested rain water. (22)


1. Pleasure isle for sale. September 8, 1955. The Straits Times. P5.
2. It's yours if you have a million to spare. August 31, 1971. New Nation. P1.
3. Water. August 31, 1971. New Nation. P1.
4. PUB. Local Catchment Water. Accessed on November 11, 2015.
5. Reclamation of foreshore. March 9, 1974. The Straits Times. P22.
6. Pulau Coney di-beli oleh pehak PSA. November 21, 1972. Berita Harian. P10.
7. Big Coney Isle Plan. January 4, 1974. New Nation. P3.
8. Beach of the future. September 11, 1974. New Nation. P3.
9. PSA plan for resort islands hit by pollution. December 25, 1976. The Straits Times. P6.
10. De Silva, G. July 29, 1989. Keep Pulau Seletar as it is - a 'hideaway' island. The Straits Times.
11. Unwanted dogs left to starve on the island. November 10, 1982. The Straits Times. P12.
12. Coney Island to be swallowed up. April 16, 1987. The Straits Times. P13.
13. Low, M. November 8, 1995. URA to sell Changi land for resort use, reclaim 110ha off Punggol. The Straits Times.
14. Tan, W. June 23, 1998. A last look at Coney Island. The Straits Times.
15. Development plan takes shape in Punggol. May 17, 2008. Channel News Asia.
16.Toh, K. February 19, 2012. Coney island set to become nature park. The Straits Times.
17. Nature park amid various projects. February 26, 2012. The Straits Times. 
18. Rustic nature park for Coney Island. November 20, 2012. The Straits Times.
19. Wild greenery makes S'pore a global eco-city. May 1, 2013. The Straits Times.
20. Coney Island Park, Singapore's new nature destination, now open. October 10, 2015. The Straits Times.
21. New nature park opens on Coney Island. October 10, 2015. Channel News Asia.
22. Coney Island Park opens to the public. October 11, 2015. The Straits Times.   
23. Coney Island: A walk on the wild side. October 17, 2015. The Straits Times.
24. 'Coney Island' ready by the end of this year. August 11, 1950. The Singapore Free Press. P5.
25. Coney Island for S'pore. April 4, 1950. The Straits Times. P7.
26. Advertisement. April 26, 1951. The Singapore Free Press. P11.
27. Advertisement. March 21, 1951. The Singapore Free Press. P7.
28. She saved marooned monkey. February 20, 1955. The Straits Times. P5.
29. Advertisement. February 1, 1937. The Straits Times. P2.
30. Advertisements. July 9, 1947. The Straits Times. P2.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

[Singapore Parks] Punggol Park - A Park for Three Generations

Weather-beaten Cement Signage

Singapore knows fresh air when they smell it. So with clear weather and haze-free air, people of all ages started to throng the parks. This was no different for Punggol Park that I'd visited earlier. The park is located in an extremely tranquil location - lock in between two rivers - Sungei Pinang and Sungei Serangoon. Both of which have been relocated and in the case of Sungei Pinang, straightened.

Sungei Pinang
In the past, Sungei Pinang was a meandering river that patter out near Jalan Payoh Lai while the other led towards Sungei Serangoon, the lifeblood of fishermen for close to 100 years. Previously, there was a road called Lorong Santun that appeared in the 1966 street directory. It was here that ships and barges were built illegally. (1) This road has now be taken over by the park.

Punggol Park Pond
Looking Towards the Pond

The key landmark of this 16 hectare Punggol Park is the 5-ha pond. The running path hugs the perimeter of the pond and this makes it an extremely pleasant running experience. Other times, I would see anglers trying their luck on getting a catch. (2)

What Else Can You Do?

Elderly Folks Learning Taichi

For me, I'd say people watch! I completed my run. In truth, I just stopped in my tracks as there was much to see. I spotted a group of elderly drawing their swords. No, there wasn't any fights. They were practicing their sword play, which is part of their Taichi routine. All poised and elegant. Their moves were immaculate. There is also a Woodball Lawn, a game played largely by the elderly.

Children Screaming Their Hearts Out

I was beyond mesmerised now and had long given up my jog. Just slightly away from the pond was the children's playground. Thus, the park does not just cater to the joggers and taichi practitioners. It's also where children can come out to play. The slides, swings, climbing poles and the likes to keep the kids entertained.

Other than these, there's also a restaurant where you can have a decent meal and a bicycle rental shop where you can pick up a wide range of bicycles.

About the Park

The spire of the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary could be seen in the distance

First mooted in 1992, the S$4 million park provides residents with a retreat from their busy lifestyles. (3) Dr Michael Lim, the former Minister of Parliament of Cheng San Group Representative Constituency opened the park in 1994. (4)

One of the reasons for naming the park Punggol was because the start of old Punggol Road was located just at the junction of the church. That stretch of road is now called Hougang Avenue 8.


1. The Straits Times. October 16 1979.Where building of vessels is illegal. P.13.
2. National Parks. October 8, 2015. Accessed on November 1, 2015.
3. The Straits Times. November 27, 1992. Hougang to build $4m park for all in the family. P.33.
4. The Straits Times. November 20, 1994. Cheng San residents get park with fishing pond. P.26.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

[Singapore Islands] Pulau Ubin: Tranquil Island

Pulau Ubin - An island that is a stone-throw away from Singapore's mainland but it is so different in every way. Stepping onto the island seems to zap you into history. Nature, houses on stilts, tall coconut trees. All of which are not commonly seen on the island of Singapore.

I'd wanted to bring my family to Pulau Ubin over the weekend but the rain scuppered our plans. Also, I'd wanted to see how we can spend the least amount of money while gaining maximum enjoyment.

We started off from the Changi Point Ferry Terminal. In the past, we just waited at the pier the boatman would just call out to you to board his bumboat. Unlike now, there was no police checks or scanners. We just climb across adjoining bumboats to get to the one that was departing for Pulau Ubin.

The cost of the bumboat ride was S$2.50 per pax. It does not matter if my son was just 2 years old, as long as he can crawl, they will charge. Fair dinkum I'd say. The kids enjoyed the bumboat ride to Pulau Ubin.

It took us merely 30 minutes to get to Pulau Ubin and off we went for our walk. We took in the sights of the the Sensory Trail where different plants are grown along the trail. We even saw a well. Something that we in Singapore do not get to see anymore.

Before we head back to our beloved little red dot, we chose to fill our stomachs with some island food. So off to Pulau Ubin Seafood Restaurant we went.

Nothing fancy, we had fried rice, hor fun, a plate of vegetable and kampong chicken. All in all, we spent less than $60 for the entire trip. Good family bonding; Good value!

First published on November 30, 2011. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

[Hong Kong Heritage] Ping Shan Trail

Calm Before the Storm
Landing in Hong Kong!
I'm here in Kong Kong and it's great to be able to continue my walking trail in this bustling metropolis. 
This is my sixth trip to this Special Administered Region (SAR) but by far the most interesting one as I had the opportunity to achieve many 'firsts' on this trip and the first amongst which started with my flight into Hong Kong. As our Airbus A380 started it's descent, the aircraft started to rock. The pilot voice crackled over the public announcement informing us that there would be a series of turbulence. The aircraft took a beating and only landed after one failed attempt.

Only when I exited the departure hall that I found out that the aircraft was battered by gale wind from Typhoon Mujigae. I've truly never felt such turbulence and for such a long period of time. Anyway, what's more important is that the skillful Singapore Airlines pilots did well in landing the aircraft.

Visiting New Territories

Rental flats in Fu Tai Estate

Previously, the lure of the fast-paced life in Hong Kong saw me staying and travelling in and around Kowloon or Hong Kong Island. But for this 12-day trip, I'd spent most of my time in New Territories close to Fu Tai Estate.

Ping Shan Heritage Trail

Tsui Shing Lau Pagoda

 I was most excited to do this trail as this was Hong Kong's very first Heritage Trail that the Antiquities and Monuments Office and the Architectural Services Department had put together in 1993. First stop - Tsui Shing Lau Pagoda. This more than 500 year-old pagoda is the oldest in Hong Kong. (1) It's said that scholars once walked around the Pagoda seven times clockwise so that they could ace their examinations. 

Sheung Cheung Wai Walled Village

Next up, a 200-year old walled village. The walls coupled with a moat that has since been covered, provided residents a good protection from their enemies. (2) The guide was able to show us what was previously holes in the wall. Those were used by the defenders to point their weapons at the enemy. There were other historical buildings such as the old well, Yeung Hau Temple, Tang Ancestral Hall and many more for visitors to explore.

View from The Hilltop Visitor Centre

We ended our tour at the Heritage Trail Visitor Centre. The building, perched up on the hill, was once a British police station that was constructed in 1899. The building houses a number of historical and cultural artifacts that showcased what Ping Shan was like in the past.

Doors that lead visitors into the visitor centre

What was most inviting about the visitor centre after more than an hour walk in rainy and humid weather was the air-conditioning in the building. Well, such weather in Hong Kong is a first for me too as all my other visits were in December and where the temperature stayed a cool 17-23 degrees celsius. Still, this trip was extremely beneficial for me as I saw a side of Hong Kong that I'd previously not seen.


1. Discover Hong Kong. Accessed on October 25, 2015.

2. Antiquities and Monuments Office and the Architectural Services Department. Accessed on October 25, 2015.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

[Singapore Food] Mei Ling Market & Food Centre

A Road Sign Pointing Customers towards the Market
This is no air-condition food centre, but all the same. People are willing to come from all over the island to have a meal at this food centre, me included. As I'm not a frequent customer at this food centre, signs like what you see in the above picture helped me to get to the market easily.

Mei Ling Market Appeared in the 1972 map (1)
Though Mei Ling Street appeared in maps around the late 1960s, the earliest reference to the market I could find was in the 1972 street directory. Today though renovated, the market still holds many hallmarks of a market that was built more than 40 years ago.

The Entrance to the Market

Firstly, other than the red emblazoned words at the front of the market, the structure itself looked to have changed little. The windows on the second storey are also those that one would see installed as kitchen windows in HDB blocks of the 1970s.

Natural Lighting Helps to Luminate the Stairwell

One design that caught my attention was the brick wall of the stairwell. The walls had circles and semi-circles that not only provided natural lighting for the stairwell, the design also gives this market its character.
Well Ventilated Food Centre

The market major retrofitting work that was completed in 2009 (The market even has its own escalators) and both the wet market and food centre on the 2nd level have been well refurbished. Interestingly, live chickens were slaughtered in the market up until 1991 when the Environment Ministry laid down the law of not allowing such slaughter to take place. (2)

Trying the Fried Kuey Teow - Tan Song Heng

I know that there are many choices of food that I can choose from at the food centre, but I was just craving for Fried Kuey Teow that day. So a plate of Fried Kuey Teow I had to get. As I'm no food connoisseur, I'll leave the description of food to the expert. In the nutshell, the Fried Kuey Teow was just alright.

I heard that the chicken rice, lor mee and prawn noodles are worth a go. Any other recommendations?


1. One Map. Accessed on September 28, 2015.

2. Poultry seller at Mei Ling Street want an area to slaughter fowl. October 8, 1991. The Straits Times. P. 23.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

[Buildings] Blk 74-80, Commonwealth Drive

Emptied Blocks of Flats
Sound of Silence. If anywhere in Singapore comes close to a ghost town, it would be the seven blocks of Commonwealth Drive. These Housing Development Board (HDB) flats are slated to be torn down in October 2015. It was not like that.

Looking at Heritage Blogger James Seah's post about this place, this place was once full of life. It had life. There was a spritely dame of a coffeeshop, and a kindergarten with nice wall paintings. Sundry shops, hairdresser and hardware shop were all located under these blocks. Indeed it was convenient for the residents there.

A Towering HDB Block in the Background
With the booming population that we see locally, none of these 10-storey blocks will be able to meet the need. It's all about building it upwards. In a nutshell, we cannot stop progress, but we can immortalise some of these scenes through photographs. I'd taken more than 100 photos but I'd like to just share three photographs that I feel, are most meaningful to me. 

1. Old-School Mosaic Tiles

Mosaic Tiles Seen at Blk 74
I started my walk at Blk 74 and was immediately greeted by this beautifully-laid mosaic tiles. Such tiles are really a throwback into time as nowadays, no one will lay mosaic tiles in such a manner. Many will not even use these tiles unless home owners are planning to create a nostalgic feel within their homes.

2. Ground-Floor Kindergarten
Bright Painting Marks this Kindergarten

In its earlier years, Commonwealth Drive had a growing number of young families. Back in those kampung days, it would have been quite an effort sending the child to school and back as educational institutions were located centrally so that everyone would have access to schools. Things started to change in the 70s. Kindergartens were now located under the HDB blocks.

I can just imagine the crackling of children's voices as they learn to read and also, play. Looking at the louvered metal-windows, I can also imagine myself as an excited parent just hoping to meet the eyes of my child. I would have mustered a peep through the windows just to see if my child is doing alright.

3. Letter-Boxes

Row after Row of Letter-Boxes
 These were the HDB letter boxes that quite a number of us are accustomed to. This is how we open our letter-box. There's a circular hook that allows you to put in your own padlock if you so choose to do so. If not, you'd just need to flip the centre lock upwards. Then insert your key to open the letter box.

One other interesting thing to note about the mailbox. The centre flap bears the unit number of your house. If you're staying on the first level and your home address is 777, then it would just be listed as 777. But if you were staying the second level, then your unit number would be 777-A, and third level 777-B. In the late 1970s, the government must have felt that it was difficult for some people and thus implemented 01-777, 02-777. The new format for address can be seen riveted on the top right corner of each letter box.

What an Interesting Find!
In the midst of letter-box gawking, I chanced upon this letter dated 1980. That is a 35-year old letter. The envelope looked pristine in its condition, though the transparent plastic that one could then see our names, had totally disintegrated. The inside document was also tearing, but one could still make up the gist of the letter. How did this letter go missing for such a long time. Also,  how did it largely survive the test of time.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

[Reservoir] Upper Seletar Reservoir

After finishing my night shift duties of my last reservist in 2013, I was driving home when I chanced upon this place called Upper Seletar Reservoir. Since time was on my side, I stopped my car and walked towards the reservoir. There was very little frontage for anyone to have a picnic or for cycling. But it was good for those who just need that quiet time.

The place was pretty much devoid of people.

A little history about this reservoir. 

The construction of the Seletar Reservoir started in 1921 and was abandoned by the end of that year, as stated in The Straits Times article dated October 17, 1924.1.  The Seletar reservoir was deemed too expensive to be built  though there were still calls for works to proceed on August 6, 1921. 2 The rush was that there was not enough water for the growing population of Singapore as the supply of water slated to be available from Johore by 1925 was far from possible due to the many delays. 3

Still as early as 1922, the beauty and serenity of the reservoir have started to see visitors coming to the place for excursions. 4.

In 1935, though Seletar Reservoir was still not a full-fledged reservoir, it still helped Singapore tide through a dry spell. 5 and in 1937, the government recognised that there was a need for more water and Seletar Reservoir would help to alleviate the issue. 6

In 1939 that the government decided to make Seletar a permanent reservoir from one that was used a a temporary measure for water storage. The dam "would be raised by about five feet, increasing the capacity of the area four or five times". 7, 8. Completed in 1940, the reservoir could now hold 150 million gallons of water. 15.   

Due to impending war and Japanese spies who might sabotage the water supply, Seletar Reservoir became a prohibited area in October 1941. 9

In 1950, a writer wrote about the three reservoirs in Singapore. He mentioned that Seletar Reservoir was "hardly one of the beauty spots". 10  Interestingly though in 1951, another writer waxed lyrical about the reservoir. 11.

Near Seletar Reservoir, the Ministry of Culture screened free movies at the City Council Quarters to entertain workers who helped manage the reservoir from 1959 onwards. 12. 13. 14. 15.

There was a drought that in 1961 that saw many dead fishes that previously teemed in its pristine waters. 15.
With the need to more supply drinking water for the ever growing population, the government forked out $27 million in April 1967 to increase Seletar Reservoir's water storage capacity. 16.

By February 1969, the expansion of the reservoir was finally completed 17 and ready for its Opening Ceremony on 10 August 1969. Princess Alexandra officially opened the reservoir. 16. The Princess was invited here as part of Singapore's 150th anniversary and National Day celebrations. The official programme included a "72-member Methodist Girls School choir and the well-known girls' bag piper". There was also a rowing exhibition by the PUB team and "Koleh sailing by the residents of the Southern Islands". 18.

The reservoir could now hold 5,300 million gallons of water, making it the largest reservoir in Singapore. Part of the development included the valve tower which could be "approached by a six-span foot bridge and is 80 feet high" 16. Located at the reservoir was also a 60 feet viewing tower. 18.

Boat rowing competitions such as the Far East Rowing Regatta  was held at the reservoir in 1970. 19.

First written on January 13, 2013. 


Saturday, September 12, 2015

[Special Edition] Singapore Election 2015 - Big PAP Win

Voting is Compulsory

Singapore Election 2015 is a watershed one this year. Why?

1. More than 2 million Singaporeans have gone to the poll. This is the largest turnout that Singapore has seen in any election. 

2. This is the first time that all constituencies are being contested.

3. Dr Chee Soon Juan, Singapore Democratic Party is participating in his first election since being banned from standing in 2006 and 2011 due to his indiscretions. 

The Final Results?

The People's Action Party (PAP) has garnered a resounding win against the opposition parties. The PAP has won all but one Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs) in Aljunied and one opposition stronghold in Hougang Single Member Constituency (SMC).

This election win allows the PAP to form the government for the next five years. PAP has ruled Singapore since 1959.

Battle in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC

The internet screamed of unhappiness prior to the General Election. But once the polling booths were opened, the battles seemed to have ended before it had begun. All opposition parties lost by large margins. Is it the SG50 swell of feelings? Or the nationalistic emotions that the nation felt because of the death of our founding father, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew? The analysis will come from both the incumbent and opposition, I'm sure.

The Strongest Opposition Workers Party Has Also Lost Big
What was suppose to Workers' Party push towards extending their grip turned pear-shaped losing Punggol East SMC that was wrestled over in the 2012 by-election.

Fallen Opposition

The opposition may be down at this point, but I'm sure they will try again in the next election. So for now, congratulations to PAP for retaining power. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

[Local Food] Ah Hui Big Prawn Noodle

Prawn noodle stall formerly from Thomson's Long House

"Hae Mee Thng; Hae Mee Ta"

When Upper Thomson Road's Long House, a place for late night supper shuttered, some stall owners retired, while others moved to other locations such as the Balestier Market.(1)

One of the stalls is the Ah Hui Big Prawn Noodle. I had not read about this stall's whereabouts. So I was pleasantly surprise to chance upon this stall and was happy to be re-acquainted with them once again. Scouring through the internet, I found that the stall had even set up their own Facebook page. I'm truly impressed by how they have used technology to keep us abreast of their stall's happenings.

Speaking to the stall auntie, she mentioned that they'd moved here in 2014 and that the rental is better here than it was at Long House. As I'm pretty much a supporter of everything local whether food, heritage or culture, I'm just glad that they chose to continue their business.

Not Just another Bowl of Prawn Noodle Soup

Delicious, isn't it?

Indeed, prawn noodle soup is something that I grew up eating and seeing the stall at Balestier Market brought me much joy. I was feeling greedy that day and thus, not only did I ordered their Pork Rib Prawn Noodle Soup, I'd also asked for their handmade fishcake.

The soup stock was richly flavoured and definitely slurpalicious; the noodles had just the correct springy texture; and you can just taste the freshness of the prawns.

Hand-made Fishcake

Frankly, I'm no food guru but I know that the food is wonderful when it reaches my mouth!

Stall Details
Ah Hui Big Prawn Noodle (Balestier Market)
411 Balestier Road (s) 329930
Open daily : 9am - 10:30pm

The Prawn Noodle Soup Story

It is said that the original prawn noodle soup was brought to Singapore in the 1880s by Chinese immigrants from Xiamen, Fujian Province. (2)

The modern version of the prawn noodle soup is said to have been started in the 1930s by the patriarch of those who now own Beach Road Prawn Mee, Joo Chiat Prawn Mee and Jalan Sultan Prawn Mee. (3) (4)
The dish was so taste-worthy that local upmarket hotels such as Forum Hotels (Now Forum The Shopping Mall) and Peninsula Hotel were advertising their offering in the dailies in the 1970s and 1980s respectively. (5) (6)


1. Quek, E. March 31, 2014. Longhouse to live on in two locations. My Paper. Accessed on August 24, 2015.

2. Tan, B. Hokkien Prawn Noodle Soup. Singapore Infopedia. Accessed on August 23, 2015.

3. Dr Tay, L. January 28, 2010. Beach Road Prawn Mee: Order your prawn mee with no Tau Gay. i eat, i shoot, i post. Accessed on August 23, 2015.

4. Take stock of Goh's prawn mee tradition. October 26, 1986. The Straits Times. P4.

5. Advertisement. July 14, 1975. New Nation. P12.

6. Advertisement. May 22, 1984. The Business Times. P11.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

[Singapore Parks] Mount Emily Park

Signboard of Mount Emily Park
There are more than 300 parks and 4 nature reserves that come under the charge of Singapore's Statutory Board, NParks. Indeed, some parks are less well frequented than others. This can be due to their locality, its facilities or the variety of activities that are organised within the park.

Mount Emily Park is pretty much a quiet old dame of a park that offers nothing more than serenity. Surrounded by private housing, St. Margaret Primary School and the Istana grounds, the park sits on an elevation far beyond the noise of any vehicular movements. Even though the park itself is within the Central Business District.

Behind its quiet facade, the park grounds hold rich history of Singapore's past. Mount Emily was previously known as Bukit Rawa. 

Closer look at the Coat-of-Arms

One of the first structures that you will see at the park is this entrance shelter. Sited in the rock wall of this structure is an emblem of yesteryear. This emblem is a coat of arms granted to the Municipal Commission by the College of Heralds in April 1948. (1)  The colours featured on the coat-of-arms are largely intact and it's such a throwback to see this in person.

Singapore's Coat-of-Arms

It is said that this was the entrance to the former Mt. Emily Swimming Pool. This is where the part about it having a rich history begins.

Reservoir and Mount Emily Swimming Pool

Mt. Emily Reservoir (2)
Mt. Emily once held two service reservoirs that were constructed in the 1880s. But by the late 1920s, the service reservoir was no longer required. It's redundancy was brought upon by the building of the Fort Canning Service Reservoir, which the press claimed to be the largest enclosed reservoir in the East. (3)   

1954 Map from OneMap (4)

The reservoir was then converted into a swimming pool and it was officially opened by Mr R. J. Farrer, President of the Municipal Commissioners on January 10, 1931. (5) The total cost of converting the reservoir into a public swimming pool came up to $30,000. (6) To find out more about Mount Emily Swimming Pool, click here. (7)

Mount Emily Park

Panoramic view of the park

In the early 1900s, Mount Emily Park was seen as a popular retreat of those staying close by. There was a band that played in the afternoon. Parents and children would also spend time playing together. (6)  

Some of the oldest trees seen in the park
The girth of some of the trees there stood as testament of its glorious days. The age of these trees must have been more than 100 years old.

With such a rich history to this park, surely it must be made into a place of interest for local Singaporeans.

Last updated: August 19, 2015


1. Lim, J. November 7, 2014. A crestfallen ghost of the past. The Long and Winding Road. Accessed on August 16, 2015. 

2. National Archive of Singapore. Accessed on August 16, 2015.

3. The Singapore Free Press & Mercantile Advertiser. September 17, 1929. New Emily Park. P9.

4. OneMap. Accessed on August 16, 2015.

5. The Singapore Free Press & Mercantile Advertiser. January 1, 1931. Mount Emily. P20.

6. The Singapore Free Press & Mercantile Advertiser. January 12, 1931. A Big Splash. P20.

7. Mount Emily Swimming Pool. December 20, 2012. Accessed on August 16, 2015.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

[National Day] Happy 50th Birthday, Singapore

Declaration by the then Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tengku Abdul Rahman

With a stroke of a pen, Singapore was cut free of from the reigns of Malaysia. It was not with immense joy that Singapore categorically departed from our hinterland, but one with trepidation as one can remember the tears of the Prime Minister at that time, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, that was beamed to all who had television sets that time. it was a sad day.

From Malaysia's point of view, Singapore was a spoilt child, craving for its toys and was one that made it difficult for the parents. We were asking all the difficult questions. Asking for equal rights amongst all races. Sabah and Sarawak were the more obedient ones. So in the end, Tengku Abdul Rahman had to 'disown' us. It was a "Surely you will regret it" and a "I told you it was difficult to run a government" mentality that the new Singapore government was treated to.

"...Singapore leaders have done nothing but talk politics, dream politics, and eat politics. Now that Singapore leaders have got to look after themselves they have got to be responsible for the lives of the people of Singapore. They will perhaps realise that they will have to go a little bit slower and appreciate that all these talks will only bring trouble." - Tengku Abdul Rahman (1)

Singapore became a street urchin all of a sudden and we were suddenly forced to grow up.

Grew up as giants these men did. Led by Lee Kuan Yew, a group of brave men, many of whom where thrust to the fore - took to the stage - Dr Goh Keng Swee, Mr Rajaratnam, Mr Lim Kim San, Mr E. W. Barker and Dr Toh Chin Chye wasted no time in putting together a workable plan for the country.

There were others such as Mr Ong Pang Boon and Inche Othman Wok who worked tirelessly in laying the bedrock to Singapore's success.

50 years on, we are now a modern metropolis. We have made progress beyond what the leaders could have imagined. (2)

"This was a mudflat. Swamp. Today it is a modern city. 10 years from now, this will be a metropolis." (2)

So with Singapore celebrating its 50th anniversary of independence today, I would like to wish our country a happy birthday. May we continue to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for this nation called Singapore.


1. The Straits Times. August 10, 1965. A dream shattered. Now a parting of the ways. P10.
2. Never Fear. March 24, 2015. Youtube. Accessed on August 9, 2015.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

[Singapore Parks] Punggol Point: Watching the Sunrise

A Refurbished Punggol Point

Sunrise at 7:08am

Sunrise at 7:11am

Punngol Point Jetty
Interesting rock formation found along the beach

Puggol Beach taken from the look-out

The Look-Out Point

Fish Ponds Along the Promenade

Playground for the Kids