Monday, March 30, 2009

Tiong Bahru CC

Just a short post here - to show the old entrance to the CC at the junction of Eu Chin and Seng Poh Roads.

Photo kindly provided by Mdm Wong, who has lived in Eng Hoon Street since the day she got married, just before WW2.

Lovely quaint 'pailou' archway isn't it?

Films in our estate

Last Friday, while on the way to work, we saw these strange sets on Tiong Poh Road. After wondering about why the local coffeeshop had become a cafe and diner, realised that there was a movie or an MTV being shot on the road!

If you look carefully, there is a long haired girl/boy jumping on top of the car....

This comes one week after another film was observed being shot at Eng Watt Street....

One of the most famous (and earliest) new Singapore films, Mee Pok Man, by Eric Khoo, was filmed at our famous local coffee shop- - can you guess which one it is?

What other films do you know have been set in Tiong Bahru? Maybe we should make a list!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Moh Guan Terrace in 1940

Just wanted to share a picture of Moh Guan Terrace, from 1940.... looks stunning doesn't it? The clean lines of Art Deco architecture...

How to solve the rubbish problem?

While some of us are tearing our hair out on the rubbish problem - there may be two solutions:

Firstly, to make it clear the cost of keeping the area clean - and the cost of making it dirty through littering - as per this example from Gloucestershire, UK: where the local govt spends 1 MILLION GPB to keep the county clean! that is 2 MILLION SGD.... and they have introduced on-the-spot fines too - just like Singapore....

Furthermore, they also have a website for vigilante action as seen here. Shall we do the same? Take out your mobile phone and SHOOT those litter bugs...

Secondly, maybe it is time to also get organised to act against litter - and again, the UK leads the way in civic action through the group 'Litter Action'.... lots of resources on how to combat litter in a nation that does not have the luxury of hordes of cheap foreign labour to keep the place clean...

Food for thought indeed!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Rubbish Rubbish everywhere....

A fellow neighbour has shared this observation with the Town Council:

'There seems to be a blatant disregard for public property recently.

Many lampposts around the Tiong Bahru estate has advertisements stuck onto them. And because this act seems to be condoned, everyone just carry on pasting as is if it is alright to do so.

Do you think you can call all the numbers on those adverts and ask them to remove them as soon as possible.

I think draconian actions needs to be taken before people will realised that it is not the right thing to do.

On a side note, do you think Town Council can provide a bins along Kim Pong Road as there are no litter bins there and it resulted in the recycling bins there being used as one.

We can keep the town looking pretty with a repainting exercise but if no one is taught how to take care of the estate, the repainting exercise will be a futile process.

And by the way, the bins provided blk 78 is inadequate. The ratio for the number of units VS 1 bin is way too high. Hope town council realised that blk 78 is the highest density block within Tiong Bahru Estate.

What works for other blocks doesn’t work here. Maybe a bigger big would be better.'

Besides relying on the Town Council, what can we do to help ourselves? We might not want to pursue 'vigilante' action, but something does seem necessary.... STOMP??

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bomb Shelter Then and Now - Part 2

The bomb shelter is somewhat of a local tourist attraction - it was most recently featured in an episode of 'Heartland Getaways', hosted by Chua En-Lai.

In this episode, he is hosted by Linda, who shows him the interiors today.

What Linda did not get to share this time, but which she did last year at another tour, was that after the war was over, for quite some time, the shelters were home to displaced Javanese families who were brought over by the Japanese to work in Singapore, during the occupation.

Many of them were tricked into leaving their homes in Java, by promises of high paying jobs in Singapore (some things don't change it seems). At the end of the war, not only were they not paid, they were left stranded in Singapore. Some then took refuge in spaces such as our air-raid shelters.

According to Linda, the families lived in the shelters for quite a few months. With food shortage rampant after the war, many of the Javanese supplemented their diet not only with whatever they could plant on the ground (before the carpark was laid), but also by trapping rats to eat.

It is a sobering thought.

Today, if you get a chance to see the shelter, you will notice how damp it is and after about 10 minutes, it gets very stuffy, even with just 3 or 4 people in the spaces. I did not find it comfortable at all.

Here is a picture of one of the walls - the deepest space in the shelter, furthest away from the road - thus the safest.

Notice the hand written text that says in Chinese and English 'RESERVED FOR ARP WARDENS' FAMILIES'. It is very faint - you need to zoom in to see the words, written in white paint on the red Alexandra bricks.

In the old days under colonial rule, there was class distinction, even for an air raid shelter!

If you have any stories on the old bomb shelter from your family or friends - please do send it into the blog for sharing!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Bomb Shelter then and now

Many of you might have heard of the fabled bomb shelters at the back of Guan Chuan and Yong Siak Streets.

Well, here is a picture of the shelter under 'testing' before WW2. Notice how cheerful the residents and the Volunteer Wardens are in the image.

According to Linda, an ex-resident who did use the shelter in the war, it was too hot to stay in for long, and in the end, residents hid in the stairwells during air-raids as it was one of the safest places in each block.

Looking a the structure of the block, I suspect, that being built way before WW2, the spaces were meant to be sheltered garages for cars, and were later converted into bomb shelters when the situation in the Pacific changed.

Dry Risers - oh dear!

Fellow resident Wai Kin has kindly shared his observation and concerns with us. We quote:

'There is another "colourful" disaster brewing from my end of the estate - at Blocks 79/80 Chay Yan and Yong Siak Streets ...

New dry risers are being installed on the covered walkway going into the staircase and vertically up to every landing. See photos:

For those who do not know what dry risers are - they are "dry" pipes for firemen to pump water up to upper floors when there is a fire. As required by the Fire Safety and Shelter Dept, they are painted a bright fire engine RED.

Well, we cannot complain about the "choice of colour" this time - as it is for our own safety after all - but the way the pipes have been crudely installed, simply penetrating through the doorway (NOTE, this will happen at EVERY SINGLE doorway, since our old apartments do not have lift lobbies and corridors!!) - is to say the least - quite unsightly.

So after that long "fight" to get the white and grey colour scheme approved, we are now going to get bright red pipes crawling through the entire estate - almost like permanent Chinese New Year decorations .... ( how convenient )

Over at Yong Siak, outside the restaurant Zera, the pipes are run so low, that they cut across the restaurant shop front at a height only slightly above a 6ft ++ tall man's head!! See more pics :

Very unsightly indeed!

Thanks Wai Kin for bringing it to our attention.

Does anyone have other suggestions on this?
Do we want to make a case to Fire Safety Department to propose an alternative solution?

Those who are concerned, please email to the blog email address....

Monday, March 2, 2009

Wayang in our Town, for how much longer?

Fellow resident, Wai Kin, caught these performers of an ancient art at last month's birthday of the Monkey God on Eng Hoon Street.

As Wai Kin says: A pity that they are not getting much audience these days - wonder how long more can these troupes keep going ...

Singapore would be a quieter and sadder place when the day comes when there is no more wayang on our streets to mark the temple festivals that, along with all our other vernacular festivals of the various ethnic and religious communities, punctuate the year....

Any ideas from anyone on how to keep this artform alive? Perhaps we can gather the ideas and send them to the National Arts Council....

If you are keen to 'chase' Chinese Temple festivals, here is a useful blog to follow - Chinese Temple Events - very useful for those who want to shoot pictures of the colourful happenings....

Many thanks to Wai Kin for sharing his photos with the blog!