Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Clifford Pier: Changed... but not so changed

When I was a kid,  the waters here were never so calm. It was exciting to stand near the water, separated by just a very heavy black chain at Clifford Pier (the one with the red roof in the picture).  So holding dad's hand, I would watch the waves make the buoys dance. There were lots of buoys, often rather colourful ones. I loved to watch the waves -- as they rushed up to crash against the embankment and then receded only to come crashing in again. Reminded me of thick agar agar on the boil. And I loved to hear an occasional blast of the ship horn. There were many boats and tongkangs here. Change Alley which was nearby, would have many sailors who looked exactly like they were out of an old-fashioned movie -- in white caps (with a blue strap) and white tunics with bell-bottomed white pants -- and those cute black boots. Picture taken 30 October 2015.

Monday, 23 November 2015

100 steps

The famous "100 steps" (left) that lead to Mt Sophia and the old Methodist Girls' School. Picture taken 21 Nov 2015.
THE skies could be more blue. Nevertheless, too beautiful to give photography of this place a miss. This is the famous "100 steps" (left of the picture) at Handy Road which lead to Mt Sophia and what used to be Methodist Girls' School. My niece was the smart one who attended this school, not me. So she was the one who has memories of these steps which got her super fast to Yaohan (used to be at Plaza Singapura). I only used the steps once or twice and I couldn't remember why I had to. However, these flight of steps that look so picturesque and sort of pastoral, had a dark side. According to Frederick E La Croix who wrote "The Sky Rained Heroes: A Journey from War to Remembrance", severed heads were placed on pikes along the stairs as deterrence against "aberrant" behaviour during the Japanese Occupation.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Change Alley: So changed

This is Change Alley now.  Not at all like the Change Alley of my childhood.

My best memories of this place was dragging dad impatiently through the lane to look at the toys. Those days (in the 60s) rubber animals (from bears, dogs to birds) which squeaked when you pressed them, were my favourite toys. And you could find lots of them at Change Alley.

We would give each a name -- moving them around and making them talk to each other. Sometimes, when my second brother was not around to play with me, I would make the animals enact some scenes by myself. I remember one such exciting solo performance -- the bird (which had a flower on its head) had taken on the role of a courtesan. She was held captive by the emperor (the dog, with one paw raised). So, there were a lot of dialogues going on and I was really doing very well and enjoying myself tremendously. All was brought to an end when my eldest brother who was studying in the same room was driven insane and shouted at me to shut up.

Anyway, back to Change Alley. Once upon a time, it was known as Spottiswoode Lane. Lots have been written about this little alley linking Collyer Quay to Raffles Place. The crowded lane, lined with  stalls selling everything from cosmetics, clothes to toys,  was squeezed between Singapore Rubber House and Wincester House. It was gone in 1989 -- 30 April to be exact -- with shopkeeprs desperately trying to clear their stocks before being shifted to elsewhere. The bazaar had been around for more than 100 years. 

Walk through Change Alley today --  into to a very changed Raffles Place too. Remember Robinson used to be here before the terrible fire -- destroying my magical place to visit each Christmas?

Friday, 13 November 2015

Blue skies again

I haven't been able to take pictures with blue skies and white clouds for some time because of the haze. Most of the time, the sky was just a yellowish blanket, rather depressing.  Picture of Clarke Quay taken on  10 November, 2015. 

Aside: I am not sure how true, but I have been cautioned against sitting at the ledge and the steps (like the person behind the lamp post) that lead to to the river. This area being a big watering hole, not a few people must have tried to puke into the river -- and missed. (You see that enough in locally produced dramas -- some depressed soul would get drunk and bend over.) So...

Monday, 9 November 2015

T'is the season to be jolly

You can imagine them (the pigeons I mean) singing "T'is the season to be jolly... tra lalalala,..." It was a wet afternoon on Saturday. But the pigeons enjoyed themselves. How they fluffed... and preened at this nice water feature along Orchard Road, contributing to the festive mood.  And it's ok that they are not doves (which actually belong to the same family as pigeons) nor a  partridge on a pear tree -- or any other bird usually associated with Christmas. Pic taken 7 Nov 2015.

Monday, 2 November 2015

River Valley's spiral staircases

Old spiral staircases at the back of the row of shophouses along River Valley Road at Zion Road junction.

It used to be that many from the old Times House at Kim Seng Road (demolished, the land now occupied by a condominium development) ran across the road (especially when waiting for their stories to be cleared by the editors) to take a breather at one of the coffee shops along this row of shophouses. Now, there are new eateries, and even a dentist and a hair salon -- Tony and Guy no less. When the SPH newspapers were operating at Kim Seng Road, this stretch of shophouses was a great makan place. There was a really old school provision shop, chicken rice and hor fun stalls -- and I remember an Indian stall which served Maggi mee with a fried egg. It didn't taste too bad!