Thirty Photos in This Gallery These photos are from a few days in Athens, Greece. My hotel was in the middle of a shopping area downtown, so there were always lots of ladies looking for some new stuff.
People always wonder how you can squeeze more than 7 million people into the tiny place known as Hong Kong. Here is a night view. For sure, your eyes are first captured by the many blocks of residential buildings. You will also see roads doing a zig zag, pedestrain links connect at a higher level […]
Post Contributed by Haley Jones When someone first comes to India, what first comes to your mind? It may be beautifully bright colored saris, fragrant curries, and exotic weather. It may also be the iconic structure that is the Taj Mahal. Built between 1631 and 1648, it remains one of the most well-known buildings in…
As a 80s kid growing up in Singapore, I have experienced many touching moments which connects me to the country. There are many quirky and memorable things that brings back good memories.
Since this is the jubilee year for Singapore, I felt that this is the best time to chronicle them.
*P.S.: This are just from my personal experiences and may differ from person to person.
1) Multi-Racial Society
We are same but at the same time we are different. My close friends are all from different races. Brothers from different Mothers.
Not only me, i am sure many fellow Singaporeans either at school, work or in national service, will have close friends from different races. In the first 50 years we sometimes identify ourselves based on our races bounded by our common identity of Singaporeans (E.g. I am a Singaporean Chinese etc) but this is changing. Interrace marriages are on the rise in recent times. Hopefully by the next 50 years our nationality and race will merge to become one, that is Singaporean.
2) Chewing Gum ban
Sometimes, just crossing the causeway gives me happiness as now I am able to buy and chew on flavoured gum as much as I want. Guess forbidden fruits tastes the sweetest! But this is one quirky little fact of Singapore that doesn’t fails to amuse foreigners. Well you can always chew on a banana instead.
3) National Service
A ritual all Singaporean boys go through to become a man. Something dreaded by every Singaporean son. But even how much we complain about it we will still serve with pride and dedication. A great social equalizer where I was exposed to many different people from the different strata of society.
Only reason, I force myself to exercise sometimes. Most of us have issues clearing this (Must be the food). But one topic that unites all males is in complaining about it or boasting about it (E.g. I didn’t run for a year and today i managed to get sub 10 timing for my 2.4km !!) Hopefully with the new format, no more RT for me.
Somehow the famous Milo truck is a common sight at primary school and sports meets. It just tastes delicious and until now I still don’t know why the trucks are always there but even now it transports me to my childhood. Well there is always Milo Dinosaur available to quench the craving.
The first major examinations for every kid and an important one. One that can determine your future. Sleepless nights especially for parents, rather than the kids.
O-Level, A-Level, Polytechnics, University. PSLE is the first one so it has a special place. But examinations follow us everywhere, most of us just can’t wait for it to be over.
Strangely, after starting to work, I miss the mugging and examinations. It creates a unifying bond with your friends.
Every kid dreads it but somehow we have to do it or least our parents and teachers will ensure we have done it. An integral portion to every Singaporean kid’s growing up process.
9) World Wrestling Federation (WWF) now known as WWE.
My friends and me will often mimic the wrestlers, spouting their punch lines and even try their finishing moves on each other. It bonds us all when we were kids. The trash talking helps too!! If you smellllllllll, what The Rock is cookin…….
Recess time play, after school play, under void deck play. This was the most common past time for me and most kids from my era (PC/Mobile games were not common then). All kids wants the coveted Number 17 jersey so that we can all emulate the great Fandi Ahmad.
11) Manchester United vs Liverpool
There are only 2 types of football supporters in Singapore. You are either the Red Devil or the Red Scouser. All the other pretenders please move aside. Form is temporary but Class is permanent.
12) Chicken Rice
An unifying dish for all of us. Not sure what to eat? Somehow will always end up eating Chicken Rice. The safest choice. Something that I misses most when going overseas for an extended period.
13) Chili Crab
Big and juicy Sri Lankan crab in red hot gravy with hot freshly baked buns on the sides. Just take my money and give me one plate now pls.
There is even a term coined for it based on how it is made. “He flip prata liao!” (To signify that he has changes his stand significantly).
An stable breakfast diet for me and many Singaporeans during my growing up days and even now.
15) Uniquely Singapore Drinks
Having a copious amount of Lattes, Cappuccinos or any other fancy named drinks in an Al Fresco cafe beoing Ang Mo chiobu at the same time in a cold weathered country may sound heavenly to most people. But to me, nothing even come close in giving the same pleasure as sipping a hot cup of Teh Halia along Arab street on a rainy day. It is something I missed most whenever I need to go overseas for more than 1 day.
Kopi C, Teh C, Teh Tarik, Kopi Susu, Milo Dinosaur and many more. We even have our own range of drinks.
Satay, Briyani, Hokkien Mee, Mee Goreng, Nasi Goreng, Kway Teow, You Tiao….. Think I will need another post just for food.
In short, some folks eat to live, but we Singaporeans live to eat.
17) Kopi Shop
Group of kakis drinking beer, having kopi or grabbing a quick meal. A common sight in our heartlands. Somehow this is where conspiracy theories rises and many political analysis takes place. You want to know the ground sentiments, take a trip to a kopi shop nearby. Mostly based in the midst of the heartlands.
18) Hawker Centres
A more formal settings for having cheap and good food. You can find many varieties of food at a cheap price here. It doesn’t make any sense to go to any upscale restaurants in Singapore. Why would you pay high price for tasteless food?
And a personal tip for all the bros. Any girl on a date suggests going to a hawker centre to grab some food, guys ALERT, she is a keeper!!! Go and apply HDB with her immediately!!
19) 24 hours Prata Shops
A good place to eat supper, post party meal or post football meal. 24 hours and serves piping hot good food at a cheap price throughout the day. Now these are things that truly makes Singapore a food paradise.
20) Void decks
Some people will be playing Chinese Chess, some will be practicing their guitar skills and some kids like me will be playing football under the No Football signs. A common meeting place for all.
A melting pot where you can see a Malay Wedding one week and a Chinese funeral the next week.
Chinese New Year means long break, 2 days of light traffic and most shops will be closed. Hari Raya Puasa means chance to eat different types of kuehs from my Malay neighbours and a colurful Geylang Serai Market to visit. Deepavali means Muruku and hope that my ever friendly Indian friend will invite me over for lunch.Who can resist a good briyani anyways? Christmas means year end sales and Christmas lighting at Orchard road.
22) Pasar Malam
Our version of night markets like those famous ones in Taiwan but instead of Taiwan MeiMeis you will find mostly uncles mending the shops here. Other than that you can also find unique and endangered food like Prawn Vadais and Ramly Burgers. Only time you can find them in Singapore.
A very simple game which I played in between classes mostly in primary school to kill time.
24) Mama shop
A small shop selling necessities located under the block. A convenient place for snacks and drinks whenever I feel like munching on something.
Most Singaporean kid’s favourite food in our growing up process. Most neighbourhoods will have a branch somewhere. A place where most kids including myself patronise after school.
26) Ice Cream push cart uncle
Something that is very rare now. My favourite was chocolate ice cream sandwiched between a slice of white bread. Even better that you can get it right under your block.
We are obedient people. Thus whenever there is a campaign, we will follow it responsibly. Becoming less nowadays maybe because the novelty factor is wearing off. But nevertheless it was popular in the 80s-90s period.
28) Lee Kuan Yew
Maybe the younger generation do not have the opportunity to see him much. But for an 80s kid, you will be definitely at one point be impacted by his policies during your lifetime. In short #noyewnous.
29) Singapore Pledge
Something we recite every morning in schools, special occasions and during national day. The words have deep meaning on how Singapore portrays itself based on meritocracy.
30) National Anthem
Written in our National Language of malay, something that motivates us and reinstates the Singaporean spirit in us.
31) HDB Flats
My generation may have missed living in the kampongs, but we are the ones who made living in HDBs cool. And in uniquely Singaporean way, we propose to girls by asking, “Wanna apply for BTO?”
An opportunity to interact with our neighbours of different races living together in the same block. And who can forget block catching and other unique games we played during our free time.
Our abang. We have many similar cultures and traditions, and at the end of the day we cross over the causeway for chewing gum, cheap food and short holidays.
And most importantly our national football team can play badly against anybody but must never lose to our neighbour. Now that is forbidden!
Water’s importance is something that has been drilled into my generation. Singapore is a small country and water is scarce. We need to save water. I still remember water ration exercises where everyone need to collect water in pails for a day. Today Singapore is one of the pioneers in water related technologies especially our New Water.
34) Kallang Wave
Our own celebration in stadiums. Something that is unique to us which even some countries considered as football powerhouses doesn’t have.
35) Public Transport (MRT/Bus)
Our main mode of transportation. World class and breakdowns was unheard of in the 90s.
36) COE and ERP
2 things that burns a deep hole in drivers’ pocket. And the reason why most in my generation could not afford to buy a car. To put it bluntly, we have been priced out from owning a car.
37) Garang Guni
Recycling brought to our HDB doorsteps. You will even be paid for it!!
38) Wet market
A place where a wide range of vegetables, fresh seafood and meat available at affordable price. I still recall accompanying my grandmother to help her carry back the groceries. Of course I get youtiao and freshly brewed soya milk in return for the help.
39) Racial Harmony Day
Not sure how it is being celebrated now. But in the early 90s when I was in primary school, it was a day of great fun and frolicking. We will wear our traditional attire and play traditional games on that day. Guess anything other than studying in school is fun!
40) Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Glam
These places are part of my national education back in secondary school. Each place has their own significance. Like Chinatown has the oldest Indian temple in Singapore and a famous mosque just beside the temple. Little India is the place which sells authentic Indian food, fresh flowers and Indian traditional spices. Kampong Glam gets glamorous during Hari Raya Puasa with all the lighting and shops selling traditional Malay foods, items and clothings.
41) Rules and Regulations
We are made world famous because of our rules and regulations. Even though outsiders may ridicule us for our rules but at the end of the day, these are what makes us proper and efficient.
42) Orchard Road
World famous shopping belt of Singapore. In my secondary school days the go to place during weekends. We will all dress up and be motivated to attract the pretty girl you will always run into in Orchard road.
43) Mustafa Centre
Our own all in one 24 hours giant retail shop. Gold, Electronics, Vegetables, Shoes, Clothes and many more. You name it and you can find it in Mustafa.
An unique Indian procession that involves multiple body piercing and devotees carrying kavadi. Devotees will be dancing along to the music of devotional songs to prevent fatigue from setting in. A unique and intriguing festival which I look forward to in the 90s to watch and soak in the atmosphere with my Indian friends.
A massive street performance and float parade. An uniquely Singaporean festival similar to the famous Mardi Gras from Brazil.
For males we misses it most during the separation from it for 2+ years during NS. Our identity and our keepsake.
One of the few in the world that allows you to travel without the need for a visa to most countries. Something that fetches us respect overseas from the immigration officials.
48) Singapore Flag
The symbol for our homeland. The red symbolizes “universal brotherhood and equality of man”, and white, “pervading and everlasting purity and virtue”. The waxing crescent moon “represents a young nation on the ascendant”. The five stars “stand for the nation’s ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality”. ~ From Wikipedia
49) Changi Airport and Singapore Airlines
Our pride. A world class facility that doesn’t fails to impress foreigners all over the world. And of course the SIA girls are pleasant to eyes. Somehow it makes me feel emotional whenever I comes back from overseas and lands at Changi Airport. Guess that’s why this is called home.
We have a strange affection for acronyms. Anyways it further proves that we are efficient people, we shortens longs wording for effective and efficient communications. But strangely my GP teacher always penalize me for using acronyms and minus marks from my essays. Isn’t it more effective? Can keep within the word count what? Haha.
There could be other symbols of Singapore that I could have missed out. Because this list is not from my mind but from my heart (may sound cliche). Singapore is where I am born. It was part of my growing up process. No country is perfect but the imperfections and quirky characteristics are what that defines us and makes us unique. We went from third world to first world in a couple of generations. As fellow Singaporeans we must cherish the success our country have achieved so far and aim to protect it by being good citizens. May everyone have a good SG50 celebrations.
It is Hari Raya Puasa today. Meaning it is a public holiday in Singapore!! There were only bad shows on television and Walking Dead have still not resumed yet 😦
So after much tribulations on deciding between doing something useful or slacking at home, I decided to spend the day usefully by visiting the former railway station located at Tanjong Pagar.
A bit of history about the railway station first. It was started in 1932 and was in operation till 2011 serving as the railway station connecting Singapore and Malaysia. After many years of discussions on who the station and the surroundings belongs to, it was finally agreed that it goes to Singapore. Soon after that there were other plans in place for a high speed train service between the countries. Thus this station will be decommissioned and redevelopments will be done to the surroundings.
It has some 79 years of history within the walls. And for a young nation like Singapore who is celebrating her 50 years of birthday this year, this site holds much memories and heritage. So much that it has been designated as one of the National Monuments of Singapore.
(P.S. Thanks Wiki for the info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanjong_Pagar_railway_station)
To cut the long story short, I wanted to experience the heritage before redevelopments take place in the area. Since the station was decommissioned, it is only opened to the public during special occasions like public holidays. Since today is a public holiday I made the decision to visit the station!!
The railway station is located along Keppel road and is easily accessible by public buses from the Harbourfront MRT station. You can already see a slice of the dying history at the entrance. Yes, I am talking about motorised push carts selling cheap cold drinks and ice cream. It reminded me of my childhood where such vehicles are a common sight at neighbourhoods. In recent times, this is as rare as the COE prices dropping. Well after grabbing myself a ice cold drink in an exceptionally hot day, I headed into the station.
The entrance is grand and reminds you of the designs usually associated with European arts. Apparently this is called Art Deco and was designed by an Italian sculptor called, Rudolfo Nolli.
The immediate interior halls were also grand with high ceiling, lots of natural lights and decorated with wall paintings.
After the interior hall, you will reach the gates leading to the station platform.
You will also come across empty stalls that has been vacated since the closure of the station in 2011.
As it is a public holiday, there was a good crowd of families and kids exploring the station. There was even a wedding shoot going on!! The wedding couple are smart as the pictures will be unique and retro in style.
You can feel the vast space of the station as shown in the pictures below.
The railways track are retained only for a few meters. The remaining tracks has been removed and now replaced by vast patches of grass.
You can complete exploring the station within an hour but the experiences gained may last you for a lifetime. I may be over exaggerating but in the highly globalised Singapore society where land is scare and everything needs to be optimised, not may places can retain the history and heritage amid high rise buildings and swanky casinos.
For example, the above picture may only show an empty train platform but to me it may contain many stories of unfinished kisses, goodbyes, tearful separations, happy reunions or even today for the couple doing their wedding shoot a lifetime of memories. Hopefully such history will continue to survive and retained.
With this thought in mind I ended my successful and meaningful Hari Raya Puasa endeavour.
Till my next scribble,
Guess many out there would want to do so, including myself.
Life is so unpredictable nowadays. Is there anyone out there who can confidently say when is their expiry date? The answer is no.
Advances in medical care may have increased the average lifespan of mankind. But always remember, “Man Proposes, God Dispose.” Many people passes away everyday due to natural disasters, accidents, diseases and many other reasons in both natural and unatural ways. In this uncertain world what is important is to live life happily and be contented with what we have. Carpe Diem, seize each day and live happily.
In a widely circulated list, the top 5 regrets of people in their dying bed were observed and recorded by an nurse working in the palliative ward. You can read about them at http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/01/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying
The 2nd top regret is: I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
Now what is the one thing we spend most of our adult life on? Our job. Love it or loathe it unless you are born into a family of billionaires most of us have to work for a living. That’s where we spend most of our active life on. Isn’t it important to get it right and love what we do?
If you do what you love (for e.g. a hobby), then technically it is not a job but rather you are getting paid for doing your hobby!! Isn’t it great!! Not all of us could do what we like doing. But we can always strive to customise our job into one which is more enjoyable and meaningful.
To put it in Steve Job’s words:
I have known people who purely stick with their job because they have a family to support and their current job pays them well. Once we settle with what we have we may tend to tolerate our job instead of loving it.
So how do you identify that you need to quit your job now? Well from my personal experience here are the five signs:
- When you do not feel motivated to go to work.
- When your job feels like a chore for you.
- When you are working purely for the sake of money.
- When given a chance you like to give a Rock Bottom to your colleagues or boss.
- Where there are no improvements nor job satisfaction in your job.
After quitting the key is to experiment as much as possible. Try different varieties and fix on something that motivates and makes you happy. Even if you don’t find your ultimate job, never put up with abusive colleagues! What is important is self-respect!!
In conclusion, not everyone can quit our jobs tomorrow and just take a backpack and travel around the world blogging about our experiences. But we can always strive to improve our daily life to make ourselves happier. One place we can start, is by looking at our job. If it fulfills the list above then maybe it is time to look for a new job. Everything that has a beginning has an end. We have to just believe in our capabilities.
At the end of the day, in our travel to the end let’s reach it with happiness rather then sadness and regret. It is in our hands to make a positive change in our own life. And don’t forget maybe all it takes is a rock bottom on your abusive colleagues to get your goal moving (You need not quit your job, you will be asked to leave :)). Just Bring It!!
Till the next scribble,
As mentioned in my prelude post, I have crystallized what I have learnt about positive living from my meditation classes and have summarized them as four main questions below. As some of the them are very deep (be careful of the risk of drowning) do ponder over them for self-realization.
1) What makes sea water salty?
This may sound cheesy, but a very useful analogy to remember what makes us angry? Our anger. Just like how if we remove salt from the sea water it becomes clear and turns into fresh water if we remove anger from our minds we will also become clear minded and have a fresh approach towards life.
2) Where to find happiness?
Never associate your happiness with another tangible thing. For example, your happiness should not be dependent on your job. Because one day you may lose your job and this must not be the end of your happiness. You should derive happiness from within (sounds harder than deriving laplace’s 3rd order differential equation). Anyways we must try. In this way you can’t lose it easily.
3) What is your value?
Never put a value to yourself by comparing yourself to others. Everyone is unique in their own ways. Don’t be too serious about success or failure. Life should not be taken seriously, as no one gets out from it alive in the end.
4) How do you want to be treated?
Ans: With Respect
This is something I follow even before going for meditation classes. Always put yourself in another person’s shoe. Will you do it? How would you feel if the same thing is said to you? If you will not do it nor feel great about it then do not do it to others! Life is a mirror. It is a reflection of your actions. In other words, karma.
Like Newton’s third law (For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.), what we do to others will ultimately have an impact on us. Good things happen to those who does good things. Live and Let Live.
That’s it folks. Hope you all find something useful in the four pointers mentioned above. There are definitely much more to positive living than these four pointers but I don’t want the readers to dread reading long posts like PHD thesis (who reads them anyways??). Lol!! So as and when I come across good pointers, I will share with everyone.
Stay tune for my future scribbles.