Sunday, 20 September 2015

Memories of Tanglin Halt Estates

Ever wonder why this area that bordered by Stirling Road, Queensway and the Malayan Railway, derived its name from Tanglin Road and the Malayan Railway, which used to have a stop (thus the word ‘halt’) near the junction of Tanglin Halt Road and Tanglin Halt Close. ‘Tanglin’ came from “Tua Tang Leng” (Great Eastern Hills), a name given by the Chinese to the hilly area around Tanglin Road. Tanglin Halt was also known as ‘Tanglin Halt Chap Lau Chu’ (10 Storeys), after the ten-storey blocks which make up the estate which it stands and now going to demolish soon.
Blk 74-80 C'wealth Drive in 2014
So it's been a long time since I wrote about Queenstown estates in my previous blog a few years ago. A few years ago, some places in Queenstown - Margaret Drive had been demolished, living a vacant land. Yet it brings back the memories of the places where we once lived and played, visiting the friends and watched cinemas. There were old playground in Queenstown that was once - "sand" playground.
Tanglin Halt estates in 2012
This time, more than 50 year-old Tanglin Halt estates (Blk 74-80 C'wealth Drive) are going to demolish soon in November this year. Many old residents who once lived, feeling lost and sad to see it go. I was sad to see it go for good as if I was there back in 1960s to visit one of my auntie's shop at blk 46-3 which is due to demolish in 2021. She was used to stay at Blk 63 in early 1960s and eventually shifted to Commonwealth View blocks in 1990s till present.
Those were the days, I used to visit her and her shop at Tanglin Halt for almost 42 years when I was in primary school back then.
Blk 78-79 C'wealth Drive in 2012
I usually walk from C'wealth Drive (16 storey) to Tanglin Halt (C'wealth Drive 10 storey) for 4 decades till now. The memories of Tanglin Halt lingers on my mind, the laughter of the children and voices of the people at the Kopitiam and shops at Blk 74 - 80 C'wealth Drive. There was also Chap Si Lao (14 storey), located at Dawson place, but demolished more than 12 years ago. I live in this Queenstown area for all my life, so much childhood memories if I turn back the time.
Old and New blocks of flats@Tanglin Halt
Old Door Knob in olden days
Much to the changes of the old blocks and new blocks from time to time and they will definitely miss the old blocks instead of new blocks where the old residents used to spend their life long for decades and retained the old wooden doors, steel gates and steel windows for years without removed or renovated it as they were too poor at that time. They will miss the good old days.
Me and Chun See at Chin Hin Eating House (2014)
James Seah, Victor Kong & Hercules Lim 
For the past few years, I have been outings with my good nostalgia friends - Chun See, Hercules Lim, James Seah, and Victor Kong to stroll along the Tanglin Halt estates and to reminisce the memories of the place that I have been visiting for a long time since I was a kid back then. We were having lunch at Chin Hin Eating House located at blk 75 C'wealth Drive and chatting away for the old times. Hercules, Victor and I grew up in Queenstown and were old neighbours back then.
Old residents chatting away under the tree(2013)
Sad to hear from the old residents that they missed the old times, peaceful surroundings, chit-chat with neighbours under the tree at the corner and even playing chestboard at the shelter nearby.
Former KTM Railway track
There were once the former site of railway track behind Blk 78 & Blk 79 C'wealth Drive. Those were the days, I could hear the sound of incoming train at KTM track where my auntie's old block 63 is or whenever I walked pass. The sound of incoming train was noisy and the whole neighbourhood blocks could hear the loud shrieking sound and the horning of passing the housing estates. The children would run out of the blocks to watch the incoming train and they cheered and greeting from the train passengers in old good days. Now it was peaceful and yet serene not long after demolished the railway track in 2012 when Tanjong Pagar station had ceased in 2011.
PUB Gas Tank (then)
PUB Gas Tank demolished (now)
There was once the PUB Gas Tank which was located at the corner of Blk 79 C'wealth Drive where the vacant site is. In the past, there were many factories around the estates. PUB Gas tank was installed in early 1960s when the Tanglin Halt estates and the factories were built in early1960s.
The news spread in regarding about the Gas tank, many people were worried for the safety of neighbourhood blocks as well as factories nearby. People worried or feared that the Gas tank might explode if installed close to estates and factories. As long as I remember, whenever I walked pass the road, to where the Gas Tank, to visit one of aunties' block for years and I could feel the fear inside me whenever I walked pass briskly as if I were breathing hard but not gasping for air.
Used to be PUB Gas Tank
 PUB Gas Gate
 Site used to be PUB Gas now empty
Structure Pillar - Gas logo
Those were the days, many kids were playing badminton just behind the block 77 which is near to the gate that was used to be PUB Gas tank (pic above).
Old Badminton Court
Old Badminton court that was once favourite playground for kids and adults like me in old good days and that time we couldn't afford to rent the hall at community centres. We used the badminton court in our neighbourhood blocks to play and bought cheap badminton net and badminton rackets from the old shops nearby instead of shopping centres.
Sri Sun Parata Paradise in 2013
I recalled the Indian coffee shop - "Sri Sun Parata Paradise" was a Indian Muslim Food located at Blk 75 C'wealth Drive to where Chin Hin Eating House at the corner end, I used to buy ice Milo and Roti Prata from them occasionally.
Chin Hin Eating House Signboard
Chin Hin Eating House taken in year 2013
Wanton Noodle and soup taken in year 2013
Whenever I visit my auntie's house or her shop, I used to eat Wanton noodle and Laksa sometimes but now where they are gone too.
There will be going to have a "Farewell event" on the 3rd Oct 2015 from 11am to 7pm.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Restore Of Its Glory - Singapore Yu Huang Gong

The former Keng Teck Whay Building is situated next to Thian Hock Keng, once home to one of Singapore's oldest organisations, a short walk from Al-Abrar Mosque and former Nagore Dargah. It stands as a witness to the presence and contributions of the Hokkien Peranakans (Straits Chinese) in colonial Singapore and to the community spirit of mutual aid among the pioneers.
A milestone was marked in Singapore's heritage history on 31 March 2010; Taoist Mission (Singapore) became the new owner of the "Keng Teck Whay" a Singapore's National Heritage Monument situated at 150 Telok Ayer Street amidst the heart of the financial district.
  Door Guardians - General Qing Shu Bao and Wei Chi Gong of Tang Dynasty
The 180 year old building was a former "Keng Teck Whay", a dilapidated state and was desperately in need of restoration and conservation. The building's architectural style and social heritage is a living testament to the founding members' efforts and contributions during Singapore's early settlement since 1831. Restoration carried out the entire site as to what I saw a few years ago when I walked pass this site to the Thian Hock Keng next door to pray respect to the deity - Mazu (Goddess of the Sea) that I was once stepped into the temple when I was about three month old baby, carried by my mum and blessed by Goddess Mazu as my 'God-ma". It was a long story back then.
Signage board of Yu Huang Gong
Major restoration were as followed: Entrance Gate, Hall of the Three Heavenly Officials, Heavenly Jade Emperor Pavillion and Qing De Tang (Keng Teck Ancestor Hall).
Blazing Pearl in the centre
The Entrance Gate has a well-proportioned triple bay construction befitting an most important Chinese building with fine granite and stone works which bear the characteristic curved roof ridge with two dancing dragons, blazing pearl in the centre and original Minnan spirals on all hip and both ends of the main ridge.
Guide Rosalind Tan
I was invited to the newly revamped Yu Huang Gong temple by my nostalgia friend Jerome, thus introduced to Ms Rosalind (Guide) by Ms Belinda (Host) to the private event on 13th Sept 2015.
Spiral Staircase
I am grateful to be able to climb up the pavilion from spiral staircase leading up to the 2nd level to see a Cucurbit structure (Hu Lu) on top of the Pavilion represents the octagonal treasure and Heavenly Jade Emperor (Yu Huang Shang Di). To the common folks or elderly, he is the "Father of Heaven" (Tian Gong). This spiral staircase is similar to one of my oldest uncles' bungalow which is narrow and steep.
Heavenly Jade Emperor (Yu Huang Shang Di)
Yu Huang Shang Di existed and recorded as Hao Tian Shang Di during the primitive period. Shang Di has four great Heavenly Ministers: Lord Zi Wei (Bei Ji Zi Wei Da Di) Lord Chang Sheng (Nan Ji Chang Sheng Da Di), Lord Tien Huang (Guo Sheng Tien Huang Da Di) and Lord Imperial Goddess of Earth ( hou Tue Huang Di Qi).
Overview of Thian Hock Keng Pavilion
I was able to view from distance at the top of the pavilion at level 2, to look identical of the structure of the Thian Hock Keng Pavilion of similar to that Yu Huang Gong Pavilion from where I was standing. The shape of "Hu Lu" (Gourd) is what I used to call "Calabash or Ulu" that I normally see in Fengshui shops. I remember I still have a gold "Hu Lu" comes with a chain given by my mum when I was a teenager back then.
Hu Lu (Gourd)@Thian Hock Keng Temple
Octagonal structure of the Pavilion
The curved rood ridge with upturned eaves and is uniquely having a hybrid from of an octagonal upper floor resting on a square plan. The structure of the eight columns made of timber above the granite square floor represents Taoism concept of "Round Heaven and Square Earth" derived from Yin-Yang Bagua and retains its rich 19th to early 20th century paint scheme internally.
Yin-Yang Symbol
Yin-Yang Symbol represents Taoism's way of understanding opposites - e.g. masculine/feminine, light/dark. It also known as the Taiji symbol. The image consists of a circle divided into two teardrop-shaped halves - one white and the other black. Within each half is contained a smaller circle of the opposite colour.
According to Taoist cosmology, Yin-Qi and Yang-Qi – the primordial feminine and masculine energies – produce what are known as the “Five Elements.” The Five Elements, in turn, give birth to the “ten-thousand things,” i.e. all of manifest existence. The Five Elements are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water.
Master Tan ZhiXia and Master Lee ZhiWang
There are many temples that I visit, with my family when I was a toddler back then. At least, I have learned lots of things from Masters Lee Zhiwang and Rosalind (Guide) during the private tour.
Monumental Memorial Tablet of KTW
The Monumental Memorial Tablet of Keng Teck Whay (KTW) 36 Founding Members is enshrined at the Ancestral Hall of the rear building now honoured as the Keng Teck Whay Building.
Brochure of Singapore Yu Huang Gong
After touring at the temple, we were given a brochure of Singapore Yu Huang Gong and tea session with the Master Lee and Master Tan.
Master Lee Zhiwang & participants
Participants looked on while Master Lee Zhiwang served tea to one of the participants during tea session.
 Master Lee Zhiwang served tea
Master Lee Zhiwang served tea for participants like us with his great gestures and hospitality, shared his story and Q&A during tea session. It was an interesting session while we focus closely of his skill on teacups in his gentle way. I do have a few sets of teacups at home.
Master Tan ZhiXia & Master Lee ZhiWang
At last but least, we managed to take a photo of the two masters standing outside the entrance of the temple. I am thankful for the masters for their hospitality and generous tea session and chat with us and not forgetting Ms Rosalind our fantastic guide, host Ms Behinda and my nostalgia friend Jerome for the invite. A group photo credit by Jerome Lim.
Group Photo