Bungalow by the sea


Pasir Panjang Days: One of the concepts that never made it off the Tourism Board’s drawing board of national symbols? (See Cory Doctorow’s Flickr Set of Haw Par Villa).

412 Pasir Panjang Road, Singapore 5.”

That was how I used to recite my address to anyone who’d ask me where I lived. I must’ve been five or so, and attending kindergarten, where I stuggled with English and Mandarin because the ‘Ah Soh’ that my parents hired to look after me spoke only Hokkien.

The house at that address was rectangular, and we had a garden out front, that at that time, to me, was the hugest garden I’d ever been in. There was a swing, a slide, and a driveway where I’d ride my bicycle, which, for some reason, liked to crash into my father’s car.

My father had his own accountancy practice, and by standards of that time, must’ve been doing pretty well. He used to boast (to us only, he says) that the first car he owned in Singapore was a Mercedes. I remember us having a series of Mercedeses, the nicest one being a 280S with the number plate QC21Y.

There was a makeshift bus terminus right outside our gate, and we used to get into all sorts of quarrels with the bus drivers, who’d block our gate with their buses, and sometimes, we’d even have to walk across the street to the police station to get it sorted out. They were more like thugs than ‘bus captains’ in those days, and safety was never that big on their priorities. Some days we’d witness the most horrific accidents, with victims, mostly pedestrians, lying bleeding to death on the road before the ambulance came.

More importantly, there was the sea across the road from our house. The sea’s no longer there. It’s been reclaimed. Or rather, land had been ‘reclaimed’ from the sea some time in the 1980s. Where the sea and a jetty were is now a road, a park and container wharfs.

On good days, my father would take us kids to the seaside for a walk, and we’d watch as fishing boats unloaded their catch – there was a fishmonger at the corner of Pasir Panjang and Clementi Road who as late as 2003, still sold what he claimed to be fresh off the boat/sea fish.

On bad days, or rather, on one particular day where I had been particularly bad, my father put me in one of those vegetable baskets and carried me across the road and threatened to throw me into the sea. I saw my life flash before my eyes and in between the rattan slats of the basket as my bellyaching and wailing subsided into little whimpers. I remember being calmed by the salty air even though I was still fearful of being upended off the jetty.

On other days, when I’d be ordinarily bad (as opposed to particularly bad), all my father would do was threaten to call the police. Sometimes, all he’d do was to point to the police station, and when a policeman did appear, I’d all but wet my pants.

When we kids were behaving ourselves, our parents would let the servants take us out, but mostly either to Ah Heng’s the fishmonger’s, or down the road, by bus (so convenient – at our doorstep), to Haw Par Villa, where we’d wonder some more how good we had to be before we were treated to something less horrible than the gruesome depictions of the punishment of sins.

There’s only so much reminiscing one can do without the aid of photographs. So, does anyone have any photographs of the Pasir Panjang area, pre-reclamation? I’d like to revisit places like the police station, and the jetty, and the sea.

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18 thoughts on “Bungalow by the sea”

  1. i dont hv photos but lived there for a while (in more recent times) and know the area that you speak of. wonderful place, love the “zhi char” stalls, late supper at the food centre and saying hello to dog owners aplenty.

  2. i dont hv photos but lived there for a while (in more recent times) and know the area that you speak of. wonderful place, love the “zhi char” stalls, late supper at the food centre and saying hello to dog owners aplenty.

  3. Walau…talk about reminiscing sial…

    I remember dragging my grandad (who came down for a visit from penang when I was about 6) to the old Beauty World Market.

    I bugged him to no end to buy me a radio controlled car.

    Half of that market burned down during the chinese new year festivities in 1983. That probably led to the ban on fire crackers.

    I wonder too if anyone has pictures of that old market…

  4. Walau…talk about reminiscing sial…

    I remember dragging my grandad (who came down for a visit from penang when I was about 6) to the old Beauty World Market.

    I bugged him to no end to buy me a radio controlled car.

    Half of that market burned down during the chinese new year festivities in 1983. That probably led to the ban on fire crackers.

    I wonder too if anyone has pictures of that old market…

  5. Wow. I think it’s interesting reading about how it was living at Pasir Panjang in the past. Sometimes, I wish someone would set up a web site with all the pictures, maps, stories and anything relating to redeveloped areas in Singapore.

  6. Wow. I think it’s interesting reading about how it was living at Pasir Panjang in the past. Sometimes, I wish someone would set up a web site with all the pictures, maps, stories and anything relating to redeveloped areas in Singapore.

  7. I remembered New World, a dreamland of fun and fantasy.

    In those days, ridding the merry-go-round is a luxury and a status symbol. I remembered putting on my best cowboy clothes, matched with toy gun and hat, everytime I ride on the horse that bring you nowhere.

    Hmmm.. thanks for the reminiscing, Mr Miyagi.

  8. I remembered New World, a dreamland of fun and fantasy.

    In those days, ridding the merry-go-round is a luxury and a status symbol. I remembered putting on my best cowboy clothes, matched with toy gun and hat, everytime I ride on the horse that bring you nowhere.

    Hmmm.. thanks for the reminiscing, Mr Miyagi.

  9. i used to stay at a pre-war colonial house at 243 pasir panjang rd, but by the time i moved in, there was already a blk of apts standing where the beach used to be! i bet my neighbour there has photos cos he’s been at pasir panjang since a long long time ago. hopefully he’s still alive the way i saw him when i moved out in 2001. otherwise, there’s his son.

  10. i used to stay at a pre-war colonial house at 243 pasir panjang rd, but by the time i moved in, there was already a blk of apts standing where the beach used to be! i bet my neighbour there has photos cos he’s been at pasir panjang since a long long time ago. hopefully he’s still alive the way i saw him when i moved out in 2001. otherwise, there’s his son.

  11. Hey thanks for this! We love to hear abut Pasir Panjang and share some of the stories on the Pasir Panjang Heritage Trail which we started doing based mainly on biology and the war. We’ve been adding layers of social history from the different decades as we go along and I wish everyone would blog more!

    See these webpages:
    Pasir Panjang Heritage
    http://pasirpanjang.rafflesmuseum.net/
    A blog we started to archive stories:
    http://pasirpanjang.rafflesmuseum.net/blog

  12. Hey thanks for this! We love to hear abut Pasir Panjang and share some of the stories on the Pasir Panjang Heritage Trail which we started doing based mainly on biology and the war. We’ve been adding layers of social history from the different decades as we go along and I wish everyone would blog more!

    See these webpages:
    Pasir Panjang Heritage
    http://pasirpanjang.rafflesmuseum.net/
    A blog we started to archive stories:
    http://pasirpanjang.rafflesmuseum.net/blog

  13. My classmate in ACS used to live in such a bungalow. His garden has steps that led into the sea! Once I visited him and we went for a swim. Current pretty strong. Swallowed quite a bit of salt water. What to do; proud kampong boy don’t want to admit can’t swim. Year was around ’67, ’68.

  14. My classmate in ACS used to live in such a bungalow. His garden has steps that led into the sea! Once I visited him and we went for a swim. Current pretty strong. Swallowed quite a bit of salt water. What to do; proud kampong boy don’t want to admit can’t swim. Year was around ’67, ’68.

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