Tuesday, July 5, 2011

In those days.....

Yesterday I took a last look at the old railway bridge at Upper Bukit Timah Road.
This bridge is due to dismantled soon, with the return of the railway land to the Singapore government.

The visit also brought me back to the old housing estate where I used to live back in the 1970s.
Called Fuyong Estate and located just bedside the KTM truss bridge. I lived there during my teen years.

This is a small freehold estate of around a hundred units, sandwiched between the old Diary Farm and the now defunct Singapore Granite Quarry. It lies on the western ridge of Bukit Timah Hill. So while I was heading to the bridge, I dropped by the estate just to see the old home and reminisce.

I could watch trains passing everyday from my house.

What was a once a simple estate of single storied bungalows, semi-detached and terraced houses has now morphed into a sad jumble of independently re-designed and re-built buildings. While there are still some single storey units, most have been redeveloped into 2, 3 or even 4 storied hulks. Some look so monstrous beside its puny neighbours.  I guess the owners are maximizing their land use. The old village atmosphere is completely lost now.

I used to live at no. 71

No 71 is at the top of the slope on the left.

Rail Mall which fronts the main Upper Bukit Timah Road was redeveloped from a row of old shop houses.  I still remember vividly the old neighbourhood provision shop and the laundry (dhoby) shop now taken over by modern MNCs like Cold Storage and Coffee Bean. Looks much better now actually.

One of the things few people ever realise is that the row of shops that now makes up Rail Mall was one of the last few places in Singapore that had the old 'bucket system' of sanitation. 'Night soil'  buckets were carted off manually everyday by the sanitation dept  in their '36 doors' lorry as we called it.
(look up Night Soil in Wiki, you'd be surprised Singapore is mentioned prominently, full of shit, haha)

I recalled that the old shortcut from the estate to the main road ran past the back lane of the shophouses and woe be you if you encounter the night soil carrier at that time! The dilemma was that you either held your breathe and continue quickly through the backlane or make a 500m detour.

The backlane. The sewers are all modern now.

The old shortcut which was just a dirt track in those days.
This was how it was done even up to the late 80s.
Salute and respect to those workers!
(Picture from National Archive database)

1 comment:

  1. Thankyou for sharing your memories. While the modern Singapore is fantastic I find it very sad that the government seems hell bent on destroying the past. I lived in Singapore in the early 70's and returned for the first time last year to see the changes first hand. The fact my old street is no longer even there I found upsetting. Love your blogs, greetings from Australia, cheers, Chris