Sembawang, as I remember it …

6 05 2009

Sembawang where I live in today is a very different place from the Sembawang where a fair bit of my childhood’s most memorable experiences were based in. There was the old Chong Pang village, with the old Catholic Church ( at the corner, the streets of wooden shops and houses, the old open air cinema boarded by zinc sheets, the numerous shops that lined the main road … the crab nets hanging in front of the shops selling fishing tackle and supplies …

I remember Sembawang most for the numerous nights spent crabbing from the jetty, which is still standing in what is now Sembawang Park. In those days, a typical night’s yield  from a few square crabbing nets weighed with lead weights, tied to the jetty with nylon rope, each with a piece of rotting fish as bait, was two five gallon pails full of large crabs. This memory together with the smell of the sea, mixed with rotting fish, camphor and kerosene lamps, and the mee goreng bought from the Indian hawker stalls in Chong Pang Village is the most vivid I have of Sembawang.

During my later teenage years, I spent a lot of time as well wandering around the Kampung Tanjung Irau area east of what is now Sembawang Park. Besides the very quaint kampung houses on stilts and the wooden fishing boats that lined some parts of the sea shore, I don’t remember much of it, except some vague memories of pulling strings of green shelled mussels from wooden piles at the sea shore somewhere, and also taking a boat from time to time across to Seletar Island in the Straits of Johore.

Chong Pang Village as it used to be

Some further posts related to the Sembawang area:

Chong Pang Village

Map of Chong Pang Village c.1978

Sembawang, as it is today

Jalan Mempurong - which led to the coastal Malay kampungs ...

More on the jetty that was once known as the Mata Jetty …

The once rickety Mata Jetty at the end of Sembawang - still a popular spot for fishing and crabbing.




10 responses

6 08 2009

Great photo, don’t mind if i copy it to my pc. This will be roughly where(i maybe wrong) u will alight from service no.161 or 164. The road ahead leads to Sultan Cinema or theatre so they call it. The bicycle park area I remember used to be makan stalls, from the road side up to the trees. In front of the shops on the left are the illegal taxis drivers where they will charge $2 for taxi ride to kampong tanjong irau (where I use to live) or other nearby kampongs . Behind the shops on the right will be the post office. This was the “Batu Tigabelas”, the “happening town” for me during my primary school days…this photo really brings back fond memories..tq for posting

6 08 2009
The wondering wanderer


No problem I guess. Not really sure how the photograph got in my collection though, but I do have fond memories of childhood days running around Chong Pang Village and Kampung Tanjung Irau during the school holidays. I do remember a little of the “happening town” you mentioned. There’s one more thing I do now remember, having recently visited the jetty, was that we used to go down into the water with butterfly nets and shinning a light at night, we were able to see the eyes of shrimps and catch them with the butterfly nets. We also often scooped up small puffer fish in the process. Another thing was that we could get boatmen to take us to Seletar Island from Kampung Tanjung Irau. Would you have any photographs to share of the places you mentioned?

19 03 2010
The wondering wanderer

P.S. There are some excellent photos and memories of the kampungs of Sembawang here:

3 04 2010
That old rusty red coloured building along Sembawang Road « The Long and Winding Road

[…] breaking the monotony of what seemed an endless journey to the village of Chong Pang and towards Sembawang end, as was often the case on the many car rides to the Mata Jetty and the coastal villages near […]

20 12 2010

Hi Jerome, pictures bring back sweet childhood memories. I have looked in the National Archive but can’t find any pictures of Admiralty Road East. You see, I grew up in the black and white house, 29 Admiralty Road and I really really miss that area. Our picnic area was on top of the hill of Kings Avenue overlooking the shipyard dock and we will watch the tug boats assisting the ship but now, it is all covered up by this ugly green wire mash since the shipyard is now a naval base.

So, if you have any pictures, please let me know. Thanks.

20 12 2010
The wondering wanderer

Hi Ima, thanks for visiting! Gosh! You actually grew up in one of the black & whites! Wow! When was that? I don’t have any photos personally, but there are some of the area on the 1960s on the “Memories of Singapore” site, including one of Naval Base Cinema – which I am sure will bring back many memories for you. There are also several of houses around Ottawa Road, Falkland Road and Wellington Road. The pages in particular that you may be interested in are:

The dock that you mentioned would be the supplies basin – which I have visited several times – and as you say now all you see is the “ugly green wire mash” 😦 … I remember as a child, I would peek through the pickets of the fence towards the basin!

Have fun! 🙂

26 04 2012

You have a great blog. I love the old pictures you have..not just of Sembawang (where I live now) but also of other parts of Singapore. Keep it up! Losing sight of our history is truly sad otherwise.

26 04 2012
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

Thanks for dropping by and for the kind feedback Lee! Much appreciated! Sembawang is still a lovely place now – lots of history to discover in the area – glad to know you are living there! 🙂

8 06 2012

Hi Mr Jerome Lim,
I am doing a newsletter on Sembawang and chance upon this website.
I used to stay way behind the Sultan Theatre……49 Soon Kiat Road Singapore 27 ( Hey, 2 digits only!). My family shifted around 1969 when I was a toddler but we still came back to visit the kampung friends in the 70’s. The photo really brings back sweet memories. Thanks!

12 10 2014
Abu bin khamis

I use to stay at Chong Pang police station since it was opened until 1967. Attended Naval Base Secondary School till 1968. Still remember Canberra Primary School and West Hill School side by side my school. Tanjong Irau is picnic site during school holiday.

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