Changi Beach

31 10 2009

The once idyllic shoreline running northeast from Tanah Merah where Changi Airport now sits on land reclaimed from the sea, to Teluk Paku, a small finger of land jutting out from where Changi creek is close to Changi Village, was for a time, the most popular seaside escape for many Singaporean families. The stretch of beach was possibly the longest natural sandy stretch of beach on the island, and was fringed with katapang, acacia and pong pong trees which provided the many shady spots to have picnics by the beach, and of course the many coconut palm trees bowing to the sea.

Changi beach was also a favourite of my parents. We would spend many Sundays, soaking in the sun and sea in the day time, or sitting by the beach, listening to the whisper of the sea breeze in the evenings. It was, in those day, possible to drive right up close to the sand line, find a shady tree to park the car under, and lay out a mat right next to the car. There were of course, several incidents where a careless driver had a tire get stuck in the sand, which in most instances could be remedied by placing a wooden plank under the tire. What I would often do was sit on the roof of my father’s car and enjoy the breeze and rustling of leaves above me. Somehow, this gave me a sense of escape, of being all by myself, on top of the world.

On the roof of my father's car

On the roof of my father's car, Changi Beach, early 1970s.

Picnics out of the Car Boot

Picnics out of the Car Boot, Changi Beach, late 1960s.

Our picnic baskets would consist of tiffin carriers of curry chicken and baguettes or fried bee hoon that my mother would prepare before setting out, which remained in the boot of the car until it was time to eat. There were some occasions when we paid a visit the beach side cafes along the beach instead for a delicious plate of Mee Goreng. Sometime in the 70s, several rows of wooden huts built on stilts cropped up along some parts of the beach, replacing the beach side cafes which were closed. These huts were sub divided into smaller units, which could be rented for day use by beach users. This somewhat altered the uncluttered view of the beach and it was maybe around that time when cars were prevented from driving up to the beach. There were also some mobile food vendors that came by in vans or motorcycles, including the ice cream vendors and a mobile fish and chips van that was quite popular.

Changi Beach, 1965

Changi Beach, 1965.

Evenings spent by the beach were also eventful, particularly on the days where low tides occurred in the afternoon, allowing us to walk out into the knee high water, all the way to the line of the Kelongs which once dominated the seascape. Armed with butterfly nets, skewers and a plastic pail, and with a deft hand, we were able to harvest a flower crabs, shrimps, sea snails from among the sand, seaweed, and the sea cucumber and large starfish that I had an irrational fear of. The catch would sometimes go over an open fire that we would light up over a shallow pit dug in the sand, with dry twigs picked up from along the beach. There is nothing like the smell of fresh seafood roasting on a piece of wire mesh supported by red bricks, over the open flames.


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7 responses

10 11 2009
noelbynature

what a nice post! can I feature this on yesterday.sg?

10 11 2009
The wondering wanderer

Thanks. Yes, you certainly can.

19 05 2010
Adventures with numbers « The Long and Winding Road

[…] Changi Beach […]

12 06 2010
Listening to the song of the sea « The Long and Winding Road

[…] had many wonderous moments in my early childhood along the eastern shores of Singapore. Besides the sandy Changi shoreline, to which I was introduced to at a very early age, there was another part of Singapore close to […]

29 10 2010
The Changi Village that I loved « The Long and Winding Road

[…] stroll trawling through the often colourful displays of goods at the front of the shops before heading to the beach to bathe in the cool evening breeze. For many, there was the draw of chilling-out after the […]

16 04 2011
taiwoon

wonderful photos and memories. I also have curry and mee hoon! Life is simple then… This article inspired me to do a small gathering for my friends.. and I have linked ur article in my blog too. Thank you for the memories!

26 04 2011
The wondering wanderer

Hi Taiwoon, thanks for dropping by … and for the feedback … 🙂 Nothing beats Curry and Mee Hoon by the beach! Thanks for linking as well!

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