Not worth the 5 cents?

14 07 2010

Rummaging through a set of old coins, I found a few coins that I had almost forgotten about … limited circulation coins that were minted in 1971, and issued in February 1972 in conjunction with Singapore’s participation in the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) Educational Coin Programme. When the coins were first issued, it was during a time when dud or counterfeit coins were quite common and many of the older folk who received these coins as change had assumed that these were counterfeit as well, being a lighter at 1.26 grammes (although they were larger 21.23mm in diameter) as they were minted in aluminium alloy, as opposed to the smaller cupro-nickel coins (1.41 g and 16.26 mm) that were in circulation then (one of the things you would look for in trying to identify a counterfeit coin was how light it felt). The coin features a reverse side that is similar in design to the coins in circulation then, with a pomfret shown on the obverse with the words “INCREASE PRODUCTION” and “MORE FOOD FROM THE SEA” at the edges.

The aluminium alloy 5 cent coins in between the old 5 cent coins (on the left) and the ones that are currently in circulation (on the right).

When the FAO coins were issued, I suppose due to the novelty, many of my schoolmates held on to them instead of using them, and due to the limited circulation, were quite difficult to come by. I guess I must have held on to a few myself, which is why I still have a few of them around. These days the 5 cent coins in circulation are also quite distinct, having a gold coloured finish, being made of Aluminium Bronze. Slightly larger in diameter than the old cupro-nickel coins at 16.75 mm, they are also heavier at 1.56g.


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14 responses

14 07 2010
Ivea Mark

I have those “pomfret” coins too! I remember them as a child (I think we must be nearly the same age!) The bird coin also brings back memories. I remember counting many of those in my piggy bank. LOL. Thanks for a great memory trip. I love reading your blog, keep writing.

15 07 2010
The wondering wanderer

Ivea … guess quite a few of us who were growing up then would have kept the pomfret coins because they were one of a kind! Oh yes, piggy banks! They were popular then … my favourite was the Donald Duck one that I got from the Chartered Bank! Thanks for the feedback! Very much appreciate it!! 🙂

15 07 2010
Ivea Mark

Piggy banks are another story altogether. I had a metal long-necked dinosaur piggy bank from OUB in Toa Payoh. My mother opened an account for me when I was in kindergarten. She’d take me to the bank, where an employee behind the counter would unlock the trap door underneath the dinosaur and we’d watch her shift the coins around on a wooden board with spaces to align the coins to be counted.
Later on, when I was older, I remember the 5 cent and 10 cent stamps we would buy at school, usually in class, to stick on our Post Office Savings Vouchers. I remember a pink stamp featuring a female classical Indian dancer.
And then came the Love Peace era, so I had a plastic pillar savings bank that my sister-in-law bought me, yellow with the smiley face. So chic back then!
You should write about these savings banks.
Thanks for the wonderful remembrances. I was sorry to read about the National Stadium being torn down. I remember spending many hot days there cheering on the runners, and yelling ourselves hoarse for our school, sitting in the stands, gossiping about the hot boys, ha ha!

15 07 2010
The wondering wanderer

Ivea, I guess piggy banks have their own story that begs telling! I have some experiences with them … but I guess I wasn’t really good at doing anything serious like saving money with them! Did make a mention Donald Duck in the post about Shaw House where my mum used to visit the Chartered Bank and I think I may have a picture taken with it somewhere, and I did exchange some comments with another reader about the Chung Khiaw Bank piggy banks in the post on Mount Sophia. It would be nice if I could get my hands on some of these piggy banks! Yes, I certainly remember now how coins were counted, now that you mentioned it – thanks for jogging that part of my memory!

It is certainly my pleasure to share the wonderful moments in time I have had and most certainly the National Stadium would hold many memories for many Singaporeans … and many would be sad to see her go … by the way, which school did you go to? Thanks so much for your feedback once again. It really means a lot! 🙂

15 07 2010
Ivea Mark

My piggy bank experience mainly consisted of my putting in coins when I remembered, and then desperately using a ruler to slide out same coins whenever the Otak man, bread man, or ice cream truck came along, so that I could buy something. LOL.

I went to Paya Lebar Methodist Girls School, and then ACJC afterward. Where did you go to school? SJI? My school bus/mini van also took students to St Andrews School (the boys) and so we often had “fights” on the bus. It was hilarious, I wonder where these fellows are now. I lived mostly around Upper Thomson Road back then.

I moved to Canada in 1983. So all this remembering is a fabulous trip back in time.

16 07 2010
The wondering wanderer

🙂 I can identify with what you mentioned about desperately trying to get the coins out! That’s why I was never good at using the piggy banks to save money! You mentioned previously about the stamps – I remember them to … and remember a classmate who would buy whole sheets of stamps from the teacher. One of my classmates actually kept one of the cards on which we pasted the stamps on.

Paya Lebar MGS was the one with the white belt on the uniform, if I remember correctly. I liked the old church building next to it before it was destroyed in the fire – it always served as a landmark to me. Yup, I went to SJI. Used to be referred to as the Singapore Jamban Inspectors … didn’t pass by the Paya Lebar MGS area much and most of my interactions were with the students of the schools around the Bras Basah area, although we did mixed around with some students from St. Gabriel’s and SJC who lived where I lived in Ang Mo Kio.

Whereabouts Canada are you living in? Nice part of the world … have a few friends living there – mostly in the Vancouver and Toronto areas.

16 07 2010
Ivea Mark

It saddens me to learn that the Methodist church attached to PLMGS burned down in a fire. What year was this? PLMGS moved to new digs elsewhere after I left. I miss the old school building I knew for so many years at Boundary Road and the wonderful wet market near by (all that wonderful food.) Yes, we’re the ones with the white belt. It’s an old school, now that I remember it, it was underfunded, the libraries were old, the labs were old, everything was old. But back then I didn’t know any better. The new school is really cool. Lucky girls.

I’m from Calgary, Alberta. Used to live in Toronto and elsewhere in Ontario. It’s a huge country, from Pacific on the West to the Atlantic on the East, and up to the Arctic Circle (North) and the rest you know (49th Parallel). It’s also 3,900 ft above sea level, near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. So the weather is quite cold most of the year.

I had to laugh at the nickname for SJI. Too bad our paths didn’t cross. That’s a long way to go to school every day if you lived in AMK.

We lived in a house near Beaulieu Park in Upper Sembawang once. I had to get up at 4 AM, catch the first bus at 4:30 AM, change three buses total, and then walk a very long way to school at Dover Road (ACJC). Imagine that. It was only a 45 min drive if I got driven to school, not often.

You’ve got wonderful memories of Singapore! Mine are not quite so vivid. I remember the National Library beside MPH. There was a thespian group there for teens, I used to be a part of that. And the Cathay Cinema and Lido Theatre. Orchard Rd was my old haunt, some as the old theatre that ran re-runs along Upper Thomson, what’s its name… And the British Council library, Lucky Plaza in its heyday, Newton Circus and the great food there.

I’m getting homesick!! LOL.

17 07 2010
The wondering wanderer

If I remember correctly it might have been in the late 1980s. My parents remembered that it was a churchgoer who was responsible for the act of arson which led to the fire. The schools these days are all very well equipped compared to what it was back then. I remember the old desks that we had in school – and yes the lab equipment was archaic!

I’ve not been to Calgary – but my parents have and had good memories of it. I did take a greyhound up to Quebec City and Montreal in the summer of 1989, via Niagara and Toronto and visited Victoria on business once … but otherwise I have not really travelled much around the area. Must be really nice up in the Calgary – always enjoyed the view of mountains…

Yes, too bad our paths didn’t cross … used to spend an hour getting to school and an hour back (40 minutes if I got the semi-express buses which ran in the evenings) – there was a huge jam once on Upper Thomson Road which added an hour and a half to that.

Whereabouts near Beaulieu Park did you live? I frequented the area quite a lot … a friend’s uncle had a house off Jalan Janggus and we camped in on a few occasions during the school holidays. I also did a lot of carb fishing at the Mata Jetty near Beaulieu House and remember how eerie the area was back then. The kampungs along the coast further east were also a favourite haunt for harvesting mussels and also to get the boat to Seletar Island. I can’t imagine getting up at 4am … the earliest I got up at back then was at 5.30am and I thought that it was early!

Yes, I have lots of wonderful memories stored up somehow and I thought this blog would be a good way of collecting my thoughts together and maybe writing a book about my life at some point in time. The National Library was a favourite of the schoolboys … that’s where many went to rendezvous with the girls from the schools around. There was also the little cluster of hawkers next to the library with the best won ton noodles in town and my favourite ice kacang stall! The bus stop in front of the library was where I often got a bus from … MPH and the National Museum would be where we would escape from the heat. Cathay was also a haunt … there was an A&W outlet in the row of shops next door along Dhoby Ghaut that we frequented … mentioned it in a post on SJI …and the theatres along Orchard – remember the Orchard Theatre? That had Jackie’s bowl and also Singapore’s first escalator! Was the theatre along Upper Thomson Road you mentioned the one near Sin Min? Need to scratch my head a bit on its name …. and yes the British Council Library, Lucky Plaza with Metro Grand … Newton Circus … not sure if you remember the Char Kway Teow at the coffee shop near Newton Circus? It’s good to get a little homesick once in a while … do you still have family on this side of the world?

17 07 2010
Ivea Mark

I left Singapore in 1983, so I would have missed the news about the church fire. That’s terrible, arson by a church member. I remember spending many hours in its pews for chapel period here and there, and Pastor Goh (didn’t like him) rambling on. I always liked the green tinge cast on his face by the sunlight streaming through the windows. Made him look kinda sick, LOL. I was a kid who had to endure the sessions. But having the church there was somehow comforting.

Old desks: yes! The wooden ones with the flip top, and all the generations of names and users and graffiti carved into the undersides, and the rubbish in them. LOL. I might have contributed to my immortality. Perhaps they’ve been burned.

Beaulieu Park: I lived right across the street (on Upper Sembawang Rd) from the parking lot. I think the bus stop may still be there (outside the gate.) It was a walled house (semi-detached) and we had to clean of the trash the riders left behind. Sometimes they wouldn’t move to let us into the driveway.
My neighbours were Muslims, I think there were at least four wives with kids next door, so I was always entertained by their antics when I was home on weekends to hear it. It was a beautiful area, quite serene. I often went to walk in the park, and stand and stare at Johor across the Strait. I have never been in the Kampongs that were further along the road, but it looked intriguing. A slice of rural Singapore, thatched huts on stilts and chickens running about, children playing.

MPH and the National Library: I have spent many happy hours in my youth browsing and buying books at MPH, back when books cost $2 or so. I suspect it was the wonderfully cold air conditioning that really drew me there, LOL! The National Library ran theatre and acting workshops. I met John McManus there (Jesus Christ Superstar? He was one of the directors, I think) at one of the acting workshops. We must have seemed to him a bunch of googly-eyed adolescents with local accents! To this day, I still use his “Can Not” emphasis, instead of how we used to say it, “canNOT.”

A&W at Dhoby Ghaut: I was in Singapore in 2008, and while I walked the entire length of Orchard Rd to Dhoby Ghaut, there was nothing familiar except Lucky Plaza and a few of the older buildings. I didn’t see Lido Theatre, the Cathay. Yes, I remember the orange Root Bear straws that accompanied a large cold mug of A&W Root Beer! I ate there a lot, and sometimes across the street at the indonesian restaurant that sold delicious Rendang. It was a mecca for students before and after a movie as well. Speaking of movies, the kachang man who sold those paper cones of peanuts must be a thing of the past by now. Orchard Theatre also brings back memories. I have gone bowling at Jackie’s Bowl. I also remember meeting a boyfriend there once. Long forgotten scenes from my youth. Oh, along Orchard Rd was a cafe in the 50’s Chrome style, forgotten the name, but one could buy a great milkshake.

Sin Min Rd: Yes, that’s the theatre! It’s a second-run place, the tickets were $1.50 or $2 for an afternoon’s entertainment. One could sit there and watch two movies for the price of admission, which I sometimes did when there was nothing pressing. Looking back, I wondered how on earth I managed to do any homework with all that galavanting around town during secondary school days! I lived off Sin Min Rd too, and across on the other side of Upper Thomson, behind the block that contained the famous Hainanese Chicken Rice store (oh yum, that was Good Food). Other houses I lived in: Nemesu Avenue right beside Pierce Reservoir, and across the street on the other side of the same location, along Jalan Leban. My most vivid memories there are of a push cart selling Char Kwau Teow, which incidentally, is my most favourite Singaporean dish, and a huge brown Komodo Dragon tied to the tree behind the CKT seller. I was fascinated. Dug in my piggy bank (here we are, full circle) to buy a package so I could oogle the strange lizard. The other vivid memory is of the old cobbler who hunched along the wall beside the coffee shop. It was fascinating to watch him repair shoes by hand. I always admired his skill.

Newton Circus: Yes! My favourite food place. Or luat, turtle soup, Char Kway Teow, Hokkien Mee, sugar cane juice… OK, I’m making me hungry. I realise now that you can take the Singaporean out of Singapore, but you can’t change the taste buds. When I was away at university, I missed Singaporean food more than my family or friends. Looking back on those Singapore food abstinent years, I can’t imagine a more exquisite punishment. But happily all that is changed now, one can pick up sauces and create one’s version of the real thing. No, I ate at Newton Circus, not nearby. I used to take the bus home at Clemenceau Avenue, or Scotts Rd, or walk to Orchard Rd from Bukit Timah Rd. I was a real rambler back then!

Family: yes, I do, on my mother’s side, lots of cousins, and a brother still lives in SP with his family. I have cousins in Australia as well, and another brother in Taiwan. My parents have both passed on. What about you? When did your parents come to Calgary? I lived in Toronto as well, from 1986 to 1989, and attended University of Toronto and York University while there. I like Vancouver, the weather is wonderful and the city is enormous, but too crowded for my taste. Calgary has just over a million people. Big enough, but not too crowded yet. I’ve been to Montreal and Quebec City as well, love the Quebecois culture and the pub food is wonderful. Did you try pork hocks and poutine while you were there? I loved Old Quebec City. It’s like being transported 250 years back or more.

19 07 2010
The wondering wanderer

I guess so … Yes, it was such a shame wasn’t it? I attended a Catholic church and have a lot of stories about the priests as well … but maybe some things are better left unsaid! 🙂

The desks with the flip tops were the best … we could hide almost anything from the teachers including sweets and snacks and contraband … we contributed to our immortality in other ways … by the time we got to use the desks, the surfaces had all been used up and drying cement was a popular choice amongst the schoolboys.

I think I have a rough idea where you might have stayed opposite Beaulieu Park … that wasn’t far from where my friend’s uncles had his house … when did you live there?

I guess you must have attended a lot of acting workshops … nice that you met John McManus! Didn’t realise that the library ran such workshops – not that it would have mattered then. The priority then was kicking a ball wherever one could find the space.
Dhoby Ghaut’s gone all but in name … the street doesn’t exist any more and the entire area has been rebuilt – save for the old Cathay cinema (which incidentally celebrates its 75th anniversary this year). A new school for the arts (named unimaginatively School of the Arts – SOTA) has been built in the area where the row of shops housing A&W and the Red Sea Aquarium, as well as on Dhoby Ghuat itself. The restaurant would be the Rendezvous – the Hotel Rendezvous stands where the building was. The kacang putih man was a favourite! We still talk about the one at Cathay – and we had one in our school canteen as well – who was always kind enough to take care of our bags when we went off gallivanting to MPH. The pigeons in the school courtyard had a feast on the kacang we bought from the canteen! There are a few of these guys still around. One actually operates along Selegie Road outside Peace Centre – just down the road from Cathay. My first bowling game was at Jackies. Not sure if you meant the old Magnolia Milk Bar along Orchard Road – the milkshakes and pies were fabulous!

I used to pass the theatre near Sin Min on my way to school everyday – but never went there somehow … didn’t really wander around the Sin Min area much – but the Chicken Rice shop I do know quite well. Further in Sin Ming estate was a block of flats where Singapore’s first KFC outlet was – if I remember correctly. The area around Jalan Leban / Nemesu Avenue – I probably know better today than I did all those years back … besides the school and the hawker centre – I had a classmate whose father worked in a provision shop in the area – I still remember the name of the shop – it was called “Soon Huat”. The cobblers were fun to watch – I always enjoyed watching them at work on the five-foot ways whenever mum went shopping in the High Street area!

I have many memories of Newton Circus – we would often go there for a meal after coming back from Malaysia – then the old Woodlands Road / Bukit Timah and Dunearn Roads was the main thoroughfare to get to the city from the causeway. I remember once when the whole group of us had food poisoning after eating Satay Bee Hoon there! Yes … there is certainly nothing like the good old taste of Singapore hawker food! I guess you are due a trip back to Singapore would save you from the punishment of abstaining from Singapore food – and to cure the homesickness!

My parents would have visited Calgary in the 1990s – they retired then and did a fair bit of travelling. They still live in Singapore. I loved what I saw in Canada and was quite intrigued by what I was told while chatting to a fellow bus passenger in Montreal – she mentioned how the English speaking community existed side-by-side with the French speaking community there – co-existing but never mixing together. I had a bad experience myself asking for directions in English at the Metro station. Quebec City is actually one of my favourite cities in the North American continent! I enjoyed wandering around the streets of the city very much. I didn’t get a chance to try the pub food or the pork hocks though – I was on a budget and probably survived on sandwiches then. Yes, it was like being in the walled city was like being transported back in time … I had a wonderful time in Montreal as well, despite my experience on the Metro. I loved the feeling I got entering the Notre Dame Basilica – one that I won’t ever forget! I didn’t get a chance to see much of Vancouver … only spent a couple of days over on Vancouver Island – spent a night at the Empress Hotel in Victoria which was nice!

20 07 2010
Ivea Mark

I’d love to fly back every year, but I can’t get away this summer due to commitments. My adult nephew is coming to visit from Singapore in August, so I’m looking forward to that, and to giving him the Banff and Jasper National Park experiences. I’m taking him to see Head Smashed-in Buffalo Jump, the world famous Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, hikes in Canmore, Johnston Canyon, Bow Falls and other places in Banff, and then to the Columbia Icefields and other sites along the route to Jasper National Park. It will be a fun-filled 20 days but I am going to have to buckle down and get some work done before then! Summer is just too short.

Dhoby Ghaut: what a name. Is that a laundry street? Ha ha. Wouldn’t surprise me. What’s the etymology behind a Singaporean name? It just jogged my memory: wasn’t there a Van Cleef Aquarium near Cathy Cinema? And yes, that’s the name of the restaurant, Rendezvous. It was a real treat to eat there after a movie. Mmmmm…. sometimes smells can trigger an instant memory and one is transported in time and space. Instant time travel. Trouble is, I tend to think of Singapore as it was when I left, early ’80s, and lots of ’70s. I’d be lost now in Singapore. When I visited at Chinese New Year in 2008, after 12 years away, I could barely recognise some places. Serangoon Gardens is still the same, thank goodness. And Chomp Chomp was the same too, loved it. The house my step-dad lived in was the same! All those mosaic tiles and the bakelite wall fixtures, the old-fashioned bathrooms, even the colour of the drapes. He definitely lived in a time-warp. I loved it! The mosaic on the floor was the familiar pattern of blues that I remembered playing on the floor in my youth. Sadly, the house is gone now. It was sold a few days before I arrived. It was across the street from the country club on Kensington Park Rd. We are meant to move forward.

Sorry to learn that there’s a SOTA (knowing Singaporeans, we can rhyme that with a lot of words) in place of the A&W block. The kacang putih man who squatted with his bags of tasty nuts on the stairs preceding the lobby of the Cathay is a icon. We had one at our school tuck shop too. 5 cents for a normal size cone of peanuts made from exercise book paper, newspaper, or even the thicker phone book pages back then. 10 cents for the big cones. It used to take me forever to make up my mind. I’d stand and stare at his wares, and be jostled by other girls until I decided what I wanted, which was either chick peas, peanuts or sometimes cashews. I even enjoyed the curried fried noodles. He always gave us a grin but never said a word that I could make out. Sometimes I’d have forgotten my lunch money and he took pity on me and gave me a bag. Then I’d bring him some money the next day. What a nice fellow. Never learned his name.

Oh yes, Soon Huat sounds familiar! I remember my mom shopping there. The people who owned the store were very nice. I think Jalan Leban was an uphill walk from the stores. Seemed like a long way to a child back then. Those old grocery stores are a dying breed, if they’re not already gone. I remember 5 cents (as a Primary One student) would buy me five pieces of Marie biscuits. What a treat. And transacted all by myself too. Sometimes the lady taking the round biscuits out of the glass jar would give me one more but swore me to secrecy. I was always delighted, nodded my head enthusiastically, and be on my way. Of course, I always sought her out.

I lived near Beaulieu about 1980-81, I think. It was a beautiful place to live, all those sashaying trees, and the smell of tangy sea salt in the air, but at the time I don’t think I appreciated it as much as I do now, thinking back. All I remembered was how far it was from everything I liked to do or places I had to go. That’s the house I found stray kittens in my backyard and managed to keep one. (My mother ran over one of the kittens with the rear tire of her car, and I found it when I got home. It traumatised me greatly, and she allowed me to keep the remaining kitten, which I named Mimi after her meows.) The kittens used to crowd each other between the sliding patio gates and the glass patio doors to stare into the lighted room while we watched TV. They weren’t allowed in but we did feed them.

Oh, Satay Bee Hoon! Now that you mention it, I’d give my eye teeth to have a plate of it from Newton Circus! MMmmm! LOL! Too bad about the stomach flu, ick. I had a similar experience here in Calgary, years ago, after eating calamari at a seafood restaurant. Boy, I was sick as a dog! I have never returned to eat there. Singaporean hawker food is the BEST! That is a cultural treasure we have to keep. Where will generations of non-cooking Singaporeans be if there were no more hawkers! I am a product of that eat-out mentality. I missed the hawker centre the most when I returned to Calgary.

Do you remember a place called Sharkey’s? Chicago-style pizza somewhere along Orchard Rd? I can’t recall which building it was in, was it Isetan… but I know I ate there a few times with friends. It had lots of faux stain-glass, and resembled a pool hall in decor, very American.

Thanks for recalling the name of the pie-and-shake place, the Magnolia Milk Bar. WOW, you have a prodigious memory. The Tivoli was nearby too, across the street. All gone now. And I remember eating crystal shrimp at the Shangri-la’s restaurant. The Metro on Scotts Rd near the Orchard Rd corner was a big teenage haunt of mine. I’ll bet the staff there knew me by sight. Used to duck in there to escape the heat outside and to cool off, but mostly to procrastinate going home. How on earth did I pass the GCE O Levels back then, I don’t know. I barely did any studying after school all those secondary years. It was all fun and entertainment.

So where did you play football? The only memory I have of football is hearing the Kallang Roar whenever there was a game on, if I happened to be going by in a car or bus. I never got to go to a football game at the stadium, darn it. Pele was famous back then. And my friends were gaga about Manchester United and Arsenal players, or Prince Andrew. Ha ha. I did track and field and tennis (McEnroe and Connors!). I was more a steady team member than a star. And then a spectator. What activities did you do in school? I recently found the 4th Company Girls’ Brigade site. Then I remembered all those hours drilling in the hot blazing sun, polishing my patent leather shoes, ironing my GB uniform, going to camps.

Montreal: yes, there’s a distinct French flavour, although it looks very Canadian to me. The Montrealers will speak in English to you if you sound like you’re trying to speak French. They probably do it to put their ears out of their misery. Did you go to Dunn’s in Montreal for their world-famous smoked meat sandwich? Great ambience, all ’50s and chrome. I visited Montreal often in the ’80s when I lived in Toronto. It was a 5 hour drive. Old Montreal was my favourite: all cobbled streets and artistes, vendors and interesting shops and architecture. There’s a lot of animosity between the French and English speaking communities in Quebec, and a lot of segregation (like who’s allowed to attend a French or English school), and language laws on signage. On the whole, people are friendly, but like any big city, you’d get yokels who are less than courteous. Sorry about your experience on Le Metro. C’est la vie. But the Montreal drivers are another class altogether! I have never seen so much instant road rage, crazy driving that will curl your hair, and drivers who are so ready to get out of their cars to fight! They’re as crazy as the kamikaze cab drivers in Chicago. I literally left fingernail scratches in those cabs. I had to laugh when you mentioned sandwiches on the trip. On a long-ago trip to California, I existed on granola bars, and I haven’t eaten one since.

Vancouver Island is my favourite place to be because it reminds me most of Singapore: lush greenery, a humid climate, lots of ocean salt in the air. We’ll be sure to go to high tea at the Empress next time we’re there. I’ll bet the Empress is very posh! There so much to see and do in Victoria, all very touristy. I enjoyed the tour of the B.C. Legislature, re-enacted in period costume by “ghosts” of the former permiers. The museums were wonderful. There are so many communities on the Island, I haven’t driven to them all. But I did drive along the Esquaimalt Rd to Sooke, and toured a lighthouse museum, and saw eagles along the spit in the river. The best experience was encountering a pod of nine whales on the ferry back to the mainland, watching them cavort among the sail boats. I would be afraid of being swamped. Fun to know that we’ve got so much to share!

30 07 2010
The wondering wanderer

Hi Ivea … just got down to replying your comments … had a blast in Hong Kong with the group of bloggers who turned out to be a whole lot of fun to be in the company of – thoroughly enjoyed myself. We were very well taken care of by the Hong Kong Tourism Board representatives and had lots of good food and to top it all, a fab hotel to stay in … you can read all about it in my recent blog postings (which I have been busy putting up). It’s always nice to have someone visit you and its does look like you have it all planned … 20 days packed with fun! Wow!
As to Dhoby Ghaut, the word “dhoby” or “dhobi” is from the Hindi (I think) word for “washerman” and “ghat” or “ghaut” refers to a set of steps that leads to a river … there are lots of streets with the name “ghaut” in them in Penang. Van Kleef was over at River Valley Road – next to the National Theatre and yes, it was a treat back then to eat at Rendezvous … still remember the smell of the creamy coconut curries … gosh, that’s making me hungry. And yes, smells usually trigger an instant memory for me as well – as you would have read in some of my posts. Yes, Singapore’s changed so much that I don’t feel at home anymore … most of the places that I was familiar with and had fun in have since gone … and what is left is a somewhat cold modern city that isn’t different to many of the modern cities around the world … Serangoon Gardens does seem the same in some ways … except the old bus terminal is gone and the Chappati stall at the corner … the building where NTUC and also the one that was once Fitzpatrick’s has been torn down … and the old NIB 2nd hand bookshop has also vanished. Chomp Chomp is still there … refurbished … I haven’t visited it in years! I am familiar with “Gardens” as we used to refer to the place as I attended church there for a while … and did a fair bit of cycling around the area. Where did your stepdad move to?
My favourite from the kacang putih man were the chick peas and sugar coated nuts … the guy at Cathay was really popular with the boys as the area was our hangout … now SOTA towers over Cathay and the row of shops with A&W and the Red Sea Aquarium is just a memory…
So you do remember Soon Huat! The old grocery stores were nice. Some of the things I remember getting from them were cigarettes for my father, bubble gum, bear brand milk for my grandmother and ice cream and flavoured ice in long plastic bags (not sure what you called them) and also tried my hand at tikam-tikam … I remember how they used to have this tins at two ends of the shop in which they kept their change in which would be at the ends of a line and they would pull at either end to get the tins down when they needed to get change.
If you lived near Beaulieu about 1980-81, we may have crossed paths as it was then when I did go to the jetty quite frequently … yes it was a beautiful place to live.
The hawker food we have is certainly an institution! Unfortunately, the children of many of the good ones are not really interested in continuing from where their parents had left off and even when they do, standards have somehow fallen and the good ones that are left are a dying breed. Lately we have a lot of enterprising foreigners trying to dish out local food as well – which sadly doesn’t really match up …
Yes, I remember Shakeys … not where the outlets in the Orchard Road area were though … the one I went to often was the one at City Plaza in the Geylang Serai area for some reason … and yes the décor was just how you described it …
The Magnolia Milk Bar is something I don’t think I can ever forget … I always looked forward to the treat of milkshakes and chicken pies when my parents brought me there! What I still remember very well was the smell of the place: there was a very strong smell of tomato ketchup and perhaps worcestershire sauce that greeted you as you opened the door! Not sure if you remember that! The Tivoli was over where the new wing of Paragon is today … and that was quite a grand place … The Metro you mentioned was a favourite of mine too … Metro Scotts … long before that … Metro occupied Liat Towers – not sure if you remember that.
We played football anywhere and everywhere where we could find space to play … basketball courts, fields in the neighbourhood … and in the old SJI field … I attended many of the Malaysia Cup football matches at the stadium – and the atmosphere was out of this world … I have a post where I mentioned the experience … Pele too! The English team I support is (and always has been Liverpool) so I guess I wouldn’t have got along with your friends (just joking)! Prince Andrew was certainly the cutest of the Royals back then … What did you do in track and field? That’s such an archaic name … not many people these days call it track and field anymore … I played class level football at school and also cross country … and was in the scouts for a while … and yes I remember drills in the hot sun, camps and the best part: camp fires!
I did enjoy Montreal very much … but Quebec City a lot more … don’t think I went to Dunn’s … probably because I was on a shoestring budget … I am not sure if road rage is as bad there as it is here! And our drivers aren’t any better … driving here can sometimes be a real pain!
I loved what I saw of Vancouver Island – but being on a working trip … I only got to wander around Victoria in the evening … and spent most of my time on a Chilean naval ship that was in the area out at sea (there was a Canadian system that I was involved in evaluating that was being tested) … The Empress was certainly grand. I would really like to go back to the island one day and explore at leisure … my mother has visited the famous Butchart Gardens there and says it is really beautiful ….

Hope you have a great time with your nephew!

27 03 2012
wong

i would like to buy The aluminium alloy 5 cent coins with fish at the back… is it for sale???? how much for one of these???

27 03 2012
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

Hi wong, thanks for visiting. I am afraid that the coins are ones I hold very dear and are not for sale – I have howover, come across the coins being sold on sites such as eBay (click here).

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