No longer the land that Fairy Tales are made of …

9 11 2010

Wandering around parts of the area to the west of Changi Village today, what greets you is the host of holiday facilities, housed in terraced, semi-detached and detached units that had once be given to use as the living quarters of senior servicemen with the British forces stationed in the area. It was back in the days when my very first impressions of Changi Village were formed, that I had first become acquainted with the area, which had lay well protected behind a fence and guarded by alert policemen who played sentry at the main entry point which was a gate just up Netheravon Road from where the village was. Those were the days when what marked Changi Village were the two rows of zinc roofed shop houses which had provided the area with not just a distinct flavour but a feel that made the village a place to escape to. The area up Netheravon Road had a somewhat different feel to the village, being laid out in the fashion of the other British bases found on the island, with much less clutter and wide expansive spaces. Set on the rolling landscape that extended westwards towards the coastline and Fairy Point were the houses that had been the quarters of servicemen, left vacant by that time, as well as several large holiday villas placed at prime locations overlooking the sea. There were also the military facilities for which the area had been guarded including the now infamous former Changi Hospital which had for a time been used as a military hospital as well as several military facilities.

A gate had stood on Netheravon Road at the entrance to what had been a protected area where the likes of the then Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, took his holidays.

By that time, many of the villas by the sea had been turned over for use by the most senior officers of the civil service for holidays, at a time when taking local holidays by the sea was seen as as a fashionable as a holiday in New York, Paris or Tokyo would be seen today. Some of the regular users of the bungalows in the area included members of the Cabinet, including the then Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his family, who often took their holidays in a section that was further protected by another fence not far from where the Changi Sailing Club is today.

The fenced area seen was a protected area within the entire protected Changi Point area where members of the Cabinet would take their holidays.

Another view of the same fenced area along Netheravon Road.

Access to the area at that time would only have been possible by surrendering one’s identity card at the old style Police Post which was at the junction of Jalan Bekukong and Upper Changi Road … my parents would do that on each of the few occasions that we ventured into the area – as guests of one of their friends who were putting up at one of the bungalows there. My earliest impression of this was going to one which was at Fairy Point, at a large two storey bungalow, for a birthday party for one of the children of my parents’ friends, of which I have only vague memories of. What I do remember very well was the name of the area “Fairy Point” and with that, I had somehow associated the area with its large villas by the sea, one where I could imagine fairy tales being made of.

The area where the Police Post had been stood to the right of this ....

It was in the later part of the 1970s, at a time when Changi Village had already been cleared of the wooden shop houses and had been given the facelift that has made it what it is today, that I would frequent the land of fairy tales regularly. With the massive land reclamation project along much of the southern shores that started in the early 1970s, my parents and many other civil servants were deprived of the use of the wonderful holiday bungalows along the idyllic Tanah Merah and Mata Ikan coast that lay to the south east of Changi Beach, and many of the former quarters within what had been the protected Changi Point area were opened up for use by junior civil servants as holiday chalets, and my parents became regular users of the holiday units there. By that time, access to the area was also then opened to everyone, and we were free to come and go as we pleased, making it much easier to move around. The units that I first took a holiday in in the area is in a row of terraced houses fronting Netheravon Road, at its junction with Sealand Road, which still stands today. I remember that very well for the large airy rooms and the narrow staircase which led up from the entrance area that the door opened to. The units were furnished modestly – the living spaces had the old style rattan furniture with heavy foam cushions, and bed rooms had simple bed frames with mattresses lined with white bed linen. What was always nice to have was the well equipped kitchen which allowed us to self-cater, and my mother would often make her way to the new market at Changi Village to purchase what had seemed to be the freshest fruits of the sea one could then find in Singapore.

The terraced row of holiday units that I first stayed in at the junction of Netheravon Road and Sealand Road.

There were several other units that I had also holidayed at that are still there … one that I regularly found myself at were the semi-detached units which now appear to have been rented out off Sealand Road, which had a nice airy living room and rooms upstairs. Another was the single storey detached unit, Chalet L, off Sealand Road, which I would well remember for being the last unit in the area that I had taken a holiday with my parents at, as well as for being where I, with a few of my platoon mates, had our Run-Out-Date (ROD) party at the end of our fulltime National Service in 1987. It was around 1988 that I last took a holiday there … and following that, I guess life caught up with me and I haven’t really had the chance to walk around to the area since then until very recently … Taking a walk around, I found that much of it does still look the same, with the holiday units looking a lot more well maintained than they did before, being now run by a private entity on behalf of the Govenrment, and most of what had been there is still there. There are also some newer buildings and facilities around as well as additional fences which has somehow made the area seem more cluttered and seem less like that wonderful place I had many memories of … no longer the land perhaps that fairy tales are made of.

I was a regular visitor to the semi-detached units off Sealand Road - which now seems to have been leased out.

Another view of the semi-detached unit.

How the semi-detached unit had looked like in 1987 ... I have some more older photographs of the unit which I have not had the opportunity to scan ....

The inside of Chalet L in 1987.

Chalet L today.

The barbecue pit at Chalet L in 1986.

The barbecue pit today.




3 responses

10 11 2010
บริการ seo

helo The Long and Winding Road , i comment your blog , be a nice blog and greatly. Great for me. a lot of Malaysia and Changi content. i going to often to read and review your site.

5 02 2012
Michael Smith

Thanks for sharing your blog…. As a boy I used to live in one of the terraced “holiday units” on Sealand road that you have a picture of. My Father was in the Royal Air Force and was based at Changhi…. Wonderful memories of a wonderful country….. thanks again……

20 05 2022
Paul Woof

I lived in Singapore as the Son of an RAF serviceman between 1966/1969 and a wonderful experience it was 😀
We lived in a bungalow at Jalan Meragih ( spelling ) which if I remember correctly , was the 10 mile marker for Singapore .
Nearby was a Kampong and I met a new friend called Kun Ho , I think his Dad worked for the RAF in the control tower at RAF Changi .
The Kampong was lovely and even today if I smell a wood fire , it takes Me back to the 60s in Singapore .
We then moved to 5 mile , Jalan Chempakh Puteh , the 2nd house up from the playground .
We would go to night markets and on coming home in flip flops would have to wash My feet after having Cockroaches between my feet 😀
We would Go to the beach on most weekends , at either Changi or Bedok corner and I can remember the Singapore Army camp being built there . Is that where You done Your military service ?
Also at Bedok corner We would take a chinese meal home that would be wrapped in banana leaves and tied up with ratan string .
Other thoughts about Singapore ,
Robinsons Department store , air conditioned cinemas , the Botanical gardens and ( cannot remember the name ) but like a theme park with different statues and people being tortured , I digress , the place name fails Me .
Whilst there , We had an Armor called Rosemary …….. I considered Rosemary as My second Mother and if not at school , a local vendor would come on his Tricycle with fish head soup ……… I can still taste that now in my imagination 😀 Beautiful .
Oh , I forgot to mention going to school each day passing Changi Jail and looking at the towers at the corners and being late for school when the barriers were down to let aircraft to go over the road to the RAF western Dispersal .
A question I think , is would I ever come back to Singapore ?
I may do at some point , however , it wouldn’t be the same Singapore that I knew and loved when I was there .
Singapore Polotics , I have watched a few YouTube videos of Lee Quan Yew , what a brilliant politician and statesman .
There is a Video of old Changi village and with one of Your photos , it may be Yourself that put it on , the video with the song of Ava Maria .
Ok , hope You find this helpful , about old Singapore and Yes , feel free to ask some questions about My life there as a child , I remember all of it .

Take care

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