Pulau Bukom island was where I was born and grew up as a child. The other place where I hold fond memories of is Geylang/Guillemard Road where my parents moved to during my upper secondary school years. There was an interregnum after I got married but Angie and I returned to our Geylang home, 53/53A, Lorong 32, to be with my aged parents and to raise the two girls. Our old home has since been demolished -- a long time ago. (Note: 'lorong' means 'lane' in Malay.)
I took a bus trip and revisited Geylang/Guillemard Road today. I dropped off near Chen Li Presbyterian Church (Guillemard Road side) -- my first church and the church where Brother No 4 (How Yong) was an elder. It was also the church where I took Angie to for our first Christmas church-group carolling:
I must have used this overhead bridge (below) near the church countless times:
Nearby are the "new" and the "old" Singapore Badminton Hall, long since converted to other purposes:
The famous Fatty Weng restaurant used to be nearby too, in a corner coffeeshop. No need to guess why the chef was called Fatty. At least he ate his own culinary creations! He latter moved to the new Badminton Hall, this time with airconditioning of course.
In the mid to late Sixties, that area around the Badminton Hall was not exactly the safest of places. I was once chased by gangsters there!
But after that, the area was "cleaned up" and one of my long walking routes -- sometimes well into the wee morning hours, after I got back from work as the late-shift sub-editor -- was that from my home down Guillemard Road in the direction of Merdeka Bridge (my destination before I turned back to head home) which took me past the church and the Badminton Hall:
Guillemard Road was also where Tuesday nights would see the "pasar malam" stalls spring up. You could buy anything there, from Goldgate toothpaste (not a misspelling!) to rhinestone to cheap apparel to traditional cakes.
I then decided to get into Geylang Road (parallel to Guillemard Road) from Lorong 16 (the lorongs connect these two major roads):
My pre-university classmate Eng Bok used to live there and we would often visit each other. Back then, Lorong 16 did not look so "modern". It was very cluttered and some of the homes were shanty-like. Some of the "red light" places are still there. Reaching the Geylang end of the lorong, I found both new and old:
However they call this (above), it certainly was not there when I lived in the area. The post office is still there, but it no longer occupies the entire corner (taken over by SpeedCash)...
I reckon that west of the post office building, with the lorongs in descending order (ie, in the direction of Lorong 1)... that's where it has become more bustling in the sense of a cowboy town. To put it another way, many of the establishments cater to the workers from China, such as food cuisine-wise and R and R-wise.
East of the post office building (going towards Lorong 42)... that's where I felt some the old Geylang charm was still there, with exceptions such as this strange shopfront:
Cyber de Laundry???
I'll continue with Part 2 of my Down Memory Lorong tomorrow.