Saturday, July 4, 2015

Memories of catching the Bukom ferry to Jardine Steps and Clifford Pier...

Clifford Pier (as in this ST file picture)

The ferry from Pulau Bukom stopped at either Jardine Steps or Clifford Pier, depending on the vessel's schedule. I remember seeing the rusted wrecks of some ships as the Bukom ferry approached Jardine Steps. The camouflage-painted naval gun structures nestled into the hillside of Blakang Mati (now Sentosa) could also be seen. The Clifford Pier-bound ferry would go on, past Jardine Steps. Once it got there, the breakwater separating the Outer Road from the Inner Road was visible.

Jardine Steps

The names of the ferry boats included Bongsu, Chantek, Chepat, Naga, Kerang, Layang and Laju (which was famously hijacked by terrorists).

From Clifford Pier, it was a short walk to the Arcade where on the weekend I would buy my Airfix 1/72 scale model kits (from as low as 90 cents in those days), to Change Alley where I boughtd my very first Japanese-made transistor radio, and -- a little further walk in towards Raffles Place -- to Robinson's where I bought my first U-control flying aeroplane kit.

From Jardine Steps, when I started secondary school (afternoon session in the first year, Secondary One), I would take the STC bus (I have forgotten the service number) to Anson Road where Gan Eng Seng School was. Missing the bus meant being late for school. It was always a rush back too -- to catch the ferry because the next one would be an hour later -- and that meant less bicycle riding time and/or kite-flying back on Pulau Bukom before it got dark.

I remember too the row of streetside food stalls along the road leading to the Jardine Steps ferry terminal. Time permitting, I would stop to buy a syrup-laden ice ball, a pineapple drink (with small triangles of the fruit swimming in it) and a starfruit drink that the vendor kept in a wooden cask.

On the Bukom side, the jetty was at East Gate. I lived in the "Tengah" (Malay for central) suburb. The Shell company provided a free and very efficient bus service, so to get to the East Gate jetty my parents and I just needed to wait at the nearest bus stop for a bus to come by. More often than not, by the time I was in Secondary One and Two (the family moved to the "mainland" after that) I would ride my trusty (and rusty) bicycle to and from the jetty rather than wait for the bus. It took me just about 20 minutes' riding time. In those days, no one needed to lock one's bicycle when it was left unattended.

Some Bukom trivia

There were two 59-metre swimming pools (and their accompanying children's pool). One was just after Tengah, in the direction of Barat. Everyone on Bukom had free access to this facility. I had used these two photos of this pool below in a 2013 blog entry; well, here they are again...

The other swimming pool was on top of Bukom Hill. It was for the executives and their dependents. I have often swum in both pools but the Tengah one was nearer my home.

While checking online, I found this picture of the Bukom Hill swimming pool on the Pinterest site:

I also found online this other trivia bit: There is a Jalan Bukom in Penang, and it is supposedly named after Singapore's Pulau Bukom:

I will update this blog entry from time to time as I recall/uncover more Bukom-related stuff.


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  2. Hi, how do we get in touch regarding the swimming pools on Bukom? It's for a book project. Thanks!