Thursday, June 19, 2008

markers of my former kampong


















to most people, these two flights of stairs that lead to nowhere in particular are insignificant but to me, who once lived and played in the vicinity, they serve as a bearing to the location of a kampong which once existed near that area but which has since been obliterated from the singapore streetscape. the road after which the kampong was named does not exist anymore.

the stairs once led to the living quarters for employees of the tan tock seng hospital. there were about six or seven blocks of three-storey buildings. when i was teaching at balestier hill technical school, i used to walk up one of these flights of stairs and past some of the blocks of flats whenever i took a short cut to get to school.

those who occupied the quarters were the hospital amahs, cleaners and general workers. i can still see in my mind's eye the uniform worn by the workers, especially the men. they wore a white shirt with khaki pants.

before the quarters came up, that area was the site of an old chinese cemetery. i remember, when i was a young boy, there were still visitors to some of the tombs during the annual qing ming festival. bush-fires were quite common here during the hot and dry months as the cemetery ground was usually overgrown with tall lallang grass.

the fire brigade would be summoned once in a while to help put out the fire as the kampong folks were afraid of the fire spreading to their very vulnerable attap houses. however, even before the arrival of the firemen, the men and boys of the kampong would pitch in to help kill the fire. we would break off branches from small trees and used these to beat the burning patches and grass.


in time to come, these vestiges will disappear and the last markers of where there used to be a kampong will be lost forever.


this parcel of land bounded by sinaran drive and irrawaddy road has been successfully tendered and a private hospital will be built on the site in a few years' time.


the name of the place is kampong chia heng.

28 comments:

ThESounDOne said...

Heh..... I used to live in Kg Chia Heng also.....maybe u know my parents ? I think we moved out in the early 70's....

yg said...

in a kampong, nobody was a stranger.

ThESounDOne said...

true true....my mum used to say in Kg Chia Heng, we could take afternoon nap without closing the front door and it would be still alright....unfortunately for me, i cant rememeber much abt Kg Chia Heng, too young then.....mainly remember abt a girl that was my playmate .....we used to call her "Leng Leng" I thnink.....

yg said...

ya, when we lived in the kampong, the front door was left open the whole day. it was closed only when we retired for the night.

foo_c_m@hotmail.com said...

I used to live in Jalan Novena Selatan which overlooks Kg Chia Heng up a hill besides Novena Church. I have a view of Kg Chia Heng to my right and the TTSH staff hostels to my left as I looked out of my terrace house's rear upstairs window. I recall a small stream at which denizens of the said Kg would wash laundry and bathe. I also recall seeing a large letter ''G'' emblazoned on the side of the block of TTSH staff hostel higher up the slope. Can anyone corroborate that? Regards foo_c_m@hotmail.com

yg said...

hi foo c m, i am familiar with the place where you lived. i had to walk past jalan novena barat on my way to work. sometimes, i would stop to get sweets (hacks) from the mamak stall.
the small stream at kg chia heng was actually a spring where the waterflow seemed to be endless. the water from the stream ended up in the monsoon drain just beyond novena terrace. up to the 80s, i used to take my two daughters to catch 'longkang' fish in that drain.
there were a few blocks of quarters for the ttsh workers. the letter 'g' could be the name of the block. they would have blocks 'a', 'b' 'c' and so on.

foo_c_m@hotmail.com said...

Dear yg, you mean the mamak store at the exit of Jln Novena Barat leading into Thomson Road? Yes, if that's the one, I have a lot of memories of the said store. I recall it went thru at least 2-3 changes of ownership, and it sold a huge variety of magazines, comics and even toys! Including relatively high-priced Match Box diecast toycars!! And I used to ride bicycle at the ''void deck'' of the walk-up flats now called Novena Court. Ahhhh, such memories.

yg said...

hi foo c m,
now, they have fenced up the walk-up flats (novena court), so no more chance to cycle at the 'void deck'. the mamak store was at the end of this row of shophouses. there used to be a coffee-shop somewhere in the middle. i used to eat at this coffee-shop but i cannot recall what i liked eating at this coffee-shop. the end shop, nearer to jalan novena barat, was a shop selling diving equipment, i think.

foo_c_m@hotmail.com said...

Absolutely right, yg. That coffee shop was super-dingy, and served completely unremarkable food. Their siew mai SUCK big time, I recall, cold and hard as a stone. The only thing worse was their tea - tepid and thin. Eeee-Yew. And the place absolutely crawled with vermin. Ahhh sweet memories. There was also a car seat upholstery shop and a provision shop (even more dingy than the aforesaid eatery).

yg said...

foo c m, now that you mentioned the upholstery shop and the provision shop, it triggers my memory. the upholstery shop was nearer to the shell petrol station and the provision shop was nearer to the mamak store. for a provision shop, it was a bit small. that's why you found it dingy.

foo_c_m@hotmail.com said...

Hint to the wise - streetdirectory.com can provide valuable old photos of bygone buildings. See their storage of the image of the now-demolished Selegie Complex :-

http://www.streetdirectory.com/stock_images/travel/search_image.php?arch=all&q=selegie+complex

yg said...

hi foo c m, with all this copyright issue, i think i'll rather take my own pictures. i have been under the wrong impression that pictures on the internet that are not labelled or named are free for all. i have been guilty of using some in the past.

Anonymous said...

I remember the old stream in Kg Chia Heng. Used to play there when people were washing their clothes. Also remember the chinese Operas that used to be put up near the stream. There were a few shops in the kampong. Cannot recognize the place now except for the terrace houses. I remember how close the kampong houses were near to the Jewish cemetery. But nobody was afraid and life went along happily. Everybody knew each other and house doors were usually kept open. Nice Place and Nice memories.

yg said...

hi anonymous, i think it was the puppet show and not the chinese opera/wayang that they staged in kampong chia heng. yes, near the stream and not far from the two provision shops.
for chinese opera, we would go to lorong sinaran. in the later years - by then you might have moved out - they had getais during the 7th lunar month.

Rahmat said...

I used to live there since I was born up to 1982, before all the houses was totally torn down. I am the son of the cake seller, epok-epok. I am now 41, and I still missed and sometimes cried of the lost of the fun days in Kampong Chia Heng.

yg said...

hi rahmat, i am 20 years your senior and i spent 30 years of my life in kg chia heng. i know most of the malay families lived on the side nearer to the tan tock seng workers' quarters. did you live in that aprt of the kampong?

Rahmat said...

Hi Mr Ng, definitely you should know my house. It is teh house selling Malay cakes, just before the uphill route to Tan Tock Seng quarters, where we would also bypass Tan Tock Seng cemetary. My house number 44, one of the 5 houses in Kampong Chia Heng which do not have electricity.

Anonymous said...

Hi, my father used to live at Kg Chia Heng in the 1950s before moving to the SIT flats at Tasek Utara. He mentioned that he lived somewhere up Moulmein Rise close to the edge of the Kampong near the Jewish cemetery.

Ah Tuck said...

I remember my childhood days, still loved it now. From my parents, I was born in Kampong Chia Heng, then moved to Lorong Sinaran. Always have to travel afternoon to Balestier Hill Primary School via Kg. Chai Heng or Jewish Cemetery and over a hill. My mother used to buy food for chicken at the corner provision shop in Kg.Chai Heng Used to play hide & seek all over Lorong Sinaran. Jewish cemetery always calm & peaceful. Eat my first MacDonals hamburger which i bought at Goldhill Square. Good old days.:)

Ah Siang said...

My grandpa used to sell chinese medicine in KG Chai Heng & I used to catch spiders at the Jewish cemetery.

Ah Siang said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Hi mr ng may i know which part of kg chia heng u stay in im stay in 57c n u should know my grandma she sell mee siam at the market

Aron said...

Hi Rahmat, I remember your stall selling the Malay kuey kuey. I stayed at 54A, very near the Jewish Cemetry, the house with the well in the middle of the kitchen room. I loved buying the jum-po jum-po and a-po a-po from your mum's stall, as well as the mee rebus aunty up the slope from your stall.
Man, I loved those days where you can go catch spiders, fly kites, play marbles, longkang fishing. I'm the kid that used to spend days at the monsoon drain between the 2 provision shops catching fishes, and scurry off as fast as I could (upstream to Ah Sen's house) if my family members sees me loafing there. Ah Sen's house is behind Novena Church, so I'll hide there till it's safe to go catch fish or spider again.

Unknown said...

Aron, I kinda remember you.. anyway, I have created a facebook group "Kampong Chia Heng". Do drop by and request to be included. So far, I have only included those I have met.

rustybaileys said...

Hi all,

My dad used to stay in Kampong Chia Heng.
His name is Juraimi bin Markani
He has passed away in 2001

Unknown said...

Anyone have old KG Chia Heng photo?
I wanted to show it to my mum.

Unknown said...

Hi, Rahmat, Ah Siang , Anonymous and Rustybailers. I used to live at No 46. I am Wiliam. Have a younger brother called Michael. We probably know each other.

Ah Hong said...

We moved out in the 70s. Ours is 30E grocery shop :)