Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Post War Classic - Cars

I was walking around Seng Poh Lane last Saturday and I spotted this beauty.

I couldn't resist snapping a few pictures.

I think the owner had come all the way to Tiong Bahru to get the car seats restored.

If you are unaware, there is a shop at block 60 Seng Poh Lane that can restore all type of cushion seats.

If you have some antique looking chairs that needed restoration, this shop can be a great help to you.

I've never used the services of this shop as I'm a "buy and throw" away kinda person.

The only encounter I had here was back in the eighties when my 3rd uncle bought a brand new Mitsubishi Lancer.

He decided that his car seats was just too plain looking to impress and so he had his car seat re-done up here.

I couldn't understand why he chose to cover his seats with the "furry furry" type of materials.

The loose "furs" kept getting into my mouth whenever I sat in his car.

Back then I haven't been introduced to the word "kinky".

Today, my 3rd uncle drives a Toyota Corolla with factory fitted leather seats.....kinda safe and boring hor?

(By the way, I had to ride in my uncle's car every morning from Monday to Friday to help him avoid paying a levy when entering the CBD. To make up 4 people, my brother and I had to accompany him and his girlfriend into the CBD every working day. And when passing by the gantry, we have to make sure our heads are high enough to be seen!)

Those were the days where we will do anything the adults tells us to do.

Okay, back to this Merc. I was curious enough to search the Internet for some info on this car and this this what I found out :

This Merc is a Mercedes-Benz 300 and was produced from 1951 through 1958.

It is one of the most graceful and classic creations of the post-World War II era.

The style was both classic and modern and built to high standards.

They were constructed from fine materials using the latest in technology and achieving minimal weight with a high degree of strength.

For those who are interested to find out more about this rare car, you can check out CONCEPTCARZ.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Interesting Shops in Tiong Bahru

Cafe Pralet

There were many happy discoveries in the simple menu, which offers both Western and Asian favourites. Cool Chef

Thu, Dec 06, 2007
AsiaOne - Wine, Dine & Unwind
First posted in CoolChef

Cafe Pralet is the latest extension by Creative Culinare, a well known pastry and bakery school that provides baking classes and consultancy services. It is the showcase for Chef Judy Koh's inspirations and creative talents in pastry arts and bakery.

The cafe has two dining concepts - a formal area to handle the more challenging dishes on the menu and a cozy patio for coffee, tea, pastries and nibbles. There are books on a variety of subjects, as well as wireless internet access for those who live by the net. Or one could just simply laze and watch the world go by in old Tiong Bahru.

There were many happy discoveries in the simple menu, which offers both Western and Asian favourites. The small Asian selection includes curry, ayam tempra, laksa and mee siam. There are also made-to-order sandwiches and salads, chops, pasta and fish and chips. There are also snack breads with different fillings and cookies as well as festive specialties. The pastry selection is based on Judy's inspiration of the moment. Best of all, the prices are very reasonable, considering the ambience and quality.

The fish and chips are the best we've ever had in a cafe setting. Crusted with crispy buttery batter, the entire piece of white dory (or Vietnamese catfish as it should be more correctly known), took up more than half of the space of the dinner plate and required an extra serving of tartare sauce and chili sauce. More importantly the food was serving piping hot - crucial for a dish that is deep fried - and the chunky quality catfish free of any "mud taste". Given the serving that we enjoyed, it costs less than $10 per order! An excellent value-for-money item.

My wife loved the low-calorie laksa. To meet its claim, very little (I suspect none) coconut milk used in the preparation, yet it still manages to achieve the right level of richness. The freshly chopped laksa leaves reinforce the dish's character despite the absence of the other key element.

My mum enjoyed her Mee Siam. The sour assam-flavoured gravy had a decent pungency of fermented soya beans and was enriched with the right tinge of coconut milk, giving it a nice aroma.

When it comes to their pastries, the most celebrated piece would be Judy's signature's Pralet. Chocoholics will love this ganache layered piece of indulgence elegantly topped with a small piece of gold leaf. The base is supported by a crispy wafer crust and the ganache tastes of quality bitter chocolate with a nice gentle sweetness. It goes excellently with coffee or tea.

L-R: Chef Judy's signature Pralet, brownie with rum & raisin ice-cream, and Bavarian Kirschtorte, aka Black Forest Cake.

The brownies here are much lighter on the palate and resemble a combination of moist chocolate cake and fudge, specked with chunky pieces of walnuts in between. Best of all, the home-made rum and raisin ice-cream topping this brownie will sent you on a "high" with its intense flavour.

One of my favourite sponge cakes is the Bavarian Kirschtorte or more commonly known as Black Forest Cake. Unfortunately many local chefs distort this wonderful recipe by using non dairy pastry whip, maraschino cherries, chocolate rice and an absence of any flavoured liquor. Experiencing Judy's creation was like rediscovering a lost heritage. The whipped cream, the sour cherries, the liquor-soaked chocolate sponge and the chocolate shavings? everything was there in the right proportions.

A patisserie cannot do without a brulee hence Judy puts out a classic version for all cr?me brulee aficionados. The rich creamy custard is a steal for its price but it will be ridiculous to expect real vanilla for it. Nonetheless the custard still merits a mention for its rich and silky smooth texture. It left a very pleasant and smooth aftertaste in the tongue. I found the caramel crust a little too thick for my liking but that's an issue that can be easily resolved.

Beside the cream based pastries, another house specialty is the Baked Guava Tart. A cross between an apple pie and an Austrian Linzer, the filling is made with a unique mix of fresh guavas and spices. A lovely crust made with crushed crackers and nuts provides the perfect contrast between crust and filling. It is great with coffee!

We cannot wait to return to Cafe Pralet for another lazy weekend afternoon sometime soon.

Cafe Pralet by Creative Culinaire
Eng Hoon Mansion #01-03/04,17
Eng Hoon Street,(S) 169767
Tel: 63241663

Coolchef is a local professional chef who cooksm blogs, educates and lives life to the fullest with his wife in Singapore. A former CIA & SHATEC alumni, accredited with the Global Chefs Advisory Board, at-Sunrice The Singapore Culinary Academy, Coolchef seeks out gastronomic experiences and picks up culinary knowledge of different cuisines from his work in different countries during the course of his career. Keen to share his knowledge and expertise, Coolchef is also a visiting Guest Chef Instructor with People's Association.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Notice to a mysterious Cat Thrower in Tiong Bahru


Look what I saw today!

I was slotting my flyers into the letterboxes around the Post War flats within the Tiong Bahru Estate when I chanced upon this hilarious notice.

I think this is one very misunderstood cat owner.

They may have a cat but it doesn't mean that they are ready to adopt just about any other cats.

I think whoever has been leaving kittens there must have assumed that this is a home of cat lovers.

The cat food and water......not to mention a very cosy cardboard bed lined with soft fabric are placed just outside the home.

So the "cat thrower" may have mistakenly thought that the owners would be elated with more and more kittens.

The owners must have been so cheesed off that they took the trouble to put up this notice.

Thank you Mr and Mrs One Cat Is Enough For Us, your notice certainly brighten up an otherwise gloomy and cloudy day.

I would have done the "notice" this way

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Smoke Screen

I had a viewing for a Tiong Bahru Pre-War flat at 9pm tonight and the buyer was late for 20 minutes......because she could not find GUAN CHUAN STREET!!!!

Instead of apologising, she went on to complain about the bad road design and how old this estate is.

And before I even had the chance to bring her up to view the unit, she started to share with me her opinion about this place.

"Too small....no good, Face road junction....bad fengshui, Above a shop....very lousy".

I was thinking to myself, why can't you reserve your comments till after we have view the unit? (By the way, she has an agent representing her and the agent obviously did not screen his client properly)

And tonight's unit was probably the worst unit to show a Tiong Bahru newbie as the place is tenanted to 18 people.

As the main door was left opened, I pop my head in to inform the tenants that I am coming in.

To my horror, 4 men were standing there with nothing but their towels and one was even walking around with a SUPERMAN coloured underwear.

I pulled my head out, stopped the agent and buyer from going in, popped my head back in to ask SUPERMAN to cover up.

So we ended up viewing the flat with 5 men with towels covering their lower halves.

The viewing ended rather quickly and the objections came fast and furious.

"Only 1 toilet....no good, too longish....waste too much space, Very Old...needs a lot of renovation, Remaining lease too short......no value. No En-Bloc potential.......bad investment".....etc etc etc.

But despite all these objections, she pointed out some units that she would like to view and would definitely buy them if they do come onto the market.

I was puzzled. If these things irks her so much, why is she still keen? Maybe that is her way of throwing smoke screen to confuse the agents.

But I think she targeted the wrong people. If she really want to bring down the price, she has to meet up with the owners to demoralise them....not the agent.

I remain optimistic that Tiong Bahru is a great place to work, live and play and like wine, the older it gets, the more valuable it gets....something like some overused cliche OLD IS GOLD.

Sorry Auntie, you wasted your effort on the wrong person tonight.

But despite what you have commented about this place, deep down I know you like this place very much but is probably annoyed with the current price level.

But if you see things on the positive side, it is because prices has risen to this level that we are beginning to see more and more beautiful units being put up for sale.

Just a year ago when prices were so much lower, most owners were reluctant to sell their flats. But at today's prices, owners are tempted and hence there is a wider selection for the serious buyers.

So SERIOUS buyers out there, this is the best time to check out the unit that suits you most......but you must be mentally prepared for the price. Have Fun.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

See Moh Guan

See Moh Guan was born in Malacca and was the fourth son of Si Hoo Keh.

He was in the pepper and gambier business.

In 1879, he assumed chairmanship of Heng Shan Ting temple, taking it over from his father.

Mr See died in 1879.

Later, a street was name after Mr See Moh Guan.

Located within the Tiong Bahru Estate, the first Singapore Improvement Trust estate built between 1936 and 1941, this street is the address of a unique ring-shaped five-storey block of flats which used to boast a clock on its facade.

Among the older generations, Moh Guan Terrace is often referred to as Tiong Bahru Gor Lau (A Hokkien term meaning “the five-storey flat in Tiong Bahru”) in honour of the only five-storey building in Tiong Bahru.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Tan Yong Siak (1835 – 1914)

Yong Siak Street is a road between Chay Yan Street and Moh Guan Terrace.
(These are street names found within the Tiong Bahru Estate)

It was named after a Teochew merchant Tan Yong Siak (1835 – 1914).

Born in his native Zhaoan in 1835, he came to Singapore when young.

He first worked as an apprentice before becoming manager of Chop Ban Seng.

In 1863, he founded Chop Yong Hak Seng at 49 Circular Road and Ban Seng Soon at 71 Boat Quay in 1879, both dealing in Siam rice, rattan and rubber.

He was a founder member of The Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

He was a charitable man and an arbitrator.

He died in 1914, leaving behind many children and grandchildren.

Tan Jiak Ngoh was his second son.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"RAIN" tree

It was the worst time to have an appointment between 3 - 4 pm today.

The rain started suddenly and within 15 minutes, there were lightning and thunder. The wind was very strong as well.

There was no way you could prevent yourself from getting wet and it was pure insanity to even think of getting out into the rain.

But too bad for me, I needed to get to my daughter's school to celebrate her birthday at 3pm.

And I also have to bring a huge bag that contained her birthday party goodies bag.

So it was me in the rain. One hand holding the bag, the other holding the umbrella. Mr Wind was pretty busy trying to get my umbrella to divorce me in the rain.

By the way, how do you get into a car without getting wet when you have an open umbrella?

Do you place the umbrella between the car roof and car door and try to close it, pull it in as quickly as possible? The rain water will nevertheless still drip onto your clothes right?

Or would you try to close the umbrella in the rain and quickly jump into the car and throwing the wet umbrella onto the passenger seat?

I never quite figured out the best way BUT I really need to master this skill because there are no sheltered carparks within the Tiong Bahru Estate!

Anyway, my entire jeans, socks and shoes were soaking wet when I arrived at her school.

And guess what.....my wife told me she forgot to bring another bag of goodies bag and sent me home to retrieve it.

I think she knew that I needed more practice on how to get in and get out of a car with an umbrella.

By the time I got back to the school again, my mood was quite in sync with the weather.

When it was time to leave the school, the rain had eased up but it made no difference to me anyway. I was already soaking wet by then.

This afternoon sudden down pour did claim a victim in Tiong Bahru.

A tree next to Block 50 Moh Guan Terrace fell.


Luckily no one was hurt. Anyway, who would be out walking in the rain right?

I saw the fallen tree at about 4:30pm and by 6pm, the tree and all other debris were thoroughly removed by the Tanjong Pagar Town Council.

If you were heading home this evening and you walked past that spot, you may not even have noticed that there used to be a tree that stood there.

GREAT JOB Tanjong Pagar Town Council, you are super efficient.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Doesn't our food smell, too?

I am dedicating today's post to all the foreign workers who are living amongst us within the Tiong Bahru Estate.

This story was printed from TODAYonline
Monday • November 12, 2007
Letter from KUMKUM SETH

Prejudiced mindset must change if we believe in multiculturalism

I refer to media reports on concerns about foreign workers in Singapore.

I find it very disturbing to hear the increasingly prejudiced views expressed in public about foreign workers, especially construction workers.

At a meeting recently with a Member of Parliament and local residents, a well-dressed Singaporean woman raised the "problem" of foreign construction workers.

When pressed, she admitted that they had never done anything to her but seeing them in her area disturbed her.

"They may cause crime," she said. The other residents nodded in agreement.

A senior policeman pointed out that foreign workers in the area rarely commit crimes and that most of the culprits were pub crawlers.

But no one wanted to drop the idea that foreign workers were trouble.

The policeman had no choice but agree to keep a closer eye on them.

Other than the imagined crime we attribute to foreign workers, these are some of the flimsy objections we raise:

Too many of them live in one apartment.
Here's a thought: Would Singaporeans be able to afford to live any better if they were paid the same wages as some foreign workers are?

Curry smells.
Doesn't our food (fried fish, belacan and durian) smell, too? Are we so parochial that we only object to smells that are different from our own?

They hang their clothes outside to dry.
A walk around any housing estate will show the many laundry poles outside our flats, attesting to the fact that Singaporeans hang their laundry out to dry as well.

They hang out in large groups and that's scary.
I think our prejudices are far more frightening than a group of men finding company in numbers when far away from home.

They don't speak English.
It's unlikely that they can afford the time or money to take English language classes. If this is really an issue, the Government could make it mandatory for employers to provide all foreign workers with two-hour English language classes every week.

It seems perfectly fine for foreign workers to work long hours with low wages to construct the buildings that drive our economic boom.

But many of us fail to remember how difficult their daily lives must be.

This mindset does not speak well for multiculturalism.

It isn't enough for Singapore to produce tourist brochures showcasing us as a harmonious, multi-ethnic society.

This attitude needs to be part of our daily lives before it becomes true.

Let's start with the way we think about foreign workers.

Copyright MediaCorp Press Ltd. All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

National Library appeals to Singaporeans to donate heritage items

By Wong Mun Wai,
Channel NewsAsia
Posted: 10 November 2007 1830 hrs

Singaporeans risk taking their culture or historical heritage for granted in a rapidly changing world, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said.

Speaking at the opening of the National Library Literary Heritage Showcase, the minister called on Singaporeans to develop a sense of history and appreciation of their heritage.

The showcase, which includes a series of exhibitions that outline Singapore's rich history including pioneer artists and Chinese clans, also features the second run of the Heritage Road Show.

The public are called upon to donate their photographs, postcards, pictures and other items to capture the memories of Singapore before 1970.

Donations of old report cards, school magazines, menus, invitation cards to official events, programme notes of concerts, bus tickets, maps, manuscripts, certificates, awards and the like are also welcome.

Digital images can also be donated through www.deposit.nl.sg

The availability of this deposit website means that local publishers can submit their published works digitally.

The National Library Board will be sending out details to publishers to access the website within the next two months.

The showcase runs until November 28 at the National Library.

Make Tiong Bahru a preserved site

The Straits Times
Life Section (Mailbag)

Nov 10, 2007
I READ Tay Suan Chiang's story (Pieces Of Singapore, Life!, Nov 3).

It brings to mind the SIT flats in Tiong Bahru which hold many fond memories of younger days for many Singaporeans.

I remember returning from my studies in Britain and feeling overwhelmed by the sight of these flats. I felt I had arrived home.

Their architecture is unique. Not long ago, two architectural students from Sweden begged me to let them in to view the interior of the flat.

The buildings are characterised by the round stairway balcony with a porthole at the side, and the sheltered five-foot-way.

The Tiong Bahru market blends in beautifully with the neighbouring blocks and the town council has done a wonderful landscaping job.

In Yunan, China, the government preserved the Old Town of Lijiang and it is recognised as a Unesco preserved site.

Can the same be done for Tiong Bahru?


Lee Hoi Yin

Copyright © 2007 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved. Privacy Statement & Condition of Access

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Interesting Shops in Tiong Bahru

The Straits Times - Urban Section
8 November 2007
Tan Hsueh Yun
LE BON APPETIT

MARCHE CACHE: Shirley Tang and Stephane Herve invite you to sample their wares, like the Emmanuelle Baillard juices and nectars and the clementines in vanilla syrup.

With so many gourmet shops popping up all over the island - selling meats, cheeses, vegetables, fruit and gourmet groceries - it is quite possible to do like chi-chi Europeans do and patronise only small shops.

The latest one to open has all the fixings for dinner and then some.

At three-week-old Le Bon Marche in Tiong Bahru, you can get some plump chicken, luscious San Marzano tomatoes on the vine, French cheeses, anchovies from Barcelona and premium smoked salmon - champagne-glazed no less - from French brand Labeyrie.

Soon, there will be Donegal oysters from Ireland.

The shop is run by Stephane Herve, 37, who was a chef at various restaurants and a food division manager at gourmet chain Culina.

He and his wife Shirley Tang, also 37, provide the kind of friendly, knowledgeable service lacking in Singapore.

Try some nectarine juice, they'll say. Want a taste of anchovies? How about some cheese?

Shopping here is such a pleasure, with new things to discover on every shelf.

I highly recommend the Emmanuelle Baillard juices and nectars.

Emmanuelle Baillard juices and nectars

For people who don't want to drink wine with dinner but want something more exciting than water, try the Chardonnay grape juice ($6.50 for a 250ml bottle).

It is pressed from the same type of grapes used to make the wine and the non-alcoholic juice has a light, floral scent that's quite irresistible.

The raspberry nectar ($6.90 for a 250ml bottle) has a deep berry flavour which makes it a great cocktail mixer.

I also like the clementines in vanilla syrup ($13.50 for a 150g jar).

Clementines in vanilla syrup

The slices of small mandarin oranges taste so tangy and fresh on buttered toast.

Or use them to top a lemon curd tartlet.

If you like gingerbread, pick up some Mulot & Petitjean gingerbread with apricot ($21 for a 200g box).

The little round cakes are lightly and aromatically spiced.

Bite through the thin shell of cake and the decadent apricot jam starts spilling out.

Tiong Bahru has always been a magnet because of its old-style architecture and the great food served in atmospheric coffee shops.

Herve says it was this charm that drew them to the neighbourhood. I'm hoping they stay a while.

hsueh@sph.com.sg

Le Bon Marche, 78 Guan Chuan Street, 01-41, tel: 6226-3269. Opening hours: 10am to 7.30pm (Mondays to Saturdays), 11am to 5pm (Sundays). Closed on Wednesdays.

Interesting Shops in Tiong Bahru

The Straits Times - Urban Section
8 November 2007

Tan Hsueh Yun

PS OF HEAVEN


Right next door to Le Bon Marche is a cake shop with a screaming pink and white sign.

Walk into Centre Ps (pronounced centrepiece), and you'll find another very pink wall.

I've never been so glad to see dark brown from the dark chocolate used in the rather fancy-looking cakes in the display case.

They are the creations of pastry chef Steven Ong, 39 (above), who is letting his imagination run wild and free after leaving the hotel industry, where he's worked for 20 years.


The unfettering was a good thing too. D'Tanjung Katong ($7 a slice), named after another old, charming area of Singapore that he likes, has a dark chocolate ganache and sweet, chunky bananas in between layers of coconut dacquoise.

I like how the bananas still have bite and provide a sweet counterpoint to the dark chocolate.

The cake sounds terribly rich, but it isn't.

Dark chocolate fans should try the Grand Cru Royale ($7 a slice) - a deeply chocolatey cake on a crunchy hazelnut base.

I've eaten more ethereal macarons ($18 for a box of 18) but I am going back for the chocolate and cafe creme ones.

The violet one, in a bright blue hue, is fantastic.

Ong says he's happy to customise cakes for his customers.

He also has a terrific sugee cake, made originally for a resident in the neighbourhood who used to go to the East Coast to satisfy her craving.

I had a taste of one of these cakes warm from the oven, and it was a springy, buttery thing.

Soon, the shop will also offer quiches, pies and pissaladiere, a Provencal-style pizza topped with caramelised onions, olives and anchovies.

hsueh@sph.com.sg

Centre Ps, 78 Guan Chuan Street, 01-43, tel: 6220-1285. Opening hours: 10am to 8pm (Mondays to Thursdays), 10am to 9pm (Fridays and Saturdays).

Tiong Bahru Sers flats to be rented for up to $4,500

The Straits Times
Nov 8, 2007

UNIQUE FLATS: Katong Hostel will preserve the buildings' heritage, as they are among the early batches of flats.
-- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM

Winning bidder in HDB pilot scheme aims to target foreign students, expatriates

By Joyce Teo

A COMPANY that has just won an HDB tender in a pilot scheme plans to rent out 120 flats at Tiong Bahru for up to $4,500 a month to foreign students and expatriates.

It is the first step to boost the supply of flats in the rental market amid growing demand.

It aims to put flats vacated under the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme to better use.
Former residents of the 120 flats have moved to new and better flats nearby.

The HDB said the flats that had been vacated were identified for its rental scheme, pending long-term development plans.

The Tiong Bahru flats will get a $3 million facelift and be ready for tenants by the year's end.

The winning tenderer, Katong Hostel, which provides international student housing, will be the managing agent for the 60 three-room and 60 four-room walk-up flats.

The firm, part of the privately-held Vita Group of hostels, plans to rent out at least two blocks to students and possibly the rest as service apartments to expatriates.

Katong Hostel won the tender with the highest bid of $230,280 a month, 22 per cent above the next bid of $188,000 a month.

That price is the sum the firm will pay HDB to lease the flats for three years, with an option for three more years.

Katong Hostel aims to rent out these flats - Blocks 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 in Tiong Bahru Road - at a relatively high price of between $3,500 and $4,500 a month.

While rents in the Tiong Bahru area have risen significantly, the HDB flats there have so far achieved only up to $2,500 a month in rent, said HSR property group's executive director Eric Cheng.

But the Tiong Bahru flats are different in that they will be managed and aimed at a specific clientele, said Ms Joyce Sim, 25, a Vita group director.

She said the student housing - to be charged on a per person basis with two to a flat - is aimed at those looking for quality housing.

These could be doctorate students, for instance, who could be paying their own fees or sponsored by firms.

'These Tiong Bahru flats are among the early batches of flats,' Ms Sim said. 'We will preserve the heritage of the buildings, which have a unique design.'

Copyright © 2007 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved. Privacy Statement & Condition of Access

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Heartland Getaway 2 - Tiong Bahru Episode

En Lai checks out Tiong Bahru and gives viewer a glimpse into the history and life around this seemingly sleepy housing estate.

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Part 8/8

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Heartland Getaways is back!

Tiong Bahru will be featured tonight on Channel 5 at 7:30pm.

Heartland Getaways is back!


The effervescent host Chua Enlai jumps right back to take viewers on another round of discovery through Singapore’s definitive HDB neighbourhoods!

Each week, Enlai heads to a new neighbourhood and check out what makes it so quintessentially unique!

And the best way to do so? Hanging out with the residents of course!

From delicious grub, to quirky residents and even uncovering the odd trivia that no one else knows about, Heartland Getaways will prove to be an eye opening journey through our favourite and familiar communities!

Just like in the previous season, each week, Enlai will launch himself on an unsuspecting town!

Mingling with the residents, his journey begins; mixing up the best with the understated!

Each episode, we take a fresh new look at the history and what makes each neighbourhood distinct and different from the others.

Quirky historic facts will be featured in each episode as well as food which is every Singaporean’s obsession!

Enlai will no doubt hit the local culinary haunts and taste the neighbourhoods’ signature dishes.

Every neighbourhood has a secret of its own too, and wherever there’s a secret, Enlai is sure to find it!

It’s neighbourhood trivia at its best! Unearth an urban myth in Yishun!

Discover a high fashion joint in the middle of Bukit Merah! And even visit some of Tiong Bahru’s hippest households!

NEIGHBOURHOODS

This season Heartland Getaways will cover 11 neighbourhoods:
Tampines, Tiong Bahru, Bukit Merah, Pasir Ris, Potong Pasir, Eunos, Bukit Panjang, Choa Chu Kang, Woodlands, Yio Chu Kang & Queenstown.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Tours down memory lane

The Straits Times - (Life Section)
Nov 1, 2007

Tours down memory lane
New tours to old buildings with architectural significance are part of an inaugural festival to bring architecture to the masses

By Tay Suan Chiang

EARLY FLATS: Tiong Bahru SIT flats, Singapore's first large-scale public housing project. They were designed by the Singapore Improvement Trust and adapted the shophouse typology through the planning of courtyards and back lanes between adjacent blocks.


BUSLOADS of visitors will be dropping by iconic buildings such as the Singapore Conference Hall, City Hall and the Gallery Hotel to marvel at their distinctive facades next month.

The buildings are among the attractions in a new tour of Singapore called ArchiTours organised by a group of third-year architecture students from the National University of Singapore (NUS).

There will be two day tours and one night tour every day from Dec 1 to 9. Participants will get to learn about the history of certain buildings and how they have played a part in shaping Singapore's architectural heritage.

'We realised that not many Singaporeans know about local buildings so we decided to run this tour,' says Mr Paul Yeo, 23, head of the organising committee.

Together with two other committee members, the trio picked about 20 locations for the tour based on their historical and architectural significance.

The tours will be guided by NUS architectural students who did their research by reading up on the history of the buildings and speaking to their professors.

The day tours, which last about 41/2 hours each, will take visitors to historical and modern buildings such as the Pearl Bank Apartments and the National Library.

They cost $40 for members of the public and $25 for students.

The night tours, which last seven hours, will travel to nightspots such as Zouk, St James Powerhouse and Muse Bar at the National Museum.

OLD AND NEW: Muse Bar at the National Museum is proof of how changing lifestyles can co-exist with old buildings. -- PHOTOS: ARCHITOURS

Mr Yeo says these locations share one common feature - they are old buildings providing nightlife entertainment.

'Even when they are out clubbing, we want participants to ponder how our changing lifestyles can co-exist with these old buildings,' he says.

The night tour costs $60 for the public and $40 for students.

Mr Bryan Koh, 23, a third-year NUS science student who went on a preview of the tour last Friday, found it educational and says he will recommend it to his friends.

Among the buildings he visited were People's Park Complex and Golden Mile Complex.

'I got to see the residential areas of these two buildings, which was more than what I would usually have,' he says of the two mixed-used developments.

The ArchiTours are part of the inaugural Singapore ArchiFest 07, organised by the Singapore Institute of Architects (SIA).

The two-week-long festival is to celebrate Singapore's built environment and is a precursor to the Singapore Architectural Biennale to be held in 2010.

Mr Tai Lee Siang, 42, president of SIA, says he wants to take architecture to the streets with the $250,000 festival. It is sponsored by steel company Bluescope Steel and co-sponsored by the Architecture and Urban Design Excellence Promotion Programme of the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

'We want to engage with the public to make architecture more relevant and meaningful,' he says.

He adds that the tours will be a good starting point for Singaporeans to get interested in local architecture.

The SIA is expecting about 50,000 visitors to the festival from Nov 27 to Dec 8. A highlight is a collection of exhibitions at the City Hall featuring award-winning works from various architectural competitions such as for the Marina South Residential District and the National Art Gallery.

There will also be a two-day forum with 12 local and international architects speaking on the challenges of urban architectural design.

Singapore ArchiFest 07 will be on from Nov 27 to Dec 8 at various locations. For more information and to buy tickets to ArchiTours and the forum, log on to www.archifest.sg

Copyright © 2007 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved. Privacy Statement & Condition of Access

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tiong Bahru Rooster

If you ever wandered along Yong Siak Street or the the junction of Kim Pong Road and Moh Guan Terrace, this smart looking rooster may have caught your attention.

I am sure many shutter-bugs would not have missed the opportunity to shoot this fine looking fowl.

There is a sad story behind this rooster.

This rooster used to live in the alley between Yong Siak Street and Bo Bo Tan Gardens. He had 3 other companions.

Every morning, he and his buddies would start to crow just after 4am. I think there were some problems with their internal clocks.

As a result, there were many complaints that were lodged against these FOWL gang but people were still generally tolerantly.......until the bird flu epidemic came about.

The authorities were quick to witch hunt all suspects and this brood were not spared.....except for this one who got away during the capture and destroy operations.

If this rooster could talk and feel, he would be telling you how much he misses his buddies right now. Perhaps that is why he is still walking around this area with the hope of reuniting with his friends.

Anyway, after he became "SINGLE", he always ended up at Bo Bo Tan Gardens as he was well fed there. A retired nurse had a cat there and this rooster had the audacity to eat from the same bowl as the killer cat.

Both Cat and Rooster co-existed very well and the nurse ended up caring for the rooster as well.
By the way, that cat at Bo Bo Tan was a top killer. He would kill pigeons and slowly eat every part of them except for the wings. He also kills rats very efficiently.

Why he left the rooster alone remains a mystery to me.

With a new home and a new found mammal for a buddy, life seems to be going well.

But little did this rooster and cat knew that they would be displaced very soon.

Bo Bo Tan was sold en-bloc and all of us had to leave.

As we move out of this place, we salvaged whatever useful things we could bring along and conveniently left the USELESS stuff behind.

So Mr Tiong Bahru Rooster was once again left alone to figure out how his future would look like. I would only say it looked pretty "beak".

Everyday, this rooster has outwit, outsmart and outplay his way so that he does not end up being a road kill........so that he could crow at 4am for one more time.

I really dread the day I see a lifeless chicken carcass in the middle of the road just because someone was driving too fast for this chicken to cross the road.

So why did the chicken cross the road?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

New Lease of Life II

The Straits Times
10 October 2007
Joyce TeoA SMALL firm, Katong Hostel, has emerged as the top bidder in a tender to find a managing agent to lease out 120 HDB flats.

The flats - likely to be let to international students and expats - have been vacated ahead of redevelopment under a pilot HDB scheme.

They will be leased out for three years with an option for three more years.
The 60 three-room flats and 60 four-room flats are in Blocks 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 in Tiong Bahru Road.


The residents have moved to new flats under HDB's Selective En-bloc Redevelopment Scheme which is designed to add new flats to meet demand.

Katong Hostel's bid of $230,280 a month is 22 per cent above the next bid of $188,000, the provisional tender results released by the HDB yesterday showed.

That price is the sum the agent proposes to pay HDB to lease the flats - to be leased in turn to tenants.

Katong Hostel, which provides international student housing, is part of the Vita Group of hostels.

The tender, which attracted 15 widely varying bids from small firms and individuals, comes amid growing demand to lease HDB flats in a rising market.

The lowest bid came in at a mere $600 a month.

HDB has said that it will decide whether to expand the scheme, based on the tender response, as it has a potential supply of 4,000 to 5,000 flats which could boost supply in the next three years.

JOYCE TEO

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To read previous related post : New Lease of Life

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

S'pore rejoins Unesco 20 years after pullout

The Straits Times
Oct 8, 2007
By Theresa Tan


MORE than two decades after pulling out from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), Singapore is re-joining the organisation.

Minister of State for Education and Manpower Gan Kim Yong told reporters on Monday that that it is in Singapore's interest to engage Unesco.

For example, Singapore can learn from other member countries how to improve its education system, he said.

Also, Singapore is keen on cultural and scientific exchanges with other Unesco members in its push to build a knowledge-based economy.

Singapore became a full member of Unesco in 1965 but withdrew from the group in 1985 for several reasons.

One arose from the way Singapore's contributions were calculated, said a statement from the Education Ministry on Monday.

In 1999, then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong said that Singapore left Unesco because it was asked to pay more dues than it thought was fair.

Also, Singapore felt that Unesco was a bloated organisation and took the chance to leave after the United States pulled out in 1984.

Washington was unhappy with Unesco's policies and management and felt that it was trying to establish a 'new world information order' that could restrict press freedom.

In 2002, the US rejoined Unesco.

For the past two years, Singapore has been an observer at Unesco, meaning that it can participate in Unesco activities.

The 192-member UN body aims to contribute to global peace and security by promoting education, science and cultural collaboration and communication among nations.

The Singapore's National Commission for Unesco will be set up by end of the year and will include three sub-commissions focusing on education, science and culture and information.

The Commission will plan and co-ordinate Singapore's activities in Unesco and is chaired by Mr Gan.

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Privacy Statement & Condition of Access

Other Singapore Unesco Related Articles :
He Wants to put Tiong Bahru on the World Map
Unesco Site? Dirty Tiong Bahru's is not ready for that

Monday, October 8, 2007

ONCE COOL NOW CRUEL

The Electric New Paper :

NO SPONSORS FOR HISTORIC TIONG BAHRU BIRD CORNER
ONCE COOL NOW CRUEL

The construction boards have finally come down at Tiong Bahru Block 53's famed bird corner and the pre-war flats have reopened as a boutique hotel.

By Ng Tze Yong
08 October 2007

THE bird brand just won't sit right.

But the melody of the songbirds - the mata puteh, sharma and jambu - is still missing.
The management of the new Link Hotel, which opened in July, hasn't been able to find sponsors for the corner's hooks and number tags.

The problem? Advertisers just don't want to be seen as condoning the caging of birds.

Said the hotel's executive assistant manager, Mr James Ting, 47: 'Nowadays, every company wants to be eco-friendly. Everyone wants to love the earth.'

In the past two months, he has approached about 10 companies.

His pitch is tantalising as far as business proposals go: The welding of the 360 custom-made stainless steel hooks is expected to cost between $4,000 to $5,000 - peanuts in advertising terms.

Unlike an advertisement, the hooks will be there permanently. Locals - and flocks of tourists - will see it.

But Mr Ting's pitch is falling on deaf ears.

'Cruel, lah' is the reluctant reply.

No advertiser wants to see its logo swinging above a poor little songbird.

Animal rights activists compare bird-singing to bull-fighting. It's animal abuse, plain and simple.

Said Mr Lim Kim Seng, a committee member of the Nature Society's birdwatchers' group: 'No animal should be kept in captivity just for the sake of enjoyment.

'There should be a higher purpose, such as to save a species from extinction.'

The 45-year-old hopes that 'one day, society matures so that there is no longer a place for bird-singing'.

But Dr Kelvin Tan, president of the Singapore Heritage Society, begged to differ.

Animal rights is a good thing, he said. 'But then, what about pet dogs and zoos?'

The debate could go on forever, but will Tiong Bahru's bird corner ever see life again?

Public communications professor Lee Chun Wah from Nanyang Technological University believes that a sponsor can have its cake and eat it too.

'These days, companies talk about 'community PR', about generating goodwill beyond business,' he said.

'It can be defined in a broad way. It can be about heritage today and about the environment tomorrow.'

In the old days, it was an unlikely company - Dutch airline KLM - which was the sponsor. (See report below.)

Link Hotel has not approached KLM.

'We want to find a company that will fit our corporate image,' said Mr Ting. 'Airlines are kind of in the leisure business.'

Ultimately, the Link Hotel will pay for the hooks and the number tags if it has to.

It is contractually-bound to maintain the bird corner under the terms of the tender it won from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) four years ago.

Still, it's not just about the hooks.

'You need to bring back the joy of the good old days,' said Tanjong Pagar Town Council's property manager Loy Sai Sai, 55.

It was his idea in 1997 to upgrade the then-shabby bird corner to what it is today.

'The old-timers loved it. They came here from Katong, from Malaysia and even from Thailand,' said Mr Loy.

On weekend mornings, there would be as many as 150 enthusiasts.

The onus, said Mr Loy, will be on the hotel to woo them back. Woo because of a spirit that went out with the kampungs: Community.

'If you go up to a stranger in a kopitiam and try to befriend him, people will think you are mad. But if you have your songbird, your cup of kopi... it's different,' said 56-year-old odd-job labourer Yee Weng Wah.

PASSION Theirs is a passion about nature's own song, a sport where singlets and slippers will do.

The old-timers decorate the cages like doll houses, with porcelain cups and cucumber slices.

They listen for hours, the chirping taking them back to the kampung days.

Strict conservation rules have preserved the facade of Block 53. But the place now has a classy, cosmopolitan feel.

The old kopitiam where the old-timers huddled with their songbirds on rainy days is now a swanky Japanese restaurant. Hotel staff in spiffy suits tend to coachloads of tourists at the 288-room hotel, where one night costs between $260 and $600.

Although the hotel will only be officially opened next month, 90 per cent of the rooms have already been booked. Mr Ting wants the bird lovers to be part of its future.

'They don't have to worry about their attire. People walk around in hotels in their swimming trunks anyway,' he said.

'As long as the bird-lovers are well-behaved, they are welcome to our hotel for a drink or even just to use the toilet.'

The red carpet has been laid out. The hooks will come. But will that be enough to woo the birdmen back?

__________________________________________

50-YEAR-OLD CORNER DREW FOREIGNERS
Bird corner started at Tiong Bahru Block 53 about 50 years ago.

Dutch journalist and bird lover Guus van Bladel joins uncles at Tiong Bahru bird corner in late 1980s.

He writes about corner in Dutch newspapers, drawing reporters from Holland, Japan, US and other countries.

Later, a friend from Dutch airline KLM gets company to sponsor bird-singing contests.

KLM even provides hooks, number tags for cages.

In 1997, Tanjong Pagar-West Coast Town Council renovates bird corner under $60,000 spruce-up plan.

In 2003, block is put up for redevelopment. Macau-based Hang Huo Enterprise Group, which has businesses in construction and casinos, moves in to build Link Hotel.

Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.Privacy Statement and Conditions of Access

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Khoo Tiong Poh (1830 - 1892)

Tiong Poh Road within the Tiong Bahru Estate was named after a Fujian merchant, Khoo Tiong Poh.

He came to Singapore from China at 22.

He founded Chop Tiong Ho in Market Street and then quit in 1874 to set up Bun Hin & Co with his friend as shipowner.

He then engaged in ship chandlery business in the name of Ann Bee & Co.

He was also a partner with Keng Nam and Co and Chop Sin Bee Siang.

In 1888, he sought and was conferred a honorary title by the Manchu government.

He died in 1892 at 62.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Koh Eng Hoon (1823 - 1880)

Eng Hoon Street is named after a Malacca merchant Koh Eng Hoon (1823 - 1880).

Eng Hoon is is Koh Kee Oot’s son and Koh Teck Hin’s grandson.

Eng Hoon came from an old Chinese family that has been in Malacca for over 200 years.

He came to Singapore in 1840 at the age of 17 in search for opportunity.

First he worked as a shop assistant, and later a cashier with Boustead & Co.

He quit the company in 1845 to set up his own company, Benefit Society.

He had large dealings with the Bugis as a merchant and commission agent.

He died in 1880 at 57, leaving behind considerable properties in Singapore and Malacca.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Truth Be Told - The Movie

These are 2 movie trailers of a story based on a fictitious block 33 located within Tiong Bahru. The facade of the buildings look like it was filmed in the Bukit Ho Swee Area.

There is definitely no such block within the Tiong Bahru Estate.

Anyway, the trailer looks good and I am curious enough to want to watch the movie now.





In Golden Village cinemas on 4 October 2007.

An assignment takes TV producer Renee Donovan back to a neighbourhood she ran away from 10 years ago. There, a resident, Old Teo, recognizes her. At every turn, he threatens to reveal her secrets. As Renee struggles to cover her real identity to complete the assignment, she is forced to confront her past and the shameful secrets which surface as a result.

Truth Be Told examines the dark side of life in Singapore's public housing - the old and the poor living in the crevices of a modern and increasingly materialistic society.

电视节目主播,芮妮.丹诺芬,的第一项任务就要她从返十年前她离家出走的老组屋区作采 访。那里的一位居民,老张,认定她就是老邻居失散多年的女儿,玲玲。芮妮在执行任务的 同时,她一而再地掩饰自己的真正身份。可是她始终还是隐瞒不了事情的真相,被迫勇敢地 面对自己的过错。

《真相》试图通过苦无依的老年人和贫困一群,居住在新加坡政府组屋区里的生活画面来反 映出他们在时代的变迁与高度讲求物质享受的社会里挣扎求存让人感叹的事实。

Monday, October 1, 2007

Tan Seng Poh(1830 – 1879)

Seng Poh Road and Seng Poh Lane are located within the Tiong Bahru Estate. Both streets are after Tan Seng Poh(1830 – 1879), who was born in Perak.

His father Tan Ah Hun was from Zhaoan (between Fujian and Guandong provinces) and was the rich Captain China of Perak.

Tan Seng Poh’s eldest and second sister were married to Seah Eu Chin in Singapore.

Seng Poh followed his sister to Singapore and later became one of the four richest Teochews here.

He built a mansion in Loke Yew Street, which became one of the four largest houses among the Teochews.

Seng Poh once had the monopoly to sell opium in Johor.

In Singapore, he was head of the Opium Farm.

In 1871, he was appointed Municipal Commissioner and in 1875, head of its committee.

Seng Poh was made a Justice of Peace and a honorary magistrate in 1872.

He was keen in public service, social welfare and education.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Will the lease ever gets topped up?

The Tiong Bahru Pre-War section was sold to the existing tenants around 1967 and the properties here were transacted like “PRIVATE” properties.

In 2003, it was awarded “CONSERVATION” status as these buildings have historical significance in Singapore’s history.

At the moment, the lease remaining is about 59 years and many buyers, particularly the younger ones, are affected by the CPF withdrawal limits. These rules were implemented by the Government to ensure that her citizens are able to live in the property till they are 80 years old.

The intention of our Government is primarily GOOD but these 2 events may have created a unintended barrier that prevents the place from achieving its true value.

While I am pro-conservation, I also recognized that the “Conservation Status” has effectively cut off the resident’s hope of obtaining a windfall through a collective sale exercise. There is no way they can get a developer to “reset” the lease to 99 years through a redevelopment proposal as the “conservation status” prevents that option.

So while other aging leasehold properties could negate the dwindling remaining lease through redevelopment, this place offers no such hope at the moment.

Maybe this could be the reason why many buildings that were built in the 70s are fast disappearing. The obvious and easiest way out to protect the owner’s assets is to tear it down and give it a new lease of life….not to mention a handsome profit as well. Not many will be so noble to let the lease run down and see their hard earn savings go down the drain.

Let’s explore the various possible scenarios that this place may have for the flat owners

Scenario One: No TOP UP lease
Nothing happens. Life goes on as normal. The Government is not obliged to top up the lease for these flat owners. All investment carries risk and all owners knew about the rules and regulation prior to purchasing these flats. They can still live in the flat for another 50 over years before the Government takes it back.

Scenario Two: The lease gets topped up
The lease gets topped up to 99 years again but residents are required to pay “market” rate to top up the lease. For those who are not gainfully employed or retired, the Government may allow them pay when they sell the property. They will be charged “interest” on that original “top up lease” amount.

With the lease topped up, the entire place will certainly experience a surge in prices as the buyer’s market widen and many more yuppies could afford to buy into this area.

However, this scenario has its problem as well. If the entire Singapore property market heads south after the “top up” exercise, “Negative equity” owners may have problem coming up with the “top up” money plus interest. But I am confident that our Government will be able a produce a good solution for everyone here.

Another factor to consider is that our Government CANNOT and WILL NOT be reckless in allowing the place to be topped up to 99 years without doing a thorough audit on the buildings. They must be very sure that these buildings can stand for another 100 years before allowing the topped up exercise.

The challenge here is to get all owners to co-operate and put up with the inconvenience of the building audit. After the audit, the rectification and repair exercise will definitely follow right after that. This is the part which will ruffle many feathers here as those with unauthorized renovations within their flat will probably be the most uncooperative ones.

But I guess this will be the bitter pill the residents here have to swallow before they get to enjoy the FRUIT.

Whatever the outcome may be, my sincere hope is for this place to prosper continuously and Tiong Bahru Estate can become yet another showcase to prove that “conservation” status does not always means being “shortchanged”.