Memories take flight over 'wide swamp'

Memories take flight over 'wide swamp'
Along Upper Paya Lebar Road, spanking new industrial complexes on one side of the road (left) share the skyline with old industrial buildings and shophouses on the other side.

SINGAPORE - Mention Paya Lebar, and it conjures up many different memories.

For 59-year-old Mr David Sia, what comes to mind is the former Paya Lebar Airport terminal building which he frequented with his cousins in the 1960s.

"We watched the planes from the viewing gallery on the open rooftop.

"It was a joy to look at them coming in and touching down," said the corporate trainer.

For others, Paya Lebar is an industrial town, dotted with low- rise hardware and repair workshops, and offices in the Singapore Post Centre and iPark complex.

The area will be transformed again after 2030 when its iconic airbase moves to Changi, as announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during his National Day Rally speech, and new homes, offices and factories take its place.

The space was first used by the international Paya Lebar Airport from 1955.

It was converted into an airbase in 1981, when Singapore became such a popular destination that Changi Airport was opened to accommodate the traffic.

Today, military planes still roar overhead, a familiar sound for many long-time residents.

"They interrupt conversations for minutes," said Mr Sia, who grew up in Paya Lebar.

"Apparently the farmers back then said their chickens were so disturbed they couldn't lay eggs."

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