Places we heart

Places we heart

Which places in Singapore are dear to you?

In celebration of the country's 50th birthday next year, Singaporeans are asked to create a collective map of places on the island that define Singapore as home.

Those who wish to contribute can do so on the SG Heart Map Web portal (www.heartmap.sg); in SG Heart Map vans, which will be travelling to locations across the country to collect contributions; and at more than 70 booths in places such as MRT stations, shopping centres and community centres. The collection of stories will continue until the end of March.

SundayLife! speaks to 20 Singaporeans and receives some surprising results.

Which place in Singapore has a special place in your heart? E-mail stlife@sph.com.sg

Hawker stalls along Waterloo Street - Mr Gerard Ee, 65, chairman of Changi General Hospital and president of the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants

"The hawker stalls along Waterloo Street were just outside my old school, St Joseph's Institution, which was then in Bras Basah. These hawker stalls were known throughout Singapore for their Indian rojak and mee rebus. Nowadays, I can't find rojak of that standard anywhere else.

"I'd go there once or twice a month with friends and we'd have a great time tucking into the food. There were many rojak stalls but we had a favourite. The stall owner would always refill our rojak sauce with a smile. If we asked the other stall owners for a refill, they would give it to us but also grumble.

"I can't remember the prices, but in those days, you could feed yourself very decently for just $1. There was also a pushcart drinks stall that had a wheel hanging on the cart. Every time we bought a glass of chin chow, we could spin the wheel, with a 10 per cent chance of winning a second glass for free. I won once in a blue moon. On a hot and thirsty day, a second glass was always welcome."

Bukit Timah campus of the former University of Singapore, which is now the National University of Singapore - Professor Kishore Mahbubani, 66, dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at NUS

"I was an undergraduate (above) at the former University of Singapore from 1967 to 1971, majoring in philosophy. The Bukit Timah campus was a bustling place. I spent hours chatting with my friends in the lower quadrangle of the university after class, discussing everything from projects and teachers to girls and life in general.

"Another of my haunts was the library. The philosophy section was usually 'underpopulated', so I sat on the floor between the shelves, reading for hours. I also read novels and works by writers such as Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky - mind-blowing stuff for a 19-year-old. There, I remember reading a parable in one of Dostoyevsky's novels, The Brothers Karamazov, in which Jesus Christ faced The Grand Inquisitor. The writing was so powerful, I still have a strong impression of the story.

"I came from a relatively poor family, so I felt very lucky to be able to go to university and I will always treasure my time there."

Singapore Botanic Gardens - Mrs Lena Lim U Wen, 77, founder of bookstore, distributor and publisher Select Books and the first president of the Association of Women for Action and Research

"The Singapore Botanic Gardens has always been a part of my life, from childhood to my later years.

"When I was a little girl, I went with my family and we loved to run up and down the slopes. We fed the fishes and tortoises in the lake with leftover bread from our house.

"In those days, you could find monkeys in the gardens. We fed them with peanuts - sometimes bananas - which we bought from the vendors outside.

"I've climbed the famous Tembusu tree with the low-hanging branch. My children have also walked on it. To save the tree, though, I'm quite relieved that it's now cordoned off.

"These days, I do taiji three to four times a week, from 7 to 8am, and go for a stroll afterwards.

"So many sites throughout my life have disappeared. I'm grateful that the garden is still around.

"I was heartened to hear the garden has been nominated as Singapore's first Unesco World Heritage Site. Of course I think it deserves this honour."

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