Singapore towns, back in the day

Singapore towns, back in the day

SINGAPORE - Did you know that film-maker Jack Neo grew up in Kampong Chai Chee, or that there were quarries in Bukit Panjang?

Singapore's landscape has evolved constantly in the short 49 years since independence, and the National Heritage Board now wants to collect people's memories for how things were back then.

The Board is documenting the history of 10 towns, including Chai Chee, Joo Chiat and Bishan. The project for Singapore's golden jubilee in 2015 aims to collect photos, oral histories and stories from residents.

The other towns are Bukit Panjang, Woodlands, Yishun, Geylang Serai, Kembangan, Pasir Ris and Kallang.

Do you have memories of the places where you grew up? We take a look at some of them.

Chai Chee

Chai Chee, which means "market place" in Hokkien, has seen its plantations become electronic plants, and attap huts replaced by soaring blocks of flats.

The town in the east began as a kampong set among coconut and banana trees. Development caught up with the villagers in the1970s.

Neo, who has said before that he has fond memories of growing up there, told The New Paper in an interview in 2002: "My old kampong is now an expressway! And where my house used to be, there is now a carpark. There used to be so much space. It's quite sad to see it gone now."

Joo Chiat

Joo Chiat has retained some of its erstwhile charm, with good food, conservation shophouses and a Peranakan museum.

It is named after plantation owner and philanthropist Chew Joo Chiat, once known as the "King of Katong".

Along the road named after this pioneer, sits the Intan, a private museum run by Peranakan Alvin Yapp. He conducts tours, which have to be booked in advance, culminating in an authentic Peranakan tea or dinner.

Many authentic Peranakan restaurants can still be found in the area.


Bishan, which can mean "green hills" or "jade hills" in Chinese, is now known for being the home of popular mall Junction 8 and brand-name schools like Raffles Institution, making it one of the most desired HDB towns to live in.

But you don't have to dig deep to uncover its recent past as one of the oldest Chinese burial grounds in Singapore, the Kwong Wai Siew Peck San Teng cemetery.

The main village in the area, Kampong San Theng, was established by immigrants from Canton. It was re-developed in the early 1980s, and the remains from approximately 100,000 graves are now housed at a columbarium.

More about

Purchase this article for republication.



Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.