Monday, July 21, 2014

Turning 41 and doing the Tiong Bahru Heritage Trail

While researching on ideas to celebrate Terence's birthday, I stumbled upon an official National Heritage Board (NHB) trail guide on Tiong Bahru, the neighbourhood that he grew up in. I suppose some people would consider walking through our city state's concrete jungle in balmy weather not a very 'happening' thing to do on one's birthday. But he did drag me on a Pulau Ubin cycling trip on my last birthday so I gathered he wouldn't mind. :p

Streamline modern architecture style: Art deco in the tropics
(Photo taken with Polaroid Sun LMS 600 with Impossible b/w film)
It turned out to be a really enjoyable trip, and it's something I would recommend to history buffs and anybody who's interested in Singapore's past. There are more details on the Tiong Bahru Heritage Trail, which comprises 10 markers/spots for you to cover, on the NHB web page. There's even a brochure in PDF that gives you historical insight to the places covered. I won't go into details on the how and where (of the 10 markers) but some highlights that left a big impression on me.

Streamline moderne is a late development of the art deco movement
(Photo taken with Polaroid Sun LMS 600 with Impossible b/w film)
1. The grave of pioneer Tan Tock Seng
I know the grave exists on this hillock facing Outram Road ever since I was a little girl. But I never had a chance to explore the site, which also contains the grave of Tan Tock Seng's daughter-in-law and grandaughter-in-law. I bet this would come as surprise to many; Terence never knew either. One of Singapore's most important philanthropists is buried in the heart of town? Yes! Call me crazy but really, before heading downtown for retail therapy next time, just pop by for a look. It is very accessible and the site is very well maintained. It is not creepy, it is well lit, and the path is clear of vegetation. Just go and think about how life must have been like when men in Singapore had to wear the Manchurian pigtails.

2. Art deco in the tropics
Everyone's familiar and now enthralled about living in these pre-war flats. I've always thought they look vaguely art deco-ish in style and I learnt that indeed they are! The style is streamline modern, a "late development of the art deco movement". Architects of the streamline modern style "abandoned lavish and ostentatious decoration in favour of simple and functional lines that reflected the buildings' connection with the machine age". I don't know anything about architecture but it reminds me of flapper dressers, feathers, bob hair, and red lipstick. :)

This ride would just cost me S$0.20 in the past.
(Photo taken with Polaroid Sun LMS 600 with Impossible b/w film)
3. The old mixed with the new
Tiong Bahru is a mix bag of old things with the new. It appeals to the old soul in the younger generation who coexists with many of the older generation who has been living there for decades.

Cafes like PS Cafe and other chic business establishments are taking over...
...while some remains old school.
Terence recounted tales of himself growing up while I shared memories of growing up in Outram and what I can remember of Tiong Bahru as a little girl. It is a different way of bonding as a couple. :)

Please don't poopoo the idea but do consider doing the Tiong Bahru heritage trail one day. Even if you can't complete all 10 markers, just visit landmarks that you never knew existed. It is part of our history after all.

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