Project Nostalgia: Haw Par Villa — Part 1

Project Nostalgia is an attempt to capture forgotten bits of yesterday. Mostly old and run-down, but altogether sentimental and charming.

Oh, who doesn’t remember a trip to Haw Par Villa and getting scared out of wits in the dungeons of hell? Looking back, I’d often wonder why any parent or teacher in his/her right mind would regard such a frightening place as a family-friendly theme park?!

In my fuzzy memories, much of the Haw Par Villa experience was limited to a scary boat ride inside the dragon cave that represented the ten courts of hell. Only after some 20 years later did I realize how much more there was to this old and abandoned park.

Expansive, decorated structures tell of religious mythologies, ancient Chinese stories and even modern, multi-racial scenarios that are reflective of Singapore then. They all tried to educate the young of traditional moral values, albeit in ways that may be debatable today.

Haw Par Villa now belongs to the government and is open to the public for free from 9am-7pm daily.

Project Nostalgia: The Last Kampong — Part 2.

A rusty, old roadsign dated 1954, that’s even before Singapore gained independence.

Some of the most creative toys are free, like this rudimentary swing hanging from a thick tree branch.

An improvised clothes hanger using the infamous cable ties, what a mockery.

True patriotism means not needing grassroot members to tie national flags along HDB corridors. An eco-friendly bamboo pole does the job just as well.

Kampong Lor Buangkok is located along Yio Chu Kang Rd, opposite Church of St Vincent de Paul. Buses heading there include 70, 103 and 854.

Project Nostalgia is an attempt to capture forgotten bits of yesterday. Mostly old and ugly, but altogether sentimental and charming.

Project Nostalgia: The Last Kampong — Part 1.

Kampong Lor Buangkok is the last kampong remaining on mainland Singapore. I came to know about it three years back while watching Fighting Spiders, and compared to my last visit then, even fewer families are living there now. Yet the slow, rustic charm remains.

Kampong Lor Buangkok is located along Yio Chu Kang Rd, opposite Church of St Vincent de Paul. Buses heading there include 70, 103 and 854.

Project Nostalgia is an attempt to capture forgotten bits of yesterday. Mostly old and ugly, but altogether sentimental and charming.

Project Nostalgia: Dragon Playground.

Hope you’ve had a great lunar new year.

Largely inspired by Rediscover Singapore, I’ve undertaken a personal project, to capture forgotten bits of our past. Coincidentally, one of my first projects involve the old dragon playground, and I thought it be apt to kickstart the Dragon year with this post.


One of the few remaining sandbox playgrounds, this mosaic dragon sits in front of Blk 28, Toa Payoh Lor 6.


I still remember being greatly saddened by the sudden disappearance of sandboxes. It first started with the one I frequented after school, and almost immediately, every playground I saw was made of plastic and rubber.


The swift demolition of sandboxes happened in 1993, after a tragic mishap that led to investigations concluding concrete sandboxes to be unsafe for children.


I miss the innocent joy of burying random objects found, and then digging them out again the next day.


While I was there, the boy in this picture, as boys are, made one of the girls cry. As their parents weren’t around, I had to play mediator. At once, all memories of childish fights came back.


There was this other boy, who hurriedly took off his shoes, all ready to dash into the sandbox as his family heads home. He pleaded for a few minutes of play but his father wouldn’t allow. Sulkily he put on his shoes again and ran off.

We always lament about how different kids are nowadays, but I feel some things never change.


“Come here and wash your hands,” I heard a guardian say this familiar sentence after her kids done playing.

While it is good that playgrounds are now safer, I can’t help but feel a certain loss with the demise of such iconic structures. Below is a video excellently shot and edited by Rediscover Singapore, which I think everyone should watch.