Tag Archives: Old Playgrounds

Old Playgrounds Lanterns at Wan Qing Yuan Mid Autumn Festival 2016

My favourite old playgrounds of Singapore, of my childhood days, came back to life in the form of brightly lighted handmade lanterns. It’s more than just nostalgic, it meant a lot to me personally. For those who had been following my photography works, documentation and story telling, old playgrounds had been my personal project for a few years.

When my friends at National Heritage Board informed us of these old playgrounds lanterns were to be part of Wan Qing Yuan Mid Autumn Festival 2016 at Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, my eyes popped up! I was looking forward to visiting them!


I managed to plan my time and schedule, making a pilgrimage to view my Old Playgrounds lanterns on Tuesday 13th September night. Upon reaching the entrance, I saw the big bright lights from the Old Playgrounds lanterns. They were pretty big and I was able to get up close with them. Immediately, I am able to identify all the Old Playgrounds there, it felt like going back in time to my childhood days again. I saw young children playing with their lanterns around the Old Playgrounds lanterns, they were having so much fun. Sometimes, we adults all have a secret wish to be a young kid again and just have fun like them.


I walked around, soaking in the Mid Autumn Festival with the Old Playgrounds lanterns. It was a bag of mixed emotions, of nostalgia, fun and longing for the free fun childhood running around days at the Old Playgrounds. The Old Playgrounds may not be of greater significance compared to some other aspects of heritage and history. However, the cultural and emotional communal bondings, intangible and tucked inside our hearts and souls, we all might be carrying a fondness for them and a wish to return to the fun days.


The Wan Qing Yuan Mid Autumn Festival 2016 is until 18th September 2016, time to bring your family and children down there for a Mid Autumn Festival outing and a time for family bonding and story telling of your good old childhood days playing at the old playgrounds.


Come on down, take a walk into the world of bright and colourful Old Playgrounds!


Location: Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall

Address: 12 Tai Gin Road Singapore 327874

Dates: 9th September to 18th September 2016

Time: 7pm to 10pm

Created with flickr slideshow.

Exploring Dinosaur Playground and Old Dragon Playground

The Old Playgrounds of Singapore, the good old days of our childhood for some of us, probably many of us. I decided to continue and find my Dinosaur Playground in Toa Payoh, one of the few remaining Old Playgrounds on my list. After some research and check, I had an idea where it was located, pretty near to the Grand Old Dame, the Old Dragon Playground of Toa Payoh.


On a Sunday afternoon in October, I had an appointment in Newton, therefore I decided to plan to check out the two playgrounds in Toa Payoh, that was not too far away from Newton. For the Old Dragon Playground, it was more of a revisit and to take a look at how she looks without the old HDB blocks behind her because they were demolished in an en-bloc move. The Old Dragon Playground still looked just as good and grand, without the HDB blocks behind, it kind of makes it empty yet open and wide.


During my short visit, I saw children playing there, running around the Old Dragon Playground and playing with the sand. Although I had my tech gadgets nowadays, I do miss the fun and laughter of my childhood days at the playgrounds in my neighbourhood, where there wasn’t much technology advancements and gadgets in those era.


After taking some photographs of the Old Dragon Playground, soaking in the thoughts, feelings and emotions, I walked across the road from the Old Dragon Playground to Kim Keat Avenue. Soon I found my Dinosaur Playground! I found my big T-Rex Dinosaur there and it kind of looks cute! While it wasn’t exactly the old playground that I grew up playing at, I was having deep thoughts (like a primary school kid during my time) on how I would go around playing at the Dinosaur Playground.


When I finished photographing and documenting the Dinosaur Playground, I turned and walk away. I still have a few more Old Playgrounds to cover and complete my personal project that took me over a few years. While it had been slow and at times inconsistent on my part, I had no regrets and instead had a lot of personal fulfilment, enjoyment and nostalgia.

Time to head for the next Old Playground and tick it off my remaining list.

Created with flickr slideshow.

Recent Sharing on Old Playgrounds

In the past few weeks, there was a number of news on some of Singapore’s Old Places, namely, Tanglin Halt Estate, Dakota Crescent and Sungei Road and I did a recap and wrote it down in a post on my personal site!

During the last week of July, I  did a sharing on my Old Places and Old Playgrounds, to a group of Secondary 2 students at Singapore Chinese Girls School at the invitation of their History department. It was an honour for me to be sharing my photographs and experiences in exploring Old Places and Old Playgrounds. However, I would like to apologise if I wasn’t speaking smoothly during my sharing session, stage fright got into me since I haven’t been addressing/speaking to a big group for quite a long time!

On the 27th July 2014, I attended a National Library Board (NLB) talk – The Public Library Mural Project: Placemaking Talk with Khor Ean Ghee @ Programme Zone (Level 1), Ang Mo Kio Public Library. Mr Khor Ean Ghee was the person behind Singapore’s Old Playgrounds and he gave a talk about the history, stories and thoughts behind the various Old Playgrounds designs and plans in Singapore! It was also an honour to meet Mr Khor in person, I grew up playing at the Old Playgrounds he planned and designed and the Old Playgrounds was a personal project of mine as part of my Old Places exploration and documentation! I even saw some of the Old Playgrounds that were gone into history books even before I started my Old Playgrounds documentation and photography, the Old Playgrounds types/model number and their blueprints from Mr Khor’s works! Listening to Mr Khor speaking and sharing about the Old Playgrounds he designed, the inspirations, ideas where it came from, the stories, it was very enlightening, heart warming and interesting!


Playground Type E was below my block during my childhood days!

After the talk was over, I had the chance to meet and had a chat with Mr Khor, it was like a fanboy meeting the star. I was meeting the person behind my wonderful childhood memories at the Old Playgrounds that I grew up with. I was honoured that some of my humble collection of my Old Playgrounds was used by Mr Khor in his Old Playgrounds presentation sharing when NLB approached me for permission to use my Old Playgrounds photographs for Mr Khor’s sharing!


The last week of July, was a humbling and happy week, that my Old Places and Old Playgrounds documentation and photography was part of sharing and outreach to different groups of people. It’s another small achievement unlocked and this also inspires me to continue with my Old Places and Old Playgrounds exploration, documentation and photographing them.

I will continue to play my part, even though it is a small part, to continue exploring, documenting and photographing Old Places and Old Playgrounds in Singapore.

Exploring and documenting Dakota Crescent Estate

Dakota Crescent HDB estate, tucked away in the Eastern part of Singapore, just on the edge from the outskirts of the wider Central Business District of Singapore. A unique name that actually came from a Dakota aircraft and the links to Kallang Airport from the early aviation days in Singapore. Her flats were built by SIT (Singapore Improvement Trust), the predecessor of the Housing & Development Board (HDB) in the 1950s. With her roots going back to the British Colonial days, Dakota Crescent had an aura and charm, surrounded by fellow HDB blocks of different generations around her and also private housing not too far away from her too.


What’s the history behind the name Dakota Crescent? Researching on Google, a result came out on Wikipedia’s article – Kallang Airport. On 29th June 1946, one of the Dakota aircraft belonging to the Royal Air Force Police crashed with 20 NCOs on board at the Kallang Airport in a storm with no survivors. The nearby Dakota Crescent was named in commemoration of this disaster. Something for the history and aviation buffs, the Old Kallang Airport control tower is still around and it is located along Nicoll Highway, you can see from my photographs here when I visited it during Singapore Biennale 2011. There is a road named Old Airport Road that connects to Stadium Boulevard road, ending up at the new National Stadium and Indoor Stadium where the Kallang Basin is. This was part of the Old Kallang Airport runway if I am correct, I am still trying to find the maps/images for them!


I had been exploring Dakota Crescent over the years, visiting once in a while to this quiet and charming location. First and foremost, the one factor that attracted me that was the Old Dove Playground, that I went to visit, explored, photographed and documented in 2011. This was the most memorable Old Playground that I grew up playing in because it was right below my block of flats in Clementi when I was staying at my Auntie’s home during my primary school days. Whenever I visit and explore Dakota Crescent, I will always make a point to visit the Old Dove Playground and just climb up and down, to bring me back to my childhood days that were carefree and fun, without the stress and pressure.


This small housing estate is very interesting, not just the Old Dove Playground, Dakota Crescent had some wonderful and friendly cute cats! The lift that serves the Dakota Crescent block of flats is very special, so old and retro, if you are visiting Dakota Crescent, remember to take one of the old lifts and go up to the top floor to have a bird’s eye view of the whole area and landscape! Don’t be too scared by the old lift, it’s still working fine! There was an Old Provision Shop, Tian Kee & Co, that closed down not too long ago, I took a photograph of the exterior of the Old Provision Shop, the front porch of the shop after they closed their doors. Today, Tian Kee & Co is revived and brought back to life as a rustic cafe, do check them out on Facebook! I will visit them soon, to sit down and relax in the rustic, retro and quiet old Dakota Crescent estate! When I visit Tian Kee & Co, I will take the opportunity to take more photographs of Dakota Crescent and adding it to my Flickr collection!

What lies ahead for the future of Dakota Crescent? With Singapore’s thirst for land, redevelopment, commercialisation, modernisation and building taller skyscrapers, many places were gone forever. I hope that this part of Singapore’s history, the SIT flats can survive and we have a physical and tangible presence to tell the nation building stories to our future generations and beyond. Oh yes, we have to keep the Old Dove Playground, it is the lone surviving Old Dove Playground in Singapore currently!

Do visit Dakota Crescent estate and explore, it’s like going back in time!

Created with flickr slideshow.

Masak Masak: My Childhood & Play@NMS

Our famous iconic and nostalgic Old Dragon Playground is now making a guest appearance at National Museum of Singapore front lawn. For the adults who grew up playing at the Old Playgrounds, the Dragon Playground on the Lawn at National Museum of Singapore will definitely bring you back many beautiful and nostalgic memories of your childhood days. This is the time to bring your children down to National Museum of Singapore for many exciting activities and events for the upcoming school holidays!



The National Museum of Singapore has kick-started the school holidays with the official launch of Play@NMS on 24th May 2014. Play@NMS is a new and dedicated area for the children to play, learn and enjoy the various special and fun activities and events at the National Museum of Singapore. The key feature of Play@NMS is experiential learning through their experiences, play and exploration at the National Museum of Singapore. There are 3 main areas for Play@NMS


In the gallery area for Explore, the children will be able to explore a living room, bedroom, kitchen and a garden, all inside one enclosed area! There is also an extension to the sundeck (it’s the rooftop and there is a great view up there!) where children can sketch and draw on the blackboard wall using coloured chalks. This is definitely a fun and great place for the children to learn and enjoy at the same time!



The space for Create is where the young children are able to explore their artwork and creativity through wet and dry medium. It’s perfectly fine for the young children to get their hands dirty in the name of learning, exploring and drawing artwork!


A special curated space and stage for the young Children to unleash their acting and stage performance!

In conjunction with the launch of Play@NMS, Children’s Season is back at the National Museum of Singapore, titled “Masak Masak: My Childhood” from 24th May 2014 to 3rd August 2014. This is a special exhibition is centred around the theme of My Childhood, featuring the friendly and familiar old playgrounds, larger-than-life games of yesterday and interactive installations from both local and international artists. While Masak Masak: My Childhood is planned for the young children, teenagers to adults will definitely enjoy going down to Masak Masak and relive their childhood memories too!

There are quite a number of fun and attractions at Masak Masak: My Childhood special exhibition, I would be sharing on a few selected activities/displays that I really enjoy when I was there!

Playgrounds on the Lawn

For the Old Playground fans like me, who grew up playing at the various Old Playgrounds, it is nostalgic and great to see two of Singapore’s iconic and familiar Old Playgrounds, the Old Dragon and Old Elephant Playground, present at the Front Lawn of the National Museum of Singapore. The two old playgrounds attracted many children to come and play! The Playgrounds on the Lawn opens every Sat and Sun from 24 May to 31 Aug, 11am to 1pm & 3pm to 5pm.


The Salon – Come and Play @ Level 1

A fun place to bring your children to have fun, by building your own dream home with your own imagination, using carton boxes in this special interactive artwork space! Inside The Salon, there are houses built with carton boxes, a sailing ship, and airplane, Baby Dragon Old Playground, Ice Cream cart and dream art houses made by the children on display! You have to visit it when you are there and bring your children down to play and have fun at the Salon!


Rouleaux @ Level 2

A collection of miniature dioramas showcase different scenes. Inspired by daily lives, movies and locations around the world. It’s very interesting to look through all of the different miniature dioramas, filling up our sense of curiosity and what we would like to be in the future. The children can have fun too in making their own miniature dioramas, sharing their dreams and what they like to be in the future!


Sculpture Scribble @ Glass Atrium

A collection of interactive and fun installations made from old and scrap materials, produced by Spanish group Guixot de 8. All the artworks are a big hit with the young children and even the adults too! The children queued up to play at the various artworks and the adults come in to accompany their children to play together!


More information and details for Play@NMS and Masak Masak: My Childhood can be found below:


Location: Level 3

Opening Hours: 10am to 6pm (Daily)

Masak Masak: My Childhood

Locations: Level: Front Lawn, Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3

Opening Hours: 10am to 6pm (Daily)

Period: 24th May 2014 to 3rd August 2014

The Play@NMS and Masak Masak: My Childhood event is designed for the young children generation; it does not mean that the adults cannot enjoy them too! The adults can also come down to the National Museum of Singapore, to enjoy the fun and nostalgia! I did enjoy myself a lot and walking through the Play@NMS and Masak Masak: My Childhood, here are my photographs collection on Flickr! I went back in time and relive my nostalgic childhood memories, at the National Museum of Singapore and I really enjoyed every minute of Play@NMS and Masak Masak: My Childhood!

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Old Playgrounds: Watermelon Playground

The Old Watermelon Playground, located in the Tampines HDB Heartlands, the Eastern side of Singapore. This small and colourful playground belongs to the later era of the Old Playgrounds designs, that were dominated by the Dragon Playgrounds, Pelican and Dove Playgrounds in various parts of Singapore. The Watermelon Playground is also part of the newer HDB Housing Estates that emerged in the later part of the 1980s and early 1990s.


When we were exploring the Old Playgrounds in the Eastern side of Singapore, this was the third Old Playground out of four Old Playgrounds that we went to photograph and document during that day. The Old Bumboat Playground and the Old Elephant Playground are not too far away from Tampines HDB Heartlands, in the nearby Pasir Ris Heartlands. The Old Mangosteen Playground is the fourth Old Playground that is also located in the same area as the Old Watermelon Playground and I will write about it at a later point in time. At the Old Watermelon Playground, it’s no longer a sand pit and it’s a rubber mat instead. Climbing up the steps to play the slide and sitting on the swing, it sure brings back the fun and nostalgic childhood memories.



The Old Watermelon Playground, like the rest of the other Old Playgrounds that I photographed and documented over time in my Flickr collection. The Old Watermelon Playground may look small relative to the bigger Old Playgrounds, however, they all played a part in the growth and development of modern Singapore. The cultural spirit and lessons that the Old Playgrounds taught us cannot be underestimated and that is something so special about all the Old Playgrounds that still holds inside our hearts dearly.

For those who grew up along with the Old Playgrounds, how have they touched you in any ways?

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Old Playgrounds: Toa Payoh Dragon Playground

The Old Dragon Playground in one of Singapore’s oldest HDB housing estate Toa Payoh, she’s a Grand Old Dame of our Old Playgrounds in Singapore! The Old Dragon Playground is like an iconic Asian symbol, the Dragon, the size and history behind the growth and development of Singapore in her independence days. Having visited the Old Dragon Playground at Toa Payoh a few times (first visit was in 2011) and not giving the Grand Old Dame a dedicated write up is not doing justice to her status and stature!


The Old Dragon Playground has a good coverage locally and internationally, her “birth” and history was documented in Mosaic Memories, an e-book commissioned by the Singapore Memory Project. This particular Old Dragon Playground was designed by Mr Khor Ean Ghee, who was working in Housing and Development Board (HDB) in the 1970s, to create mini adventure lands in HDB housing estates. The playgrounds were to create spaces that could impress the younger generation at that time to a sense of Singapore identity. Although there were a number of different playground designs, the Dragon Playground was Mr Khor’s most successful attempt. Do check out Mosaic Memories e-book for a more in-depth write up of Mr Khor’s works, thoughts and feelings of the Old Playgrounds!


She definitely stood the test of time and great changes to Singapore’s society, she is still standing tall and proud today. While her surrounding HDB blocks were vacated and the authorities have future plans to redevelop the area around it, the Grand Old Dame, our Old Dragon Playground is going to continue staying around her current location and still be an iconic symbol, a mini adventure space, a heritage and cultural symbol to showcase our Singapore’s culture and community from her early days and into the future.


Whenever I revisited all the different Old Playgrounds, the feeling is always wonderful, I do miss those childhood days playing at all these old playgrounds. Many of the Old Playgrounds were gone and lost forever into our history, hopefully into books, photographs or into our beautiful memories inside our hearts. For those that still remains today in Singapore, shall we all spread a message to keep and preserve all of them? Let’s all Pass-It-On and Pay-It-Forward!

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Old Playgrounds: Bumboat Playground

The Old Bumboat Playground, located in the Eastern end of Singapore, inside Pasir Ris HDB Estate (the Old Bumboat Playground is located beside Ellias Mall). This is probably one of the newer playground among the Old Playgrounds in Singapore because Pasir Ris HDB Estate was developed at later stage as compared to other HDB Estates in other parts of Singapore. The Old Bumboat Playground reflects an integral part of Singapore’s history, heritage and culture, for her status as an internationally renowned harbour and Pasir Ris HDB Estate being very close to the sea and her activities around the Pasir Ris area.


My photography adventure to document and photograph the Old Playgrounds in Singapore was a fun and exciting adventure. When I reached the Old Bumboat Playground, it was great to see Old Playgrounds filled with sand, they are the types of playgrounds that I fondly grew up with. While I never really played at the Bumboat Playground since I am more familiar with the slightly older designs such as Pelican Playground and Dove Playground. There were some distinct features of the Old Playgrounds and they were slides in many of the Old Playground designs, along with steps/ladders to climb up and down the Old Playgrounds.


While I was playing at the Old Bumboat Playground when I was there taking photographs and memories, it was really nostalgic and going back in time to my childhood days, when things were a lot more carefree, fun and a lot less stressful than the society of today. What is the future for this Old Bumboat Playground?Along with the other Old Playgrounds that I had covered over time, I hope that they will keep it preserved for the future generations, something historical and significant heritage that built the culture and Singapore society.


The Old Playgrounds are beautiful and fun, do go out there and enjoy the outdoor fun! No matter young or old, I believe you will love our Old Playgrounds! If you visit the Old Playgrounds, share the memories with your family, loved ones and friends! Let’s keep the spirit of fun, play and adventure with our Old Playgrounds!

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Old Playgrounds: Elephant Playground

Exploring, documenting and photographing the Old Playgrounds remaining in Singapore, I traveled to the Eastern part of Singapore to re-discover the Old Elephant Playground. This particular Old Elephant Playground design was a combination of swings, slides and mini tunnels and it wasn’t the type of Old Playground that I played mostly at. However, this did not stop me from enjoying and playing at the Old Elephant Playground, located inside Home Team NS Chalet, Pasir Ris Park.


This Old Elephant Playground is getting more popular with the younger generation who probably grew up without having too much idea of such types of Old Playgrounds in Singapore. They were taking their pre-wedding outdoor photographs at the Old Elephant Playground, it was happy, funny and enjoyable to see their lovely photographs! When I visited the Old Elephant Playground, the nostalgia feelings of back to my childhood days came flooding back into me when I first arrived at the Old Elephant Playground. I stood there, looking at the Old Elephant Playground, basking under the lovely morning sun shining beautifully on them. Stepping up into the Old Elephant Playground, the feeling of the sand pit Old Playgrounds, it was priceless.


Touching and feeling the different components of the Old Elephant Playground, we can feel and see the history and heritage of the Old Elephant Playground. The painting on some parts had faded in colours and had peeled off. For the slides, it’s the same old feeling whenever I was up there, sliding down slowly and enjoying the fun times as a kid. The swings were probably replaced since the seat and chain looked pretty new and shining! As a kid, we can run around, up and down the slides, on the swing or even play “Catching” game! Those were the happy days when we were kids, the stress and pressures were not there like today, we just had our fun and enjoyable play times with our friends at the playgrounds! Nearby to the Old Elephant Playground within the same compound, there lies another Old Playground, 2 swings on wooden poles. The seats and chains were probably replaced since they also looked pretty new and shining!



As I continue to bring you through a journey into the Old Playgrounds, through my eyes, my photographs, personal stories and documentaries of the Old Playgrounds, I sincerely hope that all our Old Playgrounds will be preserved and conserved for the sake of our future Singapore Generations. Our future Singaporeans will be able to have a glimpse and an idea of the leisure, recreational and cultural aspects of their forefathers generation. The history and heritage of our Old Playgrounds can never be underestimated. In my journey to photographing and documenting each Old Playground remaining in Singapore, some may not make it, gone and will be lost into the history books or archives forever.

Will you join me in going back to your childhood days and play again at the Old Playgrounds?

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Old Playgrounds: Baby Dragon Playground

In those days, when there were no internet, smartphones, computers, cable TVs and probably most modern technology gadgets of today, what were our source of leisure, recreation and play? The outdoors were where we can find our fun, from the old long open style corridors to the old playgrounds nearby our home. Today, I am embarking on the fun and reminisce our good old childhood  times at the Old Playgrounds, giving each remaining individual Old Playground a write up that she strongly deserved to have, an integral part of Singapore’s history, heritage, culture and growing up years. What does the Old Playgrounds meant to you? Do you miss the Old Playgrounds? Growing up in the 1980s, the Old Playgrounds were of great fun and excitement, a location to meet your classmates/schoolmates after school to play and run around until you were asked (forced) to go home by your parents.


The Old Playground that I am featuring is the Baby Dragon Playground in the heart of (Braddell area) Toa Payoh HDB Estate. The Old Playgrounds were designed by Mr Khor Ean Ghee, who was working in the Housing and Development Board (HDB)  in the 1970s and 1980s. The Baby Dragon Playground was a smaller version of her bigger cousin, the Dragon Playground. The Dragon Playground was Mr Khor’s favourite playground among his many playground designs that he completed for HDB and it lived up to the mandate of creating spaces for the children to play safely and learn about local identity.


When I found the Baby Dragon Playground, things had changed, the sand pit were no longer around. The flooring had changed and there were a new modern playground beside it too. As I climbed up the steps and ran down the curved slide, nostalgic childhood memories came running back into me. Even though it will never be the same like before, I am happy that the Baby Dragon Playground is still around and hopefully still be around into the decades ahead into the future. Whenever we stood at the top of the Old Playgrounds, we had a top of the world feeling (when we were small kids and it looked kind of high up there!), fast forward ahead as an adult, the feelings never change, the top of the world feeling is still around (except that it’s not that high since we are now adults!).


Coming back down, taking photographs, documenting and now sharing the Baby Dragon Playground here, my thoughts, my stories, my fun times. I hope to add more photographs of the Baby Dragon Playground from different perspectives and views, to continue sharing what the Old Playgrounds meant to some of us. This is my own personal project to document Old Playgrounds in Singapore, my collection on Flickr! Every post I write for each individual Old Playground, I am taking a small baby (hence the Baby Dragon Playground) step to producing my own and very first photobook on each individual Old Playground story, photographs and adventure. It’s a dream that I want to fulfil eventually some time down the road. Will you join me in going back to your childhood days and play again at the Old Playgrounds?

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Useful information and links on Old Playgrounds in Singapore

Singapore Memory Project ~ Mosaic Memories – Remembering the Playgrounds Singapore Grew Up In

Map of the Old Playgrounds locations in Singapore by Justin Zhuang

View Old Singapore Playgrounds in a larger map