Tag Archives: Singapore Memory

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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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: 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.

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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.

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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!).

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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

Old Playgrounds Personal Project Update

My journey and adventure in searching for Old Places and Old Playgrounds in Singapore started around 2010 when I first saw Royston Tan documentary on Old Places in Singapore. This led me to start documenting, photographing and sharing about the Old Places in Singapore based on Royston’s Old Places list, that brought me around Singapore a lot and made many more new friends in the social media arena.

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The Old Playgrounds was actually a subset of the bigger Old Places portfolio, however, over the time that I was photographing and “chasing” the Old Playgrounds, this got me more interested and excited, knowing that the Old Playgrounds is a big list/portfolio itself for me to complete it as one of my own personal projects that I had chosen to embark on. With the Google maps Old Playgrounds locations prepared by Justin Zhuang, I was planning to cover all the Old Playgrounds inside the list. When I first started, it was full of fire and I went to a few of the locations with my friends to cover the Old Playgrounds. As times goes by, work, other events coverage, distractions and constraints took me off the pedal in my pursuit of the Old Playgrounds in Singapore.

I was very guilty and feeling bad that my own personal project took a back seat which meant that my personal project took me longer than usual to complete and losing out the golden opportunity to photograph and document them before they were demolished or replaced by modern playground. Recently I decided to restart where I left off for my Old Playgrounds personal project. While some of them were covered yet I haven’t write about them except for the uploading of photographs into my Flickr, do keep a lookout for my Old Playground posts of the past Old Playgrounds that I covered previously in the month ahead! Recently, I kickstarted my Old Playgrounds personal project again, covering 3 more Old Playgrounds. In the upcoming posts, I will write a post for each individual Old Playground, preparing me for a personal goal to produce my own photography book on Old Playgrounds in the future.

My Old Playgrounds collection on Flickr can be found here and do visit my collection for a step back into your childhood memories! Here are also some of my earlier Old Playgrounds posts to share you with folks who are supporters of Old Places and Singapore Memory Project.

A Tale of 2 Dragons

Growing Up With This Old Playground

Remember The Old Playground ?

Reflecting back on my Old Playgrounds pursuit, I was proud and happy that I took on this personal project upon myself. Moving ahead, I am looking forward to completing my Old Playgrounds personal project. I would like to thank all my supporters and readers for accompanying me in this wonderful journey. I will continue to work/photograph/document/share on my photography and stories, an aspiring photojournalist who turns photographs into stories.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Tong Ah Kopitiam

One of Singaporeans favourite morning breakfast set is our local kopi, kaya toast with half boiled eggs, eating it in our kopitiam with a newspaper to accompany us. While the kopitiams today in Singapore have changed a lot, there were a few rustic and nostalgic kopitiams in Singapore that did not change with the modern times.

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Tong Ah Kopitiam, is one of those few rustic and nostalgic kopitiams that is still remaining in Singapore today. I went there a few times, located in the rustic Keong Saik Road, Chinatown area. Although I don’t go there regularly, I loved their kopi and kaya toast, the taste and authenticity of our favourite local kopi, the fragrance and freshness of the kaya toast. The ambience, retro designs, decoration and interior are in an era of olden Singapore that not many of us know about today.

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With this post, Tong Ah Kopitiam will not be at its iconic building location anymore, with their last day of operation on 14th July 2013 at 10pm. I got wind of the information/news earlier from a Facebook Group – Old Places, from a posting by Royston Tan, one of Singapore’s film maker, whose works Old Places and Old Romances, inspired me to photograph and document the remaining Old Places in Singapore before they were gone through my Old Places photographs, writing and sharing. While it was a business decision by the landlord to take back the Tong Ah Kopitiam floor space, it must be very heart wrenching for Tong Ah Kopitiam and they were a part of Singapore’s growing up years.

As the curtains draw down on the iconic Tong Ah Kopitiam, it is Singapore’s loss that they have to move out away from that iconic building. However, I am glad that they are still going to continue operating their business at a few units down the road, at 35 Keong Saik Road. Tong Ah Kopitiam is one of our many Hawker Heroes, traditional yet still as charming and attractive for the young and old. Let’s keep our awesome and delicious local food heritage and culture flying high and proud, not just in Singapore, to the rest of the world too!


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Growing Up with this Old Playground

Do you remember this song, “This used to be my playground (used to be), This used to be my childhood dream, This used to be the place I ran to …” by Madonna, this particular song perfectly syncs in tune with the Old Playground that I grew up with, playing and running on the playground with my friends, when we were young, free from stress and pressure.

Today, not many of these Old Playgrounds had survived the modern economic growth and expansion, it might be too old and ugly for some, even too dangerous for the young kids today to play in. Back during my time, it was a lot of fun for us as kids playing there. The Old Playground that is featured here, is the type that I played at regularly back in Clementi HDB Estate and it had been demolished, lost forever….

For this surviving Old Playground, located somewhere in Dakota Crescent, the bridge is now fixed and bolted tightly, in the olden days, it’s a swinging bridge and we loved to run across and back this swinging bridge. Those were the childhood memories, those were the days. As much as we know about and understand the need for growth and economic expansion in this fast paced ever changing environment, there would definitely be places, history and culture that would be inevitably be lost and/or destroyed along the way. There are still some surviving Old Playgrounds and Old Places in Singapore, let’s hope that they will be able to stand the test of time and history in Singapore.

Cherish these memories of Old Places and Old Playgrounds, looking forward to share more in my personal documentation and photojournalistic adventure of them!


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Remember the Old Playground ?

Do you remember the times … when you were young? The surroundings, your neighbourhood, friends, schools and your playgrounds? How many years ago was that? 10 years? 20 years? 30 years? Fast forward till today, in this modern cosmopolitan society of Singapore, how much has changed? Are the Old Places that you affectionately associate and grew up with/and inside, is it still there or is it gone forever? Deeply and emotionally inspired by Royston’s Old Places, I began to research more on Old Places in Singapore.

Take a look at the photograph above, do you remember this Old Playground? Are you able to recall your childhood days? Or do you belong to an older generation or younger generation? This Old Playground brought back memories of my childhood days, just one of the playgrounds that I played during my primary school days. This Old Playground is located at Dover Close Estate and this particular area of public housing blocks along with this Old Playground is vacated and soon it will be  gone forever (when it will occur, I don’t have an answer to that)

Why did I take up a great interest in Old Places? It was simply taking a step back to slow down in this hectic cosmopolitan city life that I began to see and realised that many places could be gone or already gone forever into our history books. Not only am I just documenting and taking photographs of Old Places, sharing and passing it on to the future generations, it’s for me to get back to my childhood days when it wasn’t so hectic, busy and pressurising.

Hoping to lead and share with my friends on documenting Old Places, and maybe we can all come together to save some of the Old Places of Singapore and not just send all of them into history books. Photographing, documenting and sharing Old Places Singapore, shall be my ongoing project … Check out my Old Places – Singapore photographs collection.