Thursday, December 31, 2009

1st Singaporean woman to reach South Pole

(Photo: Unk Dicko's photo archives )

Sophia Pang becomes first S'porean woman to reach South PoleBy Imelda Saad, Channel NewsAsia Posted: 30 December 2009 1929 hrs

SINGAPORE: Singaporean Sophia Pang, a mother of three, has become the first woman here to reach the South Pole. She joined six other participants from Commonwealth countries - Cyprus, Ghana, India, Brunei, New Zealand, and United Kingdom - to complete the gruelling journey. The group had set off from the Antarctic coast on November 19. They met their target to reach the South Pole on New Year's Day. The triumphant team faced biting temperatures of up to minus 40 degrees Celsius, as they skied 900 kilometres to the South Pole. The expedition marks the 60th anniversary of the Commonwealth. - CNA/sc

They made History !!!

Unk Dicko and all my regular blog visitors would like to say.....

C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S !

to all the team members of the all-women Antarctic Expedition for their great Achievement.

And especially to Team leader Felicity for having inspired this dream come true and not forgetting Singapore's very own....SOPHIA PANG for not only her courage but for her unforgettable and remarkable achievement in getting a major sponsor for the expedition.
We await more news of their great story.
Below is the latest news from their website.

Felicity's podcast in writing :

"Hello this is Felicity reporting that at 23:09 on the 29th of December the Kaspersky Labs Commonwealth Antarctica Expedition arrived at the Geographic South Pole. We're all standing around the mirrorball that sits at the South Pole and surrounded by the flags of all the Antarctic Treaty Nations with the South Pole base in the background and standing next to me is Era Al-Sufri the first Bruneian ever to ski to the South Pole. Next to her is Stephanie Solomonides, the first Cypriot ever to ski to the South Pole. Next to her is Reena Kaushal Dharmshaktu, the first Indian woman to ski all the way to the South Pole. Next to her is Sophia Pang the first woman from Singapore to ski to the South Pole. Next to her is Kylie Wakelin, the first woman from New Zealand to ski to the South Pole. Next to her is Helen Turton who has fulfilled a long-held ambition to ski to the South Pole and I've also fulfilled an ambition to take a team of inspirational women all the way to the South Pole.
I'm incredibly proud of the team and I think the feeling that we're all feeling right now is that if we can do this then you can do anything that you like to and that's the message that we really want to send to everyone. There's so many people that we need to thank for being able to stand here right now. First of all our friends, family and partners who've put up with so much disruption in their lives to let us do this and then there's all the volunteers who have given so generously of their time and their energy to help us organise this. And finally of course to our wonderful sponsors Kaspersky Labs who has made this dream possible for us. Thank you to all of you.
We can't wait to get home and share all our stories with you all and we're going to be doing that over the next couple of weeks but first of all we're all off to get a good sleep and to have something really good to eat. Love to everyone at home. We're all incredibly happy and we're standing here, 7 women at the bottom of the planet with a biggest smiles on our faces right now. Thanks to everybody out there for supporting us and getting us here. Thank you. Bye."

Huge congratulations to The Kaspersky Lab Commonwealth Antarctic Expedition team which arrived at the Geographic South Pole at approximately 23.09 Antarctic time on 29 December 2009!
More updates later!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sophia Pang...a few hours from History!

An extremely bold, daring and adventurous Singaporean lady is set to become the very first female Singaporean to conquer the South Pole in a matter of hours as I post this updated story.
Sophia Pang and her all women team, known collectively as the Kaspersky Commonwealth Expedition to the South Pole, is only 6 nautical miles ( as the crow flies ) from their historic destination...the POLE!
The team has made very good progress over the frozen region and yesterday Sophia celebrated her birthday nearing destination's end. It should be one birthday she will never, ever forget. On behalf of my friends from the Serangoon Send-off party, may I wish you Sophia, a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
Will be keeping tabs on that historic moment from now on....
You can check my earlier post with photos by clicking....Here.

Here is the latest news update from the official Expedition website.

Latest Expedition News

Check the team's progress
29.12.09 Happy Birthday Sophia

The goal is in sight. Literally. They can see the South Pole and I can think of worse ways that

Sophia could have spent her birthday.A quick practical bit before we let Steph (Cyprus) give us the interesting stuff. Firstly, they are roughly 6 nautical miles from the South Pole. The map on the Progress page is approximate, so might look a bit off on the last day or two. Second, they are taking the day off to prepare for this evening's live lecture at the National Geographic Store
via satellite phone. So, despite being a stone throw's away from the finish line, there will be a slight
delay in the arrival.
The tension mounts!
Anyway, over to Steph for today's update.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

China confirms it is Cao Cao's tomb.

Below is the latest report from the People's Daily online citing 6 reasons by the
Cutrual Relics Bureau (CHINA) in support of this tomb belonging to Cao Cao.
Six reasons the tomb belonged to Cao Cao
15:43, December 29, 2009

Archaeologists also found 59 engraved stone plates logging the name and amount of the articles buried in the tomb. Seven of the plates logged weapons "often used by the king of Wei", or Cao Cao. On Dec 27 of 2009, National Cultrual Relics Bureau made an announcement that an ancient tomb discovered in Anyang, Henan province was assured to be the tomb of Cao Cao, a renowned warlord and politician in the third century, after a year's excavation. There are 6 main reasons (which) make archeologist believe the owner is him.
First: The scale of the tomb is quite large at nearly 60 meters long; the coffin chamber's form and structure are similar to known royal noble tombs of the Han and Wei dynasty, and this suits Cao Cao's identity; the tomb was not sealed by earth, which is similar to the description of "no seal and no trees" given in documents.
Second: The unearthed artifacts, portrait stones and other relics carry clear character of Han and Wei dynasty, in which Cao Cao lived.
Third: The location of the tomb is exactly the same as recorded in documents. According to relevant history books, Cao Cao died in Jan. 220AD, and his body was escorted back to Ye City in February before being buried at Gao Ling. Gao Ling was at the west of "Xi Menbao's Temple". In addition, in another document unearthed in 1998, the location of Cao Cao's tomb was clearly points to this spot.
Fourth: According to Cao Cao's will he was buried with no precious jewels, instead wearing only normal clothes. What we found in the tomb has exactly verified this point: although the tomb chamber is quite large in scale, the decoration is simple with no murals; weapons, a stone pillow and other things can all be proved as daily tools thanks to the words on them; Cao Cao wore delicate jades on a daily basis..
Fifth: The stone memorial tablet and pillow, which were carved with the characters "Wei Wu Wang (魏武王)", are the most conclusive evidence for the identity of the tomb's owner. As we know, Cao Cao died with the title "Wei Wang (魏王)", and his son added his title -"Wu Hang Di (武皇帝)". So the name carved on the stones was how Cao Cao would have been addressed at the time.
Sixth: Archeologists found a pair of bones belonging to a man, who died in his 60s, approximately. As history records, Cao Cao died at 66 years old.
By People's Daily Online

TOMB and Skull of Cao Cao...found!

I was relaxing before the TV 2 nights ago, when one news item caught my undivided attention.
The breaking news said something about the tomb of legendary Cao Cao having been unearthed.
Immediately, I signalled to D2 to join me as we both devoured the full story coming from China Tv. The video footage showed a portion of the skull said to belonged to Cao Cao himself and other artifacts.

To me and surely to other history buffs, this is simply awesome news!
As a matter of fact, in my visit to the historical 3 Kingdom area of Central China in 2008, I had asked this question many times, " Where was Cao Cao buried? Has his tomb been found? "
Right until the time we were in Hubei province, no one has supposedly found his tomb yet.

However, tomb robbers somehow managed to locate his tomb in December last year and were picking out stone tablets with inscriptions of Cao Cao's name and royal titles on them. They were somehow caught by the authorities and that was how the govt discovered this ancient burial site.
As Cao Cao was made Emperor of his Wei kingdom, the experts believe that there are probably many more burial mounds and chambers of other notables surrounding his tomb. It is indeed a major historical find.

I am awaiting more updates and reports.

Below is the story from the Daily Mail, including the pictures.

Cao Cao: Chinese archaeologists uncover vast tomb of infamous 3rd century ruler
Daily Mail ReporterLast updated at 1:52 PM on 28th December 2009
Chinese archaeologists have found what could be the tomb of Cao Cao, a skilful general and ruler in the third century who was later depicted in popular folklore as the archetypal cunning politician.
Archaeological officials say Cao's 8,000 sq ft tomb complex, with a 130ft passage leading to an underground chamber, was found in Xigaoxue, a village near the ancient capital of Anyang in central Henan province.
Historians say Cao Cao's outstanding military and political talents enabled him to build the strongest and most prosperous state in northern China during the Three Kingdoms period in 208 to 280 AD, when China had three separate rulers.
The austere interior of Cao Cao's tomb. He ruled the Kingdom of Wei from 208 to 220 AD.
Several agate decorations (l) were found in the 1,800-year-old tomb in central Henan province .

Cao Cao as he was portrayed in an adaptation of the historical novel Romance Of The Three Kingdoms
Experts say the male was Cao, who died at age 65 in 220 AD, the elder woman his empress, and the younger woman her servant.
The report said among the relics found were stone paintings featuring the social life of Cao's time, stone tablets bearing inscriptions of sacrificial objects, and Cao's personal belongings.
Tablets carrying the inscription 'King Wu of Wei', Cao's posthumous title, were seized from people who had apparently stolen them from the tomb, the report said.
'The stone tablets bearing inscriptions of Cao's posthumous reference are the strongest evidence,' archaeologist Liu Qingzhu, of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was quoted as saying.
'No one would or
could have so many relics inscribed with Cao's posthumous reference in the tomb unless it was Cao's.'
He was the final chancellor of the Eastern Han dynasty, before going on to form his own state during the political turmoil of the Three Kingdoms period.
He died in 220 AD in Luoyang, the capital of the Eastern Han dynasty, and was posthumously named Emporer of the Wei state that he founded.
His father was the adopted son of the chief eunuch of the imperial court and Cao was a minor garrison commander before rising to prominence as a general when he suppressed a rebellion, which threatened the last years of Han rule.
Characters based on Cao are depicted as shrewd and unscrupulous villains in traditional Chinese operas and in one of China's best-loved historical novels, 'Romance Of The Three Kingdoms'.
In the fictionalised account, Cao says: 'Better for me to wrong the world than for the world to wrong me.'
A stone with engraved-paintings that depict life in China nearly 2,000 years ago
A stone tablet carrying the inscription 'King Wu of Wei' found in the tomb

The common saying in Chinese 'speak of Cao Cao and Cao Cao arrives' is the equivalent of the English expression 'speak of the devil'. Cao was also a prolific poet.
From the tomb complex, the bones of three people and more than 250 relics have been unearthed in nearly one year of excavation work, Chinese archaeological officials were quoted as saying.
The bones were identified as the remains of a man aged about 60 and two women, one in her 50s and the other between 20 and 25 years.
Experts say the male was Cao, who died at age 65 in 220 AD, the elder woman his empress, and the younger woman her servant.
The report said among the relics found were stone paintings featuring the social life of Cao's time, stone tablets bearing inscriptions of sacrificial objects, and Cao's personal belongings.Archaeologists believe it is likely there will be many burial sites in the surrounding area.
The tomb was discovered in December last year when workers at a nearby kiln were digging for mud to make bricks.
The discovery was not reported and local authorities knew of it only when they seized stone tablets carrying inscriptions from some tomb raiders.Read more: more:

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Be adventurous and brave!

After our return from a most memorable winter holiday in 'freezing' Europe, it took quite some time for us to thaw out and for the normal rhythm of living in Singapore. I have not been able to get back to blogging yet as I am doing a major re-organisation of my resources and was also kept busy with many other important matters.
Just when I was about ready to do a major update on the Siang Lim Park story, somehow this computer of mine decided not to co-operate. When everything was switched on, the screen did not open up. Except for a messsage that read," No input signal "...there was no other response.
I checked and rechecked all the external wirings and connections were not running loose. Everything seemed to be in perfect order. signal, nothing!
My wifey D2 suggested that maybe it is time to get a new system. That's the easiest way out of a problem for most people.

However, I figured differently. No, my 6th sense tells me that there is basically nothing seriously wrong...except that I just couldn't put my finger on what the problem really is.
Again, I was tempted to call the computer shop personnel. But I desisted until I myself had done some DIY checks and tests.
Until just now, I have never opened up the CPU of my computer before. But like a new adventure, I just had to try. Labelling all the various wires and input terminals and drawing a diagram of the rear portion so that I can later re-connect all properly again, I began to unscrew and open up the side panels...just like what my computer engineer friend will do.
Patiently, I checked through all the various parts and boards, all internal wiring and connections.
Nothing seems loose or out of place...but the eye can deceive.
Taking my screwdriver, I tightened all the internal points and then
connected all the wired points to the power. Switched on. It blinked red and blue ( the correct signal for starting-up ) and continued in that fashion. I knew things will be OK !
When my homepage came up....I felt completely relieved and elated!
So, as I had sensed correctly...there was nothing really wrong with my computer system.
BUT HAD I NOT BEEN BRAVE ENOUGH TO OPEN UP THE CPU AND LEFT THINGS AS THEY WERE...I just might have joined D2 in concluding that it was indeed time to spend money for a "new" system or send it for "repairs" when there was nothing to repair ( you get my meaning? ).
I'm certain many of you out there have similar experiences.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Unk Dicko heading to Europe for 2 weeks ...Winter holiday

Just to update all my regular visitors, tonight I'll be heading to Europe with my dear wifey.
This is a "no work" just plain relaxing (hopefully ) winter holiday.
Though we've been travelling to many different places in the world together, somehow we
have never been in Europe as one.
3 decades ago, while I was in Rome at the famous Fontana de Trevi ( featured in the movie 3 Coins in the Fountain ), I actually threw 3 coins into that fountain....and made 3 silent wishes which legend says " will come to pass".
Well, the legend must be really powerful for all my 3 wishes have come true.

For newer readers of my can find lots of TRUE stories under Blog Archives.
Check out some of these:-

# Gunung Tahan..S'pore's very 1st Expedition
# Heaven and Hell...almost!
# Meeting Princess Gunung Ledang ...face to face!
# My 1st train journey
# and many other exciting posts.

It is not likely that I will be able to post while travelling as we'll be on the move.
Until you hear from me again,
Best wishes to all for this holiday season...take care.

Unk Dicko

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The SILVER Photo Contest ...details all here!

Calling on all you Hawaii - Five Os. Yes, the seniors out there! Here's a chance for you to do something so simple and in the process stand to WIN a huge LCD-TV set and also a Nintendo
Wii game set.
What do you have to do?
Simply submit your photos on the chosen theme " A Happy Memorable Moment " online.
To participate click on the flyer here for details or visit the Infocomm 123 Facebook
Notice the dates. Submit between December 3 and 31 December 2009.
That's it ! Good Luck!
Oh, one other thing...this contest is meant for senior citizens only.
And they have to be Hawaii 5-0 at least! 50 years and above.
But if you are much younger why not help someone older register?
Unk Dicko
Silver Infocomm Ambassador

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gaming at Libraries? WHY not!

Unk Dicko was interviewed by The New Paper on Monday by reporter Liew Hanqing. The interview took place at the 14th floor of the National Library.
The subject of the interview was to get my views and feedback about video gaming and in particular the session that I attended at the Jurong Regional Library, last month. The article appeared in the paper on Tuesday 24 Nov 2009, page 9.

On the Saturday morning of 24 October, I drove my wife, 3 grand kids and their maid to the venue. On arrival, I was happy to meet up with James Seah ( Blog to Express ) who had forwarded me the invite and Ivan Chew ( the Rambling Librarian blogger) who was the host.
It is really wonderful to meet and speak to fellow blogger friends in person.

Photo: James Seah and us.
Young and old enjoying themselves at the Games station.

Unk Dicko trying out the game of Bowling on Wii Sports with others.

James enjoying playing a Board game.

Unk Dicko playing a Board game with cards. It was fun as it required not just luck but some semblance of good memory.

Photo: The little ones enjoying their game of Mario Kart.
After the session ended at about 1 pm, we adjourned for a prepared lunch.
Overall the session was very successful and served its purpose. I think this is certainly a step in the right direction to make a library " more alive". We need to move with the times. We who have tried it out are all for this innovative move!
Thanks James. Thanks Ivan.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Jingle Bell ...Bhangra style!

Unk Dicko has always had a special liking for Punjabi Bhangra. The music and rhythm is so lively, with the drumbeats, ankle bells and all adding to an unbeatable, heady dance mixture.

In 1988, when I led the Serangoon Gardens Sing Singapore group to emerge Champions of the island-wide inter-constituency Sing S'pore of my key strategy was to have 2 lead Bhangra dancers, male and female...whom I knew would not fail to captivate the crowd.

They not only did not fail but were simply superb. One was the daughter of our friend in Sg Gardens and the other my very good friend, Max Singh... a bespectacled young men then.

So in tribute to their "bhangra prowess" of 1988 and sending you all my early Christmas greetings in a non-traditional way.... enjoy " Nickmas with Bhangra!"

ps: Remember to switch off the JANGO Jukebox music which plays automatically.

What happened to Adrian Lim's flat?

Adrian Lim, Tan and Hoe were arrested and detained for the purpose of investigation into the Toa Payoh cult murder in 1981. Subsequently, the "unholy trinity" were tried in open court in 1983, found guilty and sentenced to death. They remained on death row until their eventual execution on 25 November 1988 when all legal appeals failed.
What happened to Adrian Lim's 3 room flat in T Payoh?
It was vacant for 5 years after his arrest.
Then a Catholic family bought over the flat. They were interviewed by the Straits Times in this
report of 26 November 1988.
I truly admire their stand. They showed no fear, no qualms, no queasiness about making it their peaceful home despite knowing the nightmarish history and background of what occured there.
That as I said, was in 1988 when this news report appeared.
More than 2 decades have since flown by and I have no idea and no updates about the place.
I presume no news is good news.
As a matter of fact, many buyers of properties never really check the history of their intended
purchase. It was only when reporters or other interested parties approached them long after the crime for permission to film, photograph, interview etc...that they discovered the truth.
Quite a few homes which were scenes of brutal crime and murder have been sold to new buyers
who apparently were unaware of their dark history.
The agents may have known but chose not to divulge.

Friday, November 20, 2009

All traces of Siang Lim Park gone forever!

This post is a continuation of the previous post on the new Siang Lim Park.
I walked to the end of Lorong 40 joining a T junction with Guillemard Road.
Direction of camera - facing directly south in this photo. Opposite Lorong 40, across Guillemard Road is the Versailles Mansions (condos). If you look at my map Ref#24, I indicated that this was where my very good friend the late Charlie Tan Boon Seng used to live in...a row of single storey terrace houses. Further back was just nothing but open bushland where we could go hunting for tasty birds like the "burung ayam ayam" among others. Many of us were adept at using homemade catapults for hunting...accuracy pretty deadly. We made a small fire and had our own backwoods cooking right there. To us and for us, it was like Red Indian country at the bushland.

This corner of the Waterina used to be the home of my friend " Mat Tikus" Ref# 23 on my map.
I was facing east.

There were no road barriers in the middle rof the road and no traffic lights here in the past. Traffic was very light in the early days.
At the end of the Versailles condos is Hemmant Road...which used to have a row of very old dilapidated houses occupied by squatters. In one of these dwellings lived an old couple and an only son. He was the most famous rojak seller in our kampong. Using a tricycle as his pushcart stall, he stationed himself permanently at the Lorong 40 bridge. I never knew his real name as everyone respectfully called him "Apek rojak". He operated daily from the late afternoon till the night. His devoted and loving wife or son will bring dinner for him. Tragedy struck one day when a huge fire engulfed the small colony at Hemmant Road burning it to the ground. Many of us kampong folks, including myself, rushed there hoping to pitch in some help. We only managed to help them carry away some miserable household and personal belongings. The fire had spread too quickly, aided by strong winds. They were devastated and so were we.
In one swoop, all the squatters were gone. That place was never reoccupied by squatters again. It later became the Police logistics Depot.

As I turned to the west, this is the scene. The Sunny Spring is to the right of photo. Further down the road, on the left is the Singapore Badminton Hall.

This is the Sunny Spring Condo. Just where you see a lady walking on the pavement was once the home of another family friend, Agnes. See Ref# 11 on my map. Their front door faced Guillemard Road.

This is the present entrance to the Condos. A friend of mine used to live here at the corner house. And it was from here that we watched the gunfight at Siang Lim Park across the other side ( the Waterina ), back in August 1965.

I did not have access inside this estate. However by eyeballing, if you walk straight ahead through the entrance, keeping slightly to the left...that would be where the 2nd ancient keramat used to be. Map Ref# 10 on my map.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Adrian Lim the Cult Murderer...part 2.

What kind of people go to a court of
Well it depends....on your purpose of going there in the first place. Some are obviously working there within the judicial system.

Some are compelled to be there by the law as accused persons or defendents or witnesses.
The majority of those who turned up for the Adrian Lim trial were members of the public who came in large numbers. There were long queues for the limited seats in the public gallery of the court. People started queueing hours before the court convened each day...and still more came.
One reason for this other than the mere curiosity factor was the chief accused himself...Adrian Lim. As the trial proceeded, he was "enjoying" playing to the gallery more and more. Unafraid to describe in gruesome details the debauchery and the slaughter, he kept the courtroom engrossed and captivated with the very lively descriptions and answers to questions that were put to him.
The media and press coverage provided explicit reports of the day to day happening in the courtroom.

This kind of story is every newspaper's sells!
Just look at the photo with the large crowd of onlookers outside the courthouse. Every nearby road was filled with people and more people. Unbelievable!
Where you normally buy only one, many bought 2 or 3 different dailies to get more info and pictures or a different slant to the side stories.

Both these newsclips are dated 26 November 1988, Straits Times, page 21.
More to come...unk Dicko.

Adrian Lim the cult murderer...trial and execution.

[Above: Scanned image of ST 26 -11-1988 unk Dicko's private news archives. ]
The execution of condemned criminals is never announced to the public in Singapore beforehand. Except for those directly responsible for carrying out the final order of the court, no one has a clue when that date with the hangman will be. It was only when I saw the front page of the Straits Times on 26 November 1988 that I realised all 3 were hanged at dawn the previous day. Thus ended one of the most gripping story of murder in local history and the 2nd longest trial in Singapore...41 days. The record is held by the 62 days Pulau Senang trial in 1963.
The whole nation had followed the case of cult murderer Adrian Lim, together with his wife and mistress, charged with the brutal ritual killing of 2 young Primary school kids in 1981, at Adrian's Toa Payoh flat in Lorong 7.
When the hearing started in the High Court of Singapore under our 2 judges system in April and May 1983, it shocked an entire nation with its gruesome details of human sacrifice, black magic, sex and violence. Many people were horrified by the unspeakable acts that were committed by the "unholy trinity" ( it was a term coined for them ) involving bizarre practices such as drinking human blood ( 2 doctors got into some trouble later ), sexual perversions, spirit possession, indiscriminate cruelty and finally ritualistic murder.
When the killings were first discovered in January 1981, my family and I were also residing in Toa Payoh. Parents with young children everywhere but especially in my township, were frightened to no end. I recall that many forbade their kids from going to the neighbourhood playground...knowing full well what had happened to little Agnes ( 9 ) and Ghazali (10). As for me and D2 we always accompanied our 2 kids. Better to be safe than eternally sorry.
This case drew large crowds when the hearing started.
The 2 judges were Justice T S Sinnathuray and Justice F A Chua. Prosecution was led by DPP Glenn Knight. Adrian Lim was defended by H E Cashin while Nathan Isaac defended Hoe.
The late JB Jeyaretnam ( former Worker's Party leader ) defended Tan.
More original newsclip of the case in next post.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Don't MISS this tonight...Leonids Meteor Shower!!!

This will be a very short and brief post to alert all my blog visitors.
Sometime tonight, past midnight of 18 November ( Wednesday ), there will be an expected fireworks of meteors in the night sky. This is brought about by the appearance of the Leonids Meteor passing close to earth and vice-versa.
The 2 best places in the world to catch the viewing this time is North America and Asia.
Those of us in Singapore can prepare to see these fiery meteor fireworks from approximately midnight onwards upto 5am. The peak is between 3- 5 am.
For better viewing, go to a dark area free of urban built up lighting....the dark corners of a beach,
hilltop, Japanese Garden, Science Centre....etc.
Binoculars... if you know how to use them fast and properly, may add to viewing pleasure.
Otherwise, it can be a hindrance.
Unk Dicko would be an Owl tonight!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Can unk Dicko locate his old kampong home?

This is a bird's eye view of the Geylang River and Aston Mansions which is opposite to the Waterina condos. The river flows to the east towards Guillemard/ Geylang Road junction. My camera is facing NE. At the top right of the picture is a tall yellow striped block and, before it, is CITY PLAZA. In the old days, People's Emporium was located there and it was popular because the goods, mainly from China, were affordable. The area where the Aston Mansion is now located was previously a very old Muslim cemetery, behind the former Queens Cinema.

From Tim's cosy apartment, I now made my way down to have a walk around, past the swimming pool area, the children's playground and finally ended up near the Guardhouse again. I turned around and took this picture (below)looking inwards at the Waterina site. From what I gathered on the web, the Waterina and Sunny Spring presently have the most number of condo apartments at one site in Singapore...about 398 units each.
It is well-maintained and has two basement levels for car parking. Everything there looks pretty new and modern as can be expected. Ditto for the Sunny Spring too...although I did not get to go in. I managed to see it from the outside although I would have loved to have taken a walk inside.
If anyone reading this post can help me out with access, I'll be most grateful. As a reward, we can then have coffee at the Lorong 4o coffee shops and I'll mesmerise you with more anecdotes and tales from Siang Lim Park.
At the Security guardhouse, I told the 2 uniformed guards on duty that I was going out for a while, leaving my car still at the basement carpark. They had a quizical look on their face..must be wondering what this uncle was up to! So to pacify their curiosity I asked them, " Are you wondering who I am?"
They answered affirmatively. I then asked them if they were aware what was here before the condos were built. " No", was their answer. From my folder, I pulled out the old photos of our old home, Lorong 40 and S L Park...and showed to them. They were engrossed suddenly!

From the guardhouse of Waterina, facing north, I captured this scene of the present Lorong 40.
At the top of the picture is Geylang Road. On the right is the boundary wall of the Waterina. Where the cyclist is...that used to be the corner house of the " bapoks" Ref# 25 on my map. And more or less where the lamp post ( left of picture, near road sign "AHEAD") now stands....was the humble home where we Yippies once lived for more than half a century.

I swiveled round to face southwards. This is the present view of Lorong 40 adjacent to Guillemard Road. Sunny Spring is on the right of picture while Waterina is on the left.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The King And I...& original newsclip

The 1956 Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II movie musical...The KING and I proved hugely popular when it was first released. It garnered 9 Academy Award nominations and eventually won 5 Oscars including the 'Best Actor' ( Yul Brynner ) and also 'Best Music" ( Rodgers and Oscar ). I remember seeing the movie when I was still schooling and again with my wifey, years later.
The movie is based on the real life story of a British widow, Anna Leonowens who in 1862 ,was appointed to tutor the many children and wives of King Mongkut ( Rama IV). Among those that she tutored was the young Prince Chulalongkorn (Rama V) who inherited the throne later when his father died.
Those of us who have seen the movie long ago may forget many of the details in the musical. But who can ever forget Yul Brynner's uttering the single suffix " HAH!" and that famous ending line to most everything he said...."et cetera, et cetera, et cetera".
I love the songs, the music and the lyrics. Getting to know you, Shall we dance?, Hello young lovers, I whistle a happy tune, Happy talking....etc, etc, etc, ( did you notice?...I have not forgotten what I learnt from the King and I, Hah! ).

About this newsclip of 10 December 1996 from the Straits Times.
It gives an interesting background about the Chakri Dynasty of Thai kings. The article was captioned most appropriately as the "Musical Dynasty".
From King Chakri (Rama I ) who ruled from 1782 to 1809 right to the present day king, King Bhumibol Adulyadej ( Rama IX )..this line of kings was very supportive of arts, music and culture and musically talented in their own rights.

Siang Lim Park...the new!

This is the Condo block in the Waterina which faces the north. It was from there that I took some snapshots from Tim's open window to the west, north and east. Right below the block is the Geylang River.

I was facing about north-west.


Facing directly north.
This row of double-storey pre-war shophouses has retained its old facade especially the rooftop. You can see the existing backlane at the rear of the houses. The backlane of our Yippie home was similar. It was quite broad and allowed us to put up a string or a tattered badminton net tied across the sides of the fences for our regular kampong pastime.


Similar to above picture. To the right of the photo is the private Aston Mansions.


Facing north-west. Part of the Lorong 40 field or playground can be seen on the left. It is so different from the past where it was basically one big field with only a few swings etc at the edge.
The single storey houses are part of Lorong 38. They are quite different from those in our old Siang Lim Park which all had a common, empty space beneath our floor called "bawah rumah" ( under the house ).


Facing north-west.
An overview of the Lorong 40 playground today. Looking at it, one could not have imagined that 2 teams of any number of players were slogging it out in a game called football ...played regularly there. No bookings were required. First come, first served basis....kampong style.

Facing approximately west. This part of the river will continue towards the sea. In the early days, the river had no enbankments. Wild vegetation grew on the river banks...lallang, bushes, trees. Many hens,chickens and ducks roamed freely. Eggs could be found among the bushes, riverbanks and "bawah rumah".

I took a walk on that bridge later. In days of old, we could sit on the parapet [ Map Ref # 40, see SL Park map ]. Today it can't be done...just a railing, cement parapet has disappeared.


Facing west. That gate, footpath and boundary wall are part of the Sunny Spring today
If you look closely at the picture and follow that footpath from the gate, you come to a white rectangular patch ( top left of pic).
That's the approximate location of the old ancient keramat which I had earlier described in previous posts with Ref# 4 on the Map.

As I walked right to the river's edge, I did not detect any objectionable odour or smell. Except for the inevitable litter, flotsam and some other rubbish...the river today is infinitely cleaner than it was in my days.
Walking around, I did not see a single fruit tree of note.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Unk Dicko returned to the new Siang Lim Park

Yesterday, November 12 2009 was a memorable and a deeply emotional day for Unk Dicko.
It was the first time I had returned to my old kampong of Siang Lim Park since May 1995. That was the period when our original home at 94, Siang Lim Park ( see map ref 'Y' of previous post on S L Park ) had to be vacated for development work to start on the new SUNNY SPRING condos. My late parents were the only one living there. They were original tenants from before the 2nd world war. The rest of us my siblings and I have moved out long ago. But we have always returned to visit our parents and that home and the surroundings we all grew up in.
The story of Siang Lim Park on my blog actually began in January 2007 at our private Yippie Blogsite. I was then a complete newbie to blogging but having found the new experience fascinating, I started to blog in earnest.
Taking my old photo albums with pictures of S L Park and family members, I recounted real life stories and happenings of our childhood, of the people who lived there, of our friends, of the friendly hawkers, our neighbours, of unforgettable incidents and experiences...and more.

Then a nephew of mine asked if there was a map which showed the various houses in SL Park. He was intrigued and so was everyone else. Sad to say, no such maps exist..only a general overview map. I had promised that I would one day produce a hand-drawn map of sorts which could be used as a rough reference guide to follow the story.
Unk Dicko has kept his promise. That map is now on this blogsite.
Recently " Icemoon", a very active blogger, had asked about the 2 keramats that used to be at our side of the kampong ( Sunny Spring )...and about Queens Cinema. Added to that is Peter, another very active blogger friend, who wanted to know more about that famous Gunfight which made S L Park famous.
Well I thought the time is about ripe for me to do a major "mini-series" on the history of S L Park since the name itself has been forever wiped out from modern directories.
Then Tim Auger from Britain who has been working here for the last 14 years came upon my blogpost on that famous gunfight...and was surprised and shocked that it took place right where he is now residing...the Waterina!
Photo: Tim Auger [ unk Dicko's camera ]
You can check his comments at the gunfight post.
To cut the story short, I offered to meet up with him to confirm the location of the incident and to update him about the past history of that place.
Tim has a deep interest in our local and contemporary history. He has to be! He is the co-editor of SINGAPORE - The ENCYCLOPEDIA and is also on the editorial team of the huge project THE CHRONICLES of SINGAPORE.
As my car turned into Lorong 40, from main Geylang Road, I could still recognise the shophouses and houses of old. But once past that iconic Bridge over the Geylang River I felt as though I have landed on Mars! It was such a very strange scene to me. Not a single thing be it a tree, a lamp post, a building, plant or anything else was familiar to my stored perceptions.
It seems so incongruous to the very images that kept appearing in my mind's eyes. As I drove past the bridge, I slowed down staring to the right where our corner house used to be...expecting to somehow rather foolishly "hoping it's still there". Instead I saw a pinkish perimeter wall of the SUNNY SPRING and the adjacent condos within.

To my left was the bright white wall of the WATERINA condos. I stopped at the Guardhouse and stated my purpose of visit. It took a few minutes to security check. Again I felt alien and strange! We used to run around all over this place with no barriers to our freedom, fifty years ago.
I parked and made my way to Tim's unit at the very top of a block.
I said a cheery, " Good Morning Tim! Glad to meet you." We shook hands warmly and what began as a comment and inquiry on my blog lasted for nearly 3 interesting hours at his place.
After the pleasantries we chatted about our work and other things. He showed me the huge books he had worked on. I recommend all of you interested in history and heritage should get a copy. It's overflowing with fabulous pics and info.
I brought along my old photos and the map and with that was able to point out many interesting bits and pieces right before Tim's very eyes...looking out from his windows.
Photo: Here is a snapshot I captured from Tim's window. My camera was facing the north.
Part of the bridge over the river, the Lor 40 field on left, and the former makeshift wet market near the red car can be seen. In the background is Geylang Road.

Where today is the approximate location where the Gunfight at S L Park took place?
Using my map and checking my bearings from the outside as well, the famous gunfight occurred in the general area as shown in this photo.
Not any of the condo units themselves but in the common, open space near the pool.
Residents need not worry about this past happening as it took place 44 years ago. As far as I can recall, nothing untoward happened after August 1965 to any of the other kampong folks living in the 4 affected houses gutted by fire, then or since.
Pl refer to my map in previous post on the gunfight with Ref #29.
I wonder how many residents of this beautiful WATERINA condo estate today are aware of what took place here on 5 August 1965, witnessed by unk Dicko.
It's so pretty, peaceful and serene as I gazed at the scene before me here. Who could have imagined that 2 young men lost their lives right here when their paths a heroic Police Inspector and the other, a wanted gunman and henchman of Morgan Teo named "Ah Hiap". He was killed in the shootout.
More pictures from early S L Park days and today coming soon.
I must thank Tim Auger for being such a nice host. We promised to be in regular contact and to meet up again.