Monday, October 24, 2005

People's Park Complex

Probably the first shopping complex that houses many different shop units, the People's Park Complex was like a pheonix arising from the ashes, for before that was an old people's park of wet market, sundry and cloth stalls, open air restaurants, all thrown into one, that was partially destroyed by fire.

I had the good fortune of testing out the escalator and checking out the shop units as the complex opened to the public, with only a few shops opening. It was novelty for the Singaporeans, especially the residents of Chinatown. The Chinese emporium was the anchor tenant that attracts the crowd with its cheap products.

Today, People's Park Complex has evolved many times, upgrading to hold on to the crowd that has since been distracted by many other shopping centres. To Chinatown, this is an icon of modernisation. It will continue to evolve to make itself attractive and meaningful to the shoppers and residents of Chinatown.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Cobbler, Cobbler, Mend My Shoes

Cobblers have been a regular sight in Chinatown, ever since when I could walk to the old open-air People's Park that was market by day and bazaar and restaurants by night. With changing time, and new buildings, they adjusted into new niches. No challenge to anyone, other than the newcomer Mr. Minit, these traditional cobblers sat in a group, chat and work. Customers were offer tiny stools to sit on while waiting for them to mend the shoe.

They are like the smaller microcosm of the total ecosystem of the marketplace. Someone might want to mend a shoe or two, although these days, tendencies of throwing them away are higher. While these cobblers are not going to be rich, they manage to survive.

If you were to imagine a screen behind these cobblers showing the old days of the stinky canal next to People's Park to the present day, many things changed but not the cobbler. Maybe, some white hair, some replacement of cobblers .. but this trade could well be a vanishing one. Would Ronald be the last to bid them goodbye?

A New Barber in the Neighbourhood

Well, not really new, but it was a first time for me a couple of weeks ago when I decided to try out this S$10 a cut within 10 minutes. Service was efficient and friendly and since they use a kind of vacuum cleaner, I have less "hairlings" on my face, nape or shoulders. Interestingly, when I had my hair cut once in Raleigh, without any vacuum cleaner, this guy could make sure that I have no such hair to irritate my skin. (^^)

Jennie Tan was the main person of this, I suppose, 2-person setup, the People's Park Complex branch of the sprouting up chain of EC House (facing the old People's Park and near to the McDonalds). I think she's a trained hairdresser and so cutting hair was a breeze for her. It took some getting used to this advantgarde Japanese barbershop or haircut saloon. I must have a ten-dollar note to insert into a machine and get a card. This card was taken by the Jennie upon cutting my hair. I thought I would have a souvenir.

So, this new setup is going to be quite a challenge to the existing barbershop in the basement of People's Park Centre, manned by some 6-8 men, all of whom speaks Fuzhou dialect. (^^) This barbershop offers S$9 a cut. Come Chinese New Year, it is going to be interesting.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The history of Pearl's Hill School

From this National Heritage Board's information board at the corner of Amoy St and Cross St, there is this information about the origin of Pearl's Hill School.

Pearl's Hill School began in 1876 at Cross St as the Singapore Chinese Branch School, headed by Mr. E.T. Yzelman as its first Principal. The school was among the pioneer batch of government English schools set up by the colonial government. It served as a feeder school to Raffles Institution and other government-aided English secondary schools.

In 1883, the school was renamed Cross Street School. It shifted to Upper Cross St in 1889. Due to public housing development, the school moved to Pearl's Hill Road in 1914, next to the Police Quarters, and was renamed Pearl's Hill School. It was later relocated to a 12-storey building at Chin Swee Rd in 1971. It became known as the tallest school in Singapore. The school was officially declared open by the then Minister for Finance and Member for Parliament for Havelock Constituency, Mr. Hon Sui Seng, on 2 June 1972.

In its long illustrious history, Pearl's Hill School served the
educational needs of the residents in Chinatown. It was a popular school throughout the 1970s and nurtured many prominent old boys including a President (Dr. Wee Kim Wee), a High Court Judge (Mr. Choor Singh) and a Cabinet Minister (Dr. Yeo Ning Hong).

The school ceased operations in its Pearl's Hill site on 31 December 2001.

Today, the Cross Street School building is Hotel81. The school next to the Police Quarters and the multi-storey school has become hostels.

Ack: National Heritage Board

Sunday, October 02, 2005


Another Quiz.

Where is this temple?
Okay, okay, to those of you who gave up, here is the answer. To those who still want to find out for yourselves, skip this post. (^^)

If you walk along Pagoda Street, you will see this door which is part of the Chinatown Heritage Museum. If you have been to the museum, you might not notice it as you don't go in through this door. (^^) If you have yet to visit the museum, go and visit. It is certainly worth your 2-3 hours there.
This is one of the door bells of the Sri Mariamman Temple along South Bridge Road. It was gazetted as a monument on 28 Jun 1973.

The oldest Hindu temple in Singapore, it was originally built of timber and thatch in 1827 by Narayana Pillay. The present brick building was built between 1827 and 1847 by craftsmen from India. It is now a place of worship to the Hindus as well as a place of interests to tourists, local and foreign.

Interestingly, there is another temple with the same name in the Chinatown of Ho Chi Minh City.