Click here for the latest at RunEatGossip »

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Gillman Camp

Interestingly, after JC when I did my full time NS, I found myself back at Malan Road at Gillman camp which was just next to SAJC. So altogether, I managed to spent 4 years of my life in that area.

After my BMT and SISLs training, I was posted to the School of Combat Engineers for more training as a combat engineer. That suit me fine since it was just a few bus stops away from my home. After the basic field engineer course, I was sent for further training to become a plant engineer and after that managed to land a deal and stayed back in Gillman as a plant specialist whose job was to train plants in the art of war. You know the movies where killer plants attack people in the forest? That was our tasks to train plants to do it. Can you imagine how advance we were back then? Ha ha ha.

Unfortunately, it looks like the plants managed to overcome the subsequent trainers judging from the photo below.
This was the long and sloppy road up to our barrack or wing as it was known then. Look at it now. Totally overgrown with plants. No more road to go.

The photo below was the Officer Mess, a place that we Specialist seldom venture into unless invited. Our wing looks like this too. There were many similar buildings in the camp, one cluster for the Commanders Training Wing, another for the Basic Training Wing and finally our own Plant Training Wing.

Our Plant Trainign was right at the top of the road and overlooks the Telok Blangah flats. Some of the plants men would use binoculars to spy on the residents in the flats. Some smart guys even managed to tap into the telephone conversation of the residents using their radios. And these guys are when we called Hokkien pian!

There was also an admin block and both the BTW and admin block overlooks the Parade square. And of course, as in any army camp, there were stories from the people there about hearing soldiers in chain walking along the corridor, marching in the parade square in the middle of the night etc etc

One memorable incident was when we did our first full battle order obstacle course. We had to carry the full pack with standard battle order and 2 water bottles and run down from our wing to the obstacle course about 1 km away. I remembered running down the slope. No big deal. And then came the low wall and I literally hit the wall. With the FBO on my back, try as I could, I could not make it over the wall. The result, remedial training under a sadistic Japan trained Captain.

Another time, I was driving an army crane up this road from the MT line (picture below). I had to lift a fallen tree from the parade square and halfway through the lifting operation, I snapped the cable and nearly dropped the boom on my fellow operator. Thank God he wasn't injured and we managed to hush it up with the help of some of the enciks. The MT line now appears to be home to some construction workers. What a waste!

NS days at Gillman held many fond memories for me. There were many incidents. Too many to post here. Maybe I shall come up with a series of post for this?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It's that time of the Year

It’s that time of the year. What do you get for someone who does not desires branded stuff and is rather thrifty and is more or less happy with the simple things in life?

I walked into a watch shop and the Kid said – “not again! Don’t you guys get sick of giving each other watches all the time?” Okay so scratch – no watch.

How about sparkies? Doesn’t every lady loves a shiny piece of rock? So I walked into the jewellery store and whoa! Those I like, I will have to go rob a bank to afford it. Does I can afford, she will need a magnifying glass to see the rock. So cancelled out – no diamonds.

Maybe get her a kitchen appliances. That coffee maker that she is always talking about. This one I like. Then she can makes me a nice cuppa every morning. But like not a very lomatic gift leh and beside I will have to get the coffee powder that comes in those little capsule. Too troublesome. 

Anyway, some people said it’s the thoughts that count. Hmmm maybe there is some thing to it. Maybe instead of an expensive useful gift, do something meaningful together. Spend time together, cultivate the relationship blah blah blah.

The more I think of this, the more I like it. Do something we both like together like go for a run at East Coast Park. And the beach is always a lomatic place even if it is 8 am in the morning. Then bring her go eat her favourite prawn noodle at Adam Road Hawker Centre. But maybe no gift like not so nice so I will surprise her with something I think she will appreciate very much – a mop! Not just any mop but those super duper magic mop! She loves to mop the floor so the super duper magic mop will be the most useful and practical gift she will get. I am very such she will be very happy with it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Uncle's Shop

Those who work in the Boat Quay area or goes club crawling will be familiar with this green place. The Molly Malone Irish pub, a very popular water hole for the angmo. But to me, this is one place that brings back a lot of nice memories.

The place originally belongs to my maternal uncle. I spent many happy hours in the quaint little shop and his house which was just a stone throw away at Canton Street. My Uncle runs an electrical shop there. It was as I understand, handed down to him by my maternal grandfather. Below is a picture of the place from the website Good Morning Yesterday. I think the picture pre-date the time my Uncle took over after his father passed away.

Photo from Good Morning Yesterday
In those days, the shop did a bustling business serving the shops around the area, attending to their electrical needs. Indeed the shop was perpetually stuffed full of boxes and boxes of electrical fixtures and used items. There was only a small desk which serves as the office, dining table and conference table and that was where my Uncle and Auntie spent most of their working hours. The shop must have did very well in the early days cause my Uncle was able to upgrade from their little unit at Canton Street (that will be another story for another day) to a terrace house in Serangoon.

This is a more recent picture of the place taken some time in the late eighties before it was compulsory acquired by the landlord.
The shop as it turns out did not belongs to my Uncle. It was passed down to him by his father who had rented it from the landlord. In those days, there was this Rent Control Act which protect the occupier from being evicted by unscrupulous owner out to make a quick buck from the increase in property value. So my Uncle's family was able to hold on to the place for many many years. Unfortunately, it seems the owner was not the only unscrupulous fella around. The gahmnen got into the act and abolished the Rent Control Act and with that, my poor Uncle had to leave the place and all he got was a measly $50,000.00 compensation

4th Feb 2011. Just found out there wasn't even a $50,000.00 compensation. When the Rent Control Act was abolished, the place was taken back by the landlord and not a single cent in compensation was paid out

Friday, January 21, 2011

Shit and more Shit

This shitty thing is driving all of us nuts. Despite all our efforts, commercial and home made repellents, nothing seem to stop the cat from shitting right in front of the door step. And I don't see why I should clutter my door with cactus or bags of stuff to ward off the cat when it is not my fault. 

Now I understand a little of what drove those cat killers (here, here and here) to kill the cats cause I feel like flinging the stupid cat down too if I can catch it.

But on the brighter side at least it is nice to know that there are many nice people out there who cares about cat. Like the town council guy. It would have been very simple for him to just catch the cats and end of his headache and mine. But I think he knows if he does that, the 2 cats will be culled. Instead he has tried to talk to the owner, got a contractor to spray some stuff for what it's worth. Then there is this lady from the Cat Welfare Society who frantically called me after getting my email and told me to not to do anything and to give her the chance to resolve the problems. And she 's gonna come with more repellent at her own cost.

At the end of the day, I hope their effort is worth it and works. I am not blaming the cat. It is after all, doing something that comes naturally to it. I am blaming the freaking irresponsible owner but sianz, if I made more noise, will we end up in the papers as one of those infamous quarrelsome neighbours?

Monday, January 17, 2011

St Andrew Junior College

This is about the old SAJC. Not the one at Potong Pasir. We were the 2nd batch to occupy the building. Actually also the second intake.

Was so sad to see my former alma mater looking in such bad shape. Since SAJC moved out, it was temporary taken over by River Valley High but nows it looks in a pretty bad stage of disrepair. I have a lot of memories of this place. It was here that I made a lot of new friends. It was also here that I was somehow got 'lost'. Maybe JC was really too fun then but I managed to funk the A level and ended up with zilch.

This was the main administrative building. It houses the staff room, Principal office etc. I have the 'privilege' of sitting in the then Principal, Tan Teng Wai's car to go to school a few times. He was so kind - he would stop and pick us up if he sees students at the bus stops on his way to school. But my neighbour and I would try to 'siam' if we see his car coming. Didn't do our image any good to be called Principal's pet. Ha ha. I also had the honour of being summoned to the Vice Principal, the late Raymond Ong's office for being late, truant ....... That was in the 2nd year when instead of working hard like the first year, I went bonkers and screwed up my life.
This was the cluster of auditoriums where we have our lectures. The lecture form of teaching was new to us coming straight from government schools and we guys would sit behind and talked. Consequently I had the dubious of having the Accounts lecturer, Ms Loo shouting out my names in front of the whole theater and threatening to throw me out. But I like her. She was possibly the best of my JC teachers. She brought us to outings, her church and was kind to all of us despite her fierce exterior.

Too bad I can't climb over the fence to take this shot. The building behind house the canteen on the ground floor, the library on the 2nd floor and the classrooms on the third. The open concept means the student body can stand there and look at the football field and the activities going on. This means of course that it was the place where we gather the most. Story has it that a pair of student was caught by the 'jaga' for having sex on the high jump mattress which was placed next to the canteen. But I remembered this building the most because I took a picture of it and it was made into a bookmark and sold to the student body to raise funds.

Unlike the JC of today, those of my days were not so stressful. In fact, I enjoyed my time there very much. Too much maybe. I was involved in photography and even took over the society when the then president was caught breaking the rules (he brought a girl into the dark room!). I was active in prayer group (at least for the first year) and attended every school events including the infamous rugby match at ACJC when the then coach, Michael Seet  led our team in a mass walkout halfway through the game. If this was today, it would have make the headlines but in those days. Life in the 2nd year was even better. At least for me. I skipped lectures, dropped math and Chinese and of course funked both subjects in the end, went to JC only in the late afternoon when all the lessons were over. 

A lot of regrets now but what is over is over. Still it is sad to see the buildings in these sorrow stage now. Wonder what is going to happen to it now. It is such a waste but I think most likely because it is sitting on prime land, it will together with Gillman camp become another condominium project. Sighed.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Jai Thai Restaurant

I love the thrill of going to a new food outlet. You never know what you gonna get. Hit or miss? I also love Thai food. So last week while out hunting for cheapo Thai food, saw this little place tucked among all the eateries along East Coast Rd. How come I never see it there before? Wonderful, can kill 2 birds with one stone.

Tom Yum soup
So we walked in. At 7pm on a Saturday night, it wasn’t exactly crowded so I was like “oh dear”. The wait staff was most helpful though. Maybe a bit too helpful. He didn’t stopped us when we started ordering.  He walked us through the menu and recommended the Beef Kway Teow soup. And then of course we have to order our favourite Thai food. So we had our usual Tom Yam soup and mango salad; picked another 2 of the Chef’s Special from the menu (prawn cake and pandan chicken) and then because we also love seafood, we ordered the Crab Tanghoon and to round it off a plate of olive rice plus a plate of stir fry kai-lan. On hindsight, that was probably a bit too much for the 3 of us so we were quite relieved when we were told they had ran out of crab so we cancelled the tang hoon dish.
Mango Salad, prawn cake and pandan chicken
Olive Rice
Since there were only 3 of us, we ordered small portion for everything except the Olive rice. We finished almost everything except the rice and 1 piece each of the prawn cake and pandan chicken. The prawn cake and pandan chicken are sold in pieces (minimum 2 pieces). We made a mistake and ordered 4 thinking they were like the usual fare at other places but these were huge pieces and the 3 of us could have easily shared 2 pieces.

Beef Kway Teow
The beef kway teow soup which was supposing their ‘trademark’ dish tasted like our bak kuh the soup. The kway teow was the usual thin type found in Thailand and Vietnam. It wasn’t really that great. I tasted better Vietnamese beef kway teow at a little stall in Golden Shoe Cooked food centre but again, everything in this place seems to be ‘upsized’. The bowl was supposed to be for 1 but the 3 of us shared it and still couldn’t finish it which means we had to struggle to finish the rest of the food and thus leaving us with no room for deserts.

Anyway, final verdict - very reasonable price for the portion served. We paid around $60.00 for the 3 of us. Service was good. Food came pretty fast and above all, tasted fairly decent. A place that I couldn’t mind popping in now and then for lunch or dinner.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tan Ser Seng Herbs (Turtle) Restaurant

I try to reduce my intake of what I call ‘horror food’ so that means no foie gras, no snake, no dog, no cat and less shark fins and beef. But the other day, while enroute to some place, walked passed this coffee shop and die die must stop to eat what it was selling – turtle! :(. Weak mind.

The last time I ate turtle was probably 6 months ago and the previous last time maybe like 8 years ago? Well anyway, I consider Tan Ser Seng Turtle Soup the best in town and seriously got to try it. So we ordered 1 portion $13.00 each with the yam rice (separate charge). No extra ingredient though. [the first time I was introduced to turtle soup by a friend, he ordered ‘it’ [wink wink’ and it was gross!]
Picture from
 The turtle soup was as I remember it – very herbal very favoury. M commented that it was ‘sweet’. The meat was like chicken just a bit tougher. The cartilage was like…er cartilage? Sort of hard jelly actually and it slide down the throat smoothly. The yam rice was shiok. Order it - not the white rice. It is well worth the money. We polished off our small bowl of soup and rice which left us rather ‘sweaty’.

Somehow, the turtle soup seems to bring out the ‘heat’ in the people eating it which is why I think many people especially the Chinese regard it as an aphrodisiac and why the place is located right smack in Geylang. But at 2.30pm in the afternoon, the coffeeshop was filled to the brim with families with kids in tow slurping the turtle soup and the black chicken soup. And that alone is testimony to how good it is. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Berlin Wall, Singapore

Yes you read the header right. Berlin Wall, Singapore. Yes there is a little slice (4 to be precise) of the Berlin Wall right here in Singapore and it's authentic, not something the people in the big country up north cooked up.

And this plague is the Certificate of Authenticity.
This little bit of the Berlin Wall was donated to Singapore by the Germans and today it stands proudly in Bedok Reservoir, a testimony of the freedom that the people of East German nows enjoy. Maybe one day the people of North Korea will also be free of their own 'Korean' wall.

But hor, if Singapore do really have its own Berlin Wall, I am sure it will be just a plain old boring wall, not this beautiful piece of graffiti art. Cause who dares to draw anything on public property here? Afterward, kena cane and jailed then how?