The Little Red Brick – SG50 Lego Exhibition

August 22, 2015 at 12:43 am | Posted in itchy mouth | Leave a comment
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This year is Singapore’s 50th year of national building. As part of the Jubilee Celebration, there are many events organised around the island. Itchyfingers just went to this ‘Past Forward’ Exhibition, held at Singapore National Library. There are three parts to this exhibition: ‘The Little Red Brick’, ‘3D Printing Singapura Stories’ and ‘The Singapore March’. But I must say that most people were attracted first to the many Lego models, cos I was there also just to check out the Legos…hahah

Since it is the SG50 celebration (Singapore 50), a lot of events revolve around the number “50”. There were apparently 50 showcases of people’s memories of Singapore, presented in the form of Lego models here. Din count, so can’t confirm…hahah…

Old school radio, a peranakan tingkat (or the tiffin box),  the gem biscuit in tin and the old school calendar, all made with Lego bricks!

So cute!

Game & Watch, a cool toy of yesteryear! 😀

One of my favorites – the old school mosaic playgrounds! Remember the Dragon, Pelican, Elephant and Watermelon? They left out the Seal… Sadly the Pelican is no more…. 😦 Why couldn’t they preserve the beautiful Pelican at least as a sculpture?

The Watermelon playgrounds. In recent year, there are some local designers who made these old playgrounds into collar pins or bags for sale…wonder if there is any copyright issue?

The iconic red-bricked National Library that, sadly, had given way to a stupid tunnel and finally another building for SMU…

Inside the old library…wow the library cards are huge! 😀

Another one of my favourite Lego models…the makeshift chinese opera stage, complete with opera actors and audiences

So cute, look at the zigzag, comical-looking, snake-like dragons on both sides…they even put in the name of the acts on the black board…hahah

Backstage was as interesting as the front, with actors busy putting on their makeups and robes. At the left were the musicians. Kids were shown here skipping ropes. Street operas used to be common in the older days as main entertainment. But with the introduction of more televisions, cinemas and later, computer games, it is now a dying trade….

Open air movie screening! Looked so hip and cool! Hahaha….A lot of reflection on the casing, so very tough to take closeups…

The Samsui Women. These iron ladies from Sanshui of Guangdong (Canton) Province in China, came to Singapore between the 1920s and the 1940s and worked in construction sites as hard laborers, carrying heavy loads. Their hard work contributed to Singapore’s development, both as a colony and as a nation. Our true pioneers! 

These women were referred to as 红头巾, which translates as “red bandana”, a reference to the trademark red cloth hats that they wore. Today, most of these Samsui Women have either passed on or went back to their hometown in China. Only a handful retired here in Singapore

Remember the Little Red House at Katong? Only went to this bakery twice before it was closed for development in 2003. But it stood there for many years with nothing being done to it! Only recently did the paper report some updates on the development

Another favourite piece. Shophouses at Koon Seng Road near Joo Chiat

So nice! Even the otherwise ugly wheeler bins looked cool here

Tiong Bahru pre-war flats!

Came with its own grumpy ice-cream man! Hahah. These uncles are still a common sight now, and long queues can sometimes be seen at those along Orchard Road on a hot day!

Talking about queue…more than 1.2 million people braved rain and shine, day and night in March this year, to pay our last respect to our founding Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew at the Parliament House. This queue looked way too short…Itchyfingers braved through the whole Friday night for nine hours to pay our few seconds of respect…were you there too? Er, the flag didn’t look so good though….


The old bus stop! I love the pink and red Bougainvillea flowers!!! The flags here were much nicer! I didn’t take the old double-decker bus beside it… 😦

Who could have forgotten the KTM train that once passed through the heart of our island just few years back? This train against the Bukit Timah station must had brought back lots of memories for many people….The old railway track is now the Green Corridor. Itchyfingers just did our first Green Corridor Run early this year!

This Merlion looked very comical… 😀

But this one looked worse…I thought it was an elephant at first glance! The sprouting water looked more like an elephant’s trunk…hahah…and since when did we have a white standing Buddha figure in town? Hahaha….

They should really stop at one…The bigger Singa looked fine…but the smaller one….hahahahah…..

We have to thank these Men in Green for protecting our homes. Here, a typical scene of parents sending off their teenage boys to be enlisted into the army

There was a small section on 3D printing, which was quite neglected..haha

First National Day Parade in 1966

Great World – a popular place for entertainment in the past

Overall, it was quite an interesting exhibition that certainly brought back quite a lot of memories. There were still many others that were not featured here, so do pop by the National Library foyer from now till 28 August to see them! 🙂

Also see related post:
> Building a LovingSG


Landmark Shutters Down

November 2, 2013 at 9:59 pm | Posted in itchy mouth | Leave a comment
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Middle of last month, Itchyfingers were shocked and disappointed to read the news…“Shutters for 54-year-old provision shop”. The accompanying picture was one of a familiar sight.

Newspaper article on The Straits Time, 19 Oct 2013

Actually, in fast-paced and fast-developed Singapore, almost everything old has to eventually give way to new development. Faced with stiff competition from a bigger supermarket nearby that is better stocked, this old provision shop’s 84-year-old owner decided it is about time for him to retire and enjoy life. 

It is kinda sad to see another old part of Singapore gone. This shop is located at Dakota Crescent, quite out-of-place for folks staying in the West like Itchyfingers. I didn’t even know of its existence until Tisu Boy brought me there…He used to stay with his maternal grandmother in that area when he was studying in kindergarten so he knew that shop though he was too poor to have bought anything there…

Tian Kee & Co, one of those old shops which sold different kinds of 
biscuits in tin containers. These are usually sold by weight. A pity we only
patronised them once for drinks, and we didn’t take any interior shots of the

So why did he bring me there? For this….

Remember this old mosaic playground that Itchyfingers wrote about? This
Seal playground is just opposite the old provision 
shop. This is really a very
quiet neighourhood, comprising mostly units for rental…Very worried that these
blocks will be demolished soon, again to give way to newer and taller blocks.
Then this old playground will have to give way too, like the Last Pelican of 
Singapore….so sad…

Anyway, it was because we came to look for this old playground that I found out about this old provision shop. If we didn’t go to the area, we wouldn’t have otherwise got to know the many beautiful community cats there….

One of the cute kitties that hung out near Tian Kee provision shop during our
first visit. He’s special cos the black fur on the body has a tinge of brown….
A sweet kitty who’s not afraid of strangers and immediately warmed up to us…

But he was bullied by another bigger kitty fighting for our attention….

Sweet kitty was eventually chased up this flight of stairs…Everything seemed
fine then…

I think the Siamese was a boy. Notice something unusual about him?
His whiskers were snipped off by a Chinese uncle staying at the same block
as the provision shop!!! He told us that he fed the kitty regularly and he
snipped off his whiskers for some stupid reasons that I couldn’t remember
now! We called him Snip for his lack of long whiskers….

Was a bit pissed off cos whiskers are very important to cats not for vanity reason! Whiskers help cats to navigate his way around as well as judging whether or not he’ll fit through an opening. (Read here for more information). I remembered telling him that he shouldn’t cut the whiskers, only to be laughed off as something casual and harmless. Should have reported him to the SPCA for being a cat abuser! The next few times we visited the area, we couldn’t find the man. The door was closed and it looked as if it was vacated. We only saw Snip once, this time with his whiskers grown back but the right eye was not in a good state. Poor Snip….we never saw him again after that…. 😦

But the other kitty seemed to be a regular near the old provision shop…Even when Itchyfingers were fondling and molesting other kitties in the neighbourhood, this friendly kitty would come and check us out…

Curiosity kills the cat….Once, Kitty saw us playing and photographing
other kitties, so he decided to cross the road and join in the fun. But halfway 
through he changed his mind and stopped in the middle of the road to observe
us instead…Totally oblivious of the danger of the road! Maybe he thinks it’s
really his “Grandfather’s Road”?!? A truly Singaporean kitty!!! Wahahah!!!
Luckily it was a relatively quiet road with few and slow traffic…

(Note to the uninitiated: Locals often use the term “your Grandfather’s 
road” to literally describe those people who behave as if they own the whole
road to themselves; or selfish or inconsiderate people who exhibit anti-social
behaviors towards others)

Itchyfingers like to give names to kitties who we are more familiar with. I was
playing with him just outside the old provision shop. Maybe it was the angle

where I was looking up, and partly due to the canvas that was blocking
the signage, I blurted out, “大记” (Da Ji) instead of “天记” (Tian Ji)….

Even though I realised my mistake,  I decided I shall christen the kitty
Da Ji from now on….wahahahah!!! I didn’t even know if Da Ji is a girl or boy! 😀

Cos the problem with kitty with black or dark bum, is that it is always so tough
to peep and check for their gender! Wahahaha!!!! Especially with active kitty like
Da Ji! Here, Tisu Girl played with Da Ji in front of the Tian 
Kee provision shop
on their off day…

Once we found the usually friendly and warm Da Ji running away and
hiding under a drain…

I thought his nose was a bit bruised…maybe he got into a fight with another
kitty and was traumatised?

Back to the old provision shop. On the newspaper article, it showed the shop with its shutter drawn down and the old blue signage was said to be bought by a heritage buff and it would be taken down in a few days’ time. As I happened to be working very near the area, I decided to drop by after work to take a last look at the shop, hopefully the signage would still be around. It was also some time ago since I last saw Da Ji…

Before I crossed the road, I could see Da Ji sitting on the staircase! Not too 
sure if he recognised me, or remembered his name when I called him,
or he was just excited to see a human being near dinner time…the sweet
kitty immediately meowed at me, and ran down the stairs! Oh, the old
blue sign was still around! Now you understand why I read it wrongly as
“Da Ji”? Hahah….

Da Ji was so excited that he kept rubbing his little furry head against my legs! Very restless and kept calling…Itchyfingers always joked that Da Ji has better be a boy cos it would sound not so nice for a lady to be called that name! Hahah….So this time, I was very determined to find out if Da Ji is a girl or a boy! Finally I got my answer!

Da Ji is a GIRL!!!! Wahahahahah!!!! Nevermind lah! Da Ji sounds cute and
special! Wahahah!

Was really surprised that the sign was still around since it was supposed
to be bought over….Aren’t they worried that some itchy fingers will secretly take
it home in the middle of the night?

Afterall, the old blue sign is so iconic that artist put it in his artwork at the
Dakota MRT station….

The old license – “No person under the age of eighteen is allowed to buy
intoxicated liquor at these premises”

Another old license to “sell by retail beer for consumption elsewhere than
on these premises”. It was getting dark as I shot these photos…didn’t check
to see that they were not so sharp…

Now, with the old provision shop closing for good, there are now only two chinese medical clinics left. I don’t think there are any people still staying in the block cos all door are closed. So it really worries me that it is a matter of time before the whole block be demolished as Dakota Crescent is one of the oldest housing estates in Singapore. Just on last Friday’s paper featuring the estate, it was reported that there is no long-term plan to redevelop the place yet. The estate may be used as interim housing for needy families waiting for their new flats. But who can be sure of what’s on the mind of our city planners?

Where will Da Ji hang out if the provision shop and its block is gone?

I went back again on my last day of work at that office. Now the two
licenses were gone…The blue sign was still around though…What happened
to the buyer? Changed his mind? Maybe can donate the sign to the History

Miss Da Ji was still around…

View from the other end. I 
think this block is quite unique with its two staircases
at both end…Should really 
conserve this!

Also see related posts:
When Margaret Meets the Queen#2
When Margaret Meets the Queen #1
Growing up in a One-Room Flat
> Gimme A Lift
Heartbreak Hotel in the Lost World
It’s Play Time! #3

Old and Beautiful

September 22, 2013 at 4:47 pm | Posted in itchy fingers | Leave a comment
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Not many people are lucky to be able to grow old gracefully. It is the same for cars. Some models are able to survive the test of time and become classic design. Of course, that will also depend on how much care and maintenance are given to them.

Last week, Itchyfingers were thrilled to be able to see many beautiful and old classic as well as vintage cars. We are not die-hard motor fans, but we just like to see anything beautiful…haha…There are different definition for car classification among countries but as a general guide, vintage cars are those that were produced between 1919 and World War II (1939), or in short, pre-war. Whereas classic cars must be between 30 to 49 years old. So, what better place to show off these beauties? None other than the former Tanjong Pagar Railway Station.

A pity it was a one-day event, so I supposed a lot of people missed it. This was
the second year the cars were on show at the old station. We missed it the
first year too 

It has been more than a year since we last took our train ride there. Almost everything had been cleared….

Ahhh….An old signage…I think I missed this during our last visits before closure

As it started raining rather heavily around lunch time, we only managed to visit slightly after 3pm. So we had to rush to see the cars first before anything else, skipping the activities and talks as the exhibition ended at 5pm.

The first classic car on exhibit…This is the 1953 Jaguar 120 OTS. This was Jaguar’s
first post-war sports car and the world’s fastest production car at the time of
its launch in 1948, capable of a top speed of 120mph. This was one of the
Malaysia-registered cars on show

Such a cute little car! This is the 1972 Morris Mini 1000, an extremely
popular time at the time

The 1973 Volkswagen Beetle 1303S Cabriolet. This is one of my all time
favourite! Cute!

It’s a convertible! 😀

1973 Alfa Romeo Spider is widely regarded as a design classic. Very sleek huh!

The owner even added a fake spider here! Hahah…

A total of only 17 of this 1960 Mercedes-Benz 2202SE were built, and less
than 11 are believed to still be in existence, making this extremely rare
car possibly the only one of its kind in Asia

This was on the front…German for “My hobby, the historic motor vehicle”

The 1958 Mercedes-Benz 190SL remains one of the most desirable
Mercedes-Benz classic cars ever made. Er, how come this older model looks
much more modern than the 1960 model? Hahah…Itchyfingers are real

The 1965 Triumph Spitfire is powered by a four-cylinder engine. The early
models are very much sought after…

Very classic for, especially the side…

Yeah! Finally saw some vintage cars!!!! 

The 1936 Austin Seven Willet Special. Sir Hubert Austin first “hatched”
the idea for the baby Austin in 1922 as a means to provide affordable
“Motoring for the Millions.”

Gosh! This “affordable” car would have cost millions now! 

The 1955 MG-TF is considered the most desirable of the T-series of MGs
as it remained in production for just two years. Quite sleek-looking 
despite the “puffy cheek”. Wahahaha

Real beauty turns head!

An even bigger puffy cheek! Wahahah…The 1939 BMW 327 Cabriolet. It has a radio,
a rather rare feature for cars at that time I think….

Another head turner! The 1938 MG-TA Midget is capable of 130km/hr!

The 1939 MG-TB was a much improved version of the MG-TA. The outbreak
of war meant that the TB was produced for only a few months, making them
a very rare and much sought after model!

Multiple international awards winner in concours, the 1937 MG-VA Tickford
DHC, is a rare version built by Tickford, the custom coach builder

A total of 696 of these 1937 MG SA DHC Tickford were produced between
1935 and 1939. This is one of the 90 still in existence. It was called “Capacious”
cos of its size!

Back in 1933, 51,569 units of this 1933 Ford Tudor were sold at $500! A big
sum of money back then, but how nice if you can still bring it home for 
the same price tag! Wahahah….This was the only car with a matt finish…not
sure what is the correct technical term for it and if it was the original look…

This was on the front of the car

The 1939 Lincoln Zephyr Coupe has a top speed of 140kph. The body is
an aircraft inspired design with a monocoque construction, meaning 
“an aircraft or vehicle structure in which the chassis is integral with the body.”

On the back…That looks like the old Mobil horse logo…?

This “5.2 litre straight 8 powered” 1938 McLaughlin-Buick Ltd (90L) limousine
was once owned by the Dutch embassy in Melbourne and is believed to have
been part of the Dutch Royal garage until WWII. Haha….looks like a mafia
ride to me…looks so fierce and unfriendly… 😀

No one will be unable to recognise this, huh?

This 1968 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow was first owned by the late legendary
Tan Sri Khoo Teck Puat. We now have a public hospital named after him

Another vintage car, the 1934 Austin Seven Ulster Special. Being a motor
amateurs, Itchyfingers do not really understand how the organiser arranged
the cars….They seemed not to go by year nor manufacturers leh….a bit

confusing lor…hahah….unless we missed out something? 

1934-Austin-Seven-Ulster back
Looks like a racing car… :p

Of all the classic and vintage beauties, this one stood out for being unique and a bit clownish…wahahah….

This is the 1960 Austin-Healey Sprite Mk. 1. Does it look like a pair of 
froggy’s eyes to you?

Too cute lah! 😀 The raindrops only made the car look more comical, as if it
was perspiring… wahahah…

It has no external boot lid or external door handles…how cool… 😀

Another cute cute car! The 1961 Fiat 500 is an exceptionally popular 
little car, with almost 3.5 million units sold between 1957 and 1997

Wow…The open-topped design would be ideal for bird photographers
who need to camouflage themselves while photographing birds…hahah

The backside… cute lah! 😀

The four-door version of this 1972 Morris Minor 1000 was first introduced
in 1950 and remained in production till the early 1970s. It was particularly
popular among learner drivers

This cutie is the 1964 Fiat 600 Abarth

This 1970 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia reminded me of the chinese
comic character, 老夫子 with its “mustache”….hahah

1.3 million of this 1951 Morris Minor Series 2 Convertible were produced
since its launch in 1948, making it Britain’s first millionth seller! Cool!

It was fun to be able to see some many old and beautiful cars at one go, but the cars were arranged so close to one another that some times it was near impossible to get a clean shot of the side…Wish they had exhibited them with more space in between so we could go around them….They could consider putting some cars at the train platform since the stretch was left empty…But I guess shouldn’t complain much since the event was free and it was very kind for the owners to share their passion with others, especially the majority of us who can never afford the luxury of maintaining old cars, more so in the case of Singapore where almost all the cars you see on the road are new!

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