Wednesday, May 18, 2011


A journey by train on the 6th of May 2011 saw us arriving in Singapore for a short visit arranged by Badan Warisan Malaysia. We have been interested in its activities but being far from the Kuala Lumpur, never got close to knowing about it except from newspaper reports or its web page. Mid last year we registered as member and therefore the privilege  to join its activities and the first being the trip to Singapore.

As reported earlier it was to see the Tg Pagar Railway Station on the first day soon after arrival. On the second and third day we had other programs specific to observe historical and heritage buildings, understanding and recognizing their influence to the country and directions taken to conserve  for posterity and future generations besides being a pull factor in the tourism industry. 
It was a learning experience while being perhaps the most intensive tour of Singapore as previous visits had been casual and fleeting.

                    'Bumbu' at  Kg Gelam in Singapore

However this is not a report of what we saw during the scheduled programs but more of two places that we halted for lunch. Can't guess which is the better of the two , either the food served or the richness, authenticity and ambiance of the place. 

Firstly we stopped at the 'Bumbu'.

It was a two storey building, one of many in the area, and no different from the others except for  its main door and the name above it. It was still nothing to shout about. However once inside you are made welcome and notice that the tables are occupied or reserved for their customers. Two tables were designated for our group. It has its customers for lunch time and meaning you would have to make reservation otherwise it is waiting time. 

                 A pumpkin dish served with sago . Yum yum

            A restaurant or a heritage home? The owner is a collector and we dine amidst such richness and one would tempt to know where he gets them.

Naturally you could not sit with such treasures in a museum, not with great dishes being served too. Here they are at your closeness and touch.

       Imagine the beautiful 'almari' as a divider to the servery behind

                    Old lamp shades and mirrors with designed frames 

This caught my eye. I have seen such assemble before. Then it dawn upon me we had such a glass design in our old home but with its missing parts one could not imagine that this was the way it had to be put in place. Imagine my surprise to find a similar piece in an antique shop later with an offer price of S$4000.00

Members of the group, made up of many nationalities but Malaysian generally as they have settled in the country and all desiring to know more of history and heritage.

The equally tempting spread served for lunch
   Sorry no 'Ais Kacang' served here but you are brought back to times when such a machine would prepare you the hot favorite at a cost of 20 cents.

We are sure there are many restaurants of such a nature in Malaysia as well as across the Causeway but here the ambiance as well as the menu was pleasing and naturally it compliments our reason for being in Singapore. It is no wonder that antiques are sought after and period furniture  particularly.

 The view from the club house. As once remarked ' mad English men in the hot sun batting .... away '
here club members are at it on Sunday and with a vista especially like you see above who wouldn't like to be on the field. Soccer, rugby, hockey, tennis are also played here.

        The next day 8th May we visited the Singapore Cricket Club, standing its its prestigious place right in the center of the city fronting the 'Padang' literally true in its sense as such open space where you would have played football or kite in your youthful days are gone. It is magnificent to see such vista preserved and functioning . First established in 1832 it has a story of its own.   

caught a picture of two ladies bowling by the side of the tennis court and we were reminded that the Club allowed women as members only in 1938.

 The Singapore 'Noah's Ark' is visible from the Club House. Below the 'Padang' as seen from the veranda of the club house. As a point of interest the wrought iron and the verandah are dated as far back as 1907.

  On the upper deck where one would have a panoramic view of the city

 Lunch in the Club Restaurant.

     0n the upper deck of the Club with part of the Club House in the background

  Would this be watering hole ? Wooden panelling and flooring added lustre to this part of the Club. Timber as used in other parts of the Club added to its richness and of course dated back to days during the Colony/ Straits Settlement period.  

                                          Our serving ... dory dish

                                         Another part of the Club
       The old trees and the Court House become part of the Club scenery continuing its age old position in modern Singapore. It has also served as a hospital in 1942, a restaurant and bar for the Japanese officers during the Occupancy Years.

     For the privilege to have a guided tour of the Cricket Club, a member of BWM presented a souvenir to the representative of the Club

Two smiling ladies grateful that they had a peek at two wonderful sites both managing to keep the endearment of old time which quite easily would be erased and forgotten. We would remember that even in the early years after Merdeka, there were many Club and Rest Houses in Malaysia. Even in smaller towns like Baling, Kulim, Mentakab and Alor Setar there were club houses with facilities for their members but sadly all died a natural death taking away some traditional buildings.

Hoping this trends towards conservation as seen here and particularly in Penang and Malacca would help in the long run to keep what are dear to our hearts intact and surviving and a sure way educate person to care for their heritage.



Monday, May 16, 2011



Because from 1st July 2011, the southern most station on the north south railway system that has been running since the early 20th century will cease to function. It will be closed down though the station building and hopefully all other features will continue to stand with the hope that preservation and heritage consideration will take the upper hand. The Malaysian and Singapore government have come to an agreement to settle the long standing issue of properties and rights through the meeting of both Prime Ministers late last year. Meaning that the station and all the land that stretches alongside the track from Singapore side of the Straits of Johore till the station at Tanjung Pagar will be transferred to Singapore no doubt with agreement for development and concession etc.

We were on a visit specifically to view the station and discover its features recently as members of Badan Warisan Malaysia. No doubt we have seen the station several times during our visits to Singapore before but frankly never had a closer look or bothered to understand its historical, economic, tourism, political etc contributions to the country. This opportunity comes however at its closing end.

There is no doubt a feeling of nostalgia and regret but then seeing the existing conditions of the station building and its abandoning features it is like fate accomplished as though we have expected that mission.  

In one respect we go all out to convince UNESCO for the support and upholding of Malacca and Penang as heritage cities or centres, here we forget the treasures that exists within. Political exigencies and long standing agreements no doubt clouded the issues, but not maximizing the existence of an outstanding and fully featured building like the Tanjung Pagar Railway Station is an injustice. It would have attracted tourists many folds as our first base to Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh Railway Stations remain two other historical buildings which must not be left to suffer the same fate. Existing but without functions and care would only deteriorate their conditions.

The full agreement of the transfer of the station and the land stretching from the Singapore side of the Johore Causeway till Tanjung Pagar has yet to be disclosed  but already there is an agreement to develop the properties by both government.

Be that as it may, what can you see at this railway station built with inputs from overseas and locally and declared opened on 3/3/1932? Two marble based reliefs at the entrance and in the hall designed by an Italian architect Rudolfo Nolli depicting Agriculture, Industry, Commerce and Transport stand out plus several panels  reliefs. Two long station platforms gave allowance for long KTM coaches to halt there for the convenience of passengers. Once there was a hotel at the station just as there were at Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh. It has been closed down. Cafeterias and a surau added to the existing features found at the station.       

 The long platforms on both side of the tracks, able to take the longest coaches that KTM train can organized with protection for the passengers from sun and rain.

A section of the railway building that you see as you disembarked from the train and walked towards the exit.

Don't know what the pail is used for but the 'stopper' with its red marker was once used to halt the locomotive should it moved forward even after halting.

   Notice the wording F M S R on the marble based relief in the high pitched foyer of the station. The Malay hut is a recent addition as a  promotional piece. Never realizing that the mural earlier on commissioned and done by an Italian architect have depicted Malayan
( Malaysia's) early and even current activities

                  Rubber industry           Padi planting
I would not like to guess how much such a drawing would cost if they are so desired knowing that they are one of a kind.

  The frontage of the Tanjung Pagar Railway Station as it is today.

 Come 1st July KTM coaches will halt at Woodlands where all passengers will disembark and the custom as well as immigration inspection will be carried out. Later KTM trains will not cross into Singapore and will halt at the Johore Bharu station only.  

   At Tiong Baru our walkabout took us to the prewar terrace houses which as seen afford space then and now. No wonder the area is much sought for.

    The tug boat moves on the Singapore River by the side of the former Post Office which has become a Fullerton Hotel

Our visit to Singapore took in also some of the historical and heritage sites and certainly Singapore Heritage Society and the government have not spared to make the island worth a visit for those who wished to walk back into the past while helping to escalate property and land cost. Many public buildings too have been converted into  commercial centers with added features and beautification.