Remembering the Singapore of old

20190915_154542Jerome Lim

HARDCORE Singapore

As our population swells, the concept of a ‘Hardcore Singaporean’ is becoming murky.  In the ongoing series to find the Singaporean Core – a term raised in Parliament during the Population White Paper debate – we speak to people with pink IC to see how red and white they truly are.

By ANDRE JOSEPH THENG  [Source:  New Paper, 11 July, 2013]

A young Singaporean would not be able to recognise many of the places in the photos on his blog.  In fact, many of the places do not even exist any more.

And this is precisely the reason naval architect Jerome Lim, 48, chooses to blog about these from Singapore’s past.

His blog, The Long and Winding Road (, features a contrast of existing places with old photographs and his collection of what it looked like when he was growing up.

He said: “It’s sad that many places that were special to me exist only in my memory.  My blog is partly an attempt to revisit my memories as well as to show how things have changed.”

Mr Lim started blogging after he was posted to Penang for a job in 2007.  As he had more free time, he started to explore his new surroundings, which reminded him of old Singapore.

“There were many reminders of my childhood, such as shop displays and five-foot-ways,” he said.

While he returned to Singapore in early 2008, he started blogging more seriously only in 2010.

Now he spends about two hours every day on his blog, taking photographs in the morning before work and writing the entries at night and on weekends.

One place he misses is the Tanah Merah area, a popular holiday spot as many government organisations had bungalows that civil servants could apply to use.

He said:  “It was an idyllic place by the sea.  It offered an escape from the city and it was marked by its undulating terrain and cliffs overlooking the sea.”

The coastline has since changed because of land reclamation, after which Changi Airport was built.

Another place he writes about frequently is Toa Payoh.  He lived there from 1967 to 1976 at Block 53, which had a viewing gallery for VIPs.

He even shook hands with Queen Elizabeth II when she visited his flat in 1972.

Jerome Lim’s 10-minutes with Her Majesty here .


‘Grew up with Singapore’

Mr Lim was born just before Singapore gained independence, and so he describes himself as someone who ‘grew up with Singapore”.

“Just as I was finding my feet in the 1970s, so was Singapore,” he said.

Reflecting on the progress that Singapore has made, he feels that we can do more to preserve our past.

He said: “Progress is inevitable but I think that we have discarded too much of our past, and in the process, much of who we were as Singaporeans.

“Our identity as Singaporeans is something which should be allowed to evolve naturally.”

While the father of four hopes that his children will one day read his posts to understand the Singapore he grew up in, he also acknowledges that they have less time to explore their surroundings due to the more hectic lifestyle.

He said: “I am sure they will also find their own experiences and places they will reminisce about when they are older.  After all, today is yesterday’s tomorrow.”

What qualities do you have that make you Singaporean?

I am passionate about my country and our history.

How would you describe Singapore to a stranger?

That we have a lot more to offer than our tourist attractions, in the sense that we have a rich culture.

What are the little quirks you see every day?

I think that we can be more patient when things – like flash floods or MRT breakdowns – happen, as we don’t live in a perfect world.

What food do you miss when you’re overseas?

Char kway teow, laksa and sambal chilli.

Your favourite Singlish phrases or words?

I don’t have any, as I don’t really speak Singlish.

Iconic dragon playground in Toa Payoh

Designed by Mr Khor Ean Ghee, a former interior designer at the HDB, it was built in the ’70s, when playground designs reflected aspect of Singapore’s culture and identity.  A similar playground can be found along Ang Mo Kio Ave 3 and there are also smaller versions in Braddell and Macpherson.

Several heritage buffs have chronicled these old-school playgrounds online and called for their preservation, including blogger Jerome Lim, who welcomed the preservation of the dragon playground.

“It does give us a sense of belonging, a sense of place, especially in Singapore where places we are familiar with are all too quickly disappearing,” said Mr Lim, who runs the blog The Long and Winding Road.

20190916_144044.jpgPhoto courtest of TODAY.

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