Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Railway Exploration

Besides Kampong Lorong Buangkok which I explored last August with my friends, another nostalgic piece of Singapore would soon lose its battle to modernization.

In a few months time, we would be bidding goodbye to yet another heritage-filled part of Singapore -- the Tanjong Pagar railway station and Keretapi Tanah Melayu or KTM, also known as the Malayan Railway.


Tanjong Pagar railway station (Chinese: 丹戎巴葛火车总站; Malay: Stesen Keretapi Tanjung Pagar), also called Keppel Road railway station or Singapore railway station, is a railway terminus owned by Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM), the main railway
operator in Malaysia. The land on which the station and the KTM railway tracks
in Singapore are situated is held by KTM on a 999-year lease.

Following an agreement between Malaysia and Singapore which was reached
on 24 May 2010, railway operations into the station will cease by 1 July 2011,
after which the building will be conserved and may be integrated with future
developments on the site. KTM's southern terminus would be relocated to the
Woodlands Train Checkpoint.

[Extracted from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanjong_Pagar_railway_station]

The railway line which dates back to the British colonial era has served Singapore since the early 1900s. It is the sole railway line providing direct international connections operated by KTM, with services commencing from the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station located right in the heart of our CBD. No doubt, the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station sticks out like a sorethumb amidst towering skyscrapers and highways in the financial district. Nevertheless, I prefer to believe that it has not once lost its ancient charm to its more modern counterparts.

For more on the railway history, go to:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rail_transport_in_Singapore

Once the process of relocation starts, Singapore would lose an old school train station to take a heritage journey from. MRTs are definitely not considered as trains in my dictionary of nostalgia. Besides, our deep historical connection with the Malay Peninsular would gradually dissolve with the disappearance of the old tracks.

Not only that, the well worn tracks that served us so well and the corridor of land that has remained relatively untouched since the colonial times will be lost. Along with it, the many symbolic representations of the railway like the railway bridges, minor stations and huts in between major stations and of course the last standing level crossings in Singapore would slowly disappear.

It seems almost too strange that I would feel a sense of nostalgia towards the relocation of the Malayan railway from the grand old dame at Tanjong Pagar to a newer neighbourhood at Woodlands.

I do not have many brushes with railway trains.

I've only sat on the overnight train once to Kuala Lumpur when I was a little less than ten with my family and boy was it a thrilling experience. The journey was bumpy, the chugging of the engines and rolling of wheels along the tracks were deafening, the interior of the train was spartan and the blankets weren't exactly Softlan-fragranced but I enjoyed the ride as it was something I've never experienced before. The cool air in the still silent night of Singapore and the view outside the window was something that would be etched in my mind for a long time to come.

Back then in JC (what you international readers would term as high school), our school track and field was located alongside part of the railway track. I'm not sure about my peers but I feel a surge of adrenalin rushing from my heart to my legs whenever a train roared past during physical education lessons. I would pit myself against the roaring train for that short distance along the straight length of the track.

I don't even know if that part of the track near the school has ceased operations. I know that the Jurong route has since been expunged but I'm not too sure if that part falls under the Jurong route.

A little more recent brush with anything railway-related would be when I commute by my dad's car and subsequently kh's car to work whenever I did not take the MRT. I used to take the route to my workplace that would go past the level crossings somewhere in the Bukit Panjang area. Ironically, I eventually avoided that road due to the complete stop in traffic each time the train chugged past. I was pepetually late for work and could not afford for an old train to stop me in my tracks.

In retrospect, I would love to visit that area around the level crossings and talk to the old man who manned the area. It was really cute seeing him hold his little flag and pulling the fence to stop the traffic for the grand dame of a train to proceed.

I've rattled on too much and I would be amazed if you've read up till this point. To be honest, I'm feeling a little tired while typing this and I know that the text above is fraught with lots of incoherence, expression problems and mistakes. I'm just too lazy to proofread and edit.

Let's start the photostory now!

Together with my like-minded friend, evan and her fiance, we embarked on our little railway adventure sometime last year in October.

We started from Tanjong Pagar railway station.

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Here's the very end of the railway line.

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I wonder if that red stopper-like object is meant to cushion the stop of the train.

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Say hello to this little furry friend.

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Next, we proceeded to the Bukit Timah railway station.

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This bridge is a familar sight along Bukit Timah Road. We took some time to wait for the traffic to clear before snapping this photo.

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We walked deeper and deeper into the little road and further and further away from the main road.

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Aww... so sweet.

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When news of the closure and relocation of the railway was splashed in the newspapers, photography enthusiasts started visiting all these forgotten places, leading to the authorities putting up warning signs.

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There was someone in the brick house watching tv with flickering grey screen tuned to an RTM channel. We figured he must be a Malaysian and we did not dare to talk to him. We were afraid that he would chase us away. We had afterall ventured past the sign.

Waiting forlornly for my love to arrive.

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Evan tried very hard to stop me from jumping onto the tracks to commit suicide.

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It started drizzling a little but you could not see it from the photos.

We got down onto the track for the first time in our lives. Railway service was still functioning at that time but we figured we would be able to feel the tremour on the tracks and jump up to the safety of the platform way before the train approached.

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It was getting dark and we made Clementi our last stop. We read online that this defunct bridge is quite unstable and the steep slopes make it difficult to access by the public. However, I often wonder how a few people could manage to take such great photos on this exact bridge.

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It seemed like an impossible path up. The grass patch you see below was around waist deep and the soil was muddy and slippery.

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Ending off our railway adventure, we made a stop at Island Creamery at the Bukit Timah outlet (King Albert's Park) as evan wanted to try the raved about ice cream there. After staring at all the tubs in th glass counter freezer for some moment, we settled for a chocolatey treat. Check out our ice creams. We paid the same price but look how much I've got compared to hers. I told her to bring the staff's attention to this but she was cool about it saying that she had to maintain her weight.

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Outside of Island Creamery were Ronald and friends. Hamburglar and frie kids are something synonymous to the 80s. You don't see Ronald Mcdonald's friends around in the millenium anymore.

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With that, our railway adventure came to an end.

As what I've mentioned in my previous post, I'm experiencing error in the blogger comments page and I'm not able to leave any comment at all. I hope none of you is afflicted with the same problem as I am coz I really love reading all your lovely comments.

14 comments:

  1. I would love to visit. =o) haha.

    The picture of the cat made me gush. Awwww. (squee) Chillin' with new friends, I believe. =o)

    These are fabulous pictures.

    (I love what you're wearing in the photos - lovely dress).

    ReplyDelete
  2. Another awesome post, Jolene! Your friends are so sweet. I adore couples who indulge themselves with the nature. I laughed So hard when I saw your "commit suicide" pic lol! Looks like such a fun thing to do along the railroad!! (and of caz the best park is to end the adventure with ice cream ^^) I hope this comment is not going to get affected and able to get to you! Have a great weekend :D

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  3. I like old rail lines and train stations--I've taken my kids to ride all of the old trains in our area that now operate just as tourist attractions. I grew up next to railroad tracks and spent a lot of time walking the rails and ocassionally hitched rides on slow moving coal trains. I got sort of a nostalgic feeling seeing the remains of the even older train bridges and crossings that were no longer used.

    I hope your commenting troubles clear up. It's always nice to read what you have to say. =)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great photos!! I love the picture where you are "waiting for your love to arrive" that is such a pretty picture. The creamery looked amazing!! What a fun post! However, it's sad about the railroad slowly disappearing. It can be sad to watch history get destroyed.

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  5. aww the kitty cat. thanks for sharing such beauitufl pictures!

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  6. You and your friends are so silly :P I love all the photos - the editing you did to the photos really add to the antiquated look of the railroad station :) I don't like taking the train, but then again the trains I'm used to seeing are the ones of modern day commutes where everyone is packed into the cars like sardines in a tin can haha

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  7. That is so sad to see you losing bits of your culture.. Is the reasoning due to industrialization/modernization? I always hate to see old charms from eras before me be taken away.

    I read through the post, and found it all very interesting - especially your personal stories about trains. I used to live in an old courthouse with train tracks right behind. It was comforting hearing the trains chug by every day.

    The photos are wonderful, I really enjoy seeing the adventures you embark upon. I can't believe there's actually that sign telling you not to photograph though! :[

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  8. Lovely pictures..I like the vintage washed of these photos. That reminds me of trains back home which I probably used four times in my life to travel to the north and the south. My husband is a huge train lover

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  9. 黃愛玲,

    Thank you for your comment. Sounds like you’re a cat lover! I’ll visit your lovely blog again soon and try the following tip too!

    ~~~~

    Winnie*,

    I managed to get your lovely comment dear! Thank you. I’m beginning to look forward to your comments a lot sweetie. =D

    ~~~~

    Rinz,

    Thank you.

    ~~~~

    RicAdeMus,

    I would love to live your childhood. Next to railroad tracks? What fun you must have had back then. I can almost imagine your childhood home as the setting of a classic novel.

    My wonkiness in comments setting has cleared but I was really busy the past few days to reply and comment on blogs even though I’ve read some of my favourite blogs here and there. Likewise, I’ve always like what you have to say too.

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    Nicole✗✗,

    Thank you dear. I like that photo too. My exact sentiments on watching history get destroyed! Moreover, many people start to appreciate culture and history once they are threatened or fast disappearing.

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    em.me.ma,

    Thank you and you’re welcome. =)

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    Rinny,

    Thank you dear! Haha... I always take the modern train. What we call the MRT here coz it’s so convenient. However that’s an everyday mode of commuting and certainly very different from choo choo trains.

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    shabby,

    As expected, I know you would defnitely read instead of just scroll through. My whole post is littered with lots of expression problem, grammatical errors and typo when I reread it and I’m so lazy and sleepy to edit. Hehe... Living in an old court house and having train tracks behind is so awesome. Those must have been such fond memories.

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    Nelah,

    Thank you dear. I’m glad the photos gave the feel which I was trying to achieve. I wish to go on a train again.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi Jo :-)
    A few days ago I wrote you a very long post & when I wanted to post it, ti got somehow deleted - I'm not sure if I got the same message that you got because I nearly had a tantrum *lol*
    At the moment I don't have the time to write you a long post again *sighs*
    But I wanted to shoot you at least a short message & sending you many kind regards :-)
    xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  11. Tabatha,

    Many thanx for leaving me a short note. I’m sorry that my comment box didn’t work for you as well on the wonky days. And… Oh I totally feel for you! It happened to me a few times and I didn’t have the energy to retype the long msg again. Now I always type on Word doc and it saves me lots of wrinkles from getting angry.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I appreciate that you kept trying to post a comment--thank you! =)

    I hope you're feeling better.

    ReplyDelete
  13. You mean from the last major illness? Yup, thank u! =)

    ReplyDelete

I love reading sincere comments and hearing your voice. While blatant self promotion of blogs and follow for follow requests are not advisable, I would love if you leave a mark here with a trackback link so that I could connect with you. I reply to comments here or on your blog so don't forget to check back on replies! =)

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