Despite the title of this post, this is not a quiz.
Last week, my friend Chun See received an email from someone in UK. In the email, the writer commented, "We lived at milestone 5-1/2 at Pasir Panjang, not all that far from Haw Paw Villa, better known to us as Tiger Balm Gardens."
Knowing that I work around that area, Chun See asked if I could make out its present location. Considering the title of this blog, how could ever I pass up such a challenge?
First Step - Check the 1963 Street Directory
The first step is obviously to check the 1963 street directory. I am quite sure that Chun See also has a copy of this street directory but perhaps he simply forgot to look it up. Old street directories always have the milestone (ms) markers indicated on their maps. The map of the stretch of Pasir Panjang Road between 5 and 6 milestone markers is reproduced below:
I have circled the 5 and 6 milestone markers in red in the map. (Incidentally, the map indicates the markers as 5 MP and 6 MP respectively. MP probably stands for "milestone post" but I am not sure. In the old days, each milestone location actually had a stone post painted in red, white and maybe black impaled into the ground at the roadside. The milestone number was also painted on the post. I think there were also milestone posts for half-mile points as well. I would love to show you a photo of an old milestone post but sad to say, I failed to find one. Anyone can help me out here?
From the above map, 6 ms was at Haw Par Villa (Tiger Balm Gardens) while 5 ms was between Yew Siang Road and Pepys Road. You could tell that 5-1/2 ms would be probably near South Buona Vista Road, i.e. the location numbered 2 in the map.
Second Step - Conduct a Location Visit
Next, a location visit to the area is a must. This I did last Saturday. First I went to the 5 ms area near Yew Siang Road. This is where a beautiful old bungalow still stands today, i.e. the location numbered 1 in the map.
Incidentally, I found an old lady sweeping leaves on Yew Siang Road just outside of the house. Now she certainly did not look like a cleaner employed by the NEA. (She probably has been sweeping the road regularly and is obviously someone who believes in keeping the environment scrupulously clean.)
I parked my car and talked to her in English. I said I would like to take some photos of the bungalow. She asked me why and I explained that I wanted to post the photos on my blog. She did not understand what a blog was so I said it was on the Internet. She did not know what was that either. She revealed that she was the owner of the bungalow. She probably thought that I was a property agent or an interested buyer of the property. Luckily, she didn't chase me away with that broom! :p
After completing my mission at Yew Siang Road, I went to the South Buona Vista junction to take a photo of the row of pre-war shophouses there from the direction of red arrow in the map. Most of the shophouses there are now restaurants and bars.
I wonder how many people nowadays know that this place used to be 5-1/2 ms Pasir Panjang Road?