Presenting the Past: Chinese Gardens Playtime (Part 5 of 7)

30 Jun

Visitor numbers to the JTC operated Chinese Gardens these days are hardly something to shout about, but once upon a time, it was a popular tourist and Singaporean family hangout. I don’t really remember much of this trip my family made in the 1980s but photos are always there to remind us. 🙂

My brother and I playing at the Chinese Garden

The park was first opened in 1975 and in those days, you had to pay an admission fee and even incur additional charges if you brought a camera into the Gardens! But that did not stop young families visiting the popular park to spend quality family time together, like mine. Nowadays admission is free but the crowds have gone to more modern and popular leisure spots now available on our sunny little island.

I think just about every boy growing up in the 80s would have badgered their parents into buying them a superman cape – it’s so precious to see my brother in his! I don’t really know what I was so happy over though…


Anyway, I was glad to have the opportunity to visit the gardens with my parents again. We didn’t stay long, there wasn’t anything to do there really… Our mission was pretty straightforward – go back to the same spot where the photo was first taken. Unfortunately, there was a metal fence erected in the place where we once played. This was the closest I could get!

My brother and I playing at the Chinese Garden

My brother and I playing at the Chinese Garden


If not for the humidity, I guess it would have been a nice quiet and tranquil spot for people to sit, relax and talk. Times have changed… people would much rather hang out at air-conditioned spaces and who could blame them in this 34 degree celsius heat.

Just before we left the park, my dad insisted that I take a picture at the entrance, which left me really amused cos it just felt so… amusing?! Hahah. Maybe the entrance arches and the stone lions hold some significance that I must be missing.

Me at Chinese Garden gate

Despite being Chinese, the space did not resonate with me and my cultural identity. It felt to me exactly like what it was – a specially designed and constructed space inspired by elements from imperial China and Chinese architecture.

I feel more affinity to the MRT station that shares its namesake – Chinese Garden MRT station – for I have many fond memories of travelling there to reach my dad’s now defunct music school for my music lessons. And of evening escapades for lantern watching during the annual Mid-Autumn Festival with my aunties and cousin.

Last year, the JTC announced that the gardens will be undergoing a year-long refurbishment starting end 2014. I wonder what changes will come again to this oriental Garden in the Western part of Singapore.

Till next post! Hopefully I won’t take so long again.

yuehann’s notes: Today’s post is the fifth in a series of posts first born in reaction to Looking into the Past. Read the very first blog post here & also Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 of the series. And also a related article I wrote for online e-zine Draft (pg 68-73).

EZINE Volume 2 Memory X Space

EZINE Volume 2 Memory X Space


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