25.5.09

a night ramble

me/chinese (華/我)
portrait of J against Chinatown's words of wisdom

It was a warm night. But otherwise, a perfect night for a ramble.

J and I met with L at an art exhibition opening by the folks who work at the Singapore Tyler Print Institute.

So for sure, we started at the exhibition at a Spottiswoode Park Road conservation shophouse. But looking at the street directory and Google Earth now, I can't quite plot the exact path of our walk. We must have meandered along Cantonment Road, Kampong Bahru, Neil Road, Bukit Pasoh, Craig Road, Keong Saik Street, backtracking several times and stumbling upon an underpass that led to a little park of swordsmen and women behind the Duxton Plains construction, before reaching -

"The first swimming pool* in Singapore!", L introduced.

"Wow -" J immediately whipped out his Ricoh.

ship/landed (磴/陸) look/old (看/舊)

The Yan Kit Swimming Complex was, without a doubt, the highlight of our night ramble. To be accurate, it is actually the second public pool in Singapore, opened in 1952. (Sorry, L) *The first was Mount Emily swimming pool, opened in the 30s by the British.

Located on a sliver between some Tanjong Pagar HDB flats and Yan Kit Road, the low, plain structure was unadorned, except for its porthole-shaped windows and a fringe that indicated its flat roof. The ticket counter was right by the entrance, and hence clearly visible. No double-volume atrium with electronic ticket machines here. Through the gated entrance, it was a maze of abandoned concrete to me. But L pointed out the sides of the empty pool and the mirrors of the changing rooms at the other end of the complex. My imagination forbade me to look. We walked to the end furthest from the entrance where, through the portholes, they saw a small resting area that overlooked the pool.

Its architecture spoke of a more modest time - and a more human-scale.

"I think people were much shorter then," I said somewhat longingly, but was ignored by all 1.78m and 1.82m(?) worth of J and L.

Unlike L, J and I never knew of a swimming complex in this district. For us, there is no memory and hence no occasion for nostalgic reminiscence. If there was a sense - even for a slightest moment, of being in a time warp, it was from the almost immaculate state of the 50 year-old complex in the dark.

signsY&L
The signs read "Meeting Point" and "Low Pipes Ahead"

After dinner at the Maxwell Road Food Centre, we crossed South Bridge Road to reach the quiet shuttered streets of China Town, eventually emerging at the busy thoroughfare of New Bridge Road. My watch said half past ten, but thankfully, this little cafe at the 3rd floor of a shophouse was still open to offer us the hospitality of air conditioning, music and ice coffee.

"Tonight would be perfect if the temperature was...hmm, maybe 10 degrees lower." I huffed at one point during a slightly inclined path.

L seemed to agree, but after a moment or two, added - "I think just 3 degrees will do."

Otherwise a perfect night ramble.

&/Larry (与/萊)
J and L, night poses.

4 comments:

ropey rockparty said...

i was just saying to my dad that the older architecture in singapore was so charming! like the van cleef aquarium which is demolished already.

was casual poet very taiwanese? read about it before but never got round to going there. looks very quaint and cosy.

ampulets said...

it's probably cos architects then probably didn't have greedy developers out to "max GFA", funky plots of land squeezed between ever-expanding roads, or the Urban Redevelopment Authority's various design+building guidelines to bother about!

Yah, very taiwanese, especially the music. It is cosy! Not sure about quaint...maybe you should stick to "charming".

Dai said...

fascinating. i must check out the Yan Kit place sometime.

and yes, buildings used to be sized more modestly. IMO, they were more comfortable to be in and around. there was open space to breathe in. now everything is maxed out, we live in an age of excess lah.

ampulets said...

dai - excess, but not when it comes to open space!

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