Farewell to the old Tanglin Halt in Queenstown, Singapore

My childhood home was in Queenstown, the first satellite town in Singapore. It was named after Queen Elizabeth II to mark her coronation in 1952. A satellite town is essentially a self-sufficient housing estate located outside the city centre with its own amenities, schools, shops, markets, cinemas, and places of worship.

The town was built by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) in the 1950s, and its subsequent development in the 1960s was taken over by HDB.

After getting married, I moved away to Bukit Batok to my own matrimonial home.  

Twelve years later, I moved back to Queenstown after selling my Bukit Batok home. I bought over my parents’ home, or my childhood home. Its location is so convenient. I can literally travel all over Singapore either on the MRT or bus.

From my current home, across the running track and on the other side of the MRT track lies the Tanglin Halt area. When I was a child, my mother would take me there to either the wet market, or HDB branch office to pay conservancy charges.

In those days, there weren’t any digital payment facility or GIRO yet. Hence, my mother would dutifully make a monthly pilgrimage to the HDB branch office to pay conservancy charges. She would take me along. Waiting time was always excruciatingly long. I would be jumping up and down the sofa at the waiting area, or flipping the shutters up and down at the HDB branch office, after which I would always get a reprimand from my mother.

I even remember that my mum once ordered our sofa set from one of the furniture shops at Tanglin Halt.

Fast forward fifteen years, I would walk to the nearby Blessed Sacrament Church on Sundays for mass or Thursday evenings for catechism. Each time I would pass through the Tanglin Halt area.

Then after moving to Bukit Batok, I would still return to Queenstown to drive my mum to Church on Sundays. I would also bring my baby daughter along. After mass, we would stop by the Tanglin Halt wet market to buy meat, fish and vegetables. Very often, we would also stop to eat at the food centres or coffee shops in the area.

I also remember investing in some unit trusts at the Standard Chartered Bank which used to stand at a corner. The block of flats where the furniture shop and the Bank used to be located had already been demolished years ago.

Fast forward another twenty years, most of the residents in the Tanglin Halt area have moved out. This is because this area would be undergoing redevelopment. Residents have either moved to the new flats at the Margaret Drive area, or to other parts of Singapore.

About one-and-a-half years ago, my daughter and I took a last slow stroll around the area. I shared with her what I used to do there when I was a child.

I wasn’t the only one feeling nostalgic. To our surprise, we discovered that the residents there had set up a temporary mini museum to remember the area.

Front View of Temporary Queenstown Museum
Interior of Temporary Queenstown Museum

They contributed old photos, short notes sharing their fond memories, as well as fond and wistful farewell messages.

Fond Messages from Residents

We had a meal at the circular shaped hawker centre near the HDB branch office. We made sure we took photos of the hawker centre and coffee shops before they would be vacated. Even the tree in the picture shows its age. I hope they keep this tree!

Tanglin Halt Food Centre

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine staying there moved out of the area to her new flat at Margaret Drive. She sent me a photo of her old estate. She said it now looks like a “ghost town”, even in broad daylight.

Vacated Old Pink Flats Against Backdrop of Newly Built High Rise Flats

Sadly, this area would soon disappear, only to be replaced by new buildings.

Goodbye to the old Tanglin Halt area. Even though you will soon disappear, I will still remember you in my heart.

Repairing Spalling Concrete In My HDB Flat

I live in a fifty-eight-year-old HDB (Housing and Development Board – Singapore’s public housing) flat. It is therefore not surprising that parts of the ceiling in the old flat may break loose and be at risk of falling on my head. This problem is common in older flats. This issue is known as “spalling concrete”.

Parts of the ceiling in my kitchen and the bathroom broke one-and-a-half years ago.

Spalling Concrete in my HDB Flat

I contacted the Housing and Development Board (HDB). The same day, a staff member by the name of Mr Tan called me and made an appointment to come to my flat for an inspection. Mr Tan showed up less than a week later. As the broken pieces looked like they might dislodge soon, Mr Tan pried the loose pieces off with a screwdriver.

Broken Piece of Spalling Concrete in my HDB flat

As you can see from the picture above, some of the dislodged pieces were pretty huge and heavy. It would be a catastrophe if any of these pieces were to fall on anyone living in the flat.

As the Covid 19 pandemic was still raging and not quite under control at the time, Mr Tan explained that there was a manpower shortage and with the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, it might take a while before he could arrange for an authorised contractor to fix my ceiling. However, he assured me that there was no danger of anyone being hurt since he had already removed the broken and loose pieces.

Mr Tan also explained I could source for a contractor on my own to take on the repair works. Alternatively, the HDB could arrange for a contractor to resolve the spalling concrete issue under the goodwill repair assistance scheme. He could arrange for a contractor to inspect the issue and submit a quote. HDB and I would then co-share the cost in a fifty-fifty arrangement.

I chose the latter option as I would be assured that the contractor appointed to do the job would be duly authorised by the HDB. If there was any issue with the repair, I would be able to fall back on the HDB to pressure the contractor to provide proper after-sales service.

After close to a year, the contractor came to repair the spalling concrete. He also repainted the repaired areas. Now my ceiling looks as good as new.

Repaired Ceiling – Spalling Concrete Issue Resolved

The spalling concrete repair cost depends on the extent of repair work required. The cost to repair my ceiling was $104. I paid $52 for my share of the cost. I am extremely grateful for the support from HDB.

For more information, please click on this link on the HDB website on how to repair spalling concrete.

The Health Benefits of Strawberries, and Recommended Brand

Health benefits of eating strawberries

Strawberries are my son’s favourite fruit. He makes a smart choice, because not only are they low in fat and calories, they are also full of antioxidants. Other benefits of consuming strawberries include lowering our blood pressure, regulating our blood sugar and protecting us from cancer. Strawberries also increase HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or the good cholesterol in our bodies.

Strawberries are full of Vitamins C and B9, polyphenols, fibre, manganese and potassium. They also provide iron, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamins B6, K, and E.

When we consume strawberries, we improve our heart health, skin and eyes. They are extremely delicious either on their own or in desserts. Strawberry shortcakes and pancakes with strawberry syrup are popular desserts.

Fresh strawberries spoil extremely quickly. Here are top 5 tips to keep them fresh longer:

  1. Wash strawberries only when you want to eat them.
  2. Do not cut the stems or strawberries till you are ready to eat them.
  3. Keep them dry by wrapping them in paper towels.
  4. Store them in a single layer in the refrigerator.
  5. Seal them in air-tight containers or zip lock bags.

If you see Tony’s WA strawberries from Australia at your local supermarket, do give them a try. They are of good size and very sweet. I usually have to throw out a couple of mouldy strawberries, from other farms, from a punnet after a week or less.

However, I bought two punnets of Tony’s WA strawberries a little over a week ago. Due to my busy schedule, I forgot to eat them. When I finally remembered to eat them, I was pleasantly surprised that I did not have to throw out a single strawberry. Although the strawberries were a little dehydrated, they still tasted great. For the very first time, I didn’t have to waste any of the fruit. They were priced well too, at only about SGD5 or USD3.50 per punnet!

Having A Hydration Face Mask Treatment At Home

While being a swim coach is very rewarding, it does take a toll on my skin. Constant exposure to the sun and chlorinated pool water leads to sunburnt, dry and damaged skin. Usually at the end of a long hard day, I am usually too tired to use a moisturizing face mask at home.

With the lockdown going on, what better way to spend time than to have a hydration face mask treatment at home? The benefits of using a hydrating face mask include restoring moisture to the skin, especially the lower layers, effecting plumping up the skin again. This will reduce the appearance of wrinkles, and makes applying makeup easier. Using just a little bit of foundation will give the skin a smooth, matte appearance.
After spending just 30 minutes with a hydrating face mask sheet on my face, this is how my skin looks:

Skin looks hydrated and plumped up. Lines are also less visible after using a moisturizing face mask at home.

Here are simple, easy-to-follow steps to smoother, radiant and younger looking skin:

  1. Use a gentle facial scrub, such as Sukin Super Greens Detoxifying Facial Scrub, to exfoliate the top layer of dead skin cells, as well as removing any remaining traces of grime and makeup.
  2. Rinse the scrub with warm water.
  3. Place a hydrating face mask on the face, and leave it on for 20 to 25 minutes. I used the Pure Natural Ginseng Mask Sheet from the SAEM. This mask can be purchased from stores or online. I got mine at a duty free store at the Singapore Airport.
  4. Remove the mask. If there is still moisturizing mask fluid in the packaging, put the mask back into the pack to absorb the remaining moisturizing mask fluid.
  5. Place the mask on the neck and chest or décolletage area. This helps moisturize and reduce wrinkles on the neck and chest area, which is common in women aged forty or older.
  6. Apply an eye cream under the eyes. I use Belif Peat Miracle Revital Eye Cream.
  7. Apply a good moisturizer to the rest of the face, neck and chest. I use Belif Moisturizing Bomb.
  8. I complete my home hydrating face mask treatment by applying Belif First Aid Overnight Skin Regeneration Mask all over my face, neck and chest area. This is a leave on mask to seal the moisture in my skin. This also helps my moisturizer to better penetrate my skin.
    If you follow the steps outlined above, you will find that your skin is way smoother than before. Any lines will also be less visible. Your skin will also feel extremely hydrated.