As 90’s kids step into their 20s this year, it’s worth revisiting memory lane to recall and celebrate some of the places that made up our childhood. Here are 9 of the most memorable places from yesteryear – some we wish were still around.
1. Victoria Concert Hall
It’s still standing, but the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall – affectionately acronymed VCH – has seen some pretty extensive refurbishment in its heyday, much of which has transformed the Theatre that we knew best. For the longest time, the Concert Hall boasted the best acoustics in the city, hosting performances, concerts, and, more notably, competing schools in the bi-annual Singapore Youth Festival Central Judging competition. 2010 saw a whopping S$180-million renovation in 2010 that closed the Concert Hall’s doors to the public for a good four years, throwing students and veterans alike of the Performing Arts scene into wild panic – temporarily. All artistic endeavors were shifted to the Esplanade, and VCH’s lush carpeted floors and oakwood interior were briefly forgotten.
Fast forward to 2014 and VCH reopened with a bang – a polished new all-white erection with a clean and modern twist. While we’re definitely happy to welcome VCH back into the Arts scene, we can’t help but miss the warm, old-school vibe that it used to bring, even to just audience members. And anyone born in the 90’s and earlier can attest to that.
2. Hay Dairies Goat farm @ Lim Chu Kang
You never knew the name of the place but you’ll always remember those field trips to “The Goat Farm”. Like the rest of us, your most striking memories of the place are probably seeing all the goats housed in their machine-like pen, and ending the day with a cup of fresh goat’s milk – on the house. Good news: Hay Dairies is still open to the public for farm visits, whether you’re coming as a group or alone.
Hay Dairies Pte Ltd
3 Lim Chu Kang Lane 4
3. Science Centre Singapore
Science Centre! The hallmark of all school field trips and where learning was truly made fun. A trip to the Science Centre was always a treat, especially when your form teacher gave you free time to explore the grounds on your own. After a full day of mucking around in the simulated TV studio, and making giant smoke rings while Albert Einstein scaled a rope above your head, you’d retire to the McDonalds to order lunch with your posse like a real cool kid. We definitely miss some of the older rooms that are no longer around, but it’s good to know old faithfuls like The Mind’s Eye exhibit at the front of the Centre are still around.
Science Centre Singapore
15 Science Centre Rd
4. Old National Stadium
Truly the Grand Old Dame of Singapore in the 1970s-2000s, the former National Stadium saw many defining moments in Singapore’s sporting, cultural, and national history. Having hosted the Southeast Asian Games thrice, as well as being home to the Singapore Lions, the National Stadium is no doubt a hallmark in our local sporting scene. Religious football fanatics (or anyone, really) will remember one particular night in 1980, when 18-year old Fandi Ahmad scored the winning goal against Selangor to win the Malaysia Cup.
And who can forget the 18 National Day Parades held at this open-air majesty? Traipsing down to Kallang every 9 August was a treat that simply can’t be replicated at the Marina Bay Floating Platform – especially when the Stadium claims title to being birthplace of our beloved Kallang Wave. After closing in 2007, all sporting activities were temporarily moved to the Floating Platform. Today, the gleaming dome of Singapore Sports Hub stands in place of good ol’ “Kallang Stadium” – a welcome step forward in this new millennium, but ever a constant bittersweet reminder of milestones made, and patriotic memories.
1 Stadium Dr
5. Big Splash
The now defunct Big Splash is still easily recognized today by the multi-coloured waterslides that stand proudly at East Coast Park. Built in 1977, this waterpark’s crowning glory was an 85m-long water slide that was famous for being so fast, it propelled riders into the air momentarily before reaching the bottom. Unfortunately, when Wild Wild Wet debuted at Downtown East, Pasir Ris in 2004, Big Splash’s popularity waned. The park is now closed and has since been reconverted into a lifestyle village of sorts, having been renamed Playground @ Big Splash – a cosy hub packed with restaurants and cafes.
Big Splash Management Pte Ltd
902 East Coast Parkway
6. Escape Theme Park
Basically the USS of the 00’s. Opened in May 2000, this outdoor amusement park was the only place we got our thrills and kicks at the time, in a bid to emulate Western fairground-type fun. Along with the rides (Pirate Ship! Alpha 8 roller coaster!) there were rows of carnival games to splurge on in the hopes of winning a stuffed toy.
The park saw a number of accidents in 2005 on the Alpha 8 indoor roller coaster, and eventually shut down in 2011 to make way for the expansion of Wild Wild Wet right next door. USS is definitely cool, but there’s just something cosy and local about Escape Theme Park that we’ll always dearly miss.
Previously located at Downtown East, Pasir Ris
7. Mama shops
Before café-hopping and chilling at Wine Connection, mama shops were the place to be seen at! We’re not talking about the mama shops right under your HDB where you popped down for a quick ice cream or to pick up salt for your mum – we’re talking the ones you and your primary school pals hit up after supplementary class before taking the bus home.
You’d bump into friends from the other classes while perusing the aisles for twisties or those lion sour gummies. And admit it – how badass did you feel getting a large 50c ice pop when everyone else had to settle for a 10c fruit syrup one? But you weren’t a real paikia until you blew your lunch money on cup noodles and dined on a stone table at the void deck.
Decided to pontang school? Or just heading for an after-school hangout sesh in the nearby heartland mall? Either way, TimeZone was another popular haunt for most of us in our primary to secondary school days – whether it was shooting hoops, driving race cars, or taking girly neoprints. Here’s a lesser known fact about this dearly beloved amusement center – it’s actually an Australian brand.
The iconic Borders, located at the junction of Orchard Road and Scotts Road, shut its doors on 16 Aug 2011 after 13 long years in operation. Borders used to be such an important landmark that people would say “Let’s meet at Borders” rather than “Let’s meet at Wheelock”. Our parents used to dump us there on weekends to read while they went shopping, and there would be tons of children sitting in all corners of the bookstore with books in their laps.
As we celebrate our nation turning 50, let’s hope fewer of our remaining favourite places will have to make way for the new!