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11 Childhood Haunts in Singapore That Have Changed Drastically

National Day's the perfect time for a nostalgic Memory Lane trip - so what do the likes of Violet Oon, Ang Peng Siong and Eric Khoo hold most dear?

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  • Globe Theatre, Great World Amusement Park, 1960s
    Great World City, now
    Eric Khoo
    Award-winning filmmaker; founder, Zhao Wei Films
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This was a Peranakan enclave where everyone knew everyone. It was a  little village and the only connection to town was the Merdeka  Bridge. If you were lucky, you’d go there maybe once a month. – Russel Wong,  on East Coast Road
“I would come (to my grandmother’s bakery Nam Tong Lee) maybe once a  month… There used to be many old shops around here, selling food- related items like flour and spices.” – Andrew Wang, on Purvis Street
“The (old playgrounds) were basic but that way you created your own  fun and made the most of what you’d got.They left a lot to the  imagination and encouraged creativity.” – Rachel Eng, at Tiong Bahru playgrounds
“There used to be many prau ships from Indonesia on the water. The  immigration laws were pretty lax in the ’60s and ’70s, so there were many traders in the area. There were lots of things to paint,” – Ong Kim Seng, from under Merdeka Bridge
I was always fascinated by how desolate this area was, but Singapore will never again be able to provide that sense of escape. Being able to feel alone in your own space is very precious. – Colin Seah on Tuas “Those old cinemas used to have giant promotional canvases.. My favourite was the Globe… It showed a lot of reruns so I got to  watch stuff from the ’60s. It was grittier than the others; people  would smoke in the theatre and it all felt very cosy.”
-Eric Khoo
Pulau Belakang Mati was a very interesting place. It was very small so you could walk everywhere. There was also a bear, which was important to know because that meant you needed to find a two-storey house so it would not get to you. 
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“Wonderland was a fantasy for a child. It was a real treat. When I was in primary school, I could go there with my cousins only if I  got good results for my exams.” – Lim Tian Wee, on Wonderland Amusement Park, Founder of Gryphon Tea Company
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“This is the birthplace of Singapore sports. There was such a  vibrancy to be found here – you would meet top officials and  coaches, world-class sportspeople like C. Kunalan and Choo Seng Quee.” – Ang Peng Siong, on Farrer Park Athletic centre
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“There would be people shouting non-stop, alongside the sounds of clanging plates, chopsticks and spoons – you literally ate in a hell
hole, and it was exactly that experience that was so enjoyable.” – Violet Oon, on Hock Lam Street
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“It was a great place to gather. We were big on floats, milkshakes and the banana split and chocolate sundaes. For us, it was an American diner.. Even the youngest children were attended to by  the wait staff. We felt very grown up.” – Glen Goei