I am really sad that a tiny part of Malaysia in Singapore will be gone by July 2011. It was a disputed piece of land that has been historically managed by the Malaysia Railway called KTM, but recently Malaysian leaders have agreed to relocate and transfer land ownership to Singapore in exchange for stakes in other parcels of land. It was a case of goodwill and that bit is great.
But in my heart, gloominess lingers, because I know Singapore’s zeal in making things shiny and bright. I have no doubt the building will be beautifully conserved, but the feeling will not be the same. It will probably be converted to an expensive touristy place devoid of all its current charm. It is the equivalent of a machine made shoe for instance, versus a lovingly hand stitched one. Perhaps it’s my age, but I love everything vintage and can’t help clinging to the past.
It astounds me how I have taken this lovely place for granted, not knowing that there was limited time left. It has been quite a while since I last visited, feeling that the KTM Railway Station would always be there. An unappreciated haven, when I needed a place to sit quietly and watch the dusty trains go by or just the gravelly tracks, enhanced by slow conversations and plates of doughy prata (Indian Bread) and Teh Alia (Ginger Milk Tea).
I have a hazy memory of a delightful rail journey from early childhood to probably someplace like Port Dickson. The destination is far gone, but what I do recall is how I was enthralled by my first rail experience. How the chugging of the smoky train rocked you as the scenery outside unfolded. It was also my first experience with a fold out food tray and I was mesmerized by the niftiness. This was way before I ever stepped onto a plane and I still prefer rail over sky. It’s the same reason why I’m captivated by Paul Theroux’s railway travel books.
Today I took maybe what might be my last journey into the station for tea and prata. It kinda blew my mind that the amateur photos Singaporeans are taking as a collective, will be part of our historical archive for future generations? I know I’m being terribly cheesy, but when a place like this closes, you can almost feel the page of history turn.
The place was built during British colonial times when Singapore was part of Malaya and just a town. It was completed in 1935.
I love the arches and how it frames the view of Singapore outside, because this still Malaysia, isn’t it?
Charming architectural detail.
Lining up for their ticket to a ride.
Welcome to Singapura Town in Malaysia!
There are massively high ceilings beautified with Art. The best way would be to take the shot from the ground but I was too shy with all the professional photogs milling about.
I usually don’t eat at this food area called M Hasan, but the one outside, just beside the railway tracks.
Don’t you just love the old rusty signs? Will do a fuller post on just the food so that I can do the place justice.
Isn’t it wonderful that the tables and chairs are right beside the track? You could hop right onto it.
If it were up to me I would leave the railway tracks as they are, gravel and all.
There’s also the Habib Railway Store where you can get the reading materials like the newspapers and magazines, or a snack.
I found these insightful articles by a Malaysian on a nostalgic KTM rail journey and a positive piece about the politics behind the railway land. My next post with be all about the lovely meal I had, by the railway track.
I’ll leave you with this image of a broken window at the entrance of the Station, probably there since 1935 – 75 years ago.