A stroll into the lush, green and tranquil ambience of Singapore's little Bohemia was astonishingly memorable. Hang Jebat was an estate that is set on hilly errain and filled with scores of old rain trees, angsana and coconut palms. Comparing colonial houses in this idyllic town with its nearby Wessex estate, houses here are broader and made of ornaments such as gilded wood with large-scale ceiling frescoes and an external facade that often characterised by a dramatic central projection.
Jalan Hang Jebat-a slip road from Portsdown Avenue, was a memorable trail where many Tanglin Halt and Queens' Crescent children embarked upon during their childhood. Let us trace the their journey today and visualise the spirit and movement in those days!
An idyllic Bohemian estate
A small left turn into this winding road will find us in an completely different dimension. There is a taxi resting point (a.k.a change shift) at the junction where we saw drivers devouring on packets of nasi lemak in a kampung hut. MyQueenstown Team understood that this resting point has been around for the past 50 years. Potted plants and bonsais were grown at this kiosk.
We still have Kampungs in Queenstown!
These taxi drivers recalled fondly of the days where there were Colbar and two adjoining shops located next to the kiosk. For generations, Colbar (Colonial bar) was a favourite hangout for British soldiers living in Portsdown and Hang Jebat. Colbar was deemed as the symbol which exemplified the laid back environment lushed with nature and greenery.
Colbar in 1980s
In 2003, the Land Transport Authority announced a road project to link Queensway to AYE because of persistent traffic jams at the Alexandra Road exit. The construction of the flyover sealed the fate of Colbar, its adjoining shops, the Glouchester Archery Range and Temasek Club's driving range. Colbar regulars leaped off their bar stools and petitioned local authorities for a stay of execution. The original building was declared a monument, carefully dismantled and completely rebuilt on new premises a stone's throw away at Portsdown. Colbar was particularly memorable to the patrons because it served as an fantastic throwback to a bygone era where the kitchens and rooms were not air conditioned.
Colbar in 2003
One may wonder if they have arrived at a countryside in an European country upon looking at rows of Bohemian-Baroque styled houses. These houses differed from Portsdown's colonial houses by a clarity of design and a subtle taste for classicism. Bohemian aesthetics are apparent primarily in dynamic structure (meaning clear, bright and big) and attracted noobs like us into taking their photographs. In the colonial period, these houses were home to the British soldiers and their families besides the brief absence during World War II.
Bohemian styled bungalows
Letter boxes at the house
More Ang Mo Chus in a lovely environment
Near the end of Jalan Hang Jebat was Masjid Hang Jebat. From a small surau, this old generation masjid has grown into what it is today. Built in 1952, the zinc-roofed masjid underwent major renovations in the 1996 to expand on its prayer hall and can accommodate 600 worshippers. They offer weekend madrasah classes to students living in Queenstown and organise zikir sessions where followers would recite praises to Allah.
Masjid Hang Jebat in front of the railway
Entrance to the Masjid
Of course, this is the same railway that leads to Tanglin Halt. Residents in Queens' Crescent would rear chickens and ducks at their 2-storey tall SIT flats.
The Fu-Lu-Shou at Tanglin Halt in the background