Singapore, Johor, Melaka: A very busy time…

Singapore. Photo Jane Risdon

Welcome back to my memories of Singapore and other lovely places we have worked. My first post covered my living there in the early 1950s as a toddler with my parents. Since then I have been back on several occasions, indeed, I have lived there for long periods of time.

A friend at a Sports Day in Singapore 1953 Photo Jane Risdon
Me in Singapore 1953. Photo Jane Ridon

I thought it would be nice to have a break from writing and authors and I’d share some photos and a little about life in Singapore (part two) and visits to Malaysia. I hope you enjoy this.

I first returned in 2000 when we (husband and I) traveled there, with a business colleague, to meet a young Singaporean recording artist and her producer. My husband had never been before.

The producer had sent us the most amazing album of songs he’d written for her and which she had recorded in Mandarin and Cantonese. Her voice was out of this world. The production was brilliant and we just had to meet them.

We were also in Singapore to negotiate recording and publishing contracts for our singer-songwriters, and record producers. it was a busy time, but great fun.

Wow! Singapore was such a surprise. The last time I’d set foot there was early in the 1950s as a toddler, as I said. We arrived not sure what to expect and were blown away by the modernity of the city and surrounding areas.

There was a small ‘settlement,’ if you could call it that, surrounded by jungle – when I was a child – and lots of small fishing villages. Back then, I am sure nothing hinted at what was to come. The locals wore traditional costume – trouser suits, coolie hats and often the women worked as hod-carriers on the building sites. Monsoon drains ran down the streets carrying water and much else out to sea. Sadly, a little friend of mine fell in when the drains were full and was swept out to see. He was never found.


Our trip was incredibly rewarding and we eventually signed the Singaporean singer to our international management company. Over the next few years working with her we were able to promote her career and enable her to record in English, Mandarin, and Cantonese. She got to travel to America and England with us, working with some of the top writers and producers in the business. She is so versatile and multi-talented; a singer, musician, and actress – in many musicals – and a joy to work with.

Rehearsals and part of the documentary in Singapore. Photo Jane Risdon

The view below is from a club, called Jaan, in the hotel where we were living. Our singer performed there as a thank you to the hotel for their care and helpfulness during our many years staying with them.

View from Jaan, Singapore

There were also special performances for Singaporean VIPs, including visiting diplomats, at another venue, and the organiser from the hotel who presented us all with a lovely bouquet of flowers as a thank you.

Photo Jane Risdon; After show flowers

Whilst living there – now and again – we took time off to do the ‘tourist’ thing, and a friend’s wife kindly showed us around. Here is one of the temples we visited.

Temple in Singapore. Photo Jane Risdon
Photo Jane Risdon

Having a short break from filming we decided to take the afternoon off and make a trip around the coast and the islands just off Singapore. It was a glorious day (as always) and there were only a few of us on the boat.

Sentosa Island. Photo Jane Risdon
The Merlion Singapore. Photo Jane Risdon
Trip around the islands on a traditional boat. Photo Jane Risdon
Boat trip around Singapore Islands. Photo Jane Risdon

We were very lucky to have a fab view of the Singapore Marathon from our hotel suite.

Singapore Marathon. Photo Jane Risdon
View from our suite. Photo Jane Risdon
Mandarin Marina Hotel where the England football team visited when we were living nearby. Photo Jane Risdon

We had great fun filming a video documentary over a few weeks featuring our artist and we were fortunate enough to have had access to various venues, temples, and other locations.

Singapore Temple. Photo Jane Risdon
Classic ‘shop’ house. Photo Jane Risdon

Singapore celebrates all religions and their special days such as Christmas. The stores all decorate with Christmas trees, lights, and Father Christmas.

Celebrations of Christmas in the local stores. Photo Jane Risdon

We took a trip to Malaysia with some Chinese friends in August 2001, travelling by car, enjoying listening to our friends singing their version of Air Supply’s hit. ‘All out of Love,‘ for several hours. Enough said.

Our first stop was in Johor where we dropped in on a lovely family who knew our Chinese friends. They posed for photos with us before we left.

Friends visited in Johor, Malaysia. Photo Jane Risdon

Their home was set in a dusty opening surrounded by dense vegetation. It was made of corrugated iron and wood, and skinny chickens ran riot around the place, inside and out. An open sewer ran alongside the house. They used a well for water, which was also close to their house.

Photo Jane Risdon 2001

When we arrived all the women ran inside to cover themselves and later emerged alongside an elderly gentleman, we were not sure if he was the father of the children or the grandparent. Our Chinese friends had little English, and the occupants of the house only spoke Malay – he was able to translate for us but it was not always accurate.

Their generosity was overwhelming. They had little and insisted on sharing their food with us. Family heirlooms were presented for our inspection: a favourite knife – handmade by the elder of the home – and a wooden hand-carved chair, also made by him, which I was invited to sit on whilst they served us food and drink.

Malayan hospitality Photo Jane Risdon

We were invited inside and the first thing that struck us was the number of huge colour TV sets all tuned into MTV! The children were seated in front of the sets, eyes glued to the screens.

Johor Bahru Old Railway Station

In the early 1950s, my father and the British Army were stationed in Singapore to protect the rubber plantations, tin mines, and from Communist ‘bandits,’ who preyed upon them and those working on the plantations. It was known as the Malayan Emergency (1948-1960) and was also known as the anti-British National Liberation War, which was a guerrilla war fought by the Malayan National Liberation Army (MNLA), the armed wing of the Malayan Communist Party (MCP).

British Army in Singapore/Malaya 1950s. Photo Jane Risdon

My parents spent a lot of time in Johor Bahru when they were stationed in Singapore. Johor Bahru is a district located in the southern part of Johor. The district capital is Johor Bahru City. My parents would travel across the bridge over The Johor Strait which is an international strait in Southeast Asia, between Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia, to visit these restaurants.

They raved about the food outlets which could be found alongside the rubber plantations. These were very simple places, mostly shacks, and usually frequented by locals. My parents and many of their army friends used to visit often for the best food in the area.

The photo is of the modern Johor Bahru

Johor Bahru

After leaving the family with Red Packets, a customary gift of money, which our Chinese friends gave them, we set off for the Sultanate of Melaka (Malacca) Kesultanan Melayu Melaka – which is a fascinating city in Malaysia and is the capital of the coastal state in southwestern Malaysia.

Melaka. Photo Jane Risdon
Melaka street scene. Photo Jane Risdon
At the Melak Maritime Museum on board a man-of-war. Photo Jane Risdon
Dutch Man O War. Marine Museum. Melaka. Photo Jane Risdon
All aboard. Photo Jane Risdon
Ox and cart rides on offer. Photo Jane Risdon

The city is a UNESCO world heritage centre with a rich trading history and multicultural heritage.

(c) 1999 Melaka Net
Long House in Meleka Photo Jane Risdon
Long House in Melaka Photo Jane Risdon
Long House with beautiful carvings on the outside. Photo Jane Risdon

On route, there and back, we visited several places of interest, including traditional long-houses. We were really surprised at what we found inside some of the long houses. Apart from complete tree trunks placed side-by-side to make the floor (which was like walking on rollers), many of the thatched houses, on stilts, had genuine Victorian furniture inside. Wardrobes, four-poster beds, and dressing tables resting on the uneven floors. We took video footage, but few photos. This was before phone cameras.

Long Houses. Photo Jane Risdon
Governor’s Residence Melaka Photo Jane Risdon
Government House, Meleka. Photo Jane Risdon

We found it fascinating and loved it there and wished we could spend longer, but we were on a tight schedule making the documentary in Singapore. We might return one day. There was so much to see and enjoy in Johor and Melaka.

You can find Part One of my Singapore memories:

I hope you have enjoyed my photos and background information, it would be fab to hear from you.

Thanks for being here. Always appreciated. Jane x


Please leave a reply and comment - your input is really appreciated. Thanks, Jane

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