Hello there. I am Terry and I am a full-time undergraduate based in Singapore. I take photos, write a blog and design websites.

And no, I'm not a teddy bear.

Off to Old Turf City!

My club, Photo and Videographic Society of NTU organized yet another photo outing to Old Turf City. This time I roped in Chankeet (I felt so evil for enticing him to get the Sony 50mm f/1.8 lens, and I’ll call him Chunks from now on) and his friend Darrick. I like it that the committee I’m working with didn’t make photo outings exclusively available to members of the club or students from our university – so, if you’re in Singapore and would love to join us in one of our many other outings, feel free to leave me a note.

We gathered at Clementi Bus Interchange early in the morning. I can’t believe I actually managed to pull myself out of the bed again despite being severely deprived for proper sleep in the week before – that just tells you how excited I am of outings! Oh, and as a comparison, I almost always run 5-10 minutes late for morning lectures *weak smiles*

At Sixth Avenue, on our way to Old Turf City.

At Sixth Avenue, on our way to Old Turf City.

Took bus 156 from the interchange and alighted at Sixth Avenue. Oh boy this place holds so much memories – before I entered university, I’ve spent 6 years of my life in middle, high school and junior college. My boarding school happens to be a mere 15-minute walk away from the place and they have really great food! Plus, one thing I love about Bukit Timah (aka Tin Hill) the area around Sixth Avenue) is that they have all the nifty shops catered to niche customer bases – from wine shops to small cafes serving exquisite cuisines, and Sixth Avenue had a restaurant serving the best Indian cuisine you could ever find and not to forget, an ice cream parlour called Venezia.

Breakfast time!

We chose to have outings very early in the morning because we need to play the “waiting game” afterall, and still ambitiously wanted to beat the late morning sun and heat. That meant that many of us were yet to have breakfast, so we settled for breakfast at an Indian cafe. My attempts to locate the McDonalds joint I went a couple of years ago failed because it was closed down. What a shame – all of us were desperate for a short relief from the blistering heat of a Saturday morning in an air-conditioned fastfood joint.

Mr. Darrick!

Mr. Darrick!

So that’s Darrick! The cute and chubby friend of Chunks. He was a little quiet when I met him at Clementi Bus Interchange but when Chunks, our mutual friend turned up he started chatting away like there’s no tomorrow, hah. Poor Darrick suffered from a sprained ankle before we even managed to make it to Turf City – damn the uneven road.

Chunks. He's always making funny faces at the camera.

Chunks. He's always making funny faces at the camera.

And that’s Chunks. ‘Nuff said *laughs*

Most of the other photos are tucked behind the jump, so do explore the rest of the entry if you have time :) thanks!

Gerry and his vintage film camera *drools*

Gerry and his vintage film camera *drools*

That’s Gerry and his interesting film camera. He amused me with the way he loaded film into the camera. Gerry said it most probably had at least 5~7 owners before it landed in his hands because it was a rather vintage camera, but I bet it still takes wonderful photos!

Chunks and his Sony camera.

Chunks and his Sony camera.

I swear swear swear that the reflections on the lens are not photoshopped into the photo in anyway. I have no idea why it appeared half yellow – I believe that’s because of the glare from the uncovered scene behind me. We sat in a shaded part of the cafe because we didn’t want the morning sun to get us, teehee.

Chit chatting over breakfast. Omnomnomnom.

Chit chatting over breakfast. Omnomnomnom.

That’s Chunks and Darrick enjoying their breakfast! I recommended Chunks to get the sweet lassi but it turned out to be a little too concentrated for our liking. The huge chunks (no pun intended) of ice inside didn’t help either. I’m sorry, but so far the photos I have are largely limited to the people sitting across me and to those who were sharing the same table as me. There were actually around 8 – 10 others on the tables to my right and behind me but well, since I have people in front of me I might as well just shoot them instead.

You want?

You want?

That’s Darrick trying to feed me his Indian kneaded bread! I’m just kidding. Darrick was totally mortified by my attempts to get him photograph and he used several decoys to distract me like a kitten to a string ball. Nonetheless, his bread looks damn good, you bet!

Urban Decay

Old Turf City.

Old Turf City.

Old Turf City was superceeded by a new horse racing track located near Kranji, so everybody simply moved to the new location, leaving the Old Turf City high and dry in the middle of a huge green lung.

To those who are intending to explore Old Turf City, do note that the management and security guards are extremely cautious about photographers, especially those that come in big groups and are armed with the black machine of death – the dSLRs.

Photography in Old Turf City is somewhat frowned upon by the guards – we were greeted with a guard that came right up to us and told us that no photography is allowed on the compounds. He probably didn’t know that turf he’s tasked the guard is opened to public (accessible to members of the public) and even though it is a private property, does not give any person the right to stop us from photography.

Know what rights you’re entitled to as a photographer, and the do’s and don’t’s of photography. I wrote an article on photographer’s right and you might want to check it out if you’re free.

Back to the story, as operations at Old Turf City ceased, the spectator’s stand became redundant structres that were no longer used by people, sans the basement levels which were converted to a leaseable space rented out to Giant Supermarket and a few shops. The higher floors were completely deserted and were perfect subjects for urban decay photography.

After being approached by a few guards on the ground level, Sam reminded us to be more careful of the overzealous ones and together, we scaled the dark, eerie stairwells to the spectator’s stand. We arrived at the lowest floor of the spectator’s stand. The floor was dusty but were not strewn with trash. Tiny hills of dried bird discharge piled up underneath wires and holes where pigeons and sparrows would rest. A few decomposed carcasses of birds, seemingly electrocuted by chewing on or perching on bundles of fires, hung from the ceiling. It wasn’t exactly a pleasant sight.

The abandoned escalator.

The abandoned escalator.

The escalators or people movers were either covered up in huge blue plastic sheets or were left alone. A thick layer of dirt and dush had accumulated on the steps and the handrails. Of course, we weren’t foolish enough to use them to access the other floors. We preferred the staircases.

Death by handrail strangulation.

Death by handrail strangulation.

The stairrwells were an interesting sight – they were relatively clean and free of cobwebs. It seemed that it was still regularly used by entities that were yet unknown to us. On every single floor a new yellow sign spelled out the floor name. They were obviously freshly installed. I wonder why.

Further up the spectator's stand, a HDR.

Further up the spectator's stand, a HDR.

Climbing further up the spectator’s stand. The entire place were strewn with dried bird discharge, debree and surprisingly, very little garbage. The metal supports of the wooden benches rusted away.

Abandoned? I guess not. A HDR.

Abandoned? I guess not. A HDR.

On the top floor of the spectator’s stand laid the secret – the highest level was partitioned by dry walls into small little rooms to accomodate foreign workers and immigrants. I’m not sure about the legality of it to do so but I wouldn’t want to know either. The escalator leading to the floor was covered up in a huge canvas and an abandoned, broken bicycle was carelessly chucked underneath the sheets.

Another security guard approached us. You are not allowed to take photos of this place, and this floor is beyond public access, he said, face expresionless with a slight apologetic tune to this monotonous instruction. Sam, knowing that things are amiss, apologized and we all retreated into the (surprise!) elevator – yea, they had a WORKING elevator in this dilapidated complex.

Lower floors of the spectator's stand, a HDR.

Lower floors of the spectator's stand, a HDR.

We wented to the lower floors to take more photos. The guard seemed to be tailing us. Yet again he told us that the floor is out of bounds to public. But there wasn’t any sign that says so, unlike the top floor. Sam retaliated in the least confrontive manner. His tone softened. Are you doing a school project or something? Hoping that he would leave us alone if we said yes, we nodded our heads furiously. Sorry, but you guys still got to get out.

There wasn’t any shouting. We were so quiet I bet I heard my own heartbeat. The pin-drop silence was occasionally interrupted by the sound of dirt bikes from the distance.

Defeated, we explored the outdoors. Now I’m talking about dealing with the midday sun. We checked out the dirt bikes, the bonzai garden and quickly retreated to the shades of the trees, or the shadow of tents randomly dispersed throughout the open field. A girl’s rugby team had a training nearby, and their parents were having some midday barbeque party.

Mervyn and camera.

Mervyn and camera.

We made a final stop at a tent before heading for the shuttle bus stop. That’s Mervyn and his big-ass camera lens.

Group photo on the bus.

Group photo on the bus.

A group photo for the record! We left for Clementi Interchange on the free shuttle bus. Chunks and I sent Darrick off first before joining the rest of the gang at Subway. Both of us weren’t particularly hungry so he got milk tea (again!) and I settled for peach red tea. We celebrated Mervyn’s birthday at Subway too!

Happy birthday, Mervyn!

Happy birthday, Mervyn!

Happy birthday, Mervyn!

So, that wraps up our photo outing to Old Turf City and our encounter with security guards :)

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