Relive Your Own Childhood with Nostalgia at Singapore Heritage Playground - Toa Payoh Dragon Sand-Pit Playground
Hi everyone, hope all of you are enjoying a restful and inspiring weekend! Well for me, i started this weekend on a nostalgic note. Since young, i lived near Toa Payoh as a little girl. This Dragon Playground located at Block 28 Toa Payoh Lorong 6 is the only one of its kind (sand-based) left in Singapore. Some others have been replaced with rubber mats. It is one of the last few remaining heritage playgrounds from the 1980s.
I guess for adults who are in the same age group as me, you probably would have no qualms about recognizing this playground. This, in essence, represents what our childhood was all about. No rubber mats or plastic play equipment, just hardcore terrazzo, metal & mosaic tiles and of course, sand. Materials used during those days for such playground construction included concrete and brightly coloured Italian mosaic tiles, which have withstood the test of time and the wear and tear from countless eager small hands and feet.
The Dragon playground was deemed to be one of most iconic representations of our local playgrounds back in the eighties. And I fully agree, because it forms a precious component of my growing-up years. As for me, I was getting swashed with a wave of nostalgia as such playgrounds brought back so many pleasant memories of my fondest childhood days. Playgrounds came with functional play equipment such as slides, swings and see-saws. They were inspired by themes such as nursery rhymes and Singapore's multi-racial heritage.
Its weather-worn mosaic facade houses a winding metal bridge body, with 2 spring-loaded rocking horses added in as an afterthought. The Dragon playground serves as a retrospective for people living out their 80s-90s childhood days and yet still a wonderful introduction to Singapore’s past for the newer generation.
This playground in the form of a dragon is definitely a throwback to the early days of the 1980s. Visit this mystical dragon and be transported back to the days where going to the playground meant getting sand between the toes!
There is a dragon lurking around in Singapore. Climb up the back of the dragon if you dare and slide down to escape from its fiery breath.
As more wear and tear begin to set in, i suppose such playgrounds would inevitably have to be demolished to make way for newer versions - Plastic playgrounds with rubber mats. Though i guess some might feel that it is a safer and more hygienic option, i lament at the loss of such a precious memory to Singapore's history and our childhood. Although these no longer around, such simple playground structures were enough to bring many simple pleasures, laughter and memories to many children.
Beside the majestic dragon, there are two little plastic rides in the shapes of a seahorse and a pony for children to sit on.
Perhaps it is nostalgia speaking, but the modern day plastic playgrounds and rubber tiles do not seem as fun. My favourite playground items like swings and merry-go-rounds are rarities today. Even see-saws aren’t the same anymore with their up-in-the-air bottoms. Playgrounds today are safer and allow for more imaginative play, but some miss the colourful playgrounds of old. It could get quite dangerous playing in such a playground, as grazes due to the coarse sand or bruises courtesy of the concrete structures were a common thing. It was all part of a learning process and we did eventually learn from our failures then. Part of the fun in playing at playgrounds is that we learn how to manage ‘risks and dangers’ ourselves. But modern playgrounds today often come with a ‘usage, safety and liability disclaimer’ and seem to try their best to minimise risk of kids injuring themselves. Are we molly-coddling our young too much that we forget to teach them the important self-care and survival skills of knowing how to assess risks? Compared to the rubberised and well-padded playgrounds of today, i really feel kids will have a lot more to learn from the playgrounds of yesteryears.
In fact, such learning process requires time - the time to dream, the time to do nothing but dream, the time to think up all sorts of funny things, the time to try and test out ideas no matter how silly, the time to fail, the time to pick self up from failures, the time to recover and heal, the time to muster up courage to want to try something else again. It is so often said that the successful and the not-so all have the same 24 hours. The difference only lies in how we use that time.
My hope for myself and my family, as it is for yours, is that we can all find time to play, to dream and to be inspired. :-)
A freelance Singapore-based travel photographer / photojournalist. I seek the extraordinary, but finds beauty in the everyday. Life is interesting, capture it.
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