10 Nostalgic Things S’poreans Miss From The Old HDB Blocks

Singapore has come a long way from Kampong villages to developed high-rise buildings. Though many things have since changed over the years, they are still considered nostalgic memories that have played a part in our lives as we were growing up.

Here are some points that we cherished but became a rare sight in Singapore these days.

Ping Pong Table

Image: undertheangsanatree.blogspot.com

Almost every HDB void deck was equipped with a Ping-Pong table in the past. Though we had to bring our own paddles, most of our afternoons after school were spent trying to beat our friends over games of Ping Pong. Extra happiness is when we spot free Ping Pong balls left on the table!

Ice Cream Man

Image: iremember.sg

Ah, the good old days where we’ll jump in joy and giggle our way to the bells signifying the arrival of the Ice Cream man. Selecting a flavour for the day has got to be one of the hardest decision we had to make at that time.

Otah Man

Image: comesingapore.com

Almost similar to the ice cream man, it’s not a surprise when you see a crowd forming around the Satay man whenever the uncle comes to sell his food while calling out his signature tune of ‘otah otah’.


Image: fas.nus.edu.sg

Just a chalk in hand and we can entertain ourselves for hours, laughing, hopping and sweating with our siblings, neighbours and friends.

“Fixed” Checkers Board

Image: forums.vr-zone.com

A rare sight these days, the void deck’s tables are made with fixed checkers board to encourage senior citizens to work their brains while catching up with their buddies to have a good time.

Mama Shop

Image: flickr.com

Though these are still available today, they have significantly decreased over the years. You’ll have to walk a few blocks just to get your favourite snacks to munch. Remember the times when every block has its own Mama shop?

Smoking freely

Smoking can be a difficult habit to kick, but there is help available for those wishing to give it up. The Health and Wellness Center offers tips, classes and even medicine to help eliminate cravings and help members quit smoking. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Sanchelli/Released)
Image: commons.wikimedia.org

Becoming stricter in Singapore, it is now illegal to smoke in the void decks, corridors and staircases. Back then, smokers can be seen hanging around with a stick in hand.

But of course, just a disclaimer: we don’t encourage smoking. The solution to this ban is to quit smoking!

Study Corner

Image: at-the-void-deck.blogspot.com

Aimed to provide a location for students to study at, the old HDB void decks are often built on every block. We didn’t use that area to study but to hang out instead, though. And complain about not being able to switch on the fan.

Kids Playing Block Catching

Image: thepottershand2011.wordpress.com

Often promising classmates to meet at the designated block to play games such as catching, we would rush home after school, put down our heavy bags before changing to something comfier. Definitely a rare sight these days as mobile phones have taken over soccer balls.

(Article continues below) Xing Xing is a 34-year-old Singaporean lady who decides to meet up with an online friend she found in Facebook. But it turns out that he’s not what he seems to be: Prepare boxes of tissue and watch the saddest Singapore Facebook love story here:

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Having Kampong Spirit

Image: www.tnp.sg

Not just every level but even the whole block, our parents seem to be friends with almost everyone. Living side by side, you can’t help but feel united as a whole and proud to live in your estate. Nowadays, young people don’t even know how their neighbours look like. It truly is sad to see the unity fading while Singapore continues to develop.

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