A SIMPLE LIFE

chua chan chan

CHOA CHU KANG

A house beside her family's pig farm in Choa Chu Kang, where she lived before pig farming was phased out by the Government in the 1980s. Chan Chan's family runs the famous Founder Bak Kut Teh Restaurant in Balestier.

Beyond the farm

My father reared pigs for a living. I grew up in a pig farm in Choa Chu Kang until the government phased out pig farming and we had to move to Punggol.

Behind our home in Choa Chu Kang was a cemetery, where I used to play hide and seek with friends. We were young then and didn’t know what fear was. There was a huge tree where we liked to hang out and play under because it was especially cooling and windy, even during the hot months.

"There was a sense of togetherness and belonging."

A smell to remember

Our squatting toilet was up on a small hill and we would always have to walk some way up whenever we needed to use it. It was a real challenge and something we dreaded, because the cesspool was right behind it. The stench and sight of swarms of flies is truly something that I will remember for the rest of my life.

Water fights

In the morning, I would wake up and help feed and bathe the pigs. After doing so I would then shower and go to school at noon. Bathing the pigs was no easy task – my older sister and I would bathe the pigs amidst their faeces and their dirt would splash all over us. It was very annoying! There were about 30 pig sties. I remember I was also very scared of frogs and chameleons; there were just so many of them there. So while bathing the pigs I would use the water from the hose to scare the frogs and see them jump around. I would challenge my sister to see who could scare more frogs. It was really fun.

To me, home is a warm place and a sense of cohesion. In the good old days, life was less stressful. Although we live day by day with no great ambition or goal in mind, there was a sense of togetherness and belonging. It is something I do cherish. We were very happy, even though we would often quarrel among siblings. It’s a pity we didn’t have the kind of cameras and technology we have now to capture our life then, but these memories will always be in my heart.