Sarong Island, the tourists’ Isle: Chor Seng

Posted by on Oct 14, 2014 in From the Archives | No Comments

Mun Chor Seng shared his experience of visiting Sarong Island, Singapore’s first tourist isle in 1967. It lay just off Pulau Blankang Mati, which is now known as Sentosa Island.

Pulau Blakang Mati. Photo credit: Mun Chor Seng

During the early 60s, I visited the island which was known as “Sarong Island” then, with my friends. The journey  to Sarong Island lasted less than 10 minutes from Jardin Steps by boat. Upon arrival, there was a jetty and we walked up a flight of steps into the first tourist isle complex.

Map showing Jardine Steps. Photo credit: Mun Chor Seng

The building contained a restaurant for about 200 seats, a private 150-seat patio, a well-stocked gift shop and a art gallery. It overlooked the magnificent view of the Keppel Harbour. I obtained a card from the restaurant with the following words printed.

Card that Chor Seng obtained from the restaurant. Photo credit: Mun Chor Seng

There was a theatre fully equipped with light and sound system and a seating capacity of 200. The place was opened nightly to the public with performances of Singaporean multi-cultural shows for the tourists.

The journey  to Sarong Island lasted less than 10 minutes from Jardin Steps by boat.

The island was also used as a transit area for upmarket tours to the Southern Islands. It allowed tourists to stop over for lunch or tea before they returned Singapore.
In 1971, the Government acquired the island from the previous owner, Mrs. Christina Stone under the notice of acquisition, published in the Government Gazette Extraordinary. Later the Government decided to develop the island into a tourist attraction. In 1972, a contest was organized by the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board to rename the island. Finally “Sentosa”, meaning peace and tranquility in Malay, was chosen.

The island was also used as a transit area for upmarket tours to the Southern Islands. It allowed tourists to stop over for lunch or tea before they returned Singapore.

From 1978 to 1980, through land reclamation scheme, Sarong Island joined with Pulau Blakang Mati to form Sentosa Island.

Mun Chor Seng’s story first appeared here on the Singapore Memory Project portal. Read more memories of islands that others have visited in the past here, and comment to let us know your own!

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