CHIJ Opera Estate

When I was 6yo, my parents sent me to Singapore to join my older siblings to study. I spent 6 years (from Pri 1-6) at CHIJ Opera Estate Primary School and although I shed lots of tears from being away from my parents, I had lots of fun too. I’ve  met many friends out of which I am still in touch with them till today – thanks to technology advancement. While I was there, I learnt to be independent at a very young age. We stayed with a guardian who had 2 kids of their own. Let’s just say that they weren’t the molly coddly type when it came to me. I was the youngest of the lot. I wrapped my own school books when I was 7yo. I planned my time properly. I  got my homework done everyday. I had to do household chores. I packed my own school bag. Washed my own plates after each meal. Washed my own school shoes every Sunday. I shopped for my own clothes. I took the public transport alone when I was 8yo (which is unheard of in this day and age in Malaysia unfortunately). And while moms of other kids I know send them for ballet classes, I’d hitch a ride from a friend to go for ballet classes. I tied my own hair bun and got myself ready while the rest of the kids had their moms to fuss over them.

When I was older e.g. 10 yo, my favorite  clothing brand was Esprit. My friends and I would make trips  to the mall and shop only at Esprit. LOL! Oh what were we like eh? I remember going to friends’ house for play dates and secretly wished that they could come over to my house for play dates but that was unheard of because the house I stayed at was basically not my house. Nevertheless, my parents paid an arm and a leg to our guardian every month so that we were taken care of, fed and all.  I honestly hated staying with my guardian for 6 whole years. BUT, well, what could I have done then? 6 years came and went with a blink of an eye. That said, when I look back, it actually brings back fond memories.

During our last visit to Singapore, I decided to bring the family to my old school and to the neighborhood where I basically spent 6 years at. It was a really nice flashback. It felt surreal to  relive the memories.


This is where I studied from primary 1-6. It used to be called Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus (CHIJ) Opera Estate and it’s now the Red Cross Training Camp site. I must say though that the building did not change at all. Everything still looked the same and it has been very well maintained.


We used to dash up and down these stairs. To the right was the canteen. Next to the stairs was where Mr Tan used to operate a stationary store. I remember lining up there to buy erasers, books and what not. You see the covered drain that leads to the staircase? We used to line up by the drain and brush our teeth there after break time! Each of us had a mug each with a toothpaste and toothbrush to lug around.


I still dream of this school. We used to run up and down the stairs in multiples of 2 or even 3 steps! Those were the days….


Every  Monday, we’d assemble in front of the 2 flag poles (1 for the Singapore flag and the other for the school flag) to sing the Singapore national anthem and the school song. I remember how we had to sit on the floor during assembly and how this girl in front of me was so particular about cleanliness and would only sit on the ground with a piece of newspaper between her butt and the ground. We used to tease her all the time. To the right of the photo is a huge field where we used to have our P.E.  Ashley and Aidan were amazed to be in the school that their mummy used to go to 🙂

It’s funny how things seem to be smaller than I remembered them. I guess when I was small, everything looked big.


This is the house we used to live in. It is actually not very far from the school but somehow or another, the walk from school to the house seemed to be quite a distance for me when I was a kid. If I were to walk now, I reckon it’d take 20 mins from door to door.

As we drove away from the neighborhood, I had a sense of relief for closing that part of my life.

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  1. I was the last batch at the school! It looks nicer in your photos than how it was when I was a kid there. I remember the old ladies and their son who was the caretaker living in the creepy shack at the other side of the building, and the very scary toilets!

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