The day that all young Singaporean boys dread: Enlistment Day. (Hello soon-to-be botaks if you googled BMT and found me here! It’s gonna be a tough time ahead for you, but you’ll never forget your upcoming experience.)
Many years ago, I went with Leon for his admission to Tekong but I never blogged about it. This year, I had another chance to revisit Tekong cos it’s my younger brother’s turn to become a man. We live in Pasir Ris so we didn’t have to travel far to get to the meeting point at Pasir Ris bus interchange. A coach took all of us (my parents, bro and me) to SAF Ferry terminal. It was a very orderly affair indeed.
Upon reaching the island, my brother was separated from us to go receive his 11B, dog tags, insurance, etc. The families were brought on a tour around Pulau Tekong where we got to see the bunks, Standard Obstacle Course (SOC) and their recreation areas. It’s a BIG improvement from what I saw many years ago. Each bunk now has laptop charging stations!
[PS: Don’t be too happy about the laptops. Yes, you can use them for leisure during admin time, but you have to do e-learning and journals as well. If you are a Republic Polytechnic student, welcome to RJ again!]
Then after exploring the bunk area, we went to the lecture theatre whereby we were introduced to military equipment and the masses of things that are supposed to be in a field pack. The young sergeants were bombarded with funny questions during the Q&A segment. The 2 most popular queries were “Does the toilets have doors?” and “How long does my son have to polish boots?”. For concerned parents, Tekong toilets now have doors and nobody will be able to peep at your son’s ding-dong. (This fact was reiterated AGAIN by the WO later in the tour). And boots are now made mostly from Goretex… aka very short polish time!
We were all sheparded to the Main Auditorium where our boys were already seated and watching BBC’s excellent documentary on NS in Singapore. A PowerPoint presentation came after where we saw their daily schedules and routines.
And now comes the part that they were rehearsing for (and tekan-ed for!) when we were exploring Tekong… the oath.
After the presentation and propaganda, they got the new recruits to assemble at the side of the walk way and when one sees their parents/family/friends, they could walk with them to the cookhouse to eat. We were served the infamous “white meal” which still tastes like crap. My daddy took advantage of his dark colour skin and headed straight for the nasi briyani. The call for assembly at the parade square came too soon for those young men. My brother had time to squeeze in a few quick shots with his friends who came along.
Soon-to-be Recruit O. and his friends.
They all look alike. (PS: Boy ah, I saw mummy’s eyes got tears during this time!)
My parents (to be honest, only my mother actually) very reluctantly went back to the ferry terminal to go back to mainland Singapore. My only thought at that point? “Walao damn heng ah, no need to take MRT back home when reach Pasir Ris interchange!”.