This is probably going to be the only article in the blog where I write about a food joint that will be closing down in less than two weeks. But this is not the usual review article on our food/travel adventures. I guess it is going to be sort of a tribute article to McDonald’s™ King Albert Park. I have a feeling that the tone of this article is going to get a little emo, so please kindly bear with me because this place holds a special place in my heart, just like it does for lots of other people.
King Albert Park, or commonly known as K.A.P., was sold to Oxley Holdings for $150 million. As a result, all the establishments in the building, including the iconic McDonald’s and Cold Storage, will be closed down on 16 March 2014.
When I was thirteen years old, I was in the military band and we took part in the biennial SYF Outdoor Assessment For Marching School Bands. This was a SERIOUS deal. We learnt from our seniors to be proud of our band’s heritage (we have our own wikipedia page) and that we needed to uphold our longstanding reputation for excellence. Hence, we trained for months before the actual day, notified our teachers that we would have less time to focus on academia, spent up to six days a week in group/sectional practices, marched for hours under the scorching sun, and basically devoted our lives to the band. Essentially, during this period, we ate and breathe band training. You get the idea.
After band practice, we would frequently hang out at KAP. Those were happy times. We would spend hours chilling out, discussing our competition strategies, and just doing lots of nonsensical stuff. Being teenagers (and especially since we were an unbridled all-males-group), we would sometimes make a nuisance of ourselves. I remember my friend paid for a cup of McDonald’s coke once using just five-cent coins (contributed by all of us). The McDonald’s staff showed no sign that she was displeased and dutifully counted the coins in front of my friend, while the rest of us watched in great amusement from the second level.
So I guess that’s why it hurt so much when we failed to get a Gold award at the competition, especially for a group of young people who had devoted themselves to one common aspiration. I remember the palpable tension in the band room while our band captain gave the “concession speech”, his poignant words stirring emotions even more. I kept my head down and looked at the floor throughout as I sat listening. Afterwards, we went down to KAP, where I felt better after hanging out with the guys for a while.
KAP was also the hangout for me and my classmates. I remember sitting in one group with them, daring each other to approach the NYGS girls (for some reason always our choice victims) sitting opposite, and talking about things that teenage boys talk about (to be honest I can’t exactly remember the details of the conversations; it was fifteen years ago!). When we got sick of McDonald’s food, we would drop in at Cold Storage downstairs to
take buy some tidbits. At times, we would retreat to the relatively secluded area alongside the building to play “Dai Di” (card game, literally “Big Two”), as card games were prohibited within Mac.
Fast forward a few years, and I was now in the band committee (aka the band’s management team). The hangouts at KAP got a lot more serious. I would sit for hours with the committee to discuss our band strategies, politics, and brainstorm about how to make our band better. This was still a happy period associated with KAP, but it was also a different stage in my life.
During my JC orientation period, I hung out frequently at KAP with my new co-ed friends. Naturally, it was quite a significant change for me as I had been studying in an all-boys school for the past four years. Part of the orientation heritage includes playing frivolous games and doing other silly things. My favourite was the “Mac Chili Sauce plus Tomato Sauce Chemical Reaction”. I remember a group of us tried this trick on a female friend once.
“Hey! Do you know that if you mix the mac chili sauce and tomato sauce together, there will be a chemical reaction with lots of resulting heat?”
“It’s true! Look, I’m going to do it now (mix the sauces). Ok, just put your hand here to feel the heat if you don’t believe me.”
Eventually, the group of us managed to convince her to hover her hand about an inch above the resulting concoction to feel the “emitting heat”. As soon as she did that, I shoved her hand downwards onto the reddish mixture.
To be honest, it wasn’t as funny as I had expected it to be. I think some of the sauce got onto her face and clothes, and she had a pretty hard time trying to clean up. And based on what I remember, I think she was pretty pissed. I guess at age seventeen, I wasn’t exactly the ideal gentleman yet.
These are just a few of my memories. There are many others, and it is not possible to write everything in one article (plus you would probably get sick of reading my stories). And this is just one person’s account. Imagine the countless amounts of precious memories this place holds for the multitude of other ex-students who frequented KAP too.
I guess in our hearts, we all wish that we can go to a place and see that it is always the same as we remember it, no matter after how many years. We want certain things to remain the same even if everything else is changing. We yearn for something constant to hold on to as we try to make sense of this crazy world.
Thank you for the memories, KAP.
“Eh, later want to go KAP?”