Old in number but young at heart
At 92, Dr Mahathir Mohamad became the Prime Minister of Malaysia, again. We meet Singaporeans who have not let age restrict their creative lifestyle
Mr John Cheng ran the full 42.195km at the Osim Sundown Marathon on Saturday in seven hours and nine minutes.
Mr Cheng is 81, and he isn't just a running man. He also kayaks, treks and cycles.
Ironically, Mr Cheng said he was hardly active when he was younger.
He said: "I used to work in marketing construction equipment and the only sport I played was golf. I was mostly very active around the pubs drinking beer."
When he turned 67, Mr Cheng realised he was falling ill often.
He said: "I thought that now since I've retired, I can play golf every day. I discovered my sedentary life can lead to illnesses and I wasn't challenging my brain or my body. I had to do something about it."
That was when he learnt how to cycle.
"You realise you're just a tiny little thing amid so much around you." Mr John Cheng
Then, in his 70s, Mr Cheng took his passion to the next level, going on cycling trips in Vietnam, Japan and Malaysia.
He even cycled 1,200km around Taiwan, taking 11 to 12 days.
He said: "Cycling gives me a lot of freedom. You feel the breeze and you challenge yourself by going up the hill and when you go down it's a lot of fun."
Beyond the physical activity and the freedom that comes with cycling, Mr Cheng has enjoyed the friendships he has struck along the way.
He said: "You have your buddies with you. On these cycling trips, they eat and sleep with you. I made so many friends."
He goes on cycling trips in groups of about 25 and he's usually the oldest - about 30 years above the average age.
His cycling friends also encouraged him to take up other sports, like kayaking.
He started around Pulau Ubin and Gardens by the Bay, and has even kayaked in Lake Toba in Indonesia.
He said: "The sea has a calming effect on me. It's nice to just dip into the side of the kayak and splash water on yourself. I also like it when I paddle along and everything is quiet.
"You realise you're just a tiny little thing amid so much around you."
Mr Cheng has also gone trekking in Hong Kong, Nepal, South Korea and Bhutan.
While training for Saturday's marathon, he said he ran till his toenails came off and his knees hurt.
He said most of the time, he is at least 30 years older than the average person in one of his activity groups.
He said: "They ask me if I'm sure I can join them because they can't take care of me. I tell them I can look after myself."
He added: "I think I'm now fitter than I ever was. I'm making use of the time I have to push the envelope. If I can still do it, why not?"
Girl Guide for over 60 years and still going
Most girls who join the Girl Guides movement do so in secondary school as a co-curricular activity (CCA) and perhaps stay on for four years.
Not Mrs Anna Tham, 84, who has been a Girl Guide for 68 years.
She told The New Paper that she joined the Girl Guides in 1950 and is now a Special Projects Commissioner on the Executive Committee at the Girl Guides Singapore headquarters.
She helps with organising large-scale special events, such as the Girl Guides Singapore Centenary International Camp last year and the Girl Guides Singapore Carnival.
Given her experience, she is often called to be a tester for different skill and interest proficiency badges like first aid, campcraft and social development.
Besides her duties at the Girl Guides headquarters, Mrs Tham helps out at schools.
She volunteers with the Girl Guides and Brownie units every week at Methodist Girls' School, where she was the longest-serving principal, from 1977 to 1994.
During these sessions, she imparts communication skills and personal values such as confidence and creativity to the girls.
Mrs Tham also teaches them a variety of technical skills. These include outdoor cooking, organising campfires, tent-pitching and gadget-building.
She teaches girls how to chop wood and to start a fire with just two matchsticks.
She said: "I want to keep giving back to a movement that was with me when I grew up. It also keeps me going when I interact with people - old or young."
Mrs Tham finds it intriguing that girls these days find outdoor skills like tent-pitching and field cooking unfamiliar.
She said: "Sometimes the girls ask me why we are chopping wood, and I say these are skills you need to learn. You never know when you might need them."
About two years ago, Mrs Tham went trekking in Switzerland with other older Girl Guides.
She said: "It was very exciting. We climbed to the Girl Guides chalet high up on a mountain. It was a very steep climb but most of us managed it, except those with knee problems."
On her volunteering at MGS, she said: "I'm here to help the girls help themselves.
"It's to do with developing character through activities that are fun and it's about sharing with the young women what you have and what you know."- SUE-ANN TAN
Dancing through life from five to 73 years old
Dancing through life - that is Ms Patricia Hon's motto.
She started dancing at age five and now at 73, she has not stopped. Ms Hon teaches dance in Seattle, in the US.
She told TNP: "Dancing is like breathing. I don't even question it. I eat, I sleep, I dream and I dance. I don't think I will ever stop."
Ms Hon started dancing in Penang when she was five.
She moved to Singapore and joined a dance school - which would later become the Singapore Ballet Academy.
In 1965, she went to France to study dance, before dancing professionally all over Europe for the next decade.
She has been a dance teacher for the last 40 years, teaching ballet and flamenco.
She said: "Teaching dance takes a lot of discipline and the days can be long, but it is really all about having that contact with students. The main thing is to see your students respond to you and you see them grow."
She teaches both adults and teenagers.
She said: "Sometimes you do play psychologist because the teenagers are at the age when they do have a mind of their own with their own ideals. You have to make them respect you and get hungry. They have to be hungry to learn."
Ms Hon is married and the couple do not have any children.
She said: "It is by choice, although sometimes when I see people with their grandchildren, it is hard to not have that."
To keep herself in shape, she goes for long walks and exercises, doing a version of qigong to ensure she remains flexible and nimble.
She still performs in some demonstrations off and on but said that things such as splits and pointe work are no longer for her.
"I might have to stop that. It might not be a good idea to put weight on these poor little toes."
Even with the physical challenges, Ms Hon keeps teaching because she wants to inspire others to be passionate about dance.
She said: "I was just watching some dance graduates doing their performance and I see that now they are finding their own voice."
Despite her age, Ms Hon does not see herself ever retiring completely from the dancing world.
She said: "Maybe one day, the time will come when I will not do any more teaching. But I am never really going to retire from dance.
"My former students will always ask me to watch them perform and give them critiques. I will still be involved in the dance world. It is something I cannot stop." - SUE-ANN TAN