Queen Elizabeth joins in a traditional Asian game in Singapore, which she first visited three decades ago
Photo: © AFP
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The 79-year-old royal seemed charmed by the efforts of her hosts at the housing estate, where she originally met residents in 1972
Photo: © Getty Images


17 MARCH 2006

The Queen has been taking a trip down memory lane on an official trip to Singapore, the city-state she first visited 34 years ago. One of the monarch's first engagements was at the Toa Payoh housing complex, where she was welcomed with a colourful dragon dance.

There Queen Elizabeth was greeted by Thomas Pung, who three decades ago had shown her around the one-bedroomed flat he shared with his mother in the housing estate. The excited 66-year-old pensioner called the meeting "the type of opportunity you cannot get", adding: "Even with money, you cannot buy this experience."

After the thirsty work of walking around in the heat, the Queen's host offered the soon-to-be octagenarian a drink of water from a glass she originally used in 1972.

Wearing a green silk dress and coat, the royal then joined in a match of the popular Asian game sepak takraw, which is a cross between football and volleyball. The keen sportswoman got the action underway by serving a player with a ball.

Earlier at the National Library, the monarch also got an enthusiastic reception from 400 flag-waving school children. Viewing an exhibition of photos by young people, she stopped to chat with student Alvina Tan, 18, who'd taken one of the pictures. "The queen is actually a very friendly person," Alvina said. "I felt very relaxed around her. She feels just like a grandmother to me."

The two-day visit winds up on Saturday at the Singapore Turf Club, where she will present the Queen Elizabeth II cup for a race named in her honour.

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