Archive for the ‘Places’ Category

Cathay cinema

October 29, 2009

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^ Memories of movies at Cathay.

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^ Enchanting glow.

Beautiful morning

October 10, 2009

Sunrise

Monster Guns

September 8, 2009

A little further after Changi Chapel Museum, there is another historical site which was a strategic location in the defence of Singapore against the Japanese invasion during World War II. Along Cosford Road, this was where the so called “monster guns” once existed. “Monster Guns” so named because of its colossal size.

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^ The Johore Battery is a war memorial site in Singapore that dates back to the early 1940s. Some of the other major coastal batteries were the Pasir Laba Battery, Labrador Battery and the Fort Siloso Battery. The British had anticipated that the direction of the Japanese invasion would come from the sea. As such, the defence-plan was to strengthen the coastal defences of the island. This led to the building of the Johore Battery in 1939 as a coastal artillery gun emplacement site.

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^ This old hut was sited near the fenced-up area of Johore Battery in Cosford Road. It was said that there existed a labyrinth of tunnels built for the purpose to store ammunition for the guns. The monster guns were the biggest and heaviest coastal artilleries and were able to pierce the armour of battleships. Before Singapore fell into the hands of the Japanese, it is said that orders were sent out to destroy the guns. Tunnels were sealed up after the war.

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^ Below is the text from the display panel that makes reading easier on your eyes.

The Johore Battery comprised three guns. They were part of a group of twenty large coastal guns installed in Singapore in the 1930s.

The Johore Battery’s three weapons were among Singapore’s largest coastal guns. They were known as 15-inch guns, because 15 inches (38 cm) was the diameter of the shell they fired. Their gun barrels were 16.5 metres long and the shells stood 1.5 metres high. The guns were capable of hurling these shells at battleships over twenty miles away.

They were originally called “monster guns” when tested in England in 1934, before being sent to Singapore. When World War II started, there were only seven of these defending the coasts of the British Empire. Two were near Dover in England, and five in Singapore. Besides the Johore Battery, Singapore also had two 15-inch guns at Buona Vista Battery. They were located at the junction of Ulu Pandan and Clementi Roads, in the West of the island.

Each of Johore Battery’s guns had its own ammunition bunker. These were about 500 metres apart, arranged in a line that stretched from the present site onto what are now the runways of Changi Airport. Though these guns were originally intended to stop an attack from the sea, two of Johore Battery’s guns could turn around and fire to the rear, towards Johor Bahru. The third, the one located at this site, could only fire out to sea.

From 5th to 12th February 1942, the two guns of the Johore Battery that could turn around fired landward in Singapore’s defence. They shelled Japanese infantry positions from Johor Bahru, just across the Causeway, eastwards to the area north of Tanjong Punggol. They also joined in the battles for Bukit Timah Road and Pasir Panjang. The guns of Johore battery fired 194 rounds before the demolition by the British on the night of 12th February. This demolition, and the postwar upgrading of Changi aerodrome, means all that remains are the underground tunnels on this site, which once housed ammunition and power plants.

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^ A replica of the “monster guns”.

They were the biggest guns to be installed outside Britain during World War II. The site was named Johore Battery as it was learnt that the Sultan of Johore made a donation to the British in support of the war effort during World War II.

Kampong Glam – A stroll during Ramadan

August 24, 2009

Last Saturday marked the beginning of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. This prompted me to take a stroll in one of Singapore’s historical site, the Sultan’s Mosque located at Muscat Street and its vicinity.

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^ The Sultan’s Mosque is named after Sultan Hussein Mohammad Shah, the first Sultan of Singapore. After signing a Treaty with Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819 ceding Singapore to the British Crown, Sultan Hussein Shah, with a grant given by the British East India Company, instructed Temenggong Abdul Rahman to build an Istana (Istana is a Malay word for palace) and a mosque at Kampong Glam where the community of Muslims can worship. The area developed into a thriving business community consisting of Javanese, Buginese, Boyanese and Arabs merchants trading in spices, cloths and many other goods brought from their homeland. By the early twentieth century, the mosque was in a state of disrepair. The Trustees of the mosque and the leading Muslim residents manage to raise funds for a reconstruction. Designed by Denis Santry of Swan & Maclaren, reconstruction works started in 1925 and the mosque was completed in 1928. From then till now, minor repairs were carried out as well as the addition of an annex in 1993. Largely, the mosque has remained unchanged till today. On 14th Mar 1975, the Sultan’s Mosque was gazetted as a national monument.

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^ An old file photo of the Sultan’s Mosque. (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore, circa 1950). You will notice the old pre-war shop-houses lining on both sides of the road. Today, the road has been converted to a pathway for pedestrians as seen in the previous photo. The shop-houses were refurbished but yet retaining an old world charm reflective of the community it was before.

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^ Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar where Muslims are called to fast from dawn till dusk. Fasting is the 3rd Pillar of Islam where it is aimed to remind the believer on the more important spiritual aspects of the faith and to detach oneself from the material desires of life. The 1st Pillar of Islam is the affirmation of the believer to follow the righteous path with God’s guidance, that there is only one God and Prophet Mohammad is the Messenger of God. The 2nd Pillar of Islam is where a Muslim is called to pray 5 times a day facing the direction of the Ka’aba located at the holy city of Mecca. The 4th Pillar of Islam is known as the zakat (alms-giving) where Muslims are called to be charitable. The 5th Pillar of Islam is where every Muslim, financially and physically able, to perform the Haj (pilgrimage) to Mecca. It is an opportunity for the believer to have a closer spiritual experience with God as well as to seek forgiveness and to forgive one another.

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^ A beduk. The next photo describes more.

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^ In the past, a call to prayer for Muslims living in villages were made by beating the beduk instead of the loud-speakers you hear nowadays. Muslims fulfill their daily prayers 5 times a day – at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and at night.

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^ A map showing the historical sites of Kampong Glam where the Sultan’s Mosque is the centrality of the community living in the area. The street names in the district of Kampong Glam bear the influence of early Arab immigrants with names like Kandahar Street, Arab Street, Muscat Street, Bussorah Street, Baghdad Street, Haji Lane, Jalan Sultan, Sultan Gate.

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^ Zam Zam Singapore. You may have experienced a great deal of perspiration from eating all that hot and spicy food without any air-conditioner in the past. At least now, the restaurant’s upper floors have been air-conditioned for its patrons for a more comfortable and relaxing meal.

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^ Haji Lane…a walk back in time along this narrow street.

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^ Along the corridors of shop-houses, fabrics, textiles, knick-knacks can be found.

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^ The skills of such a trade like carpet-weaving are passed down from generation to generation. The family name synonymous of a specialized trade is upheld with honour and prestige.

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^ An old file photo of Bussorah Street. (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore, circa 1963). On display are cakes, sweets and other things you can find when Muslims prepare to celebrate the end of the fasting month of Ramadan…Hari Raya Puasa Adil Fitri.

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^ Adding more variety to the bazaar…Ramly burgers.

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^ The entrance to Istana Kampong Glam.

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^ The grounds of Istana Kampong Glam which was once the seat of Malay royalty. This area is part of the conservation project of Kampong Glam. On 12th Mar 1999, it became the Malay Heritage Centre.

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^ Umbrellas with floral designs on display on the grounds of Istana Kampong Glam.

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^ Intricate designs on fabric that speaks a lot more than just shapes and colours.

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^ For those who chew sireh, you will know what this is. The next photo tells a bit more of the…..

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^ ….. Cembul.

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^ An old horse-drawn carriage before the introduction of the electric trams and motorised vehicles on the roads of Singapore.

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^ A prahu. Very fast sailboat. I came to learn that Kampong Glam got its name from a group of Orang Laut from the Glam tribe who resided by the sea. The prahu provided the orang laut a means of transportation not to mention some nefarious activities like piracy on the high seas. It is said that the bark from the Glam tree is used for making awnings and sails. The timber is used to construct the boat as well as for use as firewood. Its fruit is grounded for use as pepper. Its leaves boiled into a concoction as a form of medication to cure rheumatism.

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^ A scaled-down model of a Minangkabau palace “Istana Basa” , West Sumatra, Indonesia.

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^ If you would like to take a stroll soaking in the ambience of Kampong Glam or visit the bazaar, this notice will come in handy.

Taking this opportunity to wish all our Muslim friends, their families and the community…a meaningful Ramadan. May your spiritual renewal culminating in the celebration of Hari Raya Puasa Aidilfitri be one filled with love, joy, and peace.

A walk down Judicial Stretch – City Hall & Supreme Court

August 1, 2009

Two buildings located in the heart of Singapore’s central civic district. Historic events of a nation’s past took place in this area that many of the older folks would remember. Let us take a peek into its past as to what is known today as the Judicial Stretch at St Andrews Road.

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^ City Hall (right) and Supreme Court (left).

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^ The location where City Hall now stands was formerly the site of two private homes built in 1828 and 1830 which belonged to Dr William Montgomerie of the East India Company and Thomas Church (Resident Councillor). In 1926, works began to build the Municipal building designed by F.D.Meadows and was completed in 1929. In 1951, the name was changed to City Hall when Singapore acquired her city status.

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^ A bit of its history.

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^ A historic moment that occurred at City Hall was at the end of WW2 that saw the surrender of Japanese forces on 12th Sep 1945 which marked the end of Japanese rule over Syonan-to. The photo shows the Japanese delegation led by General Itagaki Seishiro, under escort of Allied soldiers, walking towards City Hall to sign the Instrument of Surrender. (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore, 12th Sep 1945)

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^ Crowds of Allied soldiers gathered at City Hall on the day of Japanese surrender. (Photocredit National Archives of Singapore, 12th Sep 1945)

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^ The same spot that the soldiers gathered on 12th Sep 1945. Huge Corinthian columns of Greek architecture that cuts a prominent façade at City Hall.

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^ The Japanese delegation walking up the steps of City Hall into the building. (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore, 12th Sep 1945)

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^ General Itagaki Seishiro signing the surrender document at the surrender ceremony of the Japanese to the Allied forces. Seated opposite him was Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten signing the acceptance of Japanese surrender. (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore, 12th Sep 1945)

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^ The Japanese delegation escorted down the steps of City Hall after signing the surrender documents.

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^ The same steps at City Hall today.

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^ The Japanese delegation led by General Itagaki Seishiro. (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore, 12th Sep 1945)

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^ The ceremonial parade after the Japanese surrender. (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore, 12th Sep 1945)

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^ Lt Gen Christison taking the salute on the steps of City Hall on 12th Sep 1945 during the ceremonial parade after the Japanese surrender. (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore, 12th Sep 1945)

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^ The same steps that witnessed many ceremonial parades when Singapore gained independence on 9th Aug 1965 to become a sovereign state.

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^ From this vantage point, you will be able to see Queen Elizabeth Walk as well as the shoreline of the Esplanade. Today, land has been reclaimed right up to the Integrated Resorts seen at the background of the photo.

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^ Cast iron door-knockers in the form of a lion head on the doors of City Hall building.

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^ Gazetted as a monument on 14th Feb 1992 by the Preservation of Monuments Board.

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^ Another prominent building that sits just next to City Hall is the Supreme Court of Singapore designed by Frank Dorrington Ward and built between 1937-1939. (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore, circa 1939)

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^ Present-day photo of the Supreme Court building.

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^ The frontage of the Supreme Court building that cuts an imposing and dignified presence.

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^ The dome and the tympanum sculpture works by Italian sculptor, R.Nolli at the Supreme Court building. Tympanum refers to the decorative wall surface that contains sculptures or ornaments.

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^ You may notice some sculptures depicting certain scenes found at the entrance of the Supreme Court building.

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^ An old file photo of the Padang and the buildings of City Hall and the Supreme Court in the background. (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore, circa 1944)

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^ Roughly at the same spot where the previous photo was taken. From 1944 to 2009…a span of 65 years.

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^ In the early years of Singapore’s independence, National Day parades were held at the Padang. Later the parades were decentralized to the sports complex located in various housing estates. National Day parades were later moved to the National Stadium when the stadium was built in 1973. If you happen to have the tickets for this year’s National Day Parade held at Marina Bay on 9th Aug 2009, perhaps a stroll down the historic sites of City Hall and Supreme Court buildings will make your celebration a bit more eventful.

Wishing Singapore a Happy 44th Birthday!!

Fort Canning – 14th century walk

July 20, 2009

Most squash players may remember the squash courts at Fort Canning Centre. During the heydays of squash fever in the 70’s and early 80’s, names like Zainal Abidin and Peter Hill became synonymous with the game of squash. Besides Kampong Java Tennis and Squash Centre, I remembered having enjoyed a few games of squash using the Ascot racket with fellow classmates at Fort Canning. At that time, the building was pretty rundown and in dire need of renovations. Today, a stroll at Fort Canning brought back some happy memories as well as a peek into its history.

Before 1822, Fort Canning Hill was known as Bukit Larangan (meaning “Forbidden Hill”). It was so called because of age old legends that this hill was believed to be the sacred burial ground for kings of royalty.

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^ From the earliest recorded history in the Malay Annals of the 14th and 15th century, Parameswara (aka Sultan Iskandar Shah), the fifth king from Palembang of royal descent in the Majapahit empire fled to Singapore where he established his rule for 3 years. Due to a Javanese attack, he and his followers fled Singapore. Having arrived at Melaka which he founded, he established his rule for 20 years.

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^ When Sir Stamford Raffles founded Singapore in 1819, Bukit Larangan became the centrality of colonial power and residence. In 1822, Raffles had build his residence on the grounds of Bukit Larangan. It was later known as Government Hill or Singapore Hill. Much later, it became known as Fort Canning Hill named after Viscount Charles John Canning, Governor-General and First Viceroy of India (1856-1862). A bit of a huff and puff as you walked up the steps to the top of the hill which is said to be 156 ft high.

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^ You will not be at a loss for directions.

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^ Along the 14th century walk, you will arrive at ‘The Archaeological Dig”.

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^ Given its rich history, Fort Canning Hill held remains of ancient Chinese and Malay artefacts. In 1984, archaeological finds were discovered. This prompted an excavation project commissioned by the National Museum, led by John Miksic, and sponsored by Shell.

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^ Text panel describing the ancient history of Singapore.

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^ Glass covered showcases displaying the artefacts uncovered at Fort Canning Hill.

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^ Artefacts ranges from civilian to miltary. Some of the items uncovered were old coins, pieces of pottery, glassware, utensils etc. Inset photo at the bottom left shows a sentry on duty at Fort Canning Gate. Inset photo at the bottom right shows drawings of European Clay Pipes.

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^ The photo shows two pieces of the base of a green glazed bowl with impressed double-fish motif excavated at Fort Canning Hill which is probably of 14th century origin. (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore)

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^ Pieces of broken porcelain from bowls with intricate designs.

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^ Officially opened on 20th April 2001.

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^ Following information was obtained from the National Library Board:

Sir Stamford Raffles initiated the setting up of the Botanical Gardens in November 1822 headed by surgeon Nathaniel Wallich. Wallich had had earlier success in setting up the Botanical Gardens in Calcutta. At least 48 acres of land was staked out, including the Government Gardens on the slopes of the hill, where nutmeg and cloves had been planted since 1819. Fruit trees were also abundant on the hill, remnants of a possible royal garden under the ancient Malayan kings. Unfortunately, rising costs of maintenance and the lack of government support saw the closure of the experimental spice gardens in June 1829 but not before Wallich had produced a new strain of orchid, the Vanda Wallachii. The plot was sold to the Armenian church. In November 1994, the Spice Gardens, a 1,168 sq m replica of the early Botanical Gardens on the hill was established. The Spice Gardens hold seven species of spice plants such as clove and nutmeg, which were originally planted along these slopes. (Credit: National Library of Singapore)

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^ The old method of extraction. You may recall how original soyabean milk taste like.

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^ Wang Dayuan, a visitor to Temasek in 1330, who wrote about “Longyamen” – Dragon’s Tooth Strait. A perilous journey through pirate infested waters.

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^ One of seven guns of 68-pounder size located at Fort Canning Hill.

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^ Fort Canning Centre where I use to play squash in the late 70’s. Now, it evokes a sense of calm and tranquility as you walk along the lawn and forested footpaths.

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^ Certain units of Fort Canning Centre have become offices for photography studios and arts establishments.

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^ An old photograph as well as a display of the rickshaw at Fort Canning Centre. The text panel reads:
Rickshaws were a cheap and manouverable form of transport in Singapore in the early 1900s. The pullers were usually Chinese men from Foochow province in China. At their peak in 1922, there were over 30,000 rickshaws on the island. But by the 1930s, their popularity had began to decline. There were less than 4,000 rickshaws by 1939.

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^ A refurbished building that was once the OMSQ (Old Married Soldiers Quarters).

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^ An old file photo showing Fort Canning Gate with a sentry on guard. (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore, circa 1925). Following information was obtained from the National Library of Singapore:
In 1859, Government House was demolished and the construction of the Fort was started despite protests by some quarters which believed it was a mistake to locate the fort on the hill so far removed from shore. Built on an excavated plateau, the Fort was completed in 1861 with 400 Chinese coolies. It was named after Viscount Charles John Canning, Governor-General and First Viceroy of India (1856-1862). There were seven 68-pounders positioned toward the sea by May 1859, and another eight 8-inch shell guns and two 13-inch mortars added with even a hospital for European artillerymen built in 1867. A 68-pounder would go off each morning at 5:00 am, signalling the start of the day for those within a two-mile radius, enough for most bunglow residents around Fort Canning to note. The cannons were used right up until 1896 to also signal the outbreak of fires. Unfortunately, when the Fort was completed, it was noticed that the fort at Pearl’s Hill was higher and thus the Government Military Engineer ordered that Pearl’s Hill be shaved off to meet the right height. The fort was demolished in 1907, never having been used in defense of the country and only two 9-pound cannons and the Gothic archway of its entrance (the Old Fort Gateway 1859), designed by G. C. Collyer, still stand.

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^ Present-day photo of Fort Canning Gate. If walls can talk, there will be many stories to tell including the surrender of Singapore to the Japanese invading forces on 15th Feb 1942 decided by General A.E.Percival at his command bunker located at Fort Canning Hill.

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^ The Gate of Fort Canning.

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^ A remnant of the history of Fort Canning Hill.

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^ I sighted this extremely huge and tall tree. Its girth is about the circumference of 5 persons linking hands together forming a circle, towering about 5-6 storeys high.

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^ Another massive tree that provided much shade to visitors.

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^ Government House and Fort Canning.

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^ The house that Raffles built…rather a refurbished section of the original house. At the front, it provides a panoramic view all round except that now, towering skyscrapers are part of the skyline.

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^ An old photo showing the landscape of Fort Canning Hill. At the background stood Fort Canning Lighthouse. (Photocredit: National Archives of Singapore, circa 1925)

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^ The lighthouse still remains. On the right of the lighthouse (not in photo) is actually a flagstaff. The purpose of the flagstaff is to announce the arrival of merchant ships that act as a signal to traders and coolie suppliers to quickly make their way to the harbour.

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^ The South Battery.

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^ The cannons at Fort Canning Hill pointed southwards in the defence of Singapore during WW2 in anticipation of the direction of the Japanese invasion. The Japanese attack came from the North having secured Kota Bahru as a foothold and rumbled down the Malayan Peninsular southwards to the doors of Singapore.

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^ Keramat Iskandar Syah.

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^ The location on Fort Canning Hill believed to be the burial place of Sultan Iskandar Shah.

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^ Information about Sultan Iskandar Shah.

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^ It’s not all things old and historical. You may chance upon some beautiful flowers along the paths.

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If you have the time, perhaps Fort Canning Hill may just be your next stop for a quiet stroll amid lush history and greenery.

Moments in Malacca

July 12, 2009

Babas and Nyonas, belachan, kasut manek, gula melaka, Sultan Iskandar Shah, Hang Tuah, Alfonso de Albuquerque, Admiral Cheng Ho, St Francis Xavier, Hang Li Po…..names synonymous with Malacca. It was during the last week of the mid-year school holidays that our family embarked on a daytrip across the Causeway, Malacca.

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^ It was not the usual visit to the various historical sites in Malacca like the Istana Melaka, Christchurch, Stadthuys, Maritime Museum, Fort Formosa etc. Rather, it was a walk down some places capturing the moments that may have gone unnoticed.

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^ The first stop was a nondescript nursery displaying a variety of flowering and non-flowering plants. It was actually the property of the owner whose house is just next to the nursery.

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^ From ferns to cactus, fertilizers to dragon pots, they probably have what you need to put your green fingers to work.

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^ Though the weather was pretty scorching, this flower still manage to bloom with vibrancy.

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^ A flowering plant that deserves its beauty to be shared.

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^ The next stop was at Bee Bee. A home cum shop along a quiet road…homemade pineapple tarts with its freshness emanating from the oven.

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^ The atmosphere was entirely laid back. An old man catching up with the latest news while the other takes in the sight of the few traffic passing by.

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^ Lunch was at Bibik Neo Restaurant. A spread of Peranakan dishes await us.

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^ Lime juice with a piece of sour plum thrown in was the juice of the day. Extremely refreshing. The spread consist of fried chicken (above photo) which I find very crispy, lady’s fingers with a splash of garlicky chilli, steamed garoupa, sambal kangkong and a few more…..but I have no time to photograph all of them as the chopsticks came charging in removing every morsel from the plate.

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^ Window frills hung at the top and bottom of the window. Part decor, part to keep out prying eyes.

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^ Names of Jonker Street and Jonker Walk…it’s actually Jalan Hang Jebat. A spot tourists to do some shopping.

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^ Provisions shops in Malacca. A bygone era in Singapore.

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^ The old and the new.

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^ With some refurbishments, old two-storey houses morphed into a modern shophouse. Batiks and cheongsams can be found at this shop.

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^ Charkiak or wooden clogs that gives the sound of click…clock…click…clock…as you walk in them. It was quite common to see the older folks wearing these at the markets. Seldom seen now.

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^ After your visit around the premises of this little museum, it’s time to sit down and have some refreshments…chendol with a generous spalsh of gula melaka.

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^ One of the refurbished double storey house that presented a modern day facade. As you step inside, there still exist the centre airwell near the back of the house which is the norm for homes in that era.

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^ Wooden xylophone.

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^ Beautifully woven rattan lacquered baskets.

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^ Bicycles of yesteryear. Notice the bull-horn shaped handlebar, bicycle stand, and the dynamo battery to power the front lights. Only that these are mini figurines for decorative purpose.

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^ Hokkien Clan Association.

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^ Motif of a dragon on the wall outside the Hokkien Clan Association. The dragon is the only mystical creature out of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals. If you look closely, you will see that this dragon has the legs of horses’ hoofs instead of the dragon’s claw.

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^ For those who love kueh-kueh, paying a visit to Nancy’s Kitchen may satisfy that urge.

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^ One of the many old photos that adorned the walls in Nancy’s Kitchen. A photo of the lady wearing a baju panjang and batik sarong.

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^ For the believers.

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^ Knick-knacks such as this wind-chime that will add some colour and tinkling sounds to your home.

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^ One look and you would know the name of this fruit. The final stop is never to be missed. The sharp prickly and pungent fruit. You either love it or hate it.

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^ The fruit stall of H.J.Mohammad. Durians, mangosteen, buah duku, rambutans and whatever fruits in season. Mohammad wasn’t around when we visited to have our fill. His daughters help to manage the stall.

Perhaps you may like to know that some roads in Singapore were named after persons who were from Malacca.

1. Tan Tock Seng (b.1798, Malacca, Malaysia – d.24 Feb 1850, Singapore), a Hokkien merchant, landowner, entrepreneur and philanthropist. He set up a hospital for the poor in 1844 which today bears his name – Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

2. Gan Eng Seng (b.1844, Malacca – d.9 Sep 1899, Singapore) Chinese community leader, who contributed considerably to charities like hospitals and schools. He began the Gan Eng Seng Free School in 1885.

3. Tan Jiak Kim (b.29 Apr 1859, Singapore d.22 Oct 1917, Singapore) was the grandson of Tan Kim Seng, where Tan Kim Seng came from Malacca and eventually made a name for himself as a wealthy businessman and a civic leader. Tan Jiak Kim himself was also a well-known Straits Chinese merchant and philanthropist in Singapore. You will know Kim Seng Road and Jiak Kim Street.

4. Tan Keong Saik, was a Malacca-born prominent businessman and community leader where Keong Saik Road in Chinatown was named after him.

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Who knows? Peering into the corridor of history may reveal something interesting.

Ketam Mountain Bike Park

June 29, 2009

Eagle’s Nest, Golden Orb, Overshot, Black Cobra. Seems like the codewords in an SAF Open Mobilisation Exercise. Rather, these are some of the names given to the mtb circuit at Ketam MTB Trail located at Pulau Ubin. I had the opportunity to traverse the ‘beginners’ routes of the Ketam MTB Park with much huffing and puffing two weekends ago.

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^ Map of Ketam MTB Park.

But before embarking on such a strenous activity, it was time to tuck into some food at Changi Point hawker centre. One of the stalls I usually patronise at Changi Village hawker centre is Wing Kee Ipoh Hor Fun (since 1976).

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^ Wing Kee Ipon Hor Fun located at Block 2, Changi Village.

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^ The image already makes me hungry.

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^ After a hearty breakfast, it was a short walk to Changi Point Ferry Terminal to board the bumboat to Pulau Ubin.

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^ An old hand securing the mooring ropes before we embarked.

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^ The best seats are those with the verandah view located at the back of the bumboat.

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^ At $2.50/person and a 10-minute boat ride, another set of old hands seen at Pulau Ubin jetty putting their experience to work in ensuring a stable secure before the passengers disembark.

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^ A picturesque view of the shores of Pulau Ubin seen from the jetty.

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^ Welcome to Pulau Ubin.

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^ Ubin Town. The buzz of activities at the heart of the island. Some of the two storey houses have been converted to bicycle rental kiosks, provision shops, coffeeshops. A way for the islanders to make a living.

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^ Away from the bustling crowd. Heading in a westerly direction along Jalan Jelutong, one can see the urban and rural folks.

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^ At the Y-fork where Jalan Jelutong ends and Jalan Wat Siam begins, you will see this signboard which marks the entrance to Ketam MTB Park. Don’t forget to take the left trail at the Y-fork junction.

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^ Keep the environment clean so that others may have an enjoyable experience too.

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^ The easy routes for beginners are relatively flat. But beware of the sandy gravel surface that may cause a loss of traction if you happen to brake suddenly.

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^ On the shoreline situated southwest of Pulau Ubin along the Ketam trail, anglers were seen hoping for a good catch. In close proximity of Pulau Ubin are two smaller islands. Pulau Ketam in the background. The other is Pulau Sekudu located on the southeast of Pulau Ubin near Chek Jawa.

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^ Water-ski. It was probably because this stretch of waterway is shielded from the main shipping channel where vessels do not ply due to its shallow depth.

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^ One of the many signposts that provides the name, description and distance of the circuit. The degree of difficulty range from the Blue trail for beginners to Double Black Diamond for the expert mtb cyclist.

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^ The easy route along Eagle Nest…though I did not spot any eagle’s nest around.

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^ Meandering along Pine Ride route.

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^ it was huff and puff on an upslope to the top of the knoll arriving at Pipit Hut. Time to take a break.

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^ At Piput Hut, you have a panoramic view of the surroundings. In the photo is Ketam Quarry and the circuit of Ketam MTB Trail circumvents the Ketam Quarry. Be careful as you near the edge. One mis-step means all the way down. Judging from the land form and terrain, I’m not too sure how one gets out. Some skills in rock climbing may come in handy.

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^ Lush greenery surrounding Ketam Quarry.

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^ In the opposite direction, you can see the the cluster of kelongs and well as the shoreline of Singapore and the urban areas of HDB dwelling.

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^ Colour codes denoting the degree of difficulty of the circuit.
Blue trails are for beginners.
Black (single Black Diamond) trails for the advance cyclists.
Black (Double Black Diamond) trails for the expert cyclists.

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^ Some of the more treacherous trails that you should take caution if you are unfamiliar in riding on such terrain. Better to dismount and walk.

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^ You may notice the beauty of nature around.

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^ You don’t want to have any of these biting you. Keep a lookout.

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^ Wonderful weaver of webs. But don’t walk/cycle right smack into it with the spider clinging onto your face.

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^ I had only covered a small section of the blue trails for beginners. Perhaps I would take the more difficult ones. While on the way back along Jalan Jelutong, one can see the durian trees bearing fruit.

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^ As the bumboat sailed back to Changi Point, you cannot help but experience the rustic charm of a bygone era on this little granite island called Pulau Ubin.

Birdie Breakfast

June 18, 2009

Two Sundays ago while cycling at Pasir Ris Park, a series of loud squawking stopped me dead in the midst of my pedalling. It was definitely the sounds from some birds. Curious to find out the source, I dismounted and walked quietly to a tree where the squawking was heard.

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^ At first glance, one feathered friend was spotted.

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^ Then, two appeared. Both were busy having their breakfast and do not seemed perturbed by the close proximity of my presence.

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^ Its sharp claws grasped the seed pod while its beaks cracked open the pod to reach the seeds inside.

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^ The marks on the seed pods can be seen after all that pecking.

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^ There were actually three of them. You can spot the third that was partially hidden by the clump of seed pods.

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^ A hearty Sunday morning breakfast.

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I have no knowledge in the identifications of bird species except for the common ones. Perhaps if there are any ornithologist out there who can provide some information or useful links on its name, feeding habits, and habitat. Many thanks.

Singapore’s Southern Ridges

June 15, 2009

The Southern Ridges is a 9km chain of open spaces that spans across the hills of Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park and Kent Ridge Park ending at West Coast Park. Across these ridges, you can see the rich flora and fauna as well as a superb panoramic view of the city, harbour and the Southern Islands. Here are some photos of the scenery taken along the Marang Trail, Mount Faber Park and Henderson Waves.

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^ You can begin your walk/jog along the Southern Ridges by alighting at Harbour Front MRT station. Make your way out of the station and walk a few paces along Marang Road and you will come to a signboard displaying the map of the Southern Ridges.

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^ Caution!!

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^ The Marang Trail is about 0.8 km and a lesiure stroll will take about 15 minutes. The footpath along the trail is lined with thick undergrowth on both sides. The ascension along this trail covers an elevation of 70 metres which is about the equivalent to a 24-storey building. Huff and puff!!

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^ Out of Marang Trail onto Faber Walk.

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^ The distance of Faber Walk is about 1.0 km which takes about 15 minutes walking time. Faber Walk meanders through Mount Faber Park which is one of the oldest parks in Singapore.

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^ From the pavillion on Mount Faber, you can look through these binoculars to zoom at any part of the panoramic view.

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^ The cable-car linking Mount Faber all the way to Sentosa. You may recall the the cable-car tragedy of 1983 caused by the oil-rig called Eniwetok. Here’s some information of the Singapore Cable-Car Tragedy.

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^ Rain clouds loomed high above.

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^ The Jewel Box.

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^ A city skyline seen from atop Mount Faber. From the phamphlet published by NParks, here are 3 things you may not know about Mount Faber.

1. The celebrated Radin Mas Princess was slain and buried at the foot of Mt Faber. A small shrine (Radin Mas Keramat) still stands today in her memory.
2. Somewhere near the foot of Mt Faber is a 2m tombstone where a Japanese Naval Officer is said to be buried there.
3. The Danish Seaman’s Church (formerly known as Golden Bell Mansion), which stands in Pender Road on the mid level of Mt Faber, was built in 1909. Chinese revolutionary leader Dr Sun Yat Sen, stayed the night there.

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^ The section of Faber Walk ends where Henderson Waves begins.

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^ Henderson Waves is Singapore’s highest pedestrian bridge.

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^ The wave-like structure of Henderson Waves.

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^ Henderson Waves spans across Henderson Road connecting Mount Faber Park to Telok Blangah Hill.

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^ Beautifully designed.

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^ Colourful flowers. It was an edited photograph by creating a greater degree of shadows to darken the background to bring out the colours of the petals.

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^ Above sea level.

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^ Ride the waves.

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^ Directory of the Southern Ridges.

I have only completed a small section of Singapore’s Southern Ridges. There are still more to go…Hilltop Walk, Forest Walk, Alexandra Arch, Hort Park, and Canpy Walk. I will plan to cover the rest in good time. Meanwhile, you may want to consider covering the Southern Ridges making it a family outing together during this mid-year school holidays…and don’t forget to bring along your camera and snap away.