Sunday, May 31, 2015

Have you plan for your June holiday?

Have you thought of what to do this June? I have not.

Maybe we would...

We probably would end up ...
  • in the libraries,
  • in Children's Seasons
  • in the playgrounds
  • cooking a storm up... lol...
Definitely, there will be a number of impromptu decisions. Most likely the kid decides.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

More than just a cemetery - Bukit Brown

There is so much about Bukit Brown, from nature to tombs of war heroes and pioneers to even villages. My first visit to Bukit Brown was last year November. I have visited the place 3 times since. People ask what draws me to the cemetery again and again. Cemetery is not really a place I like to visit but I love the lush surroundings. How often do you find greenery that is untouched in Singapore? I also love to learn about stories about these notable pioneers who were buried here. Did you know that the Battle of Singapore also occurs here? It is really a pity the cemetery is making way for a highway and probably a new public housing town in about 40 years time. Although it is common graves to be transfer from other cemeteries to Bukit Brown due to plans for development. This time round, the graves will be exhumed as there is no other Chinese burial ground that offers permanent resting place. Hence, if Bukit Brown is gone, it is a total lost of a place with such rich heritage.

Wrought iron gate with ornaments in Art Nouveau style at Lorong Halwa
Notice of Exhumation

Hoarding around Bukit Brown

My first tour

Fascinating tree! I think it is good enough for a tree house!
Freshwater stream

Bukit Brown Cemetery was a public Chinese cemetery that had been established in the early 20th Century. It is located between Lornie Road and Mount Pleasant Road, and off Sime Road and Kheam Hock Road. The cemetery was named after its first owner, Mr George Henry Brown. Mr Brown named it Mount Pleasant. The land was then later bought by Mr Ong Kew Ho, Mr Ong Ewe Hai and Mr Ong Chong Chew in 1872 as a burial and farming ground for the Ong Clan. 

Biggest tomb on Bukit Brown belongs to that of Mr Ong Sam Leong and his wife. It tomb is clearly in view from the air. (See below) It has one of the best Feng Shui on the land. 
Aerial view of Bukit Brown. This was taken at the library when there was a Bukit Brown exhibition.
The then Municipal Commissioner Tan Kheam Hock established Bukit Brown as a municipal cemetery (1922) for the Chinese community for both the rich and the poor . Kheam Hock Road was which leads to Bukit Brown is named after him. The Kheam Hock Road Village, located  in the northern part of Kheam Hock Road is one of the villages that existed in the cemetery. Today, you can make out remnants of the village if you look hard enough.

Remnants of the village
Clockwise from Bottom left: The old village toilet, The same toilet and  a well of the village, A fresh water stream, Further down the stream with a stump beside it marking house number

A view from one of the paths (Taken during Tour 1)
Same site as above.
Some of the tombs have private gates around them as boundaries. Some tombstone are simple. Some are more elaborated,
(Taken during Tour 2- Preparation for Qing Ming- grass were cut)
After Qing Ming (Tomb Sweeping), coloured papers were spotted. (Tour 3)

Some of the tombs have a very obvious boundary. - by pillars as in far left.  The more elaborated the tombstone the more influential or wealthy the deceased was.
A typical tombstone would include inscriptions such as:
  1. The name of the deceased at the centre
  2. Place of birth
  3. The date of birth & death. (though normally only the date of death is engraved)
  4. The names of the spouse &/descendants of the deceased
All the graves have a Earth deity located near them. Earth deity is commonly believed to be the guardian of graves, protecting the deceased in the netherworld and the providing with the descendants with a good life. It is usually perpendicular to the grave and it is the size of a few bricks in most tombs.
Love these Peranakan tiles used for decoration. The Earth deity is located in front of this tomb, perpendicular to it.

    Here is a tomb of a rectangular grave mound, not of the usual rounded shape which are spotted in majority of  Bukit Brown .
    Grave of Mdm Yeo Boey Neo 
The graves found here are predominantly Hokkien style. The grave mound of the deceased is usually encircled by a boundary, often lined with bricks. (Hence we do not step onto the grave mound  This is seen as an act of disrespect to the deceased) The reason being the Hokkien is a larger community in Singapore and probably because Bukit Brown started as an Ong (who are Hokkien) Clan cemetery. The other reason being, most of the tomb makers serving Bukit Brown are Hokkien and hence, that could also be the reason that the graves of non- Hokkien, tend to follow the Hokkien style.

Difference between a Hokkien Style Grave and a Teochew Style Grave

A Hokkien style grave  with 3 names engraved. Notice there are 2 photos instead of 3. This could be because Bukit Brown is closed for burial since 1973.  Hence, the third person is not buried here.
Look at the Terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. Phrases of poems were engraved on all the 4 pillars
Prominent pioneers as well as the not so prominent pioneers found their resting place here.
Dr Lim Su Min, a descendant,  playing Ukelele at the Tomb of  Mr Tan Kim Ching, son of Mr Tan Tock Seng.
Mr Tan Kim Ching was a philanthropist and leading Chinese merchants in Singapore, he was also Consul of Japan, Thailand and Russia, as well as a member of the Royal Court of Siam. Kim Ching Street was named after him. His tomb was originally buried in  a private burial ground in Changi before relocation to Bukit Brown
Tomb of Mr Cheang Hong Lim , a philanthropist and Chinese community leader.,
(located just in front of Tan Kim Ching's tomb)
Places named after him include Hong Lim Park,  Hong Lim Market, Cheang Wan Seng Place, Cheang Hong Lim Street

He was originally buried in  his family grave located off Alexandra Rd -Mei Ling St.
Tomb of Mr and Mrs Cheang Jim Hean , eldest son of Mr. Cheang Hong Lim
Mr Cheang Jim Hean was originally buried in his family burial ground at Alexandra.
Unique tomb of Mr Tan Boon Cheng. A tomb within a wooden shack with quite a number of dogs guarding it

Tomb of Mr Lee Hoon Leong, our late Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew's grandfather

Sculptures such as these were seen in Bukit Brown

as well as beautiful Peranakan tiles

Not forgetting the Battle for Singapore...

If you are interested in Bukit Brown, do sign up for their regular guided tours which is conducted every first weekend of each month. Do check out their website for different tours as well.

You may want to conduct your own DIY tour using this map but not to wander too far in the terrain for safety reasons. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The FROZEN necklace

I happened to be shopping at H&M and saw these necklaces. It comes as a pair. The wearer could wear both together or separately. I asked Little One whether it would be nice to buy these necklaces and give one of them to her cousin. She graciously told me that she would give Elsa to her cousin because she is considered as a elder sister to her. I was quite surprise that she would have given Elsa because Elsa is her favorite princess. Actually, I shouldn't be, her friendship with her cousin, who was 2 years older than her, blossom rapidly while she was 4 years old. They would be holding hands and playing together whenever they meet each other. When she presented the necklace to her cousin, I could see both of them were beaming in joy! I hope their sisterly love for each other will never die as they age.

Ps: This is not a sponsored post.

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Little One @ Former Command House

Usually, I will not bring Little One along for Heritage walks as she tends to disturb talk to me when the guide is talking. This time round, I had no choice because Hubby was serving his National Service. However, I was glad to bring Little One here because of her love for chandeliers and this place has lots of them. The place is so grand that she enjoyed herself very much exploring around that day. Our guide was a staff member of UBS.

Located at 17 Kheam Hock Road is the UBS Wealth Management Campus. It is a training and conference facility designed to train, develop and certify UBS employees and clients in the Asia Pacific region. Not many would have know that this is the Command House. It was the official residency of the British General Officer Commanding (GOC) of Malaya. It was known as the Flagstaff House then. It was the second Flagstaff House in Singapore. The first Flagstaff house was located in Mount Rosie before the GOC moved over to this building.
The Former Command House is well hidden from view if you are standing at the gate.

The $100,000 Flagstaff House occupies 11.5 acres area of land, on the west side of Kheam Hock Road leading to Sime Road and the Singapore Golf Club (now the Singapore Island Country Club), was completed in August 1938. It was the residence of 16 British military officers, a Speaker of Parliment and a President. It was rented to UBS in 2007 and was gazetted as a monument in 2009. The campus is not opened to public and hence it is a rare opportunity to be able to visit the place during this special heritage tour.

Former Command House
Command House is a two-storey brick structure which includes six bedrooms. Apart from the main building stand three blocks that were originally servants’ quarters. The building was designed by architect Frank W. Brewer. He was being influenced by popular Arts and Crafts architectural movement which emphasised traditional workmanship, simple forms, exposed materials, and folk or medieval styles of decoration. Example of influences of the Arts and Crafts movement found in this building are the distinctive butterfly plan ( where two or four wings of a house are constructed at an angle to the wall of the main building), the combination of roughcast plaster rendering and the facing brickwork with arches for external building facades.
The butterfly plan lay out is most clearly seen from the front of the building

Roughcast plaster finish and facing brickwork with arches.

The building is designed for tropical living, and features a large overhanging roof as well as large doors, windows and vents that allow good cross-ventilation.

Little One wowed by the chandelier as soon as she entered the building. Note the 2 vents above the mirrors and that of the door for cross ventilation? The door actually leads to a staircase all the way to the second floor of the left wing and the ground level of the right wing.
I can't help but notice these bars. I asked our guide but she is not sure why these were installed. They were already there when they rented the building. I noticed the same structure at Goodwood Park Hotel.
Before I touch on the Singapore government occupants of the building, allow me to inform you some WW2 history. I am not sure whether the guide brief on this but we did go to the washroom.

By December 1941, the area surrounding Flagstaff House was known as Sime Road Camp, a military base that included the Royal Air Force Headquarters. GOC Lieutenant-General A. E. Percival, who was in charged of the army, and  Air Vice Marshall C. W. H. Pulford had established the Combined Operations Headquarters of the British Army and Air Force. It was from the Headquarters that Percival commanded the Malayan Campaign against the Japanese and the battle for Singapore.  On 11 February, as Japanese troops were drawing near, command operations were moved to the bunker at Fort Canning (now known as the Battle Box), and Sime Road Camp was abandoned. 

During the Japanese invasion, the Sime Road area near Flagstaff House was the site of heavy fighting. After Singapore fell to the Japanese, Sime Road Camp became an internment camp when more than 3,000 prisoners of war were transferred there in May 1944. while the Flagstaff House was used as the Japanese soldiers’ quarters.

At entrance, towards left wing. Love the chandeliers!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Singapore Heritage Festival- More than Just Chinatown

Last Saturday, we went to Chinatown to immerse ourselves in the Street light-up of Telok Ayer  and cultural performances in Ann Siang Road. 
Display panels about early settlers were found in Ann Siang Hill Park

Rickshaw- a mode of transport in olden days Singapore
Spotted a Er-Hu player and  a Snake Charmer
Nagore Dargah Indian Muslim Heritage Centre

Tea-savouring session at Singapore Yu Huang Gong

Singapore Yu Huang Gong

Thian Hock Keng Temple

A celebration of Ma Zu's (Goddess of the Sea) birthday and a registration counter for Thian Hock Temple

Various Street Food Vendors were seen that particular night

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Jane's Walk

Jane’s Walk is a movement of free, resident-led walking trails inspired by Jane Jacobs to explore our neighborhoods. A series of walks will be happening on the first weekend of May because Jane Jacob's birthday falls on the 4th of May. Some walks may happen simultaneously, so do check on the list of walks and decide on which one you prefer. This is my first walk and I get to learn a lot more about this little red dot. I signed up more than a couple of the walks. On the 2nd of May, it was my longest day out as I signed up for 3 walks! Below are some highlights.

Former Clifford Pier and it's red iron cast lanterns. (Hence it's also named "Ang Teng")

Remains of a village in Bukit Brown cemetery. This used to be a toilet.

Fresh water stream at Bukit Brown

"Live tomb"of Chew Geok Leong and its iconic Sikh guards. These pair are the only colored ones you can find in the whole cemetery.

Former house of Tan Yeok Nee. Pity that we did not have the privilege to go in.

Church of the Sacred Heart. Love those stained glass.
Coconuts in front of Hindu temple. What is the significance? Ever wonder?

Alexandra Canal and its development

We spotted kingfishers too!

Bird Corner in Geylang Serai

Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Grapes are growing in this hidden garden!

This is the place where non -Muslim converts to Muslim

The famous Putu Piring!
Ray fish are found to be sold here in one of the best wet market of Singapore. - Geylang Serai Wet Market
I hope I would be able to blog more about these soon.
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