Saturday, September 29, 2012

A walk through Coffee Hill

Bukit Brown Cemetary with 100,000 graves is the largest Chinese burial site outside of China. Growing up in Singapore, I've never heard of it until this whole controversy about building a highway over it & the need to exhume 4000 graves. Since my parents are from China, none of our ancestors are buried there, I suppose. 

I recently went on a visit with the Nature Society & was struck by how little I know about that place. Apart from the controversy, I read about it being the final resting place for a lot of the pioneers of Singapore, names like Joo Chiat, Gan Eng Seng, Boon Lay, Boon Tat - should be familiar as many places are named after them. Lee Kuan Yew's father & aunt are both buried there. 

But I had no idea the size. We walked for 2 hours & covered only about 75% of the area. While we were there, we came across many people walking their dogs, running & riding (the Singapore Polo Club is close by). It really should be called Bukit Brown Heritage Park (something I came across on the internet which I thought was very apt). Why hadn't I known about this place before ? This is truly a hidden gem in Singapore. 

I don't find anything morbid about a cemetery - in fact a walk through it is like a history lesson. Pere Lachaise cemetary in the middle of Paris, is well visited (not in small part due to Jim Morrison's grave). I fully intend to return & spend more time exploring before it becomes yet another casualty of our development plans. 

 Lovely Peranakan tiles

This is where the highway will run through
Experience it before it's gone

 Interesting fauna & trees
The whole area is well shaded 
hence making it a very cool place for walking & jogging

 A Terra Cotta Warrior stands on guard

Little tags highlighting the celebrity graves

A tomb with a man & his 5 wives
A rich man

 The number sign marks it for exhumation

 Mr & Mrs Ong Sam Leong
the largest grave in Bukit Brown

Intricate stone carving depicting 24 Filial Piety stories
on the grave site of Ong Sam Leong

This is the story of Wang Pou. When his mother was alive, she was afraid of thunder. Even when she was dead & buried, he would run over to her tomb to comfort her whenever there was thunder. 

A Sikh guard
Unique to graves in this part of the world

Combination of Chinese lion, Western angel & Gurkha

That huge binoculars helped us see up close a beautiful blue kingfisher

Mr  Wing our guide, showing us how they used nature to craft toys
Here's a garland that they made in the kampong days

 A useful plant to spot if you heed Nature's call
but do not have tissue paper handy
The soft leaves makes for a good substitute

Mass grave site

Bukit Brown is a beautiful place. 
Unspoilt. Quiet. Hidden. Calm. 

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