Tag Archives: Bukit Timah

Battle for Singapore 2017 – 75th anniversary of the Fall of Singapore

On 15th February 2017, everyone of us needs to remember one of the important dates in Singapore’s history. 75 years ago, on 15th February 1942, Singapore fell to the Japanese and we entered into a period of history known as the Japanese Occupation of Singapore. It is very crucial and important for Singaporeans (especially for those that did not experience the Japanese Occupation of Singapore) today to learn more in depth on this part of our history.

To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Fall of Singapore, the National Heritage Board (NHB) has organised many different initiatives across the year 2017, starting from the annual Battle for Singapore commemorative event, starting from 16th February to 12th March 2017. There are different activities, guided walks, public talks and activities at the various Museum Roundtable (MR) museums to learn more about the events leading up to the Fall of Singapore, the stories of the Japanese Occupation from the survivors and veterans.

The Battle for Singapore 2017 commemorative events runs from 16th February to 12th March 2017, a total of 49 tours to 11 World War II (WWII) related sites and structures in Singapore. They are interesting and informative guided tours, I strongly encouraged my readers to sign up to learn and know more in depth of the Japanese Occupation of Singapore. There are four new tours for the Battle for Singapore 2017 –

  • Singapore Occupied: This offers a visit to the buildings and sites that held the Japanese Broadcasting Department and the Kempeitai (Japanese Military Police) Headquarters, to name a few.
  • Botanic Gardens to Bukit Brown – a WWII Trail: Walk through the heritage corridor from the Botanic Gardens to Bukit Brown cemetery, and hear the brownies share stories of WWII heroes and prominent personalities at heritage landmarks, including the Jacob Ballas Garden, old Raffles College as well as Former Command House. Explore the remnants and stories of the ‘kampong’ life that was once at Bukit Brown cemetery.
  • Fort Serapong @ Fort Siloso: Discover the fascinating structure of the former Fort Serapong, which was one of the three forts that were built at Pulau Blakang Mati to defend Singapore’s waterways.
  • The Last Days of Empire: Japanese Advance Along Bukit Timah Road, 1942: This walk attempts to tell the harrowing story of the battle based on the grim testimonies of the soldiers who fought in the last days of the British Empire.

(Information courtesy of National Heritage Board)

For more information, please visit www.museums.com.sg and check out their website for more details. Sign up for the guided tours begins on 6th February 2017 at 1000hrs, slots are limited and allocated on a first-come first-serve basis.

During the media preview of the Battle for Singapore 2017, we went for one of the guided tours: The Last Days of Empire: Japanese Advance Along Bukit Timah Road 1942. Here are the details of this guided tour if you are keen to sign up when registration opens –

Tour dates: 25, 26 Feb; 4, 5 Mar 2017

Timings: 9:00 am – 12:00 noon

Meeting point: University Cultural Centre, National University of Singapore

Let me share with you some stories and photos of the locations along this guided tour.

This tour is organised by the National University of Singapore, Southeast Asian Student’s Society in collaboration with National Heritage Board. The tour is led by Dr Mohamed Effendy and Syonan Gallery Docents. The start/meeting point is University Cultural Centre, National University of Singapore.

There is a grass patch beside the entrance of University Cultural Centre, overlooking Clementi Road and Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE). Clementi Road connects to Upper Bukit Timah Road, whereby some of the heaviest fighting between the Japanese forces and British forces, as well as the Australian, Indian, Malay and Chinese volunteers took place along this stretch of road.

WWII marker near to Clementi Road and Dover Road

Our next stop was along Dover Road, at the edge of University Town, National University Singapore. Behind this bus stop, there is a World War II marker/plaque that marks the area where captured commandos from Operation Rimau in 1944 were behaded near Clementi Road and Dover Road. Having read up and research on World War II, I came across Operation Jaywick and Operation Rimau, knew about these two operations conducted by the Allied forces. The location whereby the captured commandos of Operation Rimau was something that I didn’t know and from the tour, I learned something new that afternoon.

Junction of Clementi Road and Ulu Pandan Road

After Dover Road, we went on to the junction of Clementi Road and Ulu Pandan Road. I grew up in Clementi and Clementi West areas (and still living in this area), thus I know the area quite well. Dr Effendy shared on the importance of the hill on the left side of Ulu Pandan Road (where the Singapore Police Force had taken over the Mowbray Camp, formerly used by the Singapore Armed Fores). The area where Pine Grove now sits, was another high point where there were artillery guns placement to defend attackers coming in from the sea but not from inland, that’s where the Japanese came in from.

Junction of Clementi Road and Upper Bukit Timah Road/Bukit Timah Road

This is a major arterial road junction, with Bukit Timah Road and Dunearn Road leading to the city centre of Singapore, while Clementi Road leads towards Pasir Panjang followed by the harbour and city centre. Dr Effendy shared a few stories at this location, on how the Japanese forces advanced towards the city of Singapore.

Bukit Timah Hill (WWII marker at foot of Bukit Timah Hill)

The Bukit Timah area saw some of the heaviest fighting between the Japanese forces and Allied forces. Bukit Timah is a strategic and important location for both British (to defend) and Japanese forces (to attack). The Bukit Timah and Duneran Roads lead towards the city area. There is a WWII marker at the foot of Bukit Timah Hill, giving visitors information on the battles that took place in the Bukit Timah area during the Battle for Singapore in 1942.

Bukit Batok Hill – Syonan Chureito

A beautiful hill park, surrounded by nature and wildlife. This hill has some WWII history behind it, during the Japanese Occupation, a Shinto shrine and war memorial was built on this hill, to commemorate the fallen Japanese soldiers who were killed in action during the Battle for Singapore. Today, the only remains of the Syonan Chureito were the 121 concrete steps built by the prisoners of war.

Former Ford Factory – Syonan Gallery

During the media preview, the Syonan Gallery was not ready to host us thus we did not manage to visit the revamped Syonan Gallery at the Former Ford Factory. This would be the end point for this guided tour. I would try to arrange my timing and schedule, I would visit the revamped Syonan Gallery and add on to below after my visit.

Attending a guided tour is good, informative and interesting. Listening to the subject matter experts do give you a greater, wider and more insights into the history for the Battle of Singapore. Do sign up for the different guided walks that you are interested in.

I am planning to sign up for a few guided tours that I am interested in. I would share my stories and photos after attending the guided tours that I signed up, stay tuned!

* I would like to thank National Heritage Board the invitation to the Battle for Singapore 2017 preview event *

Beautiful Blue-Eared Kingfisher

The Blue-Eared Kingfisher, a small kingfisher just 17cm in size. It has a very beautiful deep-blue and orange plumage on the body and I always wanted to photograph this beautiful Blue-Eared Kingfisher. When I got news from Facebook Groups that the Blue-Eared Kingfisher reappeared at Hindhede Nature Park (Hindhede Quarry) part of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, I decided to go down and wait for this beautiful kingfisher to appear and photograph this special bird. My first trip was on a morning and after waiting patiently with a few other photographers, the Blue-Eared Kingfisher decided not to make an appearance. I went down again in the later afternoon/evening on another Saturday, at around 515pm. The beautiful Blue-Eared Kingfisher flew and perched gracefully for me and 2 other photographers at Hindhede Nature Park lookout point. I quickly took a few photographs of this beautiful Blue-Eared Kingfisher and I was very happy to get a nice photograph of this kingfisher.

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I would continue to explore different areas in Singapore, to photograph and document the bird species living in the different areas. This would take a certain period of time and this is where I can contribute towards bird/wildlife photography, bird census, documentation and nature conservation in my own personal capacity. While Singapore has a “concrete jungle” reputation, she is still a Garden in the City and has rich nature reserves that are home to beautiful birds like the Blue-Eared Kingfisher. There are many green outdoors areas for you to explore and I encourage you all to go and explore our nature reserves in Singapore! Do check out my Wildlife/Animal Photography collection on Flickr and Avian set on 500px!

Green Corridor Run 2013

The Green Corridor, also officially known as the Rail Corridor, was very active today with about 6000 runners. Looking back in time, dating back to the last day of the KTM Railway operations in Singapore, the fate of the Green Corridor was hanging in the balance. Most of us do not know about the exact future and plans for the Green Corridor and it is still currently being discussed and planned by the authorities. At this current juncture, the Green Corridor/Rail Corridor is left as it is (except for Tanjong Pagar Railway Station and Bukit TImah Railway Station being closed to the public). It’s a leisure and recreational space for Singaporeans to relax and enjoy.

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When the news regarding the return of the KTM Railway land back to Singapore, I started photographing and documenting the Green Corridor before the last day of the KTM Railway operations, the changes and developments thereafter. It was a humbling and enriching journey since I grew up near the Old Jurong Line at Clementi during my primary school days and my secondary school was beside Tanjong Pagar Railway Station (10 years near/beside the KTM operations). Even though I did not take the KTM trains, they had been a part of my growing up life. Therefore, I had a strong interest in the Green Corridor and would continue to lend my support in terms of photographing and documenting my exploration stories. Do check out my Flickr collection on the Green Corridor.

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The Green Corridor Run was a great idea to push forward the agenda that the Green Corridor to be preserved and used for outdoor recreational activities such as running, cycling and trekking. Starting from Tanjong Pagar Railway Station to Bukit Timah Railway Station, over a distance of 10.5km, running pass the HDB heartlands and lush greenery along the former KTM Railway tracks route. I confessed that I was planning to sign up and run in the Green Corridor Run 2013 but I didn’t manage to sign up in time when the run reached their quota number of participants. Therefore, I went photographing at different segments of the Green Corridor Run starting from Buona Vista MRT station, overhead bridge near Ghim Moh HDB estate, bridge near Cold Storage Jelita at Holland Road, and finally Bukit Timah Railway Station. It was a sunny day with clear blue skies, while the weather was hot today, it was great for the Green Corridor Run!

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Looking at the number of runners participating in the Green Corridor Run, it was really good to see and feel that Green Corridor has the potential to be a outdoor playground for Singaporeans to enjoy, relax, keep fit and healthy, enjoy the lush greenery and fresh air. The runners also stopped along the route to take photographs for memories sake. At the Bukit Timah Railway Station, the runners were happily taking photographs at the Bukit Timah Railway Station, the partial railway tracks that were preserved and the bridge across Bukit Timah Road/Dunearn Road. There were even people queuing up to take photographs with the Bukit Timah Railway Station signboard!  Nature Society Singapore (NSS) is the official charity partner and I had a good time catching up with the friendly folks from NSS, Kwok Peng and Hang Chong at the end point marquee, along with Eugene Tay from We Support The Green Corridor.

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With a maiden and successful start, let us all make the Green Corridor a haven for everybody to relax, enjoy, exercise, keep fit and healthy, have fun, leisure and recreation among the lush greenery,  conservation and protection of the rich flora and fauna that Green Corridor is part of, the rich heritage, history and culture of the KTM Railway operations in Singapore.

That is why the Green Corridor is very important to Singapore and deserves to be preserved as it is, for the future generations.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

The Rail Corridor Open Day 2012

One year had passed since the final faithful day on the 30th June 2011. The KTM Railway last train pulled away from the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, marking a change in the history and timeline of Singapore. Today, there are no more trains operating from the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station and there were changes to the landscape of the KTM Railway route and train station compound. The railway tracks were removed and returned to the Malaysian Government with some small portions of the railway tracks remaining today.

On the 1st July 2012, the public was once again allowed to revisit the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station and Bukit Timah Railway Station, rekindling their memorie and passion. Besides that, there were nature walks from Bukit Timah Railway Station to Old Holland Road or towards Tanjong Pagar Railway Station for the more adventurous ones. This wonderful and meaningful event is organised by Friends of the Rail Corridor and Nature Society (Singapore).

I started to look back in time when my friends and myself were exploring, photographing and documenting the KTM Railway and the Old Jurong Railway line,

(Abandoned) Railway Track Photo Walkabout 

– (Abandoned) Railway Track (Part 2) Photo Walkabout 

Railway Track Exploration Part 3 – Bukit Timah To Ten Mile Junction

So Long! Farewell! The Last Train from KTM Tanjong Pagar

A Goodbye (Thank You) Walk to the Railway Tracks

Old Jurong Line Update 1 – Teban Gardens to Sunset Way

Bukit Timah Railway Station to Holland Road (Bridge)

These photojournalistic trekking adventures gave me many beautiful memories and photographs (some were sad too) with my friends who were just as enthusiastic, adventurous and making a difference to document and share the last months leading to the return of Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, Bukit Timah Railway Station and the railway land/tracks back to Singapore.

On the Rail Corridor Open Day 2012, I trekked along from Bukit Timah Railway Station towards Ghim Moh HDB estate area before  leaving for Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. While I did not trek from Bukit Timah Railway Station to Tanjong Pagar Railway  Station, I might do it one day in the future with my friends. The lush greenery and vegetation were still as beautiful and mostly untouched. The weather was great with clear blue skies and beautiful sunshine. The participants were treated to great sharing on the flora and fauna by the volunteer guides from Nature Society Singapore along with bird watching too!

At the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station Open House, the activities started in the afternoon and the visitors were allowed to explore the main hall and platform freely. There were screening of documentaries – Platform 1932, wonderful nostalgic photography and memories sharing by Darren Soh and Jerome Lim. Thereafter, there was also a guided tour on Tanjong Pagar Railway Station architecture and history by Dr Lai Chee Kien. Check out Jerome’s post on the Rail Corridor Open Day too!

I took this wonderful and grateful opportunity to explore and photograph those places that you will most likely unable to access them when the Tanjong Pagar KTM Railway Station was in operation, those of the train operations offices, warehouses, immigration customs booths, and kitchens that served very delicious food. The main hall, the ticket counter, the artwork, the platforms and railway tracks were photographed once again, same old place, quite a lot of difference 1 year later.

At 5pm on 1st July 2012, the metal grille gates to the platform were closed again. However, the metal grille gates “resisted” and seemed that they do not want to be “closed” again, they were not allowing the security officers to close them easily before they were closed tight. This omen was spotted by Jerome, who highlighted to me and it was probably sending a message that the Grand Old Dame, our Tanjong Pagar Railway Station wants to be back to her glory days again. When and how will this happen, change and metamorphosis, the supporters, Friends of the Rail Corridor, Nature Society Singapore and We Support The Green Corridor , would be there to welcome her back in operation (without the trains though)


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

A Goodbye (Thank You) Walk to the Railway Tracks

On the 31st July 2011, we were all gathered here on that very day morning, at Bukit Timah Railway Station, for a final Goodbye to our KTM Railway Tracks, organised and initiated by the group, We Support The Green Corridor, it was a walk to remember the last bits and pieces of our history and heritage.

 

This was also an opportunity by We Support The Green Corridor group, to thank their supporters who were part of their movement and to continue engaging the supporters for the future of the Green Corridor. As most of the railway tracks were closed to the public after the official handover from the Malaysian Government to the Singapore Government, this was the final stretch of railway tracks there were open to the public for walking. It dawned upon me that this would be the final chance to walk the railway tracks again in its original form, therefore, I joined in with the rest of the supporters there for the Goodbye Walk.

 

It was also an opportunity to finally meet Eugene, the owner of We Support The Green Corridor, we were conversing via emails on this common topic/interest of ours on submission of my posts, photographs of the Green Corridor and referral to joint project/submission with other organisations. Before the walk commenced, Eugene gave a short speech and was also interviewed by the news crew too! He appeared on the evening news that day!

 

This was also a good time to make new friends who were passionate and interested on the Railway Tracks and the Green Corridor belt. Had a good time chatting with Jerome, who was one of the pioneer guys writing and sharing excellent content and photographs of the Railway Tracks and the Green Corridor. I also met CY Leong, the guy who was behind the Green Corridor maps that can be downloaded here, he did a great job! That’s also Judith Tong from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, who interviewed me at the rest point, Ah Mei Cafe at Rail Mall, wonder if I would see my interview transcript somewhere 🙂

 

Along the trek from Bukit Timah Railway Station to Rail Mall, the signs of removal could be seen, nevertheless, we soaked in the atmosphere and enjoyed the greenery, company of friends and tranquility of the railway tracks. As for the changes and damages to the railway tracks and forestation behind, I would leave it in another post to share my views.

While there weren’t many wildlife that morning, we managed to spot the beautiful dragonflies, fishes in the stream and a few birds. Trekking slowly together behind with Judith, Jerome and Jerome’s daughter, we were informing each other to look out for photography opportunities along the Railway Tracks and the Green Corridor.

Since we were a bit slow, we were pretty much the last group of trekkers to reach the railway bridge at Rail Mall, joining up with the rest of the Goodbye Walk trekkers, for a rest and drink, chatting and sharing our Railway Tracks and Green Corridor stories and adventures. In our chat, we were hoping to trek the Old Jurong Line too someday in the future and I would probably be there to help bring them around for a trek! With that, it marks the end of the Goodbye Walk, in depth thoughts and views of some of the developments, discussions and my own personal thoughts on The Green Corridor can be found HERE on my personal blog. Meanwhile, you can check out more photos of the Thank You Walk here on Flickr!

As much as we are sad about the end of the Railway Tracks, let’s welcome The Green Corridor!

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Railway Tracks Exploration Part 3 – Bukit Timah to Ten Mile Junction

In the continuation of my old and active railway tracks exploration, completing Part 1 and Part 2 that forms the Old Abandoned Railway Tracks, it was now Part 3 and I joined an organised outing by Ivan, hiking from Bukit Timah Railway Station to Ten Mile Junction Railway Track road crossing. Meeting at King Albert Park McDonald with Daphne, Jingwen, Wilfred and Ivan, we had our breakfast before starting off on the Bukit Timah Railway Track Bridge and starting our wonderful “science class” trek up North.

The weather was great, hot and sunny, however, it’s the best for trekking and taking photographs. This is part of the Green Corridor, a long stretch of wildlife, flora and fauna and rainforest, that has been recently getting more attention with the “relocation” and eventual of the active railway tracks and train stations. This is part of our adventure, to document, share and spread the awareness of the importance, relevance and significance of preserving (instead of demolishing) and protecting our greenery, wildlife, forests, history and heritage. It’s like our own mini Red Dragonflies movie too!

Trekking up the railway track, passing through the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve segment, even though it cuts through private housing estate and main arterial roads at their sides, the forests and surroundings are still very well preserved and along the railway tracks, we saw a foot path leading into some parts of the rainforest, found bits and pieces of history of Bukit Timah, we found an old well, with lots of algae, this shows the history and heritage of the early days in Bukit Timah area.

Hiking past the foot of Bukit Timah Hill and Nature Reserve, we spotted monkeys (A Word of Caution : Do Not Feed the Monkeys!*) , dead animals and reptiles in the form of bones and semi-decomposed. This shows the natural processes, natural selection and natural laws of our environment, therefore, we shouldn’t be interfering too much into them, destroying Nature is the same as destroying our Home. We had a great time taking photographs, CSI style, with Ivan leading the “class” in Science and Nature field lessons to Daphne, Jingwen and Wilfred.

Continuing up North, reaching another Railway Bridge along Upper Bukit Timah Road, just beside Rail Mall, we all made a pit stop and refuel before continuing up North along the railway tracks. During our hiking journey, we encountered train services traveling North and South on the railway tracks, Word of Caution : Please be very careful and watch out for the trains! The segment from the Rail Mall onwards, is closer to the urban environment and there were less signs of wildlife and we spotted rubbish and dumping, something that is very disappointing.

Finally reaching our Part 3 end point, near to Ten Mile Junction, near to cross junction of Choa Chu Kang Road and Upper Bukit Timah Road, it’s the railway road crossing. Do check out Daphne’s post on her take of Railway Tracks Part 3!

This is an integral part of our history, let’s all spread the awareness and messages across, to preserve the heritage and history, to protect and preserve our Green Corridor.


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Support The Green Corridor

(Abandoned) Railway Track (Part 2) Photography Walkabout

Do you remember my recent abandoned Old Railway Track Part 1? A photography walkabout from Teban Gardens to Sunset Way Railway Bridge? It was a fun, exciting and challenging photography walkabout, searching, documenting and photographing the abandoned Old Railway Tracks of Singapore.

In my Part 2 series of Abandoned Old Railway Tracks, the 2nd leg starts from Sunset Way Railway Bridge, following the Old Railway Tracks along Sunset Way HDB Estate into the Clementi Woodlands before trekking out into the open near the Bukit Timah area, connecting to the active KTM Railway tracks. This stretch of Old Railway Tracks is part of a bigger blueprint of “We Support The Green Corridor“, making lots of effort and awareness tools, sharing and showcasing the need to preserve the greenery, flora and fauna, animals and wildlife residing inside this Green Belt. Trekking through the Clementi Woodlands today, this is something we have to do, to preserve our history, forests, flora and fauna, not just for us, it’s for our future generations.

The trek wasn’t easy due to the muddy terrain, fallen tree trunks, logs and branches, uneven terrain, whereby trekkers might have to climb up and down terrain in order to hike. No doubt it was quite a physical challenge, we were blessed with beautiful greenery, fresh air, wildlife, flowers and tranquility. I was joined by Jingwen and Leon, exploring this stretch of Abandoned Railway  Track Part 2 and it was a fun photography walkabout experience. Due to the nature, intensity and difficulty of this trek, those planning to trek this route, please be prepared for muddy conditions, uneven terrain and natural obstacles. Wearing the appropriate attire and gear (e.g trekking pole) and suitable shoes (e.g. hiking boots) is a MUST if you are planning to trek.

It was great to see history being preserved, the Old Railway tracks surviving the test of time and nature’s growth. Some old icons were spotted, rubbish, littering and pollution can also be spotted along the trek. Let’s spread the word and awareness, let’s keep this beautiful green belt, our unique green corridor, giving us an avenue and area to enjoy greenery and tranquility in our concrete jungle. Trekking out into the active KTM Railway Track, we continued our hike up to Bukit Timah Railway Station, the straight and open Railway Tracks, going to be an integral part of Singapore’s history soon.

Now, I shall let my photographs do the talking ….. Don’t forget to follow “We Support The Green Corridor in Singapore“!


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