1st January (Thursday)
It is New Year's day and WG suggested that we pay a visit to a temple we have not visited for many years. It is Bao En Si (报恩寺) along Chwee Chien road, just off Pasir Panjang road. This is a very peaceful temple and the temple's caretaker - Mr Lee, is very friendly.
The temple is currently under renovation and will be completed by end of the year. A number of its rooms are completed and it is already open up for visitors to visit and participate in its activities. This is the new main hall with a pagoda at the top.
Though the main shrine area is slightly enclosed, but we still managed to find our way in. The back of the temple overlook Bukit Chandu (Kent Ridge Park). While we were there snapping away our photos, Mr Lee came in with a few visitors. He asked us whether would we like to join in for his introduction on the history of this area. We happily agreed to it.
He began by telling about the story of Bukit Chandu. We have heard the WWII story before. But we were taken aback by another story, the story of Bukit Chandu under the British rule. Bukit Chandu is a malay word for Opium Hill. Throughout his story, it really raise a few important questions that we missed out previously. Why were young Malay soldiers recruited to fight the war for the British after only 2 weeks of training? Why did the Japanese invaded down Southeast Asia after a 30 years break from their last battle? The history books did not answer these questions and Mr Lee explained to us the reasons behind it. I shared with a few of my close friends what Mr Lee shared with us. It is really quite revelationary.
Mr Lee brought us to a section of the temple still under renovation. There is this small area enclosed by fence and he mentioned that while the temple is undergoing upgrading, the workers came upon this rock-solid structure. He inquired with the National Heritage Board and found out it is actually a Gun Turret base. The National Heritage Board let Mr Lee decide whether he wish to remove it, buried it or keep it. Mr Lee opted to preserve it and to share it with the future generations. This temple is very environmentally and elder friendly. Visitors to this temple should check out how they go about doing it.
It started raining heavily shortly after and we have to take refuge in the temple. We proceeded to the dining hall and started chatting. It is really a fascinating discussion we have for the next 1 hour or so. Two of the visitors are on a short visit from Australia. We discussed on many things, ranging from topics on the economy, Buddhism, the coffin experience in Thailand, history of Singapore and so on. It's been a while since we last had such a meaningful and fruitful sharing. (The last time was last year during Pa Auk's retreat). It is perfect when we have people coming from different age groups and coming together discussing on matters of life.
There are many cats in the temple. Here is Mr Lee carrying this cat. The cat is very close to Mr Lee and will follow him around wherever we went.
We bid a farewell to the temple. But we know we will be coming back in the future again. Thank you Mr Lee for your sharing.
4th January (Sunday)
Singapore's Southern Ridge is officially opened last year. I have been looking forward to visit it since I read it on the newspapers while overseas. This time round I finally have the chance. Sunday is normally a family day for me. But my family will be away during this day, so I have the chance to arrange with FP on the adventure to the Southern Ridge. I rendezvous at his house at 12pm. After lunch, we took a bus down to Pasir Panjang road. We begin our adventure at 2.30pm from Pepys Road. The entire Southern Ridge journey consists of many hills to climb, so we have to be physically ready for it.
From Pepys, we begin our way up to the top of the hill. Winding through the hills, we finally arrived at the Reflections at Bukit Chandu. This is a house dedicated to the Malay soldiers that fought and died during World War II.
Here is a model of the soldiers manning a mortar.
From the side of the Reflections at Bukit Chandu, it connects directly to the Canopy Walkway. This is actually a raised wooded pathway along Kent Ridge park, allowing visitors to have a panoromic view of the area.
There are clear direction signs along the way so visitors will not get lost throughout the entire journey. This is our starting compass. From Canopy Walk, we will be proceeding to Hort Park.
The route to the Hort Park meanders through the hills down. If you have a good pair of shoes, you can just bash down the hills. I come equipped with my simple slippers, but it is of no problem bashing down too.
The HortPark has several glasshouses containing plants from all over the world. We have this temperate glasshouse kept in well regulated temperature and humidity, allowing flowers to bloom all year round.
Beyond the glasshouses, we walked through the Hort Park.
The kids will love it here. It has many playgrounds and below we have figurines from the Wizard of Oz.
A little Dino park.
Pavilions with different themes also lined the entire stretch of Hort Park. Visitors can just sit back and enjoy the peace in this area.
At the end of Hort Park, there are also opportunities for fine dining just next to a quiet pool of water. We took a short isotonic break here.
I went to check out this circular flight of stairs leading down and came back up again.
From Hort Park, we were led directly to the next area, the Alexandra Arch. This bridge is tall and spans across a fast traffic road.
From the Alexandra Arch, we begin our next segment of journey at the Forest Walk, which stretches the entire area of Telok Blangah Hill Park. Some of the walkways are perched very high off the ground. If you were to look from the side or just look through the holes, you will realise it is really high up.
It is a straight road ahead.
While walking down the lane, we noticed this no-traffic straight road with zig-zag lines by the side. To those who are new to Singapore's traffic rules, zig-zag lines mean no stopping.
There are many park visitors trying out the Forest Walk too.
The highest point of Telok Blangah Hill Park is the Terrace Garden. This place is really a great spot for photo-taking. I'm actually quite surprised such a place exist.
After reaching the hilltop, we took a short break at one of bench. Savouring the moment.
Here I am posing at one of the edge.
Towards the end of Telok Blangah park, we noticed more pavilions along the way.
Here is the entire map starting from Reflections at Bukit Chandu at the right hand side to our final destination at Vivo City at the left hand side. We are more than 50% past and is approaching Henderson Waves.
Henderson Waves is actually a very high-levelled pedestrian bridge. There is a mark on the bridge wood indicating it is 77.88m above sea level (20 storeys high). It spans across Henderson Road.
Henderson Waves is named for its wavy design.
Here is Henderson road, check out its height. It's even taller than the surrounding residential flats.
It is also a great place for visitors to rest and chill out. You are closer to the sky over here than the anywhere else in the vicinity.
We arrived at Mount Faber Park. It is another uphill climb to the top. Along the way, we caught sight of the Singapore's city skyline and residential areas.
At the top of Mt Faber park is our Singapore icon, the Merlion. This one is not spraying water.
We can also catch sight of the cable car and Sentosa island in the backdrop.
While walking down Mt Faber hill, we saw some beautiful flowers along the walkway.
The final part of the journey is along Marang Trail which just leads downhill through a forested path towards Marang Road. Once there, we can see Vivo City. It is 5.30pm when we completed the entire journey. So the Southern Ridge walk at a normal pace is 3 hours in all. It feels good to be back in air-conditioned shopping area after a vigorous outdoor trek.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Singapore Southern Ridge [04/01]
1st January (Thursday)