Monday, 13 March 2017

The Forgotten Hill of Lost Souls

I usually walk pass sometimes on weekends along Telok Blangah and Mt Faber Hill just opposite the road of the former World Trade Centre built in 1977 (now HarbourFront Centre) since 1980s, the first cruising which my family including my in-laws and I boarded a cruise "Superstar Leo" in 1999, followed by Superstar Virgo on the same year then few years later boarded Superstar Leo, Star Pisces, Superstar Aquarius and so on. Boarding point at former World Trade Centre that I frequent in those times and one of my cousins' mom opened travel agency located at level 2 Harbourfront centre and has been operating for more 2 decades that provides ferry tickets to Batam and leisure cruise for a shot gateway holiday or even one day cruising too. I did help my auntie's agency just for a while even though she wanted to employ me (she saw my name card on my wallet!) because she knows I worked for 20 years as A/c Officer cum Shipping Executive in Jurong. Giggles.
Oh yes, the mentioned of Telok Blangah was also known as Kampung Temenggong because of the resettlement of the Temenggong and his followers to the area. The village slowly fell in shambles after families of the Temenggong uprooted and moved to Johor Baru in 1864, whilst Mt Faber (106m above sea level) was originally named Telok Blangah Hill.Well, back to the trails that I joined the same group and once again they organised the same trail as last year in my blog - The Greatest Forgotten Hill , this time maybe a different or two more locations. And I blog more history unfolded as below, as I had read old magazine long ago when I was working at that time in Jurong mid 1980s. My ex-colleagues (Malay/Muslim) told me the famous historical figures in Sg. I found the sources on the website that similar to the old book I read, borrowed from my Malay colleagues.
Huge Crowds at Seah Im foodcentre
Just as I expected, huge crowds gathered around at Seah Im food centre at 8.15am-8.45am and it took a little late to mark an attendance of the participants. And I, as a volunteer of the TREE group and help them to secure for their participants' safety. Well, I am not alone as there are about 5-6 volunteers being picked among the group earlier as they (volunteers) wish to help them in need.
Admins giving a short speech
At 9.00am sharp, we proceeded our journey to the old burial ground located at Marang Road within a short distance from Seah Im foodcentre.
Encik Tuah briefing on Marang cemetery
The Marang Trail that leads us to 200 year old cemetery that buried deep in the ground in the remote area and it's located at small road namely Marang Road up the hill a few distance away from Seah Im food centre on the right.
Burial Ground
Malay Kampong Marang built on stilts unlike Chinese kampong sat on land, was located at the top of the hill near Marang road. They drew water from wells in the Kampong. 
Resting Place of Inhabitants of Kampong Marang
Several dozens of tombs are believed to be the final resting place for the inhabitants of Kampong Marang, long forgotten after a big fire. 
 Headstones of lost souls
Some of the tombs as old as back in 1866.
Tuah gave his talks at Royal Mausoleum
Thereafter, we headed to the Masjid Temenggong Ibrahim along Telok Blangah road not far from Marang road.
Mosque's signboard
The trails including the most prominent figures that are buried in Royal Mausoleum located in Telok Blangah.
No Photography at Inner Mausoleum
Currently, the signboard has implemented, placed outside the staircase leading to the Royal Mausoleum two months ago - NO Photography is allowed inner Royal Mausoleum. The graveyards in the compound within the Mausoleum, photograph is allowed. To my sign of relief, the photos that I took last year was okay as I believe the staff or the public had seen photos in my blog and thus very worried about this and earlier that last year I had a guts feeling after a trip at the mosque. I felt a sense of regrets and concerned about the photos in 2016 that the participants took lots of photos just like me without knowing the serious consequences after I saw a blog or website earlier before trip to the mosque that time and I blogged the sacred tombs in it. Oops! And TREE admin Tuah in his understanding that it was okay since the 'past' photos shot last year. My apologies. I do understand the reasons why it is not allowed to be photographed. Just like sacred temples, churches and others that are NOT allowed to be photographed in other countries including Sg. There are two photos Tombs of Daeng Ibrahim (brown headstone) & Engku Muhamad Khalid and Tombs of Daeng Abdul Rahman & Engku Salmah bte Engku Muhamad Khalid taken last year.
The reason was like... whatever the sacred places, historical sites and buildings, there are signage or signboard indicated that placed everywhere or onto the wall to remind the public refrain from taking a picture. 
Inside the Royal Mausoleum, this is the King's tomb, it is to remind us not to 'hit' or something like "disrespect" the dreaded king as sovereign king overwritten on the tombs. That means we have to show our respects to the King. So NO PHOTOGRAPH is Allowed.
Mosque Prayer Hall (formerly Audience Hall)
The mosque land is owned by the Sultan of Johor. However, the administration of the mosque was taken over by the Johor Islamic Religious Department. Mosque committee comprising Singaporeans and Johor. Every three years, officers and employees in the 'present' mosque would be replaced. Officials working in a Malaysian mosque. They have provided shelter and they live with their families. It is said that the king is more powerful than the laws of Malaysia and Singapore. The king had preceded the laws of Malaysia and Singapore in the past. The Sultan of Johor always visit the mosque and tombs every year. Sultan Ibrahim Ismail, the Sultan of Johor, is the sixth generation of the Temenggong Abdul Rahman. He visits the mosque and tombs on the feast of Ramadan, the feast of the Hajj, the death of his father and his birthday. Many officials of the Johor Royal was there to make preparations for Hari Raya Puasa as the Sultan of Johor will make a visit to the tomb in the morning.
Credit: Sg Malay Community
A history of Temenggong Mosque and Treaty Tent
Temenggong Abdul Rahman was an important figure in the history of Singapore. He has found Sultan Hussein and Mr. Raffles to sign an preliminary agreement in 1819 at Treaty Tent to allow the United East India (EIC) to open a factory in the south of Singapore and at once proclaimed Tengku Long (King Hussein) as the Sultan of Singapore (There are other sources say that Tengku Long crowned Sultan of Johor).
When Temenggong Abdul Rahman died in 1825, the East India Company (EIC) did not appoint a new Temenggong. His eldest son Temenggong Daeng Ibrahim just appointed a new Temenggong by EIC in 1841. At that time, piracy is rampant. The British eventually establish good relationships with gracious in their efforts to eradicate piracy. EIC has recognized the sovereignty of the mainland Johore to Temenggong Daeng Ibrahim.
In 1823, the Palace (designed in European taste) - Istana Lama were built, by Temenggong Abdul Rahman and his followers in the slope of Telok Blangah's Hill, just beside the road name of Temenggong road (was named after Temenggong Abdul Rahman). The old Istana Lama was then demolished after it was sold to Bata Shoe Factory which was occupied the site in 1964 to make way for the carpark. That what was left of the Temenggong's property in Telok Blangah is the Johor State Mosque (formerly Temenggong's Audience Hall) and the royal graveyard within the compound of the mosque (now Masjid Temenggong Daeng Ibrahim) that holds the remains of Temenggong Abdul Rahman ( now at Royal Mausoluem).
There was a Malay ruler and Sir Raffles at the Treaty tent that was once stood at the north side of the river bank (Sg river) at that time in 1819 where Temenggong Kampong (near the present Cricket Club) located Sg river (sea). There were 100 small huts, the large house/hut belonged to Temenggong. Beside the huts, there were Post Office, Public Offices, the court house and police station erected. Later that year, Temenggong's residence finally moved to Telok Blangah road. In the past, Singapore was a pirates’ nest by the time Raffles arrived. The countless skulls on the banks of the Sg river. These were supposedly the remains of the victims of pirates who were brought here to be slaughtered.
In 1862, upon the demise of Temenggong Abdul Rahman (d. 1825), Istana Temenggong were later demolished for construction of Audience Hall, pentagonal in shape to cater the growing influence of his son, Temenggong Daeng Ibrahim, father of the most brilliant ruler HRH Albert Baker.
In 1868, Temenggong Daeng Ibrahim than later remove his office in Telok Blangah to Tanjung Puteri in 1866. The "Pentagonal Audience Hall" then later converted into Mosque, and the compound were converted into Graveyard which still stands today.

Credit: Sg Malay Community
Over a century, the 'riverbank' of Singapore were already inhabited by groups of people living on Malay boats near Temenggong's house. The Orang Laut (as seen in pic above) were found mainly along the Singapore River, the Kallang River as well as other creeks and rivers. There was also a community of Orang Laut hidden in the bay at Telok Blangah (near former World Trade Centre [WTC] now Harbourfront Centre). The Orang Laut were well known in the 1830s for being pirates or having been actively helping pirates to prey on merchant shipping of the rapidly growing port in Sg.
Coat-Of-Arm
The Royal influence coat-of-arm is shown and the signage still maintain "Johor Darul Takzim" even in the hearts of Singapore. At that time the mosque was unable to repair due to the dilapidated state of the building. Thereafter,Sultan Ibrahim has decided to build a new mosque but maintain the original shape of the building (New Mosque to replace Masjid Jamek, The Straits Times, April 13 1991). In order to maintain the values of history, the name of the mosque has been maintained. Previously, the mosque served as a Hall. Once a week, gracious and Penghulu kampung (Village Headman) be consulted in the hall.
Temenggong’s new area stretched from Tanjong Pagar to Telok Blangah and covered approximately 200 acres of land. He built his house here and on his new land he grew spices, fruit and gutta percha and he became prosperous.
Bathing enclosure covered with dense trees
Within the graveyard, a defunct red bricks structure still stands over the years when I first visited last year conducted by TREE group. It was the resting place of the rich that was destroyed long time ago. I presume. Oh yes, in front and behind the Royal Mausoleum among numerous other graves is the special bathing area (now covered with dense trees) of Temenggong Abdul Rahman. There was a running stream which flowed from Telok Blangah Hill (Mount Faber) to the bathing enclosure. There is a well up the hill slope.
 Gravestones levelled above
Granite Gravestone mounded
Muslim graves usually mounded or levelled above the surface of the ground, about a hand's height. Markers are usually simple headstones that may be in the form of a ball on top of a pole for males and a flat board for females. 
Participants walked up the steps
It is forbidden to walk on, sit or lean on, or build structures upon graves, I presume. Muslim headstones are normally made of granite or marble (for aristocratic persons). Nowadays, people would visit and even walk on beside tombstones or graves to learn their stories and historical sites. Hopefully, the souls of the dead wouldn't mind and of course the 'living' persons don't create any disturbances to the dead.
Group at Royal Mausoleum
Photo credit: Sarafian (Tuah)
The staircase leading to the Royal Mausoleum, we took a photo group. The area of the land were inherited by Temenggong Abdul Rahman by written agreement with Sir Stamford Raffles and of what the street name of "Telok Blangah" holds and untouchable for Singapore's authority for decades.
Modern Style Bata Shoe Factory
Photo Courtesy by Bata Shoe 
Bata Shoe coin bank in the 1960s
In 1960s, my mum bought my 1st Bata Shoe at the factory for my Kindergarten and was given a 'free' pair of 'coinbank' Bata shoe and I have kept for more than 5 decades till now.
Oh yes, do you know... the former site of Istana Lama was where the modern old style Bata Shoe Factory was constructed at 66 Telok Blangah road in April 1964 to make way for the carpark, located along between Marang Road and Temenggong Road after Istana was demolished, now the present HarbourLights building is after the Bata factory was demolished. It is not technically next to the Mosque. I recall after I read the articles in the news about 8 years ago sometimes in 2009/2010. Not many people know where Istana Temenggong was in the first place. Usually there were two Istana. The 'present' Masjid Temenggong (Mosque) which belongs to the Government of Johore (Masjid Kerjaan Johor) was previously a reception hall of the Temenggong’s residence.
Radin Mas School in its heyday
Credit: Ong Kim Seng's Oil Painting
We walked along the Telok Blangah road to Mt Faber hill where the shrine of Radin Mas Ayu located at the top of the hill. There was once Kampong Radin Mas located at Bukit Purmei and Telok Blangah areas. Kampong Radin Mas had been demolished and the villagers relocated to flats and some of people live at bungalows built by their contractor builder after they bought a plot of land. The main building of this Istana (pic above) was converted into a school in 1926.
Radin Mas Primary School@Bukit Purmei
Photo taken by me in 2012
The Radin Mas School that was once stood next to Istana building in the area before it moved to another premises in 1984, the school (now known as Radin Mas Primary School) was relocated at its present site at the junction of Bukit Purmei and Lower Delta Road, and has since become a co-educational English medium school. The 'current' School (pic above) taken in year 2012 when I visited my auntie's bungalow just up the hill slope
Staircase to My auntie's bungalow
Photo taken by me in 2012
Oh yes, one of my aunties' bungalow is at Bukit Teresa road alongside Bukit Purmei after the demolition of Kampong Radin Mas and Kampong Pahang which hold historical sites. Several bungalows were sprung up alongside Bukit Purmei and Bukit Teresa at the hill slope. The staircase which is near to the Radin Mas Primary School and ATM "UOB" machine located not far from the School down the hill slope.
Princess Radin Mas Ayu tomb (2016)
The next journey will be at Mt Faber....as we walked up the wooden steps in the painted yellow and the crowds gathered up the hill and saw Pakcik Daeng Zainal on the road below the shrine.
Crowds gathered
A trek to the historical places, the most popular places Sultan Royal Mosque and Puteri Radin Mas Ayu Shrine that brought and share the history of the prominent rulers and legends of the princess. Sg had lost its history not to be forgotten in times to come.
To Mt Faber Park and Faber Point
Thereafter, we headed to the Mt Faber Park and Faber Point at the top of the hill where the small Merlion is located. Mt Faber Park is about 56 ha which opened in 1965, is one of the oldest parks in Sg.

Faber Point in 2015
My last visit to Faber Point was two years ago but before that we went to Faber Peak in 2014 for trekking. Now this time, I went with the TREE group. The 'two' structure has been repainted and a signage (red) mounded onto the wall.
Faber Point in 2017

As we continued our journey to Faber Point after walked pass the park towards the location which the group had planned to - Japanese Tomb, Lost Reservoir Hill and the last journey to Seah Im Tunnel.

Merlion Sculpture@Faber Point

A small landmarks at Mount Faber including the Merlion Sculpture and the Danish Seaman’s Church nearby.
Copper-tooled mural panel
After passing by this circular platform, which is decorated with copper-tooled mural panels, featuring the colourful history and lifestyle of Singapore.
Walked down the steps from circular platform above
Walked down the steps to the slope further ahead then continued on walking till the end of the fence located.
To Japanese Tomb & Keppel Hill

The 'barricade' gate installed to prevent the visitors or tourists from venturing into the wood thick forests. But we managed to pass thru the opening gate that lead by Encik Tuah.
Into thick jungle of the lost world
In the dense forests seem too difficult to overcome the fear of mosquitoes and sun-flies bites under hot & humid weather. 
Decaying tree stump
 Volunteer Diham 'double-check' on the participants 
Dense jungle or forests, lots of 'fallen' branches thus twist around, preventing us passing through on the uneven slope up and down, blocked us the path.
 2 participants at bridge path
Some even cross over the decaying tree stump that has grown fungus while othera squatting down in order to cross the short path bridge under the tree trunk to the other side of the hill. 
Later it turned out that we passed the wrong way and turned back to the same path by crossing under the tree trunk. Hahaha...
Tree branches twist around in the dense jungle
We finally reached at the abandoned 2m deep large pool that still in use and managed by PUB.
Forgotten Reservoir (2014)
Photo taken by Lina Catcat (me)
As the track lead us to the abandoned of Keppel Reservoir at the hill dated back in early 1940s where there was early settlements nearby during colonical period or before WW2.
Red-Brick steps days of yore
'Alexandra' inscribed on the brick
The reservoir within the compound was built of old red bricks days of yore which I could see some bricks scattered around the forest, one of the bricks I found on the ground close by, the word 'Alexandra' inscribed on it. It is possible that Alexandra Brickworks (established in 1899) that built on structure and steps within reservoir during colonial period as the company is located junction of Alexandra road and Pasir Panjang road where my hubby's company was once located in early 1970s. Oh yes...I was there in Nov 2014 with my friends after the news announced. It was reported that two soldiers and a teenage boy were drowned in this reservoir between 1936 and 1948.
Diesel Pipes leading to the reservoir
Closeup: Diesel Pump attached with tube Pipes
Broken Clay Pot
I saw diesel pump attached with tube pipes leading to the reservoir, probably drawing water from it and it's been there for a long time before it discovered a few years ago.
Warning Sign and a red clay pot (ground)
Some broken pots are found lying on the ground where the 'Warning' signage attached to the tree trunk and a red clay pot is seen on the ground next to the reservoir (foreground).
Chinese Antique Elephant Statue 
Along the forest path, I stumbled a Chinese antique elephant statue on the ground and wonder why it was there. I have seen many types of vintage Chinese elephant statues everywhere and even at my relatives' bungalow. It could be left by Chinese villagers who lived in the forest as I recalled that there were some 'Chinese' villages or the shops attached linked to the home who built their house near to the reservoir in the past.
Out of the thick forested juncle
After we walked pass the elephant statue and finally escaped from the thick forested in the jungle which earlier we did lost keeping track or feeling lost in the jungle that ambushed us completely after a long search the way out. Yeah! But......
 After pass thru the metal Gate and path
That's not the end of our journey, still we have to walk pass to the whitewashed metal 'locked' forest gate and the path where we left our footprints to remind us of the long path route that we had taken on the trail.
Small sand footpath
Sand footpath to the main road
Then we came across the small sand footpath while turning to the left side which just above the hill to the main road below that is seen clearly or kena spotted by public and commuters but not forgetting our group down below the road looking at us! Alemak!
To the main road below
Feeling tired while walking since morning and finally reached to the destination (the main road) almost 2.00pm in the afternoon. 
To the Seah Im old defunct tunnel
I asked Encik Tuah, thinking it was the end of our journey but it's not. Wah....the last part of the trail to the unknown tunnel hidden at the carpark near Seah Im road where a huge old kapok tree or I can say in Spanish - 'Ceiba' tree which is similar tree in other countries whenever I travel. The buttress of the Ceiba (Kapok) helps to support its sizeable trunk.
The road was named after Ang Seah Im (Tong-An district, Guangzhou China) in 1927 after he passed away in the same year, a well-known miner, his business comprised rice, rubber and trade, he owned properties in Malaysia and Sg, was declared bankrupt in 1914 in his opium addiction. His tombstone is at Bukit Brown.
Seah Im tunnel (air raid shelter)
Photo taken by Lina Catcat (me)
Well, I often passing by the area for a long time but didn't notice there is a pre-war tunnel stood for decades as 'red bricks' air raid shelter till the news spread out. People into believing it is a tunnel or a bunker. I recalled one of my uncles who lives in UK that I visited in 1989. I saw piles of red bricks built on the high wall of what a semi-circular hole of similar a tunnel in Sg. My uncle laughed and said it's just a shelter or some sort of air raid shelter when it rains, the people as well as the children will run for a shelter till the rain stops then I laughed. But I know some sinister story about this shelter. So he didn't say much about the history of air raid shelters that he knows of. Anyway, I don't wish to know much of this thingy tunnel. It's just a shelter of an open ground built across Telok Blangah road. As long as I could remember there was once the housing estates were built over there as well as bungalows at Temenggong road up the hill where one of my old friends' relative who lived there.
I remember one of the bungalows been demolished and the structure gate and stonewall of the 'demise' bungalow, still stands today hidden away in the forest when I went in year 2013. Does anyone have heard of this?
In the end, the crowds disperse in different directions and I am glad everything went well and the team marshals including Admin TREE had a hard day since morning. At least, we are happy and able to help when in need. 

3 comments:

  1. Thank you for the well-written and thoroughly researched blog with many photos as 'memory-aids' to help the readers.

    As a volunteer of the TREE group and help them to secure for their participants' safety, you are fully involved and expressed the sentiments of the participants and yourself.

    Thank you for sharing the memories of the former BATA shoe factory at Telok Blangah Road.

    Your blog is interesting, informative and educational on the little-known history of Singapore. Thank you for sharing your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Amazing write up Lina. You have that photo of the Bata shoe that was once the Istana. Thank you.

    Sarafian

    ReplyDelete