Oh, what a busy day! I had signed up to become a docent of NMS - National Museum of Singapore. And today it was our first field trip. We had a whole morning planned out to walk through Fort Canning Hill. I am a Singaporean and I thought I knew everything of Singapore but there is so much more to learn of Singapore history that I wasn't aware of!
We met at 9.45 at NMS as planned at the designated spot. It was drizzling and was a cool 26 deg C. Beautiful weather to start off a walk. Our Volunteer Guides Hillary (Canadian) and Stephanie (French) were wonderfully adept at explaining all the different spots on the hill. Fort Canning Hill is one of the few remaining high spots on this island and there are only a few places in Singapore where the layers of history go deep as this hill.
We were first introduced to a moss covered brick wall which looked rather innocent enough till you take a closer look. The headstones of many tombs have embedded into the brick wall! Apparently, Fort canning was once the first burial grounds for the Christians in Singapore. Between 1822 and 1865, more than 600 burials have taken place at Fort Canning and out of them, around 200 were Chinese christians.
Fort Canning went through a few name changes before it got its current name.
It was first called Bukit Larangan or Forbidden Hill as the locals believed that the hill was haunted by the spirits of the Malay Kings who passed away there. Then, when Sir Stamford Raffles landed in Singapore in 1819 and built his house on top of the hill, he called it Government Hill. It was only in 1861, it was renamed Fort Canning when a fort was built on this site and named after Lord Canning, the Governer and First Viceroy of India. 'Why named after this Canning man?' I asked. Apparently because Singapore was still controlled by East India Company based in Calcutta, India at that time.
We also came across the site of the first Botanical Gardens now relocated to Napier Road. It is a small spice garden now with spices like nutmeg, laksa leaves, pandan leaves present.
Heritage Tree - Kopok Tree which can grow as tall as 40 metres!
Our field trip culminated at a lunch at The Fabulous Bakerboy restaurant, next to Fort Canning Hill. All in all, a lovely field trip that was quite informative. And of course a bonding session with fellow docent trainees. Sweet friendly women from so many different countries. English is not a first language for many of them but they have bravely come forward to learn and train to guide in English. Kudos to you ladies!!
My home is
usually in a mess and has dust settled on almost everything. But I believe laughter and love will win the day. In 20 years, my girls won't remember how messy the house was but will remember the time we spent together and the love they felt...