Friday, September 21, 2012

Yet another Changi Museum War Trail: End of Empire

Kranji Memorials. Designed by Colin St. Clair Oakes.

For reasons I could not figure out, I felt an urge to attend the tour titled End of Empire - Singapore 1942™ (Battlefield Tour), A Changi Museum War Trail™ by The Original Singapore Walks about a week ago, on 12 Sep 2012. I had considered revisiting this tour since this year was the 70th anniversary of the fall of Singapore.

I was very pleased with my decision to go for this tour. The tour rewarded me with a much deeper appreciation of a part of my country's history, a needed break from the usual routine, the convenience to visit Mount Faber, Labrador Park and the Kranji Memorials on a weekday afternoon, and the company of wonderful people. Within the short duration of about 3.5 hours, I was rewarded with a meaningful and fulfilling tour of my country. This is one tour in Singapore that I would strongly recommend for anyone who would like a deeper appreciation of WWII history in the Southeast Asia region, specifically the then Malaya and Singapore.

A mural at Mount Faber depicting moments from the past.

Coincidentally, it turned out that I attended the tour on the 67th anniversary of a significant and related event. 67 years ago, on 12 Sep 1945, the Japanese surrender ceremony was held at the Municipal Building of Singapore (now known as the City Hall). That surrender ceremony official ended the Japanese Occupation of the Southeast Asia. (For more information, please refer to Singapore Infopedia: Japanese surrender.) This piece of information was perhaps an affirmation of my decision to attend the tour out of the blue.

The view from Mount Faber.
Keppel Harbour used to be located where Reflections at Keppel Bay now stands.
The island on the left is Sentosa.

Meeting point
The tour's meeting point was at Little India MRT station. From the starting point, our hospitable guide took us on a bus-tour which seemed to be a journey that took us to explore a significant part of Singapore's past.

The stunning view from Mount Faber
Our visit to Mount Faber offered a stunning view. Yet, it was the rich stories behind the significance of Mount Faber in the defense of Singapore that intrigued more. I felt thankful that our guide presented a complex part of Singapore's history in an accessible way and entertaining way. If this topic seems to interest you, do go for this tour. You are likely to love it like I did.

Labrador Park. Casemate.
Memories of Labrador Tunnels and more
One of the other highlights of the tour was the stop at Labrador Park. The casemate and the Labrador Tunnels were still closed to the public during the time of my visit. While I was at the casemate, I fondly recall one of my previous visits to the Labrador Tunnels when it was launched in 2005. Although I did not get to visit the Labrador Tunnels, my visit to Labrador Park helped me to better appreciate the kind of jungle terrain that the Allied forces (and the Japanese forces) would have to fight in seven decades ago. It was clearly not a friendly place to fight a war in the tropical jungle.

Labrador Park. This is one place where you can find a real 6-inch gun barrel. 
The view from Labrador Park.

A drive past the Alexandra Hospital 
During the tour, our bus drove past the Alexandra Hospital. I felt heart-wrenching to hear one of the most horrifying massacres that had taken place just before the the Japanese Occupation. It was a poignant reminder of the value of peace, and the deadly price of war.

A glimpse of Alexandra Hospital.

Kranji War Cemetery and the stories of the war heroes
Another highlights of the tour was the visit to Kranji Memorials. The interesting design of the War Memorial also left an impression in me. The Kranji War Cemetery is managed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. It is known locally as the Kranji Memorial.

There, our guide uncovered interesting stories of war heroes and heroines who were commemorated at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery. Some of these stories reflect the exemplary qualities of the human spirit. I was rather impressed by the amount of care that went into the Cemetery and Memorial Register so that the locations of the graves of the fallen soldiers could be traced with relative ease. These fallen heroes and heroines shall have their name liveth for evermore.

Kranji War Cemetery.
The Stone of Remembrance that bears the words "Their Name Liveth For Evermore".

The Cross of Sacrifice.

This is the resting place of Private Breavington who was involved in the Selarang Barracks Incident.

The Cemetery and Memorial Register at the Kranji Memorials.

I have found a sense of solitude and tranquility at the Kranji War Cemetery.

Suggestions and tips for visitors
Overall, this is an educational and entertaining tour for anyone who has an interest to learn about WWII in this part of the world. I strongly recommend this very tour, i.e. End of Empire - Singapore 1942™ (Battlefield Tour), A Changi Museum War Trail™, to everyone who has the intention to attend or has attended the tour Changi WWII™, A Changi Museum War Trail™. These tours complement one another perfectly well! Many thanks to the people from Journeys Pte Ltd for putting this interesting tour together.

Of course, if attending both the tours cannot be made possible due to time constraints, it is still equally wonderful to attend either one of the two Changi Museum War Trail tours.

Reservations are strongly encouraged for this tour. It helps to make reservation at least a day before the actual tour. It would help a lot to be dressed to do some walking even though this is a bus-tour. There are some parts of the tour which would involve some climbing some stairs. Yet, rest assure that not climbing the stairs will not affect the overall experience of the tour. Our tour guide was observed to be helpful to provide alternative options to guest who prefer to miss climbing the stairs.

It helps to bring sunblock lotion, mosquito repellent, and a bottle of water to the tour. Wearing a comfortable pair of shoes will make the feet keep themselves happy throughout the entire the tour.

Last but not the least, enjoy the. Delight in the companion of the guide and the other guests.

End of Empire - Singapore 1942™ (Battlefield Tour)
A Changi Museum War Trail™
Tel: 63251631/ 62142451

Please also read a related post that I have written a month ago: Changi Museum War Trail, my experiences.


eastcoastlife said...

These are some of the places in Singapore I have yet to visit. Thanks for the heads up.

oceanskies79 said...

EastcoastlifeL: It's my pleasure. Enjoy exploring Singapore.