Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tall tales, way above the ground level

On 14 Aug 2010, I had the great pleasure to be onboard one of the Expedition "H" tours organised by the National Heritage Board in conjunction with the Singapore HeritageFest 2010 event. I was lucky that I could get a place in the tour as there were very limited places available when I registered for the tour.

The tour has an interesting name: Tall Tales: The Lowdown on Singapore's Myths™. According to wikipedia, a "tall tale" is "a story with unbelievable elements, related as if it were true and factual". As such, at the beginning of the tour, I was prepared to be treated to a refutation of many myths. I felt greatly assured that I would have an exciting and educational tour since the tour was conducted by Journeys Pte Ltd, one of my favourite tour providers in Singapore. Tours like Expedition "H" are exciting for me as they allow me to visit various parts of Singapore as if I were a resident tourist.

The highlights of the tour were all located way above the ground level. On these places above the ground level, participants were told of the tall tales and more. If you would like to find out more about what was being shared, please consider checking if there would be any more vacancy to next Saturday's tour.

To respect the copyright of the creative work that the folks at Journeys Pte Ltd have put in, and to sustain the element of surprise for future participants of the tour, let me attempt to lend you a glimpse of my experiences of the tour without giving away any of the very interesting anecdotes and historical facts.

For the discerning and well-informed ones, you may have figured that one of the stops of the tour was the Fort Canning Hill. I think it is a nice place to enjoy both the beauty of nature and to learn about the history of Singapore. Although it was not my first time visiting the Keramat Iskandar Shah and the archaelogical dig at the Fort Canning Hill, it was always a fresh new experience for me to visit these places yet again. I had a good physical workout walking from one part of the Fort Canning Hill to another. Thank goodness that I was reminded to wear comfortable shoes.

I suppose that the Y Cafe at YMCA Singapore had foreseen how enthuasiastic the tour participants would be, and so as a generous gesture, the cafe served each of us a lovely sampler of some of their pastries: apple strudel, potato curry puffs and banana cake. There were free flow of coffee, tea and orange juice to go with the pastries.

My favourite stop was at the Labrador Park. We had the privilege to visit the Labrador Tunnels which was closed for some maintenance and upgrading works. The best part of this part of the tour was that participants get to listen to first-hand accounts from our special guest speaker, Mr. Jeya, about the research and work that he and his team has done, commissioned by the National Parks Board, on the Labrador Tunnels. Mr. Jeya is also a person whom I respect for starting the Original Singapore Walks, and for his work in making history fun and accessible to the general public.

We had the chance to walk into several of the underground tunnels and to see for ourselves the self-made destructions to one of the rooms of the casemate. In addition, we visited a six-inch gun position.

The next stop was a place that I had least expected to visit. It was The Pinnacle@ Duxton. Then again, after tuning in to the tour guide's account, I suppose it makes good sense to visit this building. Afterall, it is a tall building, and it is located at the site where the first two Housing & Development Board (HDB) blocks in that area were built. Furthermore, it is the first 50-storey public housing project in Singapore.

What tall tales did we hear about up on The Pinnacle? That I shall keep these confidential. I suppose only the participants of the tour and the tour guides may know what tales were told.

On the side, I was thankful that my very first visit to the roof-top of The Pinnacle was an extremely educational one. The anecdotes and historical facts that the tour guide had filled me in with were many times more interesting than all the sceneries I could see from the 50-storey roof-top. Anyway, I still took time to enjoy the lovely sceneries from the roof-top. By the way, under normal circumstances, access to the roof-top for non-residents of The Pinnacle would be $5 per person per entry.

At the end of the tour, I can certainly tell everyone that I had went for a value-for-money tour. For $18 per person, I was treated to a nice tea at Y Cafe, an entry to the roof-top of The Pinnacle, a special tour of the currently closed Labrador Tunnels (I learnt that the Labrador Tunnels will be reopened in Sep 2010), a visit to the Fort Canning Hill and lots of well-researched anecdotes and historical facts of Singapore. What more could I ask for?

Many thanks to the National Heritage Board and Journeys Pte Ltd for making this year's Expedition "H" tours possible. I have enjoyed myself onboard this tour.

Details to the Singapore HeritageFest 2010 can be found here:

For the explorers of Singapore, you may find details to the Expedition "H" tours here:


pinkie said...

$18 for all these is worth it... do they charge the same for tourist? Labrador Park is one of the most amazing parks in Singapore... I find it captivating...

tuti said...

one day you must write a book about all the secrets that the tour guides tell you when you go on the many guided tours. ;)
(but i know you won't. you're a good girl. don't want to spoil the fun and spill privileged information.)

oceanskies79 said...

Pinkie: It's $18 per person, for both residents and tourists, young and old. There are limited spaces.

Tuti: (You have guessed it right.) Just join one of the tours to enjoy.