Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Bukit Brown Cemetery

Today, we visited Bukit Brown Cemetery (BBC) on our bikes again. Though this time unlike our previous ride, instead of just riding through, we got to know more about the history and ecosystem surrounding it.

The dedicated group behind the Save Bukit Brown Cemetery - the roots of our nation Facebook page conducted a guided tour around BBC and it was through it that we realized there's more to BBC than just the tombs. There's heritage, history and a natural ecosystem that dates as far back as the 1840s.

A big group gathered.

We were fortunate to have the good people at Nature Society of Singapore walk us through.

George Henry Brown, after which BBC was named after, first bought the huge plot of land after he arrived in Singapore in the 1840s. There was a hill around the area that he found to be so pleasant, that he named it Mount Pleasant.

Some of you may have heard of the nickname Kopi Hill, which translates to Coffee Hill. Word has it that George Henry Brown tried to grow coffee on the hill but did not succeed.

Since then, the area has grown to become a home to many flora and fauna.

This tree itself is a fine example of a natural ecosystem.

We learnt how BBC is now a natural habitat and home for the endangered Straw-headed Bul Bul . These songbirds communicate with each other via singing. Slowing down and listening, we heard the sound of Bul Buls singing in the background. We are not bird watchers/listeners but it was pure joy.

And there was the sound of the Asian Koel . If you listened carefully, you'll notice a "Ko-el" sound coming from the surrounding trees. That's the Asian Koel, another resident bird.

The common argument is that the dead should make way for the living. The question now really is if there are really no alternative sites for urban redevelopment? And it's not just about the tombs. There's a thriving green community at BBC. To think that this home could be taken away from them to aid urbanization (new 8 lane road we heard) in a couple of years time really saddens us.

Just by looking around us, we could feel nature at its best and in Singapore, being the urban jungle it is, that can be a rare sight.

Riding alone the main track, we came across this noticeable tomb, with Sikh guards protecting it. It was like a blast to the past. Such was the detail of the statue that they were armed with a rifle and accompanied by a loyal watch dog.

The sticks with red markings are indications of the tombs being marked for exhumation.

It was a pity that we couldn't trek up the hills as we were on our bikes. Though in that short span of time, we had already learnt so much.

This is just a sneak preview to what lies within BBC, there is so much more that we haven't covered.

The writing's pretty much on the wall and it really saddens us that BBC, so filled with heritage and a natural habitat for so many species of flora and fauna will be gone in a few years time.

While it's still around, we urge you to re-visit it for the days of this pleasant treasure are unfortunately numbered.

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