25 February 2016

Red Dot Roaming - Kranji MRT - Kranji War Cemetery

Having caught up with the new stations on the second part of the Downtown line I'm back to 'k' in my Red Dot Roaming series with a trip to Kranji MRT to visit the Kranji War Cemetery and Memorial.

The cemetery is the final resting place of the Allied soldiers who died during the Battle of Singapore and the subsequent Japanese Occupation as well as those who died in other parts of South East Asia during World War II. Before the war the Kranji area was a military camp when Singapore fell the Japanese turned it into a prisoner-of-war camp. When the war ended it was decided that this spot would be designated as Singapore's war cemetery and the small cemetery already there, which had been started by the prisoners-of-war, was further developed. In time other war graves from Buona Vista, Changi and other places in Singapore were removed and re-interred at Kranji. In addition there are also a number of memorials at the cemetery with the largest being the Kranji War Memorial with the names of all those from the Air Force, Army and Navy who died but for whom no remains could be identified.

The cemetery is just a short walk from the MRT station with the approach being up a quiet road which reminded me a little of an English country lane with the high leafy hedges. I've been to a few similar war cemeteries in northern France and Belgium and all of them have an air of peacefulness and calm to them, Kranji was no exception to this. There were only a couple of other people there and although the view from the top of the cemetery showed the typical view of developed Singapore and we were only a short walk from a major road, there was nothing really to hear here asides from bird song on the breeze.

The sight of row upon row of white war graves is always a little heart wrenching, seeing the ages of those who gave their lives is also difficult. It is though, I think, important to visit such places and to take time to remember those who gave up so much for their generation and future ones. We probably spent around half an hour or so there looking at the memorials and just some of the many names from various countries and their regiments, reflecting quietly on that period of history.

The Kranji War Cemetery is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), if you would like further information their website is, www.cwgc.org 

Kranji MRT is on the North South Line (NS7).

If you missed any of my previous Red Dot Roaming posts, check them out here!

17 February 2016

Red Dot Roaming - Hillview MRT - Singapore Quarry

I'm currently playing a form of catch up with my Red Dot Roaming and posting some 'out of alphabetical sync' blog posts due to the opening of the second section of the Downtown Line last December. With that in mind then my next stop was Hillview MRT and a visit to the Singapore Quarry.

The Singapore Quarry, just like the former quarries at Bukit Batok Town Park and Hindhede Nature Park, was also a one time granite quarry, that has now been turned into a wetland habitat. Quarrying activities actually continued there until the late 1980s. Once quarrying stopped the huge crater was allowed to fill up with ground and rain water forming the lake that you can now view. Getting there from Hillview MRT is very simple, just head towards the nearby Rail Mall and then to Jalan Asas just behind it. If you follow the road around you'll find a children's play area and in the corner an entrance to the track going towards the Singapore quarry and other routes. 

I wonder where this track goes?

As always there was a very helpful sign once we were on the tracks directing us on the short walk to the quarry. Just like Hindhede Nature Park the Singapore Quarry is right besides Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. I don't know if ordinarily you can access the nature reserve from here but at the moment, due to the renovations taking place, you can only access Bukit Timah Nature Reserve from the Hindhede Nature Park and only on weekends.

Singapore Quarry

The walk to the quarry did not take us long and was on a well laid out road, so easily accessible to all. When we arrived at the quarry, just as at the Hindhede Nature Park, there was one viewing point giving some information about the history of the quarry and the wildlife it was now possible to spot there. Despite us visiting on a public holiday we were practically the only people there so it was lovely to just sit and enjoy the peace and solitude for a little while. 

On leaving the views of the quarry and walking back the way we had came we spotted another trail for mountain bikes. We did have a bit of a look but spotted a sign advising it was only for the use of mountain bikers and also that the route was not exactly designed for walking on. We left that and instead walked back past the entrance from Jalan Asas and on towards the Dairy Farm Nature Park and the MOE Dairy Farm Adventure Centre. 

The route was once again a well laid out road, I guess because the adventure centre was further along so it would need to be accessible to vehicles, but devoid of pretty much anyone else but us. Our walk eventually brought us back around to Upper Bukit Timah Road and on to the MRT station but not before I passed this set of old steps up the side of the bank.

As with the Hindhede Nature Park this is not a particularly challenging walk so suitable all. It is also not that long a walk so can be easily enjoyed without giving up a lot of time. What is nice though is that it seems to be relatively undiscovered so provides a pleasant sanctuary for just a little while.

Hillview MRT is on the Downtown Line (DT3).

If you missed any of my previous Red Dot Roaming posts, check them out here

02 February 2016

Red Dot Roaming - Beauty World MRT - Hindhede Nature Park and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

Those of you with a keen eye may have noticed that my series of Red Dot Roaming adventures are being done alphabetically. However with the opening last December of the second section of the new Downtown Line there are some new stations on the MRT network and therefore potentially other places to visit. A little bit of investigation later and I soon discovered this was true of one of the new stations, Beauty World, which gave me the opportunity to easily explore the Hindhede Nature Park and also visit Bukit Timah Nature Reserve once again. So I'm backtracking to 'b' for my next Red Dot Roam.

Hindhede Nature Park is actually right next to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, somewhere we first visited a long time ago, and I had no idea was the case until we returned to the area. The nature park is a lot smaller than I expected and a very straightforward walk, nice for families etc., but it still made a pleasant Sunday stroll. The main attraction of the park is undoubtedly the former Hindhede granite quarry. The site was an active quarry in the mid-1900s but now, just as in another of my Red Dot Roams to Bukit Batok town park, the granite quarry has been turned into a nature park. After quarrying ceased at Hindhede quarry the crater left behind gradually filled with ground and rain water creating the lovely lake you can see in my photos below. 

Entering the Hindhede nature park from Hindhede Drive you can easily follow some well laid out trails and in no time at all reach the viewing platform overlooking the quarry. By the way you can't get to view the quarry lake from any other point, just this one viewing point. As I mentioned above it does not take very long to get there or follow the trails in its vicinity so we then ventured off back to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. 

The well-informed among you may know that Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is currently closed for renovations but if you visit the area on weekends you can now enter it via the Hindhede Nature Park (NB. this is currently the only point of access to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve) and at least see some of the reserve and also follow the summit trail. Word of warning, after the ease of the Hindhede Nature Park this walk and climb is quite a challenge. I did vaguely recall how steep the climb was but even so it was still quite something else doing it again, go prepared! I also personally feel the summit is just a little disappointing as, despite being the highest point in Singapore, the view from there really is very limited. However it was still good to revisit the reserve and it extended our visit to this part of the island.

Hindhede quarry

Hindhede quarry

At the top of the summit trail in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve - this sign is a bit of an understatement!

After our climb to the summit we had a brief rest and then began the, much easier, descent with the intention of finding some lunch to end our visit in one of the nearby places we had spotted on our walk from the MRT station. On the way back down Hindhede Drive you pass underneath part of the Rail Corridor where I spotted a runner on a Sunday jog, somewhere else I need to pay a visit to at some point soon.

Beauty World MRT is on the Downtown Line (DT5).

If you missed any of my previous Red Dot Roaming posts, check them out here!

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