Are you succumb to the mundane lifestyle on the island? The key is to keep becoming ‘tourist in the city’ and continue to discover new things. Especially when the border is still closed and no overseas travel is possible, the opportunity to tick off the bucket to-do-list in Singapore could not be more timely. Suddenly, some unmarked trail not shown on the proper map seemed like a great idea!
On one Sunday morning, I made a detour. I extended my easy morning run around Southern Ridges and paid a visit to some old sites – perfect for a history buff like me. I won’t bore you with too many words, so below are a guide in pictures of the detour.
One January morning, the altocumulus clouds covered the sky signalled a change of weather. I ran few loops of Mt Faber Loop before continued down to Mount Faber Road. A tomb of a legendary Javanese princess, (Makam Puteri Radin Mas Ayu) situated on Mount Faber Road where local Malay village used to be at the foothill. The 13th-century story on how she died to protect her father was something I’ve heard before. Schools, a community centre and a flyover were named after her.
I ran up to the end of Mt Faber Deck by Carpark A. Took stairs down to Temenggong Road, straight down and turned left into Telok Blangah Road. The Mosque of Temenggong Daeng Ibrahim (TDI) is on this road, beside the royal mausoleum and cemetery. TDI’s father established Johor governance in Singapore (Temasek back then) and instrumentals in the Treaty of Singapore between Sultan Johor and the British. TDI, later on, became the de facto Maharajah of Johor and ruled from Telok Blangah. The site was also where the old palace once located before moved to Tyersall at the Botanic Garden.
I went West along Telok Blangah Road and turned left into Seam In Road’s large carpark. At the back of the carpark located a big heritage tree which began a very short trail to a bunker. Perhaps built during WWII for weapon storage or housing prisoner of war, it is only a small room if fancy to walk in.
The yellow rope enticed me to hike up a short slope to the left of the bunker.
I proceeded a short trail till Keppel Hill road emerged through bushes. If you come from the road, this is where you can enter to go the bunker – but I exited here. Broken tiles were seen on the floor trail.
I saw a couple walking up the road so I followed them. Instead of turning left going down the road, I turned right. Up the road situated an uninhabited 18th-century grand mansion, 11 Keppel Hill – rumoured to be a house of a port master. Couldn’t enter though as it is restricted to the public.
Went down Keppel Hill, and at the fork, we took the other small path.
We continued a short trail to the secluded reservoir. Voilà! What a tranquil spot. Sunlight showered the blue-greenish water. A once ‘forgotten’ reservoir (it was disappeared from the local map by 2000), was abandoned due to its small size and only rediscovered in 2005. Was used as a swimming pool during the British and Japanese Occupation. The diving board, stairs and platform were sighted.
Met friendly bunch of hikers (as we normally do while trekking). They were heading to few other site and didn’t mind us following. The next stop was a water source not far away from the reservoir.
Then, after a short hike up a steep slope and occasional annoyances from hanging branches, we reached a Japanese tomb of the civilian naval engineer Komoto Ekasa who worked for the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in 1942. It is said that Komoto Ekasa died at an age of 47, four months after arriving in Singapore due to overwork. I wondered the significance of this person, and why this location is picked?
The final site was a fort-like structure said to support the nearby tomb and gave extra foundation against landslide.
Farewelled the hikers after exchanging some social media account, I hiked through this lush greenery.
Way to go under a fallen trunk covered with overgrown shrubs.
And this stunning view as we reached the top, behind the love-bell walls by Arbora Restaurant. Back to modern life of cable cars in the air and happy buzz from the restaurant.
With detour ended near the Mt Faber Road and Poland’s Bell of Happiness, the rest of fun was just a run back home.
Sometime running can be spiced up with a detour like this. What a special day that made me know more about the island’s nooks and crannies, it’s past history and it’s link with Johor royalty.
More information and references:
- While the off-marked trail is close by the main road and difficult to get lost (just stay on trail at all time), it is recommended not to pursue alone.
- Thank you Hagen Daz from Temasek Rural Exploring Enthusiasts (T.R.E.E.) for guiding. Other community hiking groups to check out are Exploring Singapore Hiking Group and Singapore Trekker.
Do you find the pictures guide above helpful? Have I tempted you to visit the sites? Any other unofficial trail in Singapore worth exploring?
Live to thrive.